When I was in high school, I used to read a lot of harem manga. It was a guilty pleasure of mine that was born from my love of Ken Akamatsu's Love Hina, as well as the original Tenchi Muyo! OVA's. One manga I read on and off was Rosario + Vampire. A series that started off rather weak and predictably, Rosario + Vampire would eventually find its stride as a shonen action series with elements of fanservice and romance. Initially weak and boring, main character Tsukune actually developed as a character, becoming an important element of what makes the series work. I wouldn't call the Rosario + Vampire manga a masterpiece or anything, but it was certainly entertaining during the time I read it.
Unfortunately, the Rosario + Vampire anime never finds its stride. Instead, it goes out of its way to rid itself of all the things that worked well in the manga, leaving behind everything that didn't. Not to let itself be outdone, Rosario + Vampire then somehow finds a way to make itself worse.
Follow me after the break for more poorly drawn panty shots and characters than you can shake a stick at.
Rosario + Vampire, Rosario + Vampire Capu2 DVD Bundle
Licensed by: Funimation
Release Date: December 20, 2011
Rosario + Vampire follows the story of Tsukune, an ordinary 2nd year high school student who, through a series of strange coincidences, accidentally becomes enrolled in a school for monsters. Being the only human puts him at a significant disadvantage, as every other creature wants to feast on his body, suck his blood, seduce him or all of the above. One of the first students he meets is the beautiful and mysterious Moka. Unfortunately for him, she proceeds to bite him on the neck, revealing her true identity as a super powerful vampire. This chance encounter goes on to change Tsukune's life forever.
The above synopsis probably gives Rosario + Vampire way more credit than it deserves. Moka is quickly established as the primary romantic interest of the series, with the rest of the secondary girls being introduced one episode at a time. It's clear from the get-go that Tsukune has feelings for Moka, but in typical harem anime fashion that relationship never actually goes anywhere substantial. Instead, you get a group of girls constantly going at each other's throats in an attempt to win Tsukune's love. As a result, none of these characters feel as though they care about one another. Capu is especially guilty of this, failing to ever show the characters interact outside of the repetitive "Tsukune is mine!" situation.
It certainly doesn't help that the characters themselves are thin as paper. Tsukune never manages to escape his generic looks or personality. Like in every inconclusive harem anime ever made, Rosario + Vampire's protagonist is entirely incapable of making a decision about what girl he wants to be with, going so far as to actually say as much. The fact that these women are in love with him is ridiculous when he essentially admits to stringing them all along for the ride because he can't bear to choose which girl he loves. Seriously?
The leading lady, Moka, is just as bad if not worse. She's as inept as they come, failing to do anything of any worth save for when she's in her true form. Even then, the white haired Moka is nothing more than a cold badass who appears every now and then to save the day or provide an easy panty shot from reused footage. The supporting cast fares just as poorly. Moka is joined by Kurumu, Mizore and Yukari as potential love interests for Tsukune. Each character has a single trait that defines their entire personality. Kurumu is a succubus with huge breasts, Mizore is a snow woman who doubles as a stalker, and Yukari is an 11 year old witch who serves as the token flat chested loli character.
For the most part, this is all you ever learn about any of these characters over the course of 26 episodes. Any small moments of development are erased the second an episode ends. It's almost as though the series resets its characters after every episode. Their dynamic never changes. This is amplified due to a lack of any sort of unifying threat in the long run. The second half of the series fails to produce any kind of real villain, falling back on a weak, out-of-left-field threat in the last few episodes. In an embarrassing attempt to be serious and emotional, Rosario + Vampire trips over itself and falls across the finish line.
If you were hoping the audio/visuals would make up for the poor story and characters, don't hold your breath. Save for a few moments of great animation (season 1), Rosario + Vampire is all over the place. The art is inconsistent at best, with even the copious amounts of fanservice looking awful. Character designs that had sex appeal in the manga end up looking ridiculous onscreen. The audio doesn't fair much better either; the score sounds like a low budget affair. More often than not, it felt like the soundtrack was comprised of only a handful of tracks.
The Japanese audio track is pretty much exactly what one might expect from a show like this, so I opted to complete the series in English instead. The actors do what they can with the material they have, but are unfortunately incapable of elevating the source material beyond what it already is. At the end of the day, when every episode has you yelling about how "Tsukune is mine!", there's not much in the way of dramatic range. In the very least, everyone involved seemed to realize that they weren't working on some kind of masterpiece, so the dub is super playful. It's ridiculously cheesy and awkward, but it was actually the one thing I enjoyed about my time with Rosario + Vampire.
I'll be straight to the point. There are much better options out there for viewers who want fanservice as well as something a little bit more emotional and sincere. I'm no longer the biggest fan of the genre, but there's no reason why you have to subject yourself to absolute garbage if you want a show with fanservice. You can have your cake and eat it too. Hell, if you're not limiting yourself to anime, you could just check out the Rosario + Vampire manga, which does a far better job at telling a story and getting you to like the characters than 26 episodes of anime does.
Don't waste your time or money on Rosario + Vampire.
2.0 – Terrible. Terrible in every way possible. Not even a single scene or episode even amounted to mediocre. If its creators aren’t already ashamed, they should be.
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