Title: Vampire Knight Guilty
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 7 Oct 2008 – 30 Dec 2008
Synopsis: A sense of normalcy has once again returned to Cross Academy, if temporarily, after the incident involving Hiou Shizuka. After jumping to conclusions about Kiryuu Zero’s role in the incident, the Vampire Council puts out an order to execute him, but Kuran Kaname steps in and protects Zero. However, much to Cross Yuuki’s chagrin, Kaname won’t acknowledge Zero’s innocence in front of her, despite knowing not only who the real perpetrator in the incident is, but also knowing just why Shizuka came to Cross Academy in the first place.
Tone: Dark and brooding, like the first season; still very much overwrought and angsty.
Imagery: Both darkly romantic, and ominous; the ED sequence takes the cake.
Mystery: We’re given all the answers, but some aren’t quite as rewarding as others.
Plot: A massive plot twist just after half-way makes everything after it feel underwhelming.
Conflict: Main antagonist doesn’t scheme well enough to keep the conflict from being one-sided.
By all accounts I should be happier with Vampire Knight Guilty than I am, since it met all my expectations and answered most of my criticisms from the first season. I certainly can’t say I was disappointed with how Vampire Knight Guilty resolved the elaborate mystery it had set up in the first season, but I can’t really say I was all that impressed either. I guess I was satisfied, but there were a number of reasons that prevented this from being more than merely “satisfactory”.
The first few episodes were really good. As is standard for Vampire Knight, angst and introspection is the order of the day. Some people probably won’t be able to tolerate how overwrought this anime executes most things, but I daresay the majority of them would have abandoned ship during the first season. Yuuki deals constantly with vampirism, not just with the events and conspiracies happening around her as the forces of the Association, the Council, the pure-bloods and the students and faculty of Cross Academy elaborately scheme and cross paths to satisfy each of their own unique motives, but also internally, as the lingering trauma of the day she lost her memory manifests itself in some rather gruesome visions. These visions are really well done; they’re sinister, rife with romantically dark imagery of blood, roses, ghostly figures and malevolent children’s laughter (check out the ED sequence in particular for the epitome of this dark, romantic imagery, it’s a work of art). It all contributes to a character that is deeply troubled and scarred, which is good. The gravity of Yuuki’s experiences make up for the fact that her personality isn’t all that interesting.
Things come to a head in what is arguably the most surprising and shocking plot twist of the year, but after that the show seemingly runs out of material, trying and failing to come up with something to top itself. After the massive shock, everything just seems subpar, particularly the final bad guy, who’s merely intimidating, but never genuinely dangerous. Without giving away too much, he just doesn’t cut it in the battle of the wits; try to imagine what would happen if Code Geass’ Lelouch took on the might of Britannia, and their greatest tactical mind was Euphemia. Not much of a conflict, right.
The conspiracies of the Association and the Vampire Council turn out to be much more intriguing, but they’re dealt with as an aside to the less compelling main conflict. I’ll give the plot credit for being very well crafted, even if it does become underwhelming after a somewhat early climax, but I wouldn’t say the characters are quite as interesting. We finally get an explanation for Kaname (even if I do have a couple of lingering, yet unimportant questions about him), but his stoic demeanor makes him difficult to connect to. The most sympathetic and well rounded character remains Zero, even if he is a continual fountain of angst. But he’s not the only one, so a tolerance of this form of angst is a must in order to get through this series. The reward is a mystery plot that’s complete and full of intrigue, but once the story blows you out of your chair six episodes before it ends, don’t expect it to happen again. Almost everything after that is disappointing in comparison.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun