Reviews: Rosario To Vampire
Manga, Season II: Good, bordering on great
Needless to say, my opinion of the first series left me wary going into Season II. However, itís apparent nearly from the outset that Season II addresses nearly every of the original's flaws, even if that doesnít save it from a few flaws of its own. The most immediately apparent improvement is that the humor is actually funny more than once every 5-10 chapters. The obvious cause for this is that there are actually jokes now besides the girls fighting over Tsukune. The humor is still often hit-or-miss, especially with out-of-place humor in tense moments, but it actually got to the point that the harem gags were spaced far enough apart to elicit some laughs. Speaking of the girls fighting over Tsukune, the characters in general get much more balanced spotlight. Most every major character, both those introduced in the first series and those new to Season II, get ample opportunity to show off how capable they truly are. Thereís also a much stronger sense of camaraderie between them; fewer arguments occur between them, those that do are juxtaposed with moments to show how close they are, and interpersonal drama is all either replaced with drama challenging them all as a group, or done in such a way that it comes off much less contrived. Episodic antics also give way to long-running plot arcs, which all end up interconnecting with one another and coming together for the climax. In this aspect, though, Season II stumbles and swings too far in the other direction from its predecessor. While everything coming together sounds nice, the huge breadth of plot points and characters introduced throughout prior arcs means the climax and resolution are absurdly long, and eventually fall victim to Arc Fatigue. Hampering the final arc further is that the ultimate antagonist eventually becomes so powerful, their defeat ends up feeling like a cop-out, even if there was slight foreshadowing to the method. The epilogue doesnít help the feeling of being a cop-out, since it implies that at least one major consequence of the final battleís resolution will get undone in time. Overall, Season II is a marked improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way while still managing to retroactively add weight to what happened in it. It stumbles a bit on the way to the finish line, but the journey overall is definitely worth it.
Manga, series 1: Bad, but not horrible
I wasnít quite sure what to expect with this series. Iíd heard many examples of the anime bastardizing the manga, yet most of them referred to the Season II manga. First, Iíd have to get through the 40 chapters of the original series. As it turned out, there was a good reason most people talked exclusively about Season II. Most of the series takes place in an academy for youkai, designed to help them integrate into the human world. While the premise is interesting, the devil is in the details; most chapters are rigidly split between "mundane high school life" and "superpowered battle," and neither is executed very well For one thing, the main characters have very few significant interactions; most of the time, the female cast members are fighting over Tsukune, while he helplessly tries to placate them. Most of the humor amounts to the girls injuring or insulting each other, and it's rarely witty or cartoonish enough to warrant more than the occasional chuckle. Even the more significant interactions amount to characters hating each otherís guts over a minor squabble, only to reconcile by chapterís end (and repeat the whole song and dance later). The series wants you to believe theyíre all close companions, but with how rarely they regard each other remotely fondly, that ends up hard to believe. The battles are equally formulaic. Most of the battles are just the heroes being hopelessly outmatched before Inner Moka or Ghoul Tsukune emerges and solves everything in no time flat. The formulaic layout of chapters also hinders the development of larger plots. Thereís an antagonistic organization introduced halfway through, but itís as if thereís a queue for its members to appear. Members appear to cause trouble for 2-3 chapters, get defeated, and are never seen again, just in time for another member to appear and repeat the process. Strangely, the series doesn't end with that plot; after itís resolved, there are a few more chapters before the series just stops. Itís obviously meant to lead directly into Season II, though that raises the question of why the distinction exists at all. Overall, R+V is bland in its badness. Iím hard-pressed to think of anything it consistently does right, but the worst emotion I felt when reading it was boredom. Hereís hoping Season II makes it all worth it.
Rosario + Vampire: Top Notch Manga, Not Bad Anime
This review is going to be specifically about the anime, as other reviewers have done a top notch job reviewing the manga that's been published thus far. So, having just finished the second season of the Manga, I decided I wanted to rewatch the anime (it having been a couple of years, I couldn't remember much about it, other than that it amused me.) So, when I first watched the anime some years ago, it was because I had just stopped watching another series on Netflix and now I wanted to try something different. I just kind of came across it, and I thought "Hey, this could be fun." And boy was I right. FYI: It was the anime that got me interested in the manga. As stated above, yes, the series veers HEAVILY from the manga, and is much more light hearted, very akin to the first bit of the manga. I'm going to try not to spoil anything, but Tsukune meets the girls much quicker than in the manga (especially Mizore), but it's done both humorously and, more suprisingly, naturally. Each episode is faily self-contained, but there is an overarching story to both seasons 1 and 2, though less so in season 2. There is, as stated above, copius amounts of fanservice, and and if you were to play a drinking game where you took a shot every time you saw panties...I doubt you'd survive past the first 4 episodes. But here's where the other shoe drops: Even though this series is much more light hearted and "fun" than the manga, the same themes that Akihisa Ikeda said were the themes of the series, such as everyone being friends despite their differences, shines through beautifully. More than being a typical Harem, to dumb to live guy, Tsukune slowly becomes the linchpin character and the main cause of peoples (well, monsters, in this case, ha ha) learning to come together. Characters straight up deny their parentage in favor of their friendships with others, and the character development, despite there really only being a whooping 26 episodes between the two seasons, is suprisingly strong. Was there a lot of wasted potential? Yes, there was. I would have loved to have seen a more faithful adaptation of the manga. But what I got was still a heck of a lot of fun and had some pretty epic moments as well. My suggestion? If you're looking for some laughs while still watching a decent anime, give it a try. Maybe you'll be suprised as well.
