As the title suggests, this is the first volume in the Vampire Knight series, and as such this volume has all the weaknesses of an opening – as well as the strengths of a good one. It is a strong introduction to the concept, the characters and what aspects of the story will provide the conflict and the plot. I quickly and easily grasped all the factors/characters in play, so it was annoying to have the base premise (private school, two groups of students, the group that comes out at night are – shock – vampires) thoroughly and heavy-handedly retold to me, and I ended up ignoring the recap message in favour of the artwork alone.
Speaking of the artwork, it is easily the best thing about Vampire Knight. It is gorgeous, and the whole thing is filled with highly detailed panels that are a real treat on the eyes – every so often I would stop and just spend a few moments taking in all the tiny details, or just going “wow”. There is a distinct difference between the humans and vampire characters, so it only takes a glance to tell which group side/background characters belong to. There was one narration box, in amongst several describing the differences between the day and night classes, that informed us that the night class are “all extremely beautiful” – my (spoken aloud) response was “You don’t need to tell me!”
With most of the focus being on introducing everything and everyone to the reader, there is unfortunately less time spent on character development. We get just enough to cover the basics, with whatever is left dished out amongst the main characters. Male protagonist Zero does get the bulk of that, as it is his storyline that really is moving forward the plot in this volume; unfortunately the little that is left over for main character Yuki Cross is not quite enough. Unfortunately she does get put into the damsel role a little bit too much. On the other hand, she does have spirit and potential, and I hope to see some growth and development there in future volumes. I hope that will be the case with all the characters really, now that the introduction has (for the most part) been dealt with.
Despite some minor quibbles, overall I found Vampire Knight: Volume 1 an enjoyable (and beautiful!) introduction to a series that I would love to read more of – I know I am really enjoying a work is if I find myself actively shipping two (or more) characters, which was the case here. So if you are like me and will devour anything to do with vampires, I suggest you take a look at Vampire Knight.