Vampire Knight, Vol. 1
Story and Art by Matsuri Hino
Rated T+ for Older Teen
Yuki has no memory of her life before the day she was saved from a vicious vampire attack. Now, ten years later, she’s the teenage ward of the headmaster of Cross Academy, an unusual school attended by two groups of students. The Day Class is like any other group of teenagers, but the Night Class is full of vampires. As one of the Guardians of the school, Yuki works to protect the Day Class from its own dangerous interest in the Night Class and to keep her adoptive father’s dreams of peaceful coexistence between vampires and humans alive.
This shojo manga series takes all your favorite vampire clichés and runs with them. The vampires of Cross Academy are gorgeous, alluring, and slightly vicious, while humans are inevitably drawn to them. Yuki, our heroine, is caught between her fascination with Kaname, the darkly handsome vampire who saved her so many years ago, and her loyalty to Zero, her fellow school Guardian. As you might expect, both Kaname and Zero have secrets of their own. Kaname’s reciprocal interest in Yuki is slightly unsettling, while Zero has his own private pain, going back to the night his vampire hunter family was murdered by vampires.
Hino’s art embraces the gothic premise of the story. The main characters are all suitably beautiful, right down to their artfully disarranged hair, and clothed in elaborately designed uniforms. In a nice touch, the Day Class uniforms are mostly black while the Night Class uniforms are mostly white. Hino makes heavy but skillful use of screen tones, and the art is generally easy to follow and understand.
This is not by any means a subtle or restrained work of fiction—the first volume contains a moment of high drama and angst that another series would probably save for volume 4 or 5—but its shamelessness is awfully entertaining. It might be a good read-alike for any Twilight fans who happen to read manga.
Some other shojo manga series with similar gothic elements include:
- Godchild and The Cain Saga by Kaori Yuki
- Cantarella by You Higuri