Vampire Knight

Genre: Drama (Romance, Action, Mystery)
Length: 13 + 13 episodes
Score: Very good

Cross Academy is an experiment: a place for vampires and humans to try to coexist in peace. The school is split into the Day Class (humans) and the Night Class (vampires), with the humans mostly oblivious to this secret. The eternally beautiful people of the night class are immensely popular among the students, but dangerous by nature. Keeping control of this situation falls to two prefects: Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu.

Vampire society is very different from ours, and somewhat inscrutable; it’s based on an incredibly feudal system where lower ranks have an inherent compulsion to serve the higher, with royal purebloods at the top and mindless “Level E” monsters at the bottom – which is the fate of ex-human vampires. Leading the experiment from the vampire side is Kaname, a pureblood and so one of the few surviving of the highest rank. He’s apparently trying to modernise vampire society, but he’s doing so from the top – students of the lower ranks are following his movement for equality because he tells them to, which is a catch 22 that the humans find hard to understand. Leading it from the human side is Yuki’s adopted father.

When Yuki was little her family were killed by vampires and she was saved by Kaname, so all her life she’s admired him. Zero’s family were also killed, but he’s grown to hate all vampires, and works as a vampire hunter exterminating Level E vampires. The headline story of the series is Yuki’s love triangle, between Kaname and Zero, and the early episodes can even feel a bit like a fluffy romance.

But running underneath that is a current of secrets that grows more complex as the series goes on. Kaname is playing a strange secret game with repercussions for all of vampire society, and he’s not the only one. In the final half-season these secrets explode, fluffy romance is supplanted by conflict, as the truce is shattered and the school turns into a battlefield.

If I have one criticism, it’s that Yuki is too weak a character for the situation – she’s buffeted around by events beyond her ken, and periodically needs a good slap to stop being so wet. To be fair she’s not entirely powerless, and does what she can, but the current of events is more than she can grasp.