Rosario + Vampire Complete Collection (Cert 15)
4 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 645 minutes approx.
Release Date: August 9th
This Blu-ray reissue of the fan service heavy fantasy harem comedy compiles both series of Rosario + Vampire into one handy box set. Aside from an upgraded HD transfer there is nothing else that is new, whilst the original DVD extras haven’t been ported over to this release, although I doubt that will be much of a deal breaker for some.
Since this is a re-release, I have no real desire to do a full review of the content, as my original posts from nine year ago still suffice in relaying the plot and conveying my feelings of the show. You can read my thoughts on series one HERE and series two HERE.
However, I will just comment on something this rewatch did make clear to me, and that is how intolerant – for wanting a better term – I have become towards fan service over the years. In my original reviews, I concluded the first series was “sexy supernatural” fun yet for the second series I felt the fan service was “insufferable” and that was after a gap of one month between reviews.
Until recently, I was unaware of the controversy in the show’s native Japan regarding the over abundance of panty shots, which was considered too much for the broadcaster who eventually ended up censoring them. What a time consuming job that must have been considering practically every scene had at least one pair of underwear on display, with many other scenes built around them being exposed.
As I mentioned in the original reviews, this wasn’t a part of the source manga by Akihisa Ikeda but something studio GONZO took upon themselves to apply instead. Ordinarily, it would be groan inducing to witness the contrived moments of a gust of wind or a timely accident expose a girl’s undies, but GONZO decided to up the ante by having all the female characters wear skirts that were unfeasibly short to ensure their underwear were always on display.
Maybe the me of nine years ago took it with a pinch of salt since this show was clearly under no illusion of being high art, and ribald harem comedies were ten a penny then but the me of today feels like an old prude after watching this again, even with knowing what to expect going into it. It felt like exploitation and objectification of the worst kind, more so as one of the character, the young witch Yukari Sendo presented as younger than the other teenage cast members.
I don’t know if this was in the manga or an exclusive idea by GONZO to comment on the controversy, but episode 8 of the second series sees a crackdown on short skirts for the girls to protect their modest, with disastrous results. One gets the impression this might have been a way to acknowledge the furore about the fan service whilst saying, “Hey, we’re just giving the fans what they want”, and as we know, that stands for a LOT of anime fans!
Perhaps my biggest disapproval from my first viewing that needs reiterating following this rewatch is in the wasted potential of the story telling. Both series spend too much time with the cheesy stuff before closing with a mini arc that carries much weight and import regarding the central story of male protagonist Tsukune Aono needing to hide his human identity from the monsters at Yokai Academy, lest he be eaten alive if this was discovered.
Less a prominent theme to drive the story and more an occasionally remembered plot device to have Tsukune need to awaken vampire Moka Akashiya’s dark side to save him, it doesn’t even become a factor in the conclusion of the second series. This one involves Moka’s terrifying vampire father making an appearance; a storyline of Tsukune proving his worth as a suitor for Moka practically writes itself – under any other circumstances it probably would have, just not here sadly.
With my spleen now vented and in the interest of balance, the positives are that this is an easy show to follow so you are not in danger of over stretching your brain cells when watching this litany of clichéd harem scenarios and bawdy comedy skits. The animation is good when it needs to be whilst the musical score is nicely dramatic and ominous for the horror them, offset by the J-Pop theme songs.
Finally, I will admit there are far worse shows in existence which abuse its fan service quota and push the boundaries of acceptable prurience and lasciviousness in the name of fantasy/harem comedy to uncomfortable levels. In the case of Rosario + Vampire, its biggest crime is pandering to this base selling point at the expense of a potentially fun and entertaining story.
No doubt, my opinion won’t sway anyone who is a fan of this franchise and will be happy to have both seasons in one handy collection, so knock yourself out and have fun with this. For anyone unfamiliar with Rosario + Vampire, feel free to check it out and form your own opinion, just be aware of what kind of show awaits.
Review now done, fangs for reading!
Japanese Language Dolby True HD 2.0
English Language Dolby True HD 5.1
Textless Closing Song “Dancing In The Velvet Moon”
Textless Opening Song “DISCOTECHQUE”
Textless Closing Song “Trinity Cross”
Rating – ***
Man In Black