"Rosario+Vampire" Seasons 1 & 2: Not a Brain in Its Pretty Head
Watching Rosario+Vampire is the equivalent of a date with a really hot, uninhibited girl who is dumb as a brick. Oh sure, she’s easy on the eyes, she may even sleep with you, but in the end, what does it matter if she doesn’t stimulate you emotionally or intellectually, or offer anything besides her body? Or to put another way, do you remember the Seinfeld episode “The Nose Job”, where Jerry is dating a really obnoxious woman and is conflicted whether to break up with her because she happens to be good in bed? Well, just like that episode, watching Rosario+Vampire is like pitting your brain and your penis in a chess match. But the brain easily wins this game; the uninteresting writing sinks this one rather quickly despite the fan service, and towards the end, I just wanted it to be done already.
Tsukune Aono is your typical high school boy who gets bad grades; nonetheless, he is able to transfer to a private school anyway. The catch is, said school, Yokai Academy, is for half-monsters, which of course causes all-human Tsukune to feel out-of-place. Still, Tsukune manages to make friends with Moka Akashiya, a sweet, pink-haired vampire who loves to suck Tsukune’s blood on a regular basis and can transform into her tough-talking alter ego if someone unhooks her cross necklace. However, as is the case in many harem shows, other girls vie for Tsukune’s affections as well, and soon we’re introduced to Kurumu Kurono, a big-breasted succubus with a hypnotizing stare, retractable claws, and the ability to fly; Yukari Sendo, a young witch who is frequently teased for her lack of breasts; and Mizore Shirayuki, the token monotone taciturn gal of the group, a snow fairy who is always seen sucking on a lollipop. Even a couple of teachers have the hots for Tsukune, such as the math instructor who lures him into after-school tutoring sessions in order to whip him, dominatrix-style.
Season 1 starts off promisingly, as the whole set-up has allusions of segregation and racism, especially when one of the characters tells about the time they went to a public school and were ostracized for being different. Moka, the only one who knows that Tsukune is 100% human, agrees to keep his secret. However, this plot point is more or less shoved into the background until the last couple episodes in the series, when Tsukune’s secret is revealed and he’s about to be executed for it. (Seems a bit extreme and over-the-top.) The second season introduces a new character, Kokoa Shuzen, a loud, cocky orange-haired vampire who is Moka Akashiya’s younger half-sister. She’s made the trek to Yokai Academy to track down Moka, though she’s more interested in Moka’s alter ego personality, as that side of her is who she knew (and frequently battled with) growing up; she couldn’t care less about the kind Moka that’s usually seen. Many of the Kokoa plots concern her wanting to remove Moka’s cross necklace so Moka’s alternate personality is always on, and it gets old pretty quickly.
Speaking of getting old, what really hurts this show is the amount of repetition. Prepare to see the following in each episode:
1) Moka sucks Tsukune’s blood. Usually ends the episode, but can occur at other times as well.
2) This exchange: “Oh Tsukune.” “Oh Moka.” (Repeat a few times in succession.) They’re trying to pass this off as dialogue?
3) During a villain battle, Tsukune removes Moka’s cross necklace, allowing her to transform into her alternate form. This is usually accompanied by a transformation sequence which, while not as drawn out as in some shows, is still repeated animation every time it happens.
4) A cute mascot named Koa announces, in seconds, how long a fight took.
5) Panty shots galore. We’re talking Aika levels here. If a shot has a female in it, nine times out of ten it will be shot at a low angle or their short skirt will fly up.
6) The girls fighting over Tsukune, like he’s the only attractive male in the school. Typically they’ll tug at both his arms, or compare chest sizes with each other, or balance their boobs on his head, or try to seduce him in some fashion, etc.
The presentation has its ups and downs. Gonzo did the animation, and while it’s not bad, it’s far from their best work. Occasionally, there are bits of higher frame rates and in-betweens (typically reserved for breast bouncing and the action sequences), but there are also a lot of still shots with only the characters’ mouths moving. Of note when it comes to shortcuts, there’s a sequence in episode 13 where the camera pans up a character, then starts back at the bottom and repeats the same pan three more times. I generally liked the character designs, though; the main girls have a distinct look and are visually appealing in their own way. But again, it’s not worth buying just for the character designs.
Special features include clean openings/endings and trailers. Not too much here. As for the FUNi dub, it’s mostly fine, but it’s one of those series where the dub writers apparently thought it needed extra swearing or it wouldn’t be engaging or funny. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t exactly find women who curse a desirable trait. Still, it was nice to hear Kira Vincent-Davis as Kokoa; it feels like ages since I’ve heard her in an anime.
Rosario+Vampire isn’t the worst series ever made, but it’s extremely mediocre and doesn’t bring anything new to the table, aside from the set-up. Don’t be suckered in by the plentiful fan service; it’s not worth suffering through twenty-six episodes of overused harem clichés and mostly uninteresting characters/plots. If you want boobs and panties, just download some R+V pics instead.