Rosario & Vampire Complete Season 1 (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 306 minutes approx.
Tsukune Aono is an unsuccessful student who fails to make it to a decent high school, but following a drunken incident involving his father and a priest, Tsukune is enrolled at the little known Yokai Academy, which is situated out of town. On his first day at his new school, Tsukune collides with another new student, the cute but shy Moka Akashiya, who seems to take an extraordinary shine to Tsukune. Tsukune soon learns that Yokai Academy is a school exclusively for monsters and Moka is a vampire! Worse still, Moka’s fearful super powers are kept locked up in a Rosario charm around her neck, but when Tsukune accidentally removes it, all hell breaks loose as Moka’s true form is released.
Based on the manga from Akihisa Ikeda, Rosario & Vampire promises monsters, comedy, supernatural action and romance, which we get, along with an abundance of panty shots and bouncing boobs. Sorry to break it you folks, but despite the wonderfully spooky premise this show is fan service lovers heaven – a shame as the potential for the central concept of a human hiding his true identity from monsters is fairly substantial. Instead we have what amounts to your typical harem show albeit one with a unique approach to it.
To be fair the fan service is exclusive to the anime which, along with a huge diversion from the manga’s story lines, angered many fans upon the show’s debut, making one wonder if GONZO, the studio responsible, had little confidence in the main concept to attract viewers. With huge chunks of the story and character development cast aside for the perennial anime argument of big boobs vs little boobs, this show ends up a one note tune: taking the “monster of the week” formula for the majority of these thirteen episodes, Tsukune gets in trouble, the girls come to his aid, the accidental stumble, forced collision or mistimed grasp for Moka’s hand removes the Rosario, up pops super vampire Moka to literally kick some ass (her only offence seems to be a powerful kick) – lather, rinse, repeat.
The early adversaries are the other girls smitten by Tsukune – only Moka knows his secret though – who then end up friends with our protagonists. First up is succubus Kurumu Kurono, the top heavy temptress who tries to seduce Tsukune until Super Moka sorts her out; next is junior witch Yukari Sendo who tries her luck with magic spells and you can guess what happens to her; and finally ice maiden Mizore Shirayuki, the taciturn stalker never seen without a lollipop in her mouth who…well, you know the drill by now. Elsewhere, a group of fanboys obsessed with Moka, Kurumu and Yukari, slutty maths teacher Ririko Kagome, a group of blood sucking mermaids and a spider queen all get short shrift from our virulent vampire heroine, but the biggest opposition comes in the form of the Public Safety Committee, a corrupt body within the academy who expose Tsukune as a human and sentence him to death. Finally after eleven episodes of randomness we get a juicy, dramatic storyline to conclude the series. Depending on one’s tolerance for fan service and standalone instalments this may be a little too late but it has to be said these are the strongest and darkest episodes of the entire set.
To Ikeda’s credit, some thought has gone into how Tsukune’s humanity is not immediately: a fundamental decree of the academy states the monsters must remain in human form at all times on school property thus Tsukune fits in without a single eyebrow raised; off school premises however… While some of the students take on grotesque forms others merely reveal extra physical appendages, such as Kurumu, who sprouts wings and razor like claws. Moka she is a veritable Jeckyl and Hyde: Rosario intact and she is a timid, pink haired cutie in love with Tsukune; Super Moka is a silver haired demolition machine who hates Tsukune for being so weak.
This is what will cost our protagonist points with the viewer: that he is weak, although this is not lost on the lad himself, frequently lamenting how he has to be saved by a bunch of girls. Not that the girls care of course and presumably, this display of girl power is supposed to counter the constant sexploitation, which is unabashed and shameless; every episode preview is simply a shimmying backside with a different panty shot. But then it trips up over itself when an episode involving a peeping tom sees the girls getting upset about someone seeing their underwear which are on permanent display under the ridiculously short skirts they wear!
The animation is pretty consistent for the most part, with some superb fight scenes to behold, but later episodes sees a reliance on freeze frames and simply mouth only movements for dialogue scenes. The artwork is very well detailed and the colours are vivid, creating a light and fun mood. It should be noted that Moka’s transformation scene is annoyingly repeated in almost every episode complete with the same voice over explaining the consequences of the Rosario being removed, as if GONZO thinks the fan service has dulled our memories. At least the vampire bat which fills us in on the bespoke details of the show is amusing, but why did the subtitle writers translate his signature “Chuu” to “Squee”? Also worth a giggle is the ditzy teacher Miss Nekonome, a cat girl with glasses and a heaving chest who will no doubt win legions of fans among moe lovers!
Rosario & Vampire is a flawed series, the content of which will annoy some and titillate others. As vexing as the wasted opportunity is, there is something oddly addictive about it, with the entertaining characters and the dramatic finale saving this from being a complete thumbs down. A definite Caveat emptor warning if fan service is not your thing, otherwise feel free to sink your teeth into this is a sexy supernatural harem show!
English Language 5.1
Japanese Language 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Disc 2 only:
Broadcast Opening 1
Broadcast Opening 2
On Air Closing 1
On Air Closing 2
Ratings – ** ½
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