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July 2011

Vampire Knight Guilty - volume 3

voice cast: Daisuke Kishio, Yui Horie, Ethan Murray, Mela Lee, and Vic Mignogna

creator: Mari Okada

72 minutes (12) 2010
widescreen ratio 16:9
Manga DVD Region 2

RATING: 7/10
review by Sarah Ash




See also:
Vampire Knight - part 1
Vampire Knight Guilty - volume three

"This man's blood is permeating my body; I can't tell where our boundaries are..." Revelations come thick and fast as gothic shoujo anime series Vampire Knight Guilty builds towards its final episodes (volume four will be released in July 2011, in the UK). Here follows a warning to those unfamiliar with this series; it's very difficult (nay, impossible) to review this disc without spoilers. So, please skip to the final paragraph if you don't want to have your viewing experience ruined.

Yuki Cross (Yui Horie/ Mela Lee) has had her lost memories restored by her academy sempai, Pureblood vampire Kaname Kuran (Daisuke Kishio/ Ethan Murray.) It turns out that she is not human at all; not only is she his 'little sister,' but also his fianc´┐Że. "Intermarriage is not unusual among Purebloods," he reassures her. "We're not human."

In fact Kaname has been waiting ten years for Yuki's re-awakening, shielding her from the dark plans of the Vampire Senate - and the Vampire Hunters. For Yuki is not the only one to re-awaken; Kaname's sinister arch-enemy, Lord Rido (one blue eye, one red) is intending to resurrect. This disc reveals Kaname's true relation to Rido and the complex plotting and counter-plotting that has been going on behind the scenes of the vampire world.

Much of Vampire Knight's drama has centred on the love triangle with Yuki at its centre, and Kaname and Vampire Hunter, Zero Kiryu (Mamoru Miyano/ Vic Mignogna) competing to win her heart. "The Yuki you once knew is gone," Yuki tells Zero, with devastating honesty, "because the vampire Yuki completely devoured her." Zero almost falls apart, giving us confirmation of what we've suspected all along: he really is in love with Yuki, even if he can't admit it to himself or to her.

But it seems that he is also a pawn in the struggle for dominance between Kaname's faction, and the Vampire Senate and the Vampire Hunters. "You are the only one," Kaname informs him, "who can rid me of Rido's curse." Something big is about to go down as Headmaster Kaien Cross orders the day students to leave the academy as soon as possible; not for nothing is the third episode on this disc titled, 'Prelude To Battle.'

If one of the main faults with the first season of Vampire Knight was its tendency to rely on talky exposition at the expense of action, then this sequel/ continuation more than compensates for its earlier sluggishness, as a complex history of lies, betrayal and heartache is revealed. And although the re-awakened Pureblood vampire princess Yuki makes a less feisty heroine than her earlier human self, her tragic back story goes some way to explain her vulnerability. Director Kiyoko Sayama doesn't shy away from evoking the sexual frisson of vampiric blood-drinking (after Yuki re-awakens, she slakes her thirst by sinking her teeth into Kaname's neck, re-establishing the bond between them in a scene that - though in no way gratuitous - is explicit in terms of erotic subtext).

The troubled atmosphere is greatly enhanced by Takefumi Haketa's subtle score. The composer, while making use of some of the more traditional musical tropes that accompany tales of the creatures of the night, also creates simple yet effective effects with a cello melody in the minor key, or a solo piano playing phrases reminiscent of a Chopin nocturne. It's a relief, in these days of excessively overblown and over-composed soundtracks, to encounter a score where less is more - and all the more effective for it. Although as tensions rise and the mood darkens, the ominous sound of a pounding heartbeat underscores the drama.

Set against a wintry backdrop of swirling snow and long dark nights, Vampire Knight Guilty counts as a guilty pleasure for fans of gothic romance - although the more sceptical viewer may resist being seduced by the traditional tropes of vampire lore. It's worth mentioning that there are only three episodes on this disc and, rather disappointingly, no extras - not even text-less versions of the opening and ending songs.



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