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When I first got wind of the Twilight craze, I got excited. Since Harry Potter was coming/had come to a close, I was pining for a new series to obsess over. I had nothing against vampires (as overdone as the genre is), and enjoyed beautiful dark romances. What I really wanted was Vampire Knight, a gorgeous shojo manga published by Viz Media with story and art by Matsuri Hino.
Vampire Knight takes place in Cross Academy, which has a night class (vampires) and a day class (humans). The academy principal believes in peaceful coexistence, so he invites the vampires to attend his school so long as they behave themselves and satisfy their blood lust with special tablets. As a preventative measure, the principal has his daughter (Yuki) and adopted son (Zero) act as guardians, making sure the day class keeps their distance from the night class.
This proves difficult, because the night class in Vampire Knight are your contemporary vampire mold: seductive and extremely powerful. Plus, the night class leader, Kaname, saved Yuki as a child from another, more vicious member of his race. While Yuki has a soft spot for him, Zero had his whole family killed by vampires, and hates every last one of them.
We follow Yuki as she pities and supports Zero while at the same time nurturing a grateful love for her savior Kaname. Sounding familiar? Each character has deep secrets that are slowly yet dramatically unveiled through effective layout design, minimal use of text, and maximum use of expression. Hino’s passion is conveyed in every page through her attention to detail. Despite being gray scale (these images are from the art book) the changing points of view and layout makes every page pop.
There are a few fundamental differences between Twilight and Vampire Knight (Zero isn’t a werewolf, Yuki expresses emotion) but both have a similar goal: to sweep up the reader into a dark, complex, and intensely romantic story. Hino does all that, and throws in amazing art for good measure.