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Vampire Knight: Volume 4 (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000139658
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 15/2/2011 18:10
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    Review for Vampire Knight: Volume 4

    8 / 10


    I'm not fond of the release format, with the four and three episode volumes being released individually by Manga Entertainment, harking back to the ridiculous days of anime DVDs back in the mid-2000s, mitigated only slightly by the lower price point. I'm certainly not fond of the discs, which are so restrictive when it comes to user operations; I'm surprised that your player doesn't prompt you for a password every time you want to play an episode. You might think that I wouldn't be fond of the pretty boy vampires, and the weak kneed teen girl genre, and normally I wouldn't, but Vampire Knight has somehow insinuated itself into my good graces, with the benefits of an interesting story, and well-rounded characters. I've found that I've been enjoying this series a lot more than ever believed possible, and that I have even been looking forward to this final disc in the first series. But if you feel a vampire withdrawal after this disc ends, you don't have to wait long for your next fix, as Manga Entertainment have the first volume of the follow up series, Vampire Knight Guilty, scheduled for April 2011. And no doubt its release format and player restrictions will make me gnash my fangs too.

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    The Cross Academy is a boarding school with a difference. It's also the venue for a unique social experiment, where vampires are trying to co-exist with humans. Of course the humans can't know about this, so the school is divided into the Day Class and the Night Class, and the only time that the human students interact with the vampires is at twilight, when the classes change and the Day Class return to their dorm. All they know is that the Night Class is full of handsome boys and beautiful girls, aristocratic and elegant. It's down to the Guardians to keep from the Day Class from learning the truth about the Night Class, two students, Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu who have to protect the humans, should the worst happen. The school's headmaster adopted Yuki when she was five, after a trauma that left her with amnesia, while Zero's own traumatic past has left him with an abiding hatred of vampires, and a secret that he keeps hidden.

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    The final three episodes of Vampire Knight are presented on this disc from Manga Entertainment.

    11. Consequence Of Desire
    It's not a pleasant reunion between brothers. Ichiru's been nursing a grudge against his brother for years, and it's that perception of being the weaker twin that led him to betray his family to Shizuka Hio, the pureblood vampire that slaughtered their parents. Yet that grudge also led him to sparing Zero, for he still wants him to suffer. Now that Zero is in danger of becoming a Level E vampire, Ichiru feels his revenge is at hand. Still, at least the evening of the ball has arrived, when the human students of Cross Academy can get close to all those elegant members of the Night Class, and maybe even ask them to dance. Kaname has given Yuki a ball gown for the occasion, and it may just be the most romantic night of the calendar, if it weren't for the offer that Maria makes to Yuki. In exchange for Zero's life, she wants either Kaname's corpse, or Yuki to sacrifice herself.

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    12. Vow of the Pureblood
    There's only one choice that Yuki can make, and she goes to see Maria and offer herself in exchange for Zero's life. It's not much of an exchange. The only way to save him is if he drinks Maria's, Shizuka Hio's blood, only then will he become a true vampire, and not degenerate into a level E. Zero isn't having any of this, and he arrives in time to stop Yuki, and to confront Shizuka. The trouble is that Shizuka still has control over Zero, and nothing will stop her from taking Yuki as her next servant.

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    13. Crimson Chains
    It seems that their problems ought to be over, but Zero never got the blood that he needed to 'cure' him. Yuki's still brooding over recent events, and getting more and more worried at Zero's absence. The headmaster tells her that he's still in hospital, recovering from his injuries. But the truth is much worse. Zero can no longer control his impulses. He's one step away from a level E, and it seems that death is his only way out.

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    Vampire Knight gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, which as is often the case, is an NTSC-PAL standards conversion. That said, it's an exceptionally good one, clear and smooth throughout, with no ghosting or judder immediately apparent, and signs of blended frames at a minimum. The only telltale is the overall softness inherited from a lower resolution image. Vampire Knight is a series that is originally aimed at the wobbly-kneed demographic, so you can expect a whole lot of pretty male characters in this show, tall, elegant, moody, while aside from Yuki herself, most of the female character designs are fairly generic. The world design is stylised but effective and quite detailed, but I did feel that the overall animation was static, or it saved up most of the animation for the action sequences. This is a show where you expect to see a whole lot of rose petals fluttering past moody tableaux.

