Sunday, 12 February 2012

ロザリオとバンパイア/ Rosario + Vampire (series 1)

Like Claymore and Tegami Bachi, Rosario + Vampire was one of the series that crossed over when Monthly Shonen Jump ceased publication and then reappeared a few months later as Jump SQ, short for Jump Square. Like the others, it’s a supernatural-themed story with lots of action scenes. Unlike them, though, it is not an adventure narrative but a pretty brainless harem story chock-full of pantie shots but severely lacking in charm.

On the other hand, it is also one of the more successful manga out there, its tankobon volumes selling tens of thousands of copies each and no doubt there being a healthy trade in figurines and body pillows, too. And terrible though it is, I have to admit this anime adaptation by Gonzo both looked very fine and was compulsively watchable – though it would not leave me desperate for the next episode, if I had time for an episode and wanted something light, it was always a good choice.

The concept is simple: the ordinary, rather passive but good-hearted young man Aono Tsukune failed to get into a good high school when he did poorly in his exams. However, his parents came upon a random acceptance slip for a private school called ‘Yokai Academy’, so he enrolled. Unbeknownst to him, the school is actually for mythological monsters, so that they may learn to integrate with human society – but of course, a human discovered in their midst may or may not make it through the rest of the day alive. Luckily, Tsukune quickly makes a friend of Moka – a vampire whose true powers are sealed away by a rosary around her neck.

If it sounds cute, along the lines of PetoPeto-san, it’s much more like Mahou Sensei Negima or even Shuffle! – the everyman boy at the centre of it ends up the object of desire of a series of cute girls to suit every taste – not only sweet-natured Moka but the huge-breasted succubus Kurumu, the eleven-year-old loli witch Yukari and the quirky yuki-onna ice demon Shirayuki (which is Snow White’s name in Japan). The structure of the 13-episode series more or less introduces all of these, gives one or two episodes of them working together to overcome adversity and joining a newspaper club together, then everything comes to a head as the school’s disciplinary committee finds out Tsukune’s secret.

I really ought to sniffily dismiss such an awful show. Constant panty shots happen at the slightest provocation. The girls are totally objectified, mere shells of characters forever getting into scanty outfits or grabbing each other’s boobs in jealousy. The plots are paper-thin and usually have no tension because Moka’s inner powers get unleashed – along with a different personality that may or may not be an entirely distinct character – and all problems get solved with a bit of violence. Tsukune himself is duller than even the average ignorable male in harem anime, doing almost nothing but calling out the names of all the girls when they’re in trouble and stringing them all along because he supposedly doesn’t know how to handle the attention he gets. And yet…

…and yet I have a soft spot for it, and will be watching series two. Partly it’s just because the production values are nice: it all looks good, the characters’ faces are very cute and I love the silly theme used for lovey-dovey moments. And it’s entertaining and funny despite all its shortcomings. It’s not a show I’m proud to like, or would recommend – but despite myself, I find that I do like it, and it does make me smile and care about its paper-thin characters.


  1. I know what you mean. It's unpretentious, quite upfront about what it is (the very first shot clearly announces "This show is about panty-shots") - almost like a "Carry On" picture in that regard - and pleasant viewing. Fluff, yes, but a high grade of fluff.

  2. Exactly! It's not aiming to be anything more than it is, so it can do it well. Sometimes brainless fluff is exactly what I feel like watching, after all!