by Casey Brienza,

Vampire Knight

GN 6

Vampire Knight GN 6
Cross Academy is an elite boarding school where humans and vampires (without the knowledge of the humans) coexist in uneasy harmony, and Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the student Guardians charged with protecting the peace. In this volume, the Academy breaks for summer vacation. Only Yuki and Zero are left on campus when the students all go home, and Yuki gets into one night of trouble when she mistakenly crashes a vampire soiree and ends up making Kaname the promise of an eternal(?) lifetime. Meanwhile, the Night Class is has taken up temporary residence at the Aido family estate, giving Aido a chance to reflect upon his complicated relationship with Kaname. Too bad for everybody that the adults don't have a summer vacation too; behind the scenes, the vampiric nobility is beginning to make their move…

After the fast-paced, aesthetic gloom and doom of the previous volume of Vampire Knight, volume six represents a refreshing shift of tone. Matsuri Hino consciously begins to distance the plot from its previous focus on Zero's familial angst and starts moving the plot in the direction of some seriously Machiavellian vampire politicking.

The book is divided into three major subplots. The first involves Yuki's day trip into town to window shop with one her (human) friends. She ends up meeting a little boy with two differently colored eyes who has lost his mother. Yuki volunteers to help him find her, but when he plants a tender thank you kiss on her cheek, she falls unconscious. Turns out the kid is actually a vampire, and he left her body splayed out at the entrance to one of their underground meeting places. Kaname is there, but of course, to rescue her, and he warns her to stay out of sight so as not to aggregate the other vampires present. Naturally, she doesn't listen and sees all the vampire nobles trying to foist their beautiful daughters on to him. Although the competition upsets Yuki, Kaname—and this should come as no spoiler to anyone with even cursory interest in Vampire Knight—only has eyes for her. She makes him a promise she's likely to live to regret…and one that makes Zero in turn promise never to allow Yuki's promise to come to fruition.

Also, for the first time, Yuki is actively trying to recover her lost memory. She has no recollection of her life before Kaname saved her from the Level E vampire, and whenever she tries to remember, all she sees are gruesome things like bathtubs full of blood. Even consulting with the vampire hunter society does not yield any answers…except incontrovertible proof that someone—or something! —does not want her to learn the truth.

The final of volume six's three major subplots involves the members of the Night Class. They too are on vacation, and they, and in particular Kaname, who has no desire to “go home,” decide to shack up with Aido. This gives Aido the opportunity to reflect upon his complicated relationship with Kaname, which goes back to when they were children, before Kaname's parents died. Indeed, Aido's back story is the highlight of this volume, and it's sure to be a fangirl pleaser. Although he is exceedingly vain, he is more accessible, personable, and…human than the rest of the supporting cast of vampires. It's easy to like him, and seeing him as an adorable little vampire boy who is simultaneously envious of and compelled by Kaname makes it easier still. That he eventually becomes deeply infatuated with Kaname (whether platonically or sexually is left to the fujoshi's fantasies) just makes the scenario more delicious. You can hear the fangirl squees from here. Hino even uses this story as opportunity to crack another good joke: Aido plays child prodigy and otherwise preens in front of a television camera crew in order to impress Kaname, who, as it turns out, is emphatically not watching the vanity broadcast.

As always, Hino's artwork could not have been more perfectly matched to her subject matter. Her layouts are skilled and dynamic, and liberal use of screen tone gives panels a brooding, gothic atmosphere. Character designs, both male and female, are beautiful…if at times difficult to tell apart from each other. This volume's panel layouts are a bit more densely-packed than the previous volume's, so the reading experience feels a bit more meaty and substantial than usual. Even so, you probably won't be lingering upon the various mysteries presented by the series for too long, and the less time you take to stop and think about them, the better off you will be.

All in all, another okay installment of one of the bestselling shoujo manga in the United States, and there are just enough unsolved mysteries being dangled here—monster of unknown pedigree confined to coffin, anyone?—to keep fans coming back for more blood-soaked bishounen.

Production Info:
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B+

+ Perfect match of subject matter with mangaka style that should appeal widely.
Stills suffers from occasional, though well-concealed, visual and narrative flaws.

Story & Art: Matsuri Hino

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