Title: Rosario + Vampire Season II
Author: Akihisa Ikeda
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump Advanced)
Volume: Volumes 4 and 5 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2009 by Shueisha, April 2011 and July 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural, harem, action, romantic comedy
When Tsukune Aono failed out of his high school choices, he (mostly his parents) was delighted to get accepted to a private school called Yokai Academy. A bus takes him through a strange tunnel and drops him off on the bizarre looking school grounds, where he immediately bumps into a cute girl named Moka. Who proceeds to bite him in the neck. Moka is a vampire, and Yokai Academy is a special, hidden school for monsters of all kinds. During his first year, Tsukune meets various other monsters, including the succubus Kurumu Kurono, the snow fairy Mizore Shirayuki, and the pint-sized witch Yukari Sendo. In true harem fashion, all four girls fall in love with Tsukune, and fight over him on a regular basis. They are all powerful, but Moka has a distinct advantage. Her true form is an ultra powerful vampire, released when the rosary seal around her neck is removed. This, of course, means there are two distinct Mokas, which causes quite a dilemma for love struck Tsukune. Dangers abound for a lone, secret human in a school full of monsters, but his harem of monster girls protects him. Even from Moka’s younger sister, Koko, and occasionally the witch Ruby. In volume 4, the gang finds themselves in deep trouble in the Land of the Snow Fairies, as they struggle against a mysterious group to keep Mizore from having to marry Miyabi Fujisaki. Another of the vampire sisters appears to put a stop to their plans – the assassin Kalua. Kalua insists that Mizore turn herself over, but Tsukune and friends won’t allow it. Seeing that they won’t comply with her demands, the innocent looking Kalua turns deadly and attacks the girls and Tsukune. Tsukune breaks Moka’s seal so she can defend them, but not even Moka can seem to take Kalua down, especially once she releases a seal of her own. With death looking more likely for all involved, the combat stops when Miyabi suddenly appears and calls Kalua off. He quickly leaves with her, leaving plenty of questions for Tsukune and the gang. Realizing they need to become stronger, everyone decides to start training harder, particularly Tsukune, who is frustrated with being mostly useless. Moka’s blood flows through him, so there is power to use, if he can just learn to control it. A task Ruby is all too ready to help him with. Using a chain to bind them together that channels Tsukune’s excess power into Ruby, Ruby gives Tsukune a magic-cancelling whip called Belmont to help him release his energy from its seal. When the Headmaster informs the others of the secret, and dangerous, dimension he has sent Tsukune and Ruby, they all rush off to help, only to find Tsukune making quick work of the world’s monsters. Realizing that the whip allows her to return to her true form without the removal of the rosario, Moka decides to take Tsukune’s training into her own hands. Meanwhile, Koko tries to convince Kurumu to use her powers to make Tsukune hers, and while the succubus explains that she doesn’t want to force him to love her, she accidentally casts a strong charm over him. Not wanting the others to get angry, she hides Tsukune away, and uses the opportunity to confess her true feelings.
Fan service ahoy! Tsukune’s harem competes to see whose swimsuit he likes the best, as the gang takes a break from training to head to the beach in the human world. Realizing that his training has come to a standstill, Tsukune considers quitting entirely, until Moka and a mute stranger named San are kidnapped. Since monsters are not allowed to fight humans (Yokai school rules), Tsukune realizes that he is the only one who can save them and puts Inner-Moka’s training to work by easily defeating the captors. San turns out to be a Yokai alumni, and in fact is the former president of the newspaper club, where she met Ginnei Morioka. She also happens to work at the inn the group is staying at during their vacation. Their troubles are not over, however. For one thing, the inn is in danger of shutting down, which means San will no longer have a place to work, or a family to go home to. She and the inn’s owner, Marin Kawamoto, are very close, though of course Marin does not know San is a monster. The gang comes up with a plan to save the inn by opening up the long closed restaurant and drawing in customers with their swimsuit attire. It works spectacularly well (as these things often do), and the inn is saved for the moment. But only the briefest of moments, as the group behind San’s kidnapping is not about to let her get away. It’s Fairy Tale, and they’re recruiting, and won’t take “no” for an answer. They want San, and they’ll do anything to acquire her. Including sending the branch leader, Kanade Kamiya, to personally convince her to join. Tsukune and company would love to come to her defense, but unfortunately Kanade is a powerful Siren, and he can use his voice to dominate, kill, paralyze, brain wash…basically whatever he wants. His incredible powers force San to take action and reveal her own – she is also a Siren, and she’s not about to let Kanade hurt Marin or her new friends. Meanwhile, Ginnei goes straight to the source and raids the local Fairy Tale branch, with a little help from Haiji Miyamoto.
I watched the anime before diving into these volumes (See the pains I take for you guys?), hoping to catch up with the story and become familiar with the characters. The first thing I noticed as I read the manga was the immediate drop in excessive fan service. It’s still there, of course, but the anime is littered in a truly absurd amount of unnecessary pantie shots and gratuitous nudity. I can’t honestly recall a single legitimate pantie shot in the fourth volume of this manga, though there’s plenty of fan service elsewhere (including nudity and skirt flapping). The worst (and frankly, kind of disgusting) offense was the “shock” that Ruby receives along the chain she is using to help Tsukune control his powers. It’s grossly sexual. Tsukune uses his whip, and a trail of power channels down the chain binding them together, shocking Ruby and causing her pain that she revels in, eventually resulting in what can only be described as orgasmic release. Is it any wonder I can’t stand this series? It’s too sexualized to be viewed as comedy; the scene plays out like a hentai doujin. Volume 5, aside from being filled with barely-there swimsuits, focuses on the future. Specifically, what future the students of Yokai Academy will make for themselves, in the monster world, or in the human world, once they graduate. The gang ponders on how difficult it must be for a monster to find work and settle into the human world, and they also wonder what will become of their friendships. Will they all be separated, or will they find a way to remain close to each other? I wish I could say I cared, but I don’t. And the writing does little to invoke any real interest. Nor does it prove that it really is hard for monsters to find a life in the human world. Especially since it seems they’re able to find jobs more readily than humans themselves. The only real conflict on that account that arises here is when Marin realizes that her innocent looking San is a powerful monster. She is initially terrified and appalled, but as she watches the so-called monsters protect her, and in particular how San throws everything away for her sake, she changes her mind before the battle’s end. Which is a very quick change for someone whose husband was murdered and eaten by a Siren, but her relationship with San is quite strong. With San pretty much single-handedly defeating a top ranking member of Fairy Tale, it’s hard to imagine they’re really that much of a threat. Ginnei defeats one, too, and he and Haiji take out an entire compound of Fairy Tale agents on their own. Though their goal is to destroy humanity and let monsters reign, they’re not really all that scary in light of this volume’s events. At any rate, I have two more volumes of this to review (6 and 8), and then hopefully I’ll never have to bother with this series again. I will say, that if you’re at all interested in the series, avoid the anime and go for the manga, which is far tamer (at least in these volumes) in comparison in regards to its over-the-top fan service, which seems to be more important than the story.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.