Rosario + Vampire

Rosario + Vampire

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Aono Tsukune is an average teen with less-than average exam results. Having failed all high school entry exams in the area, his only hope now is to enrol in the seemingly exam-free Yokai Academy. Dropped off on a desolate landscape where a dark mansion is looming in background, he finds himself face-to-face with pretty schoolgirl Moka. She’s dizzy and anaemic, and Tsukune just wants to help – so Moka makes the most of things by taking a bite out of his neck for a bit of extra blood because yes, you’ve guessed it, she’s vampire.

Turns out that Yokai Academy is full of monsters – both students and staff – learning how to adapt and live in a world of humans. When Tsukune realises he’s a human amongst monsters, he freaks out, but Moka convinces him to stay (Tsukune’s a sucker for pretty girls. Literally). His friendship with Moka quickly makes him the envy of the academy, and supernatural powers are immediately flung toward his defenceless, human self. In his desperation, Tsukune released the seal on Moka’s suppressed power, and a completely separate personality that doesn’t tolerate a threat to her food source (Tsukune) or her other self’s happiness.

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Rosario + Vampire can be incredibly formulaic at times, but there are enough little twists and turns to keep things from getting too dull, and the sweetness of the leads’ relationship goes a long way towards redeeming this volume as a whole. Tsukune is sadly one of those bumbling, spineless sort of harem leads who is too innocent to make the slightest move on a girl. Moka is sweet, innocent, and friendly, but has that separate, more powerful personality to deal with, one that is only contained by her magical rosary.  I do wish there was some clarification as to how this works – is this a case of a split personality?  Is she possessed?  Which Moka is the ‘true’ Moka, the sweetheart or the monster? Nothing is really explained.

The rest of the cast is one note, save for Kurumu, the second girl to join Tsukume’s budding harem. She’s a succubus who starts out as a manipulative young girl, one who consciously uses her body (and the power of fanservice) to enslave others. When this ultimately fails to ensnare Tsukume, she switches her strategy and starts behaving in a more girly-girl manner, in the hopes that this might work better on him.

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Like I said plot is very formulaic, but it’s more along the vein of a ‘monster of the week’ formula than the standard harem formula. With each chapter, a new monster is introduced that threatens either Tsukune or Moka, said monster fights them, Tsukune releases the other Moka, who finishes off the monster and returns things to the status quo. It’s a predictable structure, but not to the point where it makes the volume unpleasant to read.

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The character designs are fairly simple, to the point where they start skirting the line of ‘moeblob’, or at least as much as a major shonen magazine will allow for that. Still, they are attractive…well, save for the heavies who are big and stereotypically brutish. Some of the monsters are kind of visually interesting, like the piranha-like mermaids, but sadly the main girls never get to be so ugly – their monster forms are barely different from their normal guises.

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Interestingly, there’s not a lot of fanservice here, and the vast majority comes from Kurumu.  I actually kind of admire how Ikeda went out of his way to avoid fanservice from Moka through the use of shading and object placing.  It’s not done in a winking, obvious sort of way, and for someone who feared the worse after seeing this manga’s animated counter part, it’s a welcome sight (or lack of sight, one might say). The action is plainly drawn and mostly uses a lot of speed lines; this is not the series to read if you want some epic monster battles.

Rosario + Vampire‘s art is kind of plain overall, but it’s not hard on the eyes and it avoids some of the trashier, fanservice-laden trappings of its brethren that works well with its light, innocent tone. It may be kind of shallow and rather repetitious, but it’s a light, breezy sort of series to read, aided by the sweetness of the relationship between the two leads.