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Matt “Sparkly” Kamen finds five reasons to love Vampire Knight more than that other story of the undead…

January 2005 – Hina Matsuri’s Vampire Knight manga debuts in the pages of LaLa magazine. October 2005 – Stephanie Meyer’s ‘vampire’ novel series begins publication in the USA. Both feature girls as their main protagonists, and both girls are caught in a love triangle between supernatural boys. Which series has the edge? There’s only one way to find out – FIGHT!

5 – Vampire Knight has style, baby!

Vampire Knight is set in the gloriously gothic Cross Academy, a private school where the Human Day Class and the Vampire Night Class are kept apart by the efforts of the super-powered Guardians. The students all wear crisp and stylish uniforms, while the backgrounds are full of baroque fittings, ornate decoration and other elements that bring to mind the romantic, European hallmarks of real vampires. It’s refined, aspirational and frankly impressive.

Twilight is set in Forks, Washington State. The city’s claim to fame is logging. Most people wear plaid. We bet Edward wouldn’t be half as interesting to Bella if she’d moved somewhere that actually had something to do. If your options are chopping trees down or vampire stalkers, we’d probably bare our necks, too.

4 – Yuki Don’t Need No Protector!

Twilight’s Bella is a total Mary Sue, practically perfect in every way, leading vampires and werewolves alike to lust after her. Other than that, she’s a bit useless – an angst-ridden plot device with daddy issues who needs constant rescuing and, at best, becomes an extreme sports adrenaline junkie. Even then, that’s solely for the purpose of putting herself in near-death encounters, all so she can see hallucinations of Edward. We’re not sure if the 104-year old teenage vampire hitting on a teenage girl is more or less unsettling than a girl so obsessed with her stalker that she keeps jumping in front of traffic.

Meanwhile, Vampire Night’s Yuki can fend for herself – she’s already a proficient Guardian when we meet her, able to keep humans and vampires separate and wielding the powerful Artemis Rod, an anti-vampire weapon given to her by her adoptive father. Sure, she’s a ditz at times, and she’s carried a torch for powerful vamp Kaname since she was a girl but, geez, at least she can go five minutes without him before going into a fatalistic depression. Seriously Bella, get a grip.

3 – They’re pretty, we get it!

Sure, the girls of the Day Class go nuts for the effortlessly gorgeous pretty boys of the Night Class, but at least we’re not told over and over again just how pretty they are. Meyer has Bella comment on Edward’s total dreamboat-ness practically every time she sees him, to the point we’re surprised she doesn’t swoon into his clammy, undead arms! Whole paragraphs are spent reinforcing just how hunky he is – leaving us wondering why the resoundingly plain Robert Pattinson plays him onscreen – which leaves Bella over-obsessed and creepy.

2 – No ‘Teams’

Are you on Team Edward or Team Jacob? We elevated ourselves above the fray and joined ‘Team No-One Cares’. The worst part of the whole rivalry between Bella’s would-be paramours was that it was all a poorly conceived marketing ploy on the part of the Twilight movie studio, Paramount. By the time the first movie hit cinemas the final book had already been published, leaving absolutely no surprise as to whom Bella ‘chose’.

In contrast, Vampire Knight fans aren’t riled up into ‘Team Zero’ or ‘Team Kaname’ factions, and all the better for it – we’d rather avoid screaming hordes of cosplayers kicking off with each other over who Yuki should be with for eternity.

1 – Sparkle-free Zone

Yes, it’s an easy target, but good grief, vampires are meant to spontaneously combust under the harsh light of the sun, not shine like a cheaply made tin robot (if cheaply made tin robots fed on human blood, that is). The Twilight approach to the parched undead drives anyone who’s ever encountered any real vampire fiction to reach for the wooden stakes, just to put themselves out of the misery of existing in the same world. Vampire Knight is much more authentic, and though suave and romantically-themed, villains for the most part at least have a survival-driven reason to avoid getting a suntan. Of course, what the series lacks in sparkles, it does make up for in entire orchard’s worth of rose petals flying around for no real reason….

Am I biased? Perhaps a bit – but I can’t wait for Twilight to just go away, so real vampires can make a resurgence. Until that happens, we’ve got Vampire Knight to fill the void!

Vampire Knight: Guilty: Volume 1, is out on UK DVD on 4th April from Manga Entertainment. Matt Kamen will be in witness protection for a while.

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