8.16.2008

[Review] Vampire Knight manga volume 6: From Zero to Hero(ine)

(Crossposted in Japanator)

Vampire Knight volume 6 front cover (ChuangYi)

Vampire Knight © Hino Matsuri/Hakusensha
[Serialized in LaLa ]
Published in Singapore by Chuang Yi

Six? Her last review was for volume one—what happened to two to five??

I could say the fact that I'm skipping volumes two to five speaks, errr, volumes, but that's doing this shoujo series I heart so much an injustice (a mini one). So I'll just say that I'm leaving those reviews up to whoever wants to take up the challenge of critiqueing the intervening tankoubon; my concern here is reacting to volume six as it represents a milestone / watershed / turning point—fire hack phrase at will—in the Vampire Knight narrative.

[SPOILERS INCOMING!]

From Zero to Hero(ine):
A review of Hino Matsuri's Vampire Knight volume 6 by huamulan03
(Some rights reserved)

The most self-evident change is the focus shift from Zero to Yuuki. Remember her? The female protagonist of the series? Volume six even trumpets the transposition (say that three times as fast) by slapping a solo Yuuki on the front cover. And starting from the chapter that opens this volume, 25th Night: An Evening Party with the Vampires, the story spotlights Yuuki and her changing relationship with both Zero and Kaname-senpai.

Let's take the vampires fighting for dominance in Yuuki's life one by one.

Kaname-senpai bares his fangs
What I found of equal importance with the shift of story to Yuuki and her search for her missing past (which I will discuss paragraphs down) is the change in the portrayal of Kaname from unqualified yasashii to—an evolution that definitely raises the bar on the VK drama.

All this time, we've seen Kaname's kindness and consideration towards Yuuki; his protectiveness of her; and his wistful, You're always so polite. Your formality... feels cold longing for more intimacy (also seen in the sometimes non-canonical VK anime which I seem to have given up on). This tenderness refashions with a vengeance in the aftermath of Yuuki rounding on Kaname for suspecting Zero of killing the trueblood Hiou Shizuka in 24th Night: A 'Minor' Incident:

I won't listen to a word you say until you admit that Zero's innocent!

I thought it was about time that Kaname showed how he really felt over that “betrayal” on the part of I saved you and this is how you show gratitude? Yuuki:

Did you really think that I wouldn't get angry if you said something like that to me?

Another change in Kaname possibly brought on by Yuuki's rebellion is his apparent willingness to consider a match with another trueblood, the beautiful (but soulless, doll-like) Shirabuki Sara. Whereas Kaname used to turn down such requests (as confirmed by the surprised vampire throng), in this chapter, he actually says, I shall keep her in mind. Later, he goes out of his way to converse with Sara saying, There are so few of us left. We should keep in touch and help one another.

At first I would've sed that we can't infer that Kaname is making with the flattery to prod Yuuki's jealousy—not just because Yuuki's not around to see but also because Kaname is that capable of the deceit required to lead someone on. I extrapolated this reading on his earlier, deliberate destruction of another trueblood. But that same unrepentant act is also why I can say that Kaname IS pandering to Sara to make Yuuki jealous. Or at least the desire to is probably one of the factors driving him, considering this is Kaname who doesn't balk at getting his hands bloody with assassination.

What we've been waiting for?
In any case, Yuuki did see Kaname-senpai with Sara and realizes that being human precludes her from being truly close to Kaname, the way another trueblood could or would be. Kaname who obviously has more than two eyes and other senses knows that Yuuki left the room he specifically told her not to exit (she's the only defenseless human in a house strong with vampires; how she got there is something you'll have to find out for yourself) confronts her and even when she offers an I'm sorry, tells her that he will not let her get away with just an apology. He tackles her down on to a convenient couch and I'll let their dialogue carry the rest of the story:

Let me stay like this... until I forgive you...

KANAME: Let me stay like this... until I forgive you... just a little while longer...
YUUKI: It's okay... I'll do anything for you, Master Kaname.

Yuuki's use of Master Kaname here is deliberate. After her epiphany, she feels the more formal address better reflects the gap between her and the trueblood prince. She is surprised, shocked when Kaname answers by biting her on the neck.

You people are like ephemeral creatures that pass through 'our' lives within the blink of an eye, he sez, before proceeding to make her The Offer:

Do you want to become a vampire, Yuuki?

Do you want to become a vampire, Yuuki? ... Will you live by my side throughout the centuries?

And of course I won't tell you Yuuki's answer.

How Zero reacts
Even if I did draw the line at spoiling Yuuki's response, I'm not averse to sharing how Emo Zero (remember him?) took that bit of news:

I won't let that happen...

I won't let that happen... not even if Kaname Kuran turns into my enemy... Not even if you end up hating me!

Now on to what is effectively Part II of the story.

Yuuki tries to remember her past
The blanks in her memory have been plaguing Yuuki more of late (I call it "about time") and in forcing herself to remember (while submersed in a tub), she sees the water turn to blood. She screams and Zero comes racing to the rescue.

After the none event in the bathroom, Zero recalls what he knows of Yuuki's situation (the exposition is actually good for us, since the manga-ka had all but glossed over anything before the attack on Yuuki in the preceding chapters)—how she was seemingly abandoned in a place where vampire attacks are a conditional probability. He goes on to note that this occurrence would only make sense were Yuuki's parents also vampire hunters but information from Cross Rijichou allegedly belies this.

So Zero suggests that they investigate the vampire hunters' records, the files that pertain to That Day Ten Years Ago, for clues that would help Yuuki regain her memory.

Zero transcends emo
I like how Hino Matsuri-sensei portrayed Zero in this chapter—with him actually thinking and proposing a viable solution in lieu of Yuuki's all-internal (self-indulgent) I will give it my best shot! efforts. Shows that that lapse into melodrama over Kaname's "proposal" to Yuuki and all his angsting in past chapters can be overcome.

I also must mention that I liked Zero's To me, she is anything but little admission (made before Kaname offered to turn Yuuki), which can be interpreted in as many ways as you care to make but for a ZeroYuuki shipper like me, would be rendered as "She's more than a friend or surrogate sibling."

But enough with the OTP digression. That's what the pair does—schedule a trip to Hunters HQ, dogged by a protesting Cross Rijichou, who seems to have secrets of his own.

There are further developments. I stopped at revealing what Yuuki and Zero found in 27th Night: The Archive and forgoed commenting on two more chapters and the special Master Kaname and me so that there's still something for you to uncover.

Rating
I'm giving this volume an 8 of 10 vampire powers sealing tattoos for providing me a reason to continue emotionally investing in this story.

copyright information
Vampire Knight is © Hino Matsuri/HAKUSENSHA, Inc. Singapore English translation rights in Singapore arranged with HAKUSENSHA, Inc., Tokyo through Tuttle-Mori Agency, Inc., Tokyo. No infringement intended.

Keywords
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

THAT WAS GREAT IM A FAN OF VAMPIRE KNIGHT ALSO AND KANAME IS MY FAVORITE (INCLUDING ZERO)

huamulan03 said...

Thanks! I fangirl both ^^

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