Vampire Knight is a vampire romance and shojo manga from creator Matsuri Hino. VIZ Media published an English-language edition of the series as a 19-volume graphic novel series under its “Shojo Beat” format (2007-2014).
Vampire Knight is set in and around Cross Academy, a school for vampires (the “Night Class”) and humans (the “Day Class”) and focused mostly on the following characters: Headmaster Kaien Cross; his stepdaughter, Yuki Cross, a pure-blood vampire; Zero Kiryu, a human suffering from the curse of the vampire; and Kaname Kuran, the progenitor of a pure-blood vampire family line. At the end of Vampire Knight, Kaname sacrifices his body to create new vampire-killing weapons for the vampire-hunting Hunter Society and then, sleeps for a thousand years.
A few years after the end of the original series, Hino began producing a series of “special chapters.” These “Memories” are chapters that recount the events which occurred during Kaname's slumber. VIZ Media publishes Vampire Knight: Memories annually as a single-volume graphic novel.
Vampire Knight: Memories, Vol. 4 opens with the story, “Dark Shadows of the Underground.” It is a precarious time in the relationship between vampires and humans. A mysterious group calling itself the “Vampire King” has launched a terrorist campaign of bombings. Yuki and Zero are determined to capture the Vampire King, a mission that will take them deep into the underground areas beneath the city. With the help of Maria Kurenai, a young leader in the Hunter Society, they close in on the quarry. Their target, however, is also prepared for them and has plans to take prisoners.
In “One Step After a Hundred Years,” Yuki realizes just how shocking what she blurted out to Zero is. What will she do about what she said? Is she willing to join Zero in a life-changing event? Finally, in the stories, “The Hope Inside a Photo Album” and “Goodbye and Hello,” a rabble-rousing human mayor of a nearby city pulls a publicity stunt that leads to Headmaster Cross making a decision that will have momentous consequences.
[This volume includes the bonus story, “The End of a Certain Lady;” the one-page comic, “Memories of Little Consequence;” and “Editor's Notes.”]
THE LOWDOWN: I am a fan of the Vampire Knight manga, although I did not like the final graphic novel, Vampire Knight, Vol. 19. As for the Vampire Knight: Memories manga, the various chapters have been of uneven quality. Some are exceptionally good, while others run the gamut from good, to bad, to average. The graphic novel collections have been good, especially Vol. 2, and Vol. 3 stood out by focusing on romance.
Vampire Knight: Memories Graphic Novel Volume 4 picks up on a theme and plot line that began to play out in Vol. 3 – the rising tensions between humans and vampires after a period of peace between the two races. Vol. 4 is filled with tense stand-offs, kidnappings, rescues, subterfuge, suspicion, bombings, and mad scientists. There is also some romance and a shocking turn of events that I do not want to spoil. I can say that in the chapters that comprise Vol. 4, creator Matsuri Hino has brought back the mystery and the violence and the romance and the drama that were the highlights of the best chapters in the original run of Vampire Knight.
Tetsuichiro Miyaki (translation) and Nancy Thislethwaite (English adaptation) do stellar work conveying the deep feelings of love and family between characters like Yuki, Zero, Headmaster Cross, and Ren and Ai (Yuki and Kaname's children). They also capture the heartfelt emotions, the sadness, and the sense of hope that define the end of Vol. 4. Inori Fukuda Trant's lovely and quiet lettering emphasizes the drama with power that lingers after the final page.
Fans of the original series would serve themselves well to obtain this fourth volume of Vampire Knight: Memories, especially if they have not really followed the series since its English-language debut in 2017. Vol 4 is a winner for sure.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of Vampire Knight will want the Shojo Beat title, Vampire Knight: Memories.