Title: Rosario + Vampire Season II
Author: Akihisa Ikeda
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump Advanced)
Volume: Volume 9 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2011 by Shueisha, July 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural, romantic comedy, harem
At the end of volume 8, Tsukune, Mizore, and Tohofuhai were trapped in Moka’s mind, observing scenes from her past. Aqua Shuzen (Moka’s eldest sister) attacked the Huang mansion, and seeing they were running out of time, Kurumu dived into Moka’s mind to pull everyone back. Volume 9 picks up with Aqua and Lingling Huang’s battle, and the two are closely matched in power. Unfortunately, Aqua is just a bit better, and has mastered more techniques of the Dimension Sword than Lingling has. Just when it seems like Aqua will win and walk away with Moka as her prize, an unfamiliar figure appears – Tohofuhai in his true form as one of the three Dark Lords. Tohofuhai is far from pleased at the harm Aqua has caused his family, but to his surprise, Aqua dodges his attack, and then pulls out her final trump card – the near lifeless bodies of Feihong and Tiantian (Lingling and Fangfang’s parents). Moka, who doesn’t want her friends to come to any more harm because of her, agrees to go with Aqua, who immediately takes her onto an airship, owned by none other than Fairy Tale. With Moka now in the clutches of Fairy Tale’s HQ, the gang is at a loss on how to proceed. Until two faces from the past reappear, claiming to have all the answers. Hokuto Kaneshiro and Kiria Yoshi know exactly where Moka is headed…because they’re members of Fairy Tale’s first branch office. The branch office also wants to get their hands on Moka, so Hokuto gives Tsukune an ultimatum. They’ll tell him where Moka is if he agrees to work with them and hand her over…or they’ll kill him and his friends on the spot. Left with little choice, and in desperate need of information on Fairy Tale HQ, they comply, but not everything is a complete loss. Tohofuhai managed a little surprise for Aqua that gives the group some extra time. Time they want to use to train to become stronger. They’re joined by several friends from Yokai Academy (Ruby, Gin, Koko, and Gin’s friend whose name escapes me), and Tohofuhai creates a space in which they can train together. He also agrees to train Tsukune personally. Unfortunately, Tsukune just isn’t strong enough to stand up to the Dimension Sword technique, but there is one way he can be. It’s dangerous, and might kill him outright, but Tohofuhai agrees to alter and infuse his body with his own magical energy so Tsukune can wield magic. When Kurumu hears of this, she tries to talk Tsukune out of it. As a succubus, she’s been growing weak due to the fact that she is desperately in love with Tsukune, but he has confessed his feelings for Moka. Even so, when the magical energy in Tsukune causes him to go dangerously out of control, Kurumu steps in and risks her life to save him.
I thought I was done with this series. It seems fate has other ideas (or someone at Viz likes to see me suffer). All I can really say is that this section of the story is more tolerable than earlier volumes. But only slightly. Some of the character motivations are ridiculous, though I guess for a harem they’re fairly normal. Aqua’s motivations are still confusing, unless of course I missed them in a volume I haven’t read (like volume 7). So she’s working for Fairy Tale, OK. But it seems clear she’s using them for her own means, and certainly values her personal goals over theirs. Whatever that goal is. It can’t just be to be near Moka. Well…OK, from what I’ve seen of this series so far, I guess it very well could be that simple (and idiotic, in a “wow this is really bad writing” sort of way). Oh, right, she needs Moka’s seal to break so the seal on Alucard breaks and she can absorb his power for…something. So she’s just a power hungry kid with a sister complex. Then there’s the girls, Kurumu and Mizore, who know damn well that Tsukune is in love with Moka and barely notices them half the time. But they outright refuse to get over him, move on, or look for happiness elsewhere. It wouldn’t be so bad if they recognized he didn’t love them and won’t (which they do), declared they would continue to love him (which they have), but still try to seek out happiness for themselves (which they won’t). And let’s not forget Tohofuhai who, even with his full power as one of the three Demon Lords released, can’t defeat some bratty teenage vampire. Despite all his huffing and puffing and bursts of immense power…which he doesn’t do anything with during the battle. He makes a comment on this himself, so I guess Ikeda is at least aware that it was all show with little purpose. At least Tsukune’s about to be genuinely useful.
With Clare consumed by the massive creature (the fusion of Rafaela and Luciela) along with Priscilla, the other rebel warriors much continue onward without their dear friend. And now that Miria has been struck down by the Claymores loyal to the Organization, they are also without their Captain. Deneve, Helen, and Dietrich approach Rabona, only to find it under siege by yoma and awakened beings. Tabitha, Galatea, and the other rebels help Miata and Clarice repel the yoma forces. After the battle, Galatea reveals what she believes to be Miria’s fate – death at the hands of the Organization as a result of her lone assault. Helen then takes her to Clare – or what’s left of her. They are drawn back by a fight between Tabitha and Deneve, as Deneve knocks some sense into the desperate warrior so they can all move forward. Dietrich, confused over recent events and wary over what the Organization may be up to, decides to join up with the rebels on their journey in order to learn the truth for herself. Meanwhile, the injured Raki is being held by the Organization in Dae’s care. In Raki’s back is found the arm of Priscilla, which stopped the parasitic rods from killing him. Dae questions the organization’s leaders about the identity of the arm and the immense power it holds, but receives no clear answers. He does, however, get permission to use the arm for his experiments, and revives three dead corpses of Number One warriors. As the rebel Claymores continue their to the Organization. Tabitha senses the presence of four warriors on a secret northern path, but just as they consider taking another route, she senses strange yoma energy approaching the unknown warriors. To the north, Anastasia, Nike, Keira, and Phina are approached by a man who quickly transforms into an awakened being. Before he’s brought down, several more men approach and transform. With Phina injured and Keira not powerful enough to fight the creatures off, Anastasia and Nike take on the group alone. As things begin to look dire, Deneve and the others show up and immediately start dispatching the monsters. Dietrich quickly explains the situation to the loyal Claymores, and Deneve explains that Miria believed the Organization was creating male half-demons and using them to wreak havoc. After hearing their story, Anastasia’s group decides to join forces with Deneve’s, and they immediately head out to destroy the facility creating these half-demons. Back at the Organization’s HQ, the Claymores that have been called back are ordered out to stop the invading traitors.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen the anime for Claymore, and I’ve never read the manga before (though I was lucky enough that a friend sent me a copy of volume 19, so I wasn’t entirely lost), so please bear with me if I have no idea what I’m talking about (or can’t find much to talk about). What I like about Claymore, is that it’s a series filled with awesome, kick ass women. True, they’re augmented all to hell with yoma blood, but it’s a mostly female driven series. A female driven series that’s not moe, isn’t about high school girls, isn’t filled with panty shots, gratuitous nudity, or bouncing boobs. Just a solid fantasy-action title with lots of monsters, plenty of gore, strong characters, and an engaging story. Each Claymore has a distinct personality, fighting style, and particular strength. Whether it’s wielding two swords, extreme regenerative powers, or being able to “float” on strands of hair. They could so easily be generic or overly similar (the faceless/nameless ones are, though that’s expected), but Yagi makes each of them unique. The artwork is clean and easy to follow, even in frenetic battle scenes. The monsters appears frightening and powerful, enough to believe that powerful warriors like the Claymores could be afraid of them. The conflicts among the Claymores themselves are genuine, with each warrior choosing her own path based on her own instincts, or following the one who commands their loyalty beyond the Organization. It’s a good action title, and it’s a fairly quick read, with plenty going on in the background to maintain interest.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.