Title: Vampire Knight: Fleeting Dreams
Japanese Title: ヴァンパイア騎士 煌銀の夢 (Vanpaia naito: Fureiru no yume)
Author: Fujisaki Ayuna (藤咲 あゆな)
Original Story: Hino Matsuri (樋野 まつり)
Translator: Su Mon Han
Publication Year: 2014 (America); 2013 (Japan)
Publisher: Viz Media
Yesterday I blew through this book in one sitting, and I was like, “Why am I reading this garbage?”
Today I’m sitting in front of my computer, and I’m like, “Why am I reviewing this garbage?”
Vampire Knight: Fleeting Dreams is like a McDonald’s Oreo McFlurry: it’s cheap, it has absolutely no substance, it’s terrible for you, and yet it’s bizarrely compelling.
If you’ve never heard of Hino Matsuri’s Vampire Knight, it’s a shōjo manga supernatural soap opera starring Kurosu Yūki (Yuki Cross in the translation), a high school girl who is the object of the obsessive romantic interest of both Kiryū Zero, a vampire hunter who was bitten and turned as an adolescent, and Kuran Kaname, an older (much older) Pureblood vampire who has known Yūki since she was a small child. While Zero and Kaname glower and brood, Yūki is the embodiment of pure-hearted sweetness. She’s clumsy, she’s stupid, she’s ineffectual, and everyone adores her. Many necks are bitten.
Sexuality is the big theme in the first half of the nineteen-volume manga series, while the intersection of politics and bioethics is the major concern of the latter half (in which everyone is still sexy, of course). Although things happen to Yūki, and although the reader learns more about her background, her character doesn’t really change over the course of the story; and, at the end of the manga, she is just as trusting and cheerful and willing to sacrifice herself for others as she was at the beginning. In essence, although she’s surrounded by adults, she herself never really grows up. It’s from this characterization that the third major theme of the series arises, namely, the preservation of innocence.
What’s really interesting to me about Vampire Knight is that the fantasy the reader is most expected to identify with is not related to being the object of sexual desire or being physically young and healthy forever; rather, the fantasy of Vampire Knight; is all about being protected. Unlike the Twilight novels, in which Bella begins as Sleeping Beauty and ends up as Jean Grey, Yūki does not become a symbol of love or immortality. Instead, the reader comes to associate her with being shielded. Yūki fails at everything she does, but she is always given a second chance, and then a third, and then a fourth. She experiences hardship, certainly, but nothing is ever her fault. Although Yūki’s complete lack of development can be frustrating to the reader, one might say that her true talent lies in not being tainted by the evils of the adult world.
Vampire Knight: Fleeting Dreams is a collection of six short stories written by Fujisaki Ayuna, one of the scriptwriters for the Vampire Knight anime series. Although the book does contain a dozen illustrations by Hino Matsuri, the smoldering eyes and parted lips of the manga are largely (but not entirely) absent, as are all but the briefest references to the political games and secret technologies that dominate the latter volumes of the series. What Fleeting Dreams focuses on is the fantasy of being protected and sheltered, whether it’s Yūki finally succeeding in her studies after being assigned a private tutor, Zero becoming a temporary bodyguard for a female vampire named Shien, or the human students of Yūki’s high school finding a sense of community through a school festival.
My favorite story in the collection is “A Maiden’s Melancholy” (Otome no yūutsu: Aru hi no Howaito Ririi), which is narrated by Zero’s horse, White Lily. Describing herself as “the maiden of the snowy white blossoms,” White Lily is devoted to Zero and will allow no other rider to approach her, a temperament that has resulted in her being labeled as “difficult.” One day, when Headmaster Cross (Yūki’s adoptive father) proposes that White Lily be “matched” with a stallion named Black Sword, she becomes enraged but is unable to communicate her displeasure to Zero, who doesn’t oppose the arrangement. It turns out that the only person who is able to understand White Lily’s feelings is Yūki, who reassures the horse that Zero and Headmaster Cross would never do anything to make her unhappy. What I like about this story is that it highlights Yūki’s narratively underutilized ability to protect those around her because of her empathy, not in spite of it.
Of course, I also enjoyed the fact that the narrator of “A Maiden’s Melancholy” is a horse who proclaims her love for Zero in twenty-point font. It’s a ridiculous situation, and the writer plays it for all it’s worth. To be honest, everything in Fleeting Dreams is way over the top, and its dark heart pumps purple prose. The text is double-spaced and sits in the center of enormous margins, so not even the layout editor is trying to trick you into thinking it’s serious. Although the stories are intended for an audience that has already completed the manga (or Ayuna’s previous three-part novelization of the manga), you really don’t have to have read even a single volume of the series to appreciate the appeal; Fleeting Dreams is like the best (and worst) fanfiction in that the source text almost doesn’t matter.
If you don’t go into this book expecting camp, or if you don’t enjoy campy romance fiction to begin with, I guarantee that you will dislike Fleeting Dreams. As I wrote at the beginning of this review, it’s garbage. Regardless, I’m overjoyed that Viz Media has published it in lovely physical and digital editions, because it’s always good to see more light novels for girls in English. Yen Press has the boys spoiled for choice, and we really need some pointy boy bits (look at those fingers on Hino’s cover illustration!) to balance out all the bouncing breasts currently on offer. Bring on the trashy young adult chick lit!
2 thoughts on “Vampire Knight: Fleeting Dreams”
The design for this book is credited to Fawn Lau. Check out her website!
There’s a great line from The Mary Sue’s review of Jupiter Ascending regarding Eddie Redmayne’s performance: “He is so over-the-top I am not sure where the top even is anymore.” That’s the writing in Fleeting Dreams in a nutshell.
I am of two minds regarding the appeal of the fantasy represented by Yūki always being lovingly protected. I’m really not into the fetishization of female vulnerability; but, in the real world, women are indeed vulnerable. Therefore, while I sincerely desire a world in which women don’t need to be protected, I can totally get behind women feeling wanted to be a little more protected in the world we do live in.
Personally, I’ve come to depend on yaoi so much for my fantasy needs that shoujo no longer feels as “safe” anymore. I was reading Red River the other day, and realized that if it were yaoi it’d be perfectly readable — in fact, it was really similar to another “danmei” series I’d just picked up. That’s the main reason I’m not reading het romance like this anymore — it’s not like I have a high horse though, my standards for yaoi are rock bottom.
Have you read “My Girlfriend’s a Geek” (Fujoshi Kanojo)? Complete with double-spaced font and copious amounts of random capitalization and giant bolded phrases too. I didn’t know this format was actually a thing, heh. It’s compiled from a guy’s blog, about how his fujoshi girlfriend drags him into her world. I think you must have at least heard of the manga, which I prefer because it’s adapted by an actual yaoi mangaka, but I like the novel as well. It doesn’t have that insider perspective that makes the manga effectively a fujoshi manifesto, but the humor derived from her unapologetic fujoshi behaviors is incredibly fun. I was so pleasantly surprised that it was actually licensed.
Regarding Vampire Knight, that brings back so many memories. I got pulled into the story as quickly as I lost interest, which now that I think about it might be because Yuki is such a nonentity. I didn’t finish the series — just read the last chapter after it ended, but from what I remember she feels like a mere sacrificial object, and Zero’s turmoils are somehow much more real. (Also, the plot takes too many turns.) Might be because she’s the inevitable realization of the most selfless of all the selfless heroines, so much so she has no presence. Dunno, it doesn’t feel like the being protected fantasy, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read it, and she’s definitely extremely weak.