Review for Vampire Knight Guilty: Volume 3
A less than stellar transfer and user-unfriendly disc design reminds me of my childhood. We used to watch TV on an old Phillips 21" set, wooden case, no remote, knobs to turn, and you had to physically tune in each channel, not a computer chip in sight. I had to put up with a dodgy aerial, dodgy transmitter, and fine-tuning by eye, all on a TV prone to external effects and interference. Colour bleed, herringbone interference, and all manner of annoyances to mar the image and sound. Yet I still have fond memories of the TV that I watched then, more than I do now. It reminds me that it isn't all that important how a programme is presented, rather than its content. In the previous volume, Vampire Knight Guilty got really good, as it presented us with quite a few plot twists, and one downright unexpected revelation.
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.
The first series introduced us to the volatile triangle of Yuki Cross, Kaname Kuran, and Zero Kiryu, and the complex world that they inhabit. It's volatile as all three are conflicted by their pasts, but most of all Zero, who after the attack that destroyed his family, was left with the inevitability of becoming a vampire and degenerating into a monster. As the previous series concluded, the vampire that attacked him, Shizuka Hio, returned to complete her vengeance, not least by revealing that Zero's brother was still alive, but now her loyal servant. It also transpired that the 'cure' for Zero's affliction lay in Hio's blood, but it was cure that he chose to shun. As the previous series concluded, Zero was on the verge of becoming a Level E, when Kaname approached him with an offer.
The next three episodes of Vampire Knight Guilty are presented on this disc from Manga Entertainment.
8. Spiralling Recollections
The truth about Yuki Cross has been revealed, and everyone has to come to terms with what it means for them. For Kaname, it's a chance to keep a promise that he made years ago. Yuki must adjust to who she really is, accept her powers, her abilities and her instincts, even though that goes against everything she has known for the last few years. It's all the worse for Zero, who's had a hard enough time coming to terms with his own nature, now learning that everything he's known about Yuki has been a lie. It may just be that Yuki and Zero will never be close again. And while all this is going on, Senri Shiki, now possessed by the spirit of Rido, is putting his plans into effect, and sowing havoc wherever he goes. He's aiming to end the conflict he began years ago, when he murdered Kaname's parents, sparking the bloodbath that led to Yuki losing her memories in the first place.
9. Revival of the Mad Emperor
Zero and Yuki aren't communicating right now, although Zero has his own problems to deal with. The Hunters Society has ordered that he be put to death. Fortunately, the Headmaster has started taking things seriously, and when Kaien Cross gets serious, even Yagari takes note. Yuki finds that because of her new status, she has some loyal vassals. Aido in particular is being extra polite to her, which only serves to creep her out. Kaname has to deal with Rido though, and as we learn, that is something he cannot do, he's physically bound to Rido, unable to deliver the finishing blow, even though Kaname was the one to stop him previously. The first thing Kaname has to do is to help Senri, to remove him from Rido's control. That means finding and reviving Rido's body, that means giving him the essence of a Pureblood vampire.
10. Prelude to the Battle
The headmaster realises that Cross Academy is no longer the safe haven, the paragon of vampire human relations that it was meant to be. With the struggle between the Purebloods coming to a head, that means it's time to evacuate. But yet again, the Day Class's fascination with the Night Class causes problems, and by the time the students are gathered, it's too late. They have to take refuge in the auditorium instead. That's just Rido's minions warming up though. The real attack will come after dark. Kaname plans to leave before then, take Yuki and escape to safety. But Yuki's torn between that and her duties as a school Guardian. Kaname's plan is about to come to a head though, and it turns out that everything that has happened has been building to this point. His ultimate weapon against Rido is finally ready, and that ultimate weapon is Zero Kiryu.
Vampire Knight Guilty gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, which as is often the case, is an NTSC-PAL standards conversion. Yet again, someone dropped a spanner into the conversion process, as it suffers from horrendous judder throughout. Any time there is any lateral motion of the camera, vertically or horizontally, the playback is subjected to an intermittent stop-start effect every half second or so. It's annoying, it's damned distracting, and it makes watching the show an utter chore.
Vampire Knight and its sequel are series that are 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.
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.
Did you see how I cunningly avoided issuing forth a humongous spoiler about the story up above? Of course if you're halfway adept at reading between the lines, you'll probably figure it out anyway. What that does mean is that I'm not apt to go into details here, having restrained myself to this point. This is where the Vampire Knight story really starts to fall together, and the last thing that anyone wants at this point is to be spoiled. Add to that my tired reluctance to once more vent about the disc's technical quality, or lack thereof, and you can see that this section is going to be rather limited in wordage. Suffice it to say that this volume of Vampire Knight Guilty is the best yet in terms of developing the story and exploring the characters, and if you have indeed been watching it up to this point, you'll be more than gratified with what this disc has to offer.
It is really compelling just how well the story is put together. I mentioned in my previous review that ending volume 2 on the show's big revelation was a smart move, as it still left six episodes for the story to adjust, for the characters to come to terms with it, and for there to be enough space for the show to deliver a worthwhile, and satisfying ending. The three episodes in this volume do just that, getting the pacing, drama, and character development just right. These are three episodes that will have you glued to the screen, taking in every frame of what happens, appreciating each nuance. It also comes across that all those moments early on that I thought were pointless diversions do have an import in how the story plays out. Yes, there was indeed a point to the Shizuka Hio arc.
Things get really serious in this volume, as we learn the extent of the feud between the vampire Purebloods, and what it means for vampire human relations, the whole existence of the Cross Academy. In fact things get so serious that the Headmaster Kaien Cross even drops his goofy act. We have to re-evaluate everything about the story and the characters, and the way they relate to each other. Indeed one relationship, or potential relationship now appears as creepy as hell, and just when you think that it may have been a bullet dodged by a timely revelation, it gets creepier still. This is unmissable stuff if you are a fan of Vampire Knight and Vampire Knight Guilty, these three episodes are the best of the series so far, and with three episodes left to go, it promises to be a truly spectacular conclusion to the show. If only the actual discs could have been as good.