Rosario Plus Vampire: Okay manga, HORRIBLE anime
Rosario plus Vampire is, well, one of those series. It's a straight-up Harem, complete with Comedic Sociopathy, Wish Fulfillment, and of course, mountains upon mountains of nugget-filled Fan Service. Only this time, all the girls are Cute Monster Girls, the winning girl is chosen immediately and adhered to throughout, and the protagonist eventually stops being a wimpy Everyman and starts kicking ass. Unless you're talking about the anime. The story begins with Tsukune, a completely average student, enrolling in the last high school he can get into. Unfortunately, said school is for teaching monsters how to blend in with humans, and if Tsukune is found out, he will be killed. Shortly after arriving, he meets Moka, a dim-witted vampire addicted to his blood, and becomes a virtually-unstoppable badass when her rosary is removed. From there, his harem expands to include Kurumu (a succubus), Yukari (a loli witch), Ruby (an older witch), and Mizore (a snow woman). The second season adds Kokoa, Moka's slightly psychotic younger sister. Unless you're talking about the anime. So, what is it that really separates Rosario from the thousands of other such series? The plot. The series quickly dumps the harem structure in favor of long, character-driven story arcs. The girls are not just window dressing; they actually grow and develop as characters, and unlike so many similar manga, are all equally sympathetic. The only problem I had with this approach is the MASSIVE Arc Fatigue at the end of Season One. Fortunately, Season Two greatly improved on just about everything. Especially the Mizore arc. Unless you're talking about the anime. Yeah, there was a two-season anime. It sucks. The writers took the first two chapters, threw out everything that came after, and instead turned it into one of the most fanservicey anime in recent memory. Where the manga dropped the "hiding your humanity" point pretty early, the anime keeps it through the whole run. The only two story arcs it does adapt suffer from massive Adaptation Decay. The second season adds Kokoa... and proceeds to fuck her character up beyond recognition. It's like a reversion to the late 1990s. In closing: try the manga, stay away from the anime.
If you told me to judge Rosario + Vampire on the first volume, I would probably trash it. Yet for less mature reasons, when I was younger I followed it to the end of the first season. It got more intense and action-packed with each volume but it still didn't stick out. At it's best it was transparent and stole ideas from better manga, at worst it was like its fanservice driven anime. Then the second season came out, and I was legitimately surprised. The story introduced more male characters to the cast, focused the girls personal and private thoughts rather than Tsukune's reactions to them, and began to challenge the themes of its very own genre. One of favorite scenes was when Gin talked to a heartbroken Kurmuru about her problems with Tsukune and to an extent Moka. Their conversation is mature and thought provoking as the issues rarely get addressed in harem manga, and even moreso with a member of the opposite sex that isn't the lead. What I also like is the dynamics of Moka's family. Moka childhood and family history is largely dysfunctional and addressing these issues is largely what contributes to her character development. While Tsukune still retains the role of main character, he serves as a supporting protagonist, and its ultimately up to Moka and her family to resolve these problems. Another interesting point is that many of these problems stem from her father, who seems to be the manga counterpoint to Dracula and has a similar resemblance to Tsukune . Like Dracula, Issa had three wives resulting in visible favoritism and infighting caused many of the conflicts and trauma in Moka's life. If the manga continues in this direction, this manga could be a very good deconstruction of the harem genre. Of course, that would require a complex and mature protagonist, which brings me to the biggest con of Rosario + Vampire. Like many things Season 2 evolved Tsukune, but only from irritating to bearable. The author has replaced his dialogue from "Wow, you like me!" with shonen stock quotes about friendship and other nonsense. He sacrifices his humanity in the second season but treats it more like an upgrade than any personal loss. He's not terrible but his personality isn't as interesting as his harem or friends. Season 2 is coming to a close and while it was flawed, I enjoyed it and look forward to an even better Season 3.
Excellent, definitely worth reading.
NOTE: This review only applies to manga. FUCK the anime. The first review pretty much took all the words out of my mouth and I don't have much too say. I greatly enjoy how each and every haremettes are treated as more than just a fanservice factory, which make them and their interactions with Tsukune very sympathetic, sweet, overall very enjoyable. One of the things that I applaud the most about the series is that how friendship driven it is. Everyone cares about each other as friends and throws away boobshoving and pantyflashing to make a space for friendship. How many harem series do you see that actually even tries, much less succeeds in that? Then there's the action scenes and Tsukune getting stronger. Sure, it may feel bit too sudden for some, but the way he does is highly satisfying and actually relevent to his Character Development. Of course, who can forget about the art? You would be fooled during first few volumes but Season II and onwards? Art improves MASSIVELY and everyone looks just so damn gorgeous, and for Tsukune...let's just say the chances are he WILL evoke Stupid Sexy Flanders for ya. Still, I have to admit that the first few volumes can be quite weak, but it DOES get better. A LOT. So give it a chance, it will be definitely worth it.