Believe it or not, someone has actually recommended me Vampire Knight once. Legitimately. I don't know why, but I haven't watched it then, yet after getting this title requested, I had no choice but to do what I have neglected once. To tell you the truth, I have thought it's going to be a lot worse than it actually is. Which, obviously, doesn't change the fact that it's terrible in its own way.
Has anybody read any of Edgar Allan Poe's works? You should. I relied on him during my finals and I passed with ease. But that's not about my finals, is it... Well, in case you haven't read his works, let me elaborate: a recurring motif in his works is desperation, caused by something (in most cases death) unavoidable, approaching you step by step. Why does it matter? Well, Vampire Knight tries to show the same kind of desperation, this time caused by the feeling of rapidly passing time and the decision the main character has to make. All in 13 episodes, 24 minutes each... actually 26 episodes, but since the series is split in two seasons, the action is cut by the end of first season somewhere in the middle of the story, which, to tell the truth, if acted out slightly different, could even mark the end of it. This review will be based solely on my experience with season 1. And while it's hard to think of a good plot involving vampires nowadays (the one I came up with for my book-to-come still being out of reach for other writers), this one is not really that bad.
This anime goes by shoujo standards and doesn't even try to deny it - the character designs scream it in your face the moment you start watching. Big eyes and bishounen look of males are just a few things that I opted for initially, and those things exactly have welcomed me right off the bat. However, though... lots of errors and mistakes do appear in places they shouldn't as soon as episode two hits. The eyes go up to 1.5x bigger, the backgrounds look awkward in some frames and at times it feels like the creators have forgotten what they originally set out to do. As for the backgrounds, they're pretty much something found commonly in shoujo series.
While the graphics didn't really shine on their own, the sound does fit in with the premise very well. The opening, while not that catchy, can appeal (or so I think) to the female viewers, and the ending is a great note to finish the episode with. The voice actors, while nothing spectacular, don't fail to meet their expectations either. Sound effects and overall soundtrack of this whole thing makes you feel like this, indeed, is an anime set in such times and circumstances. Overall, the sound is as it should - meets the requirements and doesn't disrupt the viewer.
I can whine all I want, but it'd be a sin to claim that this anime had no plot. In fact, it had one - rather simple, yet still enjoyable. The protagonist, Cross Yuki, is a prefect at Cross Academy - the school where both humans and vampires can study, humans during the day (Day Class) and vampires during the night (Night Class). While the reason for vampires' obedience lies entirely in the hands of Clan Kaname, a Pureblood (the rare kind of vampire held in high regards, with the ability to turn regular humans into vampires), this anime focuses more on the story of Yuki and her troubled heart rather than showing us the outside world or explaining how it all came together. You see, Yuki has went through tough times in the past, and one day she has been attacked by a vampire. Terrified as she was, her prince on a white horse has arrived to protect her - named no other than Clan Kaname. From that point on she has been head over heels for him, and knowing he's a vampire didn't change a thing. Let's fast forward a few years, Yuki gets to know Zero, who has been brought home by her father. Zero has just had his family murdered by vampires, and as it turned out, he alone has barely survived. Yuki takes it on herself to watch over him and acts like a solid caring sister should act. A few years later, on the year this anime takes place, both Yuki and Zero become the prefects who protect the peace in the Academy... just to discover that Zero has in fact been turned into a vampire, and if he isn't helped, he'll over time turn into Level E, a vampire who's lost his mind irreversably. Over the course of the anime and caused by certain events, Cross has to bear one burden in her heart - whether to stay by her savior Clan's side, or pursue the aid for Zero, whom she cares for deeply. Now, while this choice isn't really all that important at the beginning, and we get to see a simple mind of a simple girl with love problems, it gets darker. The more episodes I've watched, the more I discovered that literally every meaningful character in this series has some sort of dark past to their name. Which, put together, adds up to a gloomy, boring and overly dramatized anime that we have to get through just to see a generic, yet interesting story unfold. It had the potential, yet it was buried behind the walls of desperation, unwillingly shaped into an imitation of a tragedy, forcing you, dear readers, to yawn every few minutes looking at the clock. Be it as it can, I had enjoyed the story, incomplete as it is.
As I have already mentioned, each of the characters has some sort of dark past to them. As much as those pasts, if put together and served on a plate as a whole dish, might have been a really good sidestory to follow, the series goes into a whole different direction. They have merely added those pasts to make the characters look gloomy, question their existence and destroy any sort of happiness you might have had. I'm pretty sure that some zombies from Highschool of the Dead or MC's best friends in any harem anime had better pasts than the ones presented here. And yet here we are, the long awaited The Walking Dead anime adaptation - before The Walking Dead was even out! Why do I call it that... maybe because at some points I had the feeling that I'm watching a wrong anime. That maybe this character was supposed to try devouring the brains of everyone around him instead of standing by the wall with his hands down the pockets. Cross Yuki, as cheerful as she seemed in the first episode, is troubled by her maiden heart, in attempt to choose one over the other. And that basically is whole of her character. She's desperate and troubled all the time. Clan Kaname, a softie for Yuki, is actually iron fisted Pureblood ruler of the vampires in the dorm, seeking power. Zero... let me just call him a stubborn donkey with unnecessary existential problems. The rest of the humans are basically consisting of a stupid-yet-sharp father, a based hunter and a whole bunch of airheaded students who stick their necks right into vampires' mouths on every opportunity. The vampires? Half-assed idols of the school, each with his/her dark past to follow.
Have I enjoyed it... I'm not sure. I can tell for sure that at three points I have fallen asleep trying to watch it, and I'm not going to willingly watch the second season anytime soon, even though the curiosity is killing me (though if I were to guess about the plot that follows, I'd probably be right). And yet I'm here, writing this review, contradicting my own words with each paragraph I write. Well, I'll just call out a safe 10/20, with strong words saying 'it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be'.
Total score: 53/100