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    You have a choice between DD 2.0 Surround English and Japanese, with player locked signs for the English track, and player locked translated subtitles for the Japanese track. The sound is fit for purpose, and opting for the Japanese track, I found that a favourite voice actress of mine, Yui Horie was voicing Yuki, which certainly added to the show's appeal for me. The dialogue is clear, and the theme songs are the expected power ballads to go with the romantic vampire action. The surround sound is appreciated, but it's hardly a surround intensive show. The English dub didn't immediately strike me as amazing, but it's not immediately bad either. I'm sure dub fans will be perfectly satisfied with it. There needs to be an English cast credit reel after the programme, as the credits aren't translated.

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    Vampire Knight's final volume certainly doesn't feel like an ending. Quite frankly, if I didn't know that Vampire Knight Guilty was due in a couple of months, I might be more than a little peeved, as while Vampire Knight does finish on something of a crescendo, concluding a major arc, and putting its trio of main characters up against considerable adversity, it still only feels like the opening act to a far more interesting drama. The arc pretty much comes to an end in episode 12, while episode 13 is concerned with the aftermath, and it leaves more than a few dangling loose ends, especially when it comes to Zero's fate. Vampire Knight is certainly an intriguing show. While it is more than a little formulaic, with its pretty, elegant, and moody vampires, trying to coexist with enamoured humans, it's how it deals with its story, and the way that it develops its characters that makes it stand out. There's always something bubbling under the surface, the vampire society is more than a little convoluted and obscured by veils of secrecy and intrigue, while the dynamic that exists around Yuki, Zero and Kaname is always compelling to watch.

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    Most of Vampire Knight has been about Zero Kiryu's vampire nature asserting itself, as he tries desperately to remain human. This was made infinitely more complicated in the previous volume when Shizuka Hio, the pureblood vampire that murdered his family, and turned him into a vampire, returned in the form of a transfer student named Maria. Naturally he wants to kill her, which coincidentally would mean his own death, because she was the one that turned him. But because she was the one that turned him, he's held in thrall to her and unable to act. On top of that, she still has a grudge against him, and wants to use Yuki to torment him some more, as well as seeking power from Kaname Kuran. If that isn't enough, her servant turns out to be none other than Zero's twin brother, Ichiru, who didn't in fact die at the hands of Shizuka. In actual fact, it turns out that he helped betray the Kiryu family in the first place, and the grudge that Shizuka bears against Zero is nothing compared to the hatred that Ichiru has for his twin.

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    Vampire Knight may not be the most visually energetic of anime, but it has more than its fair share of atmosphere, while its true strength is in its storytelling and character. All of these aspects shine in this volume, as this tense storyline comes to a head, albeit leavened by occasional hits of comedy, especially at the school ball, or provided by the headmaster. For two and a half episodes, this is gripping stuff. Then there is the open-ended ending, with various characters discussing the aftermath and the ramifications of what has just occurred, with Yuki worrying about Zero, and the eventual reveal of the dire straits that Zero is actually in. It's all a big set up for the next series, and it's only because the next series will follow hot on the heels of this one, that I can approach the end of Vampire Knight with any equanimity.

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    If I do have a few niggles about Vampire Knight, it's that it really does feel like a prelude to a much bigger story. This has done a stellar job in introducing the characters and setting up the world, and it's easy to look forward to more. The problem is that Vampire Knight Guilty is itself just 13 episodes long, and I doubt very much whether a bigger story can be told in that amount of time. I feel compelled to mark Vampire Knight highly on the strength of its storytelling, and on how interesting its characters are. Having said that, it's still just another vampire anime, and I find myself questioning just how memorable a show it actually is. It's certainly no Hellsing Ultimate. But it is enjoyable to watch, and sometimes that is all you need from an anime.

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