Title: Rosario + Vampire Season II
Author: Akihisa Ikeda
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen JumpAdvanced)
Volume: Volumes 6 and 8 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2010 by Shueisha in Japan, October 2011 and April 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Romantic comedy, supernatural, harem
Summer vacation is over, and the gang is back at school. New troubles start right away with the arrival of new freshman Fangfang Huang, who wants to recruit Tsukune into his organization. The Huang family is a Chinese mafia clan, and they control all of the Chinese monsters. Fangfang believes that Tsukune single-handedly took down a yakuza office (which he did) and a branch office of Fairy Tale (which he did not). The girls, regardless of Tsukune’s own thoughts, decide this is not going to happen. Until Fangfang informs them that they are all welcome as Tsukune’s polygamous wives in his organization. They’re all for that. Except Moka, of course. Fangfang, who can summon any monster under his clan’s control at random, puts up a fight to beat Tsukune into submission, but his plan backfires when a small monster turns into a giant problem. Tsukune shows remarkable strength in the battle in order to protect his friends, but ultimately it’s Inner-Moka who saves the day once again. Fangfang refuses to give up, however, and comes up with another scheme to get Tsukune to join his clan. On the school’s sports day, Fangfang is on the White Team, while Tsukune and his friends are on the Red Team. If the White Team has more points, Fangfang demands that Tsukune join him. Fangfang’s (dead) older sister arrives (she’s a jiang shi) and suggests that if Red Team wins, Tsukune and his friends can visit their hot springs in China. Over Tsukune’s objections, the girls agree to the arrangement, convinced they’ll win. During the events, no one is allowed to use their supernatural powers or transform into their true forms, so that each event is fair. Unfortunately, Lingling Huang has pulled some strings, and a majority of the White Team is made up of her very own jiang shi. They’re faster, stronger, and apparently filled with small bombs. Despite the obvious rule breaking going on, the jiang shi are legitimately registered students, so the Headmaster lets them slide. The peaceful day Tsukune hoped for gets more chaotic when the parents arrive, including Kurumu, Mizore, and Yukari’s mothers, who aren’t about to let their daughters be made fools of. Unfortunately, sports day ends in a massive brawl, and neither team is declared the winner. So Fangfang, and now his sister Lingling, stay at Yokai to continue chasing after Tsukune. Yukari, who is getting frustrated by the slow progress of Moka and Tsukune’s relationship, makes a magical device that will reveal their feelings for each other. Unfortunately, Fangfang gets his hands on it, and the device goes haywire, switching Yukari and Fangfang’s bodies…on the day the school has arranged for a surprise physical. In all the hubbub, Yukari is able to learn Tsukune’s true thoughts about her, and manages to confess her own feelings in return. With all the excitement going on, Moka is exhausted, so she decides to take a day off and give Inner-Moka a chance to spend a full day released from the rosario. Inner-Moka does her best to enjoy a normal day as a student, but something goes wrong when she attempts to seal herself away at the end of the day – the rosario won’t work.
In order to fix the rosario, the group heads to Hong Kong with the Huang family, hoping to have the sorcerer Tohofuhai repair it. However, when he touches the rosario, he is dragged into Moka’s memories along with Tsukune and Mizore. At the beginning of volume 8, the trio is still trapped within Moka’s mind, but trouble is brewing outside of the Huang manor. The Miao clan has arrived, and they’re there for Moka. Realizing they can’t handle things on their own, Kurumu dives into Moka’s mind to bring everyone back. Inside Moka’s mind, Tohofuhai, Tsukune,and Mizore are given a glimpse of Moka’s childhood. Specifically, her tenth birthday, which was a major turning point in her life. All four sisters (Moka, Koko, Kalua, and Aqua) are gathered at the Shuzen manner for Moka’s birthday, and one of them has a special surprise for her sister. Aqua takes Moka into the heavily locked and sealed basement, where she shows her the Shuzen family’s biggest secret. Within the basement of the Shuzen manner lies the remains of one of the oldest and most powerful vampires, and the first ancestor (original vampire) of the Shuzen family – Alucard. Moka has little time to reflect on this, as her mother, Akasha, is sending her to live with some family friends, effective immediately. As Moka drives away, Aqua approaches Akasha to set her plans in motion. With the blood of the first ancestors, Aqua can becomes a powerful vampire and rule the world, and Akasha stands in her way. To take down the powerful vampire Aqua has learned a devastating technique, the Dimension Sword, which allows her to shift dimensions and cut through anything in her way. Unfortunately, Moka returns in the middle of this battle, and seeing her sister slicing up her mother activates latent powers within her, which draws the attention of the slumbering Alucard. In order to seal Alucard away once again, Akasha sacrifices herself and seals Moka’s true powers away, creating a pseudo-personality to act as the seal along with the rosario – the Moka who has been attending Yokai Academy with everyone, and the Moka Tsukune loves. Kurumu arrives in the nick of time, but a confused Tsukune slips back into Moka’s memories, even as Aqua arrives to claim Moka.
The craziness of volume 6 aside, this is a vastly different Rosario + Vampire from my previous foray into the series. Volume 6 keeps up the comedy, such as it is, with outrageous situations, new characters, plenty of fan service, and the usual competition among the girls for Tsukune’s affections. Yukari is the newest girl to reveal her true feelings for Tsukune, and as usual, he has a brief, immediate reaction, and then the story quickly moves on like it never happened. Then the rosario stops working, and suddenly things actually become interesting for the first time. The fan service is toned way, way down, and everything focuses on Moka and her past. The answer to Tsukune’s question – which Moka is the real Moka – is finally revealed, and unsurprisingly, he is confused and upset to discover that his Moka isn’t real. So upset that he doesn’t really want to face reality anymore, because what’s a world without his Moka? However, a brief glimpse into another moment of Moka’s life suggests that pseudo-Moka may not be as “fake” as everyone thinks, or as she should be. Rather, she seems to be developing independently. Which begs the questions – Which Moka will eventually become the real Moka? They’re becoming completely separate entities, but they reside within one body. The complications are many, and the impending drama is going to rock the foundation of Tsukune’s world. Not to mention have a significant effect on the human world, since Moka’s rosario is directly tied to the seal on Alucard. As for Aqua…. Why does she want to rule the world? Her motivation isn’t really clear, unless it was revealed in the seventh volume, which I don’t have. Most villains have a reason even for just wanting power. She seems disgusted by humans, but there’s no reason for this presented. I don’t have much else to say about the series that I didn’t say when I visited it previously. I still don’t like it, but volume 8 was a far easier read than any previous volume I’ve read (and definitely easier to stomach than the anime). I can live just fine without reading any more of it, however.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.