Anime Reel – Anime & Manga TV News

Rosario + Vampire – Manga Mondays

Posted on: December 14, 2009

She kicks high.

Image from Risarule on pixiv.

Rosario + Vampire is a strange beast – it’s a manga I got into because the anime was so dumb, I had to see what redeeming qualities the manga had. Because, let’s be frank about this, the anime has pretty much nothing going for it, except the opening and ending themes are sung by Mizuki Nana. People kept telling me that the manga was better whenever I watched an execrable episode of the anime, and they were right – it’s definitely an improvement over the plotless blob of merchandising that called itself an anime, though I still have some reservations about it.

Let’s get this out of the way from the outset: the main draw of Rosario + Vampire is the art, especially of the girls wearing costumes or kicking high. RosaVam has no illusions about being great literature, or even mildly above average – it’s a fan service vehicle that has fun characters and an interesting rogue’s gallery of monsters and villains thanks to its “monster school” setting. With that said, it’s still very enjoyable on a basic level. The art is nice to look at (especially with the second series, as Ikeda Akihisa’s art has improved by leaps and bounds since he started), and as much as I complain about shows built around their fan service, I have to admit that the RosaVam manga does its eye candy very, very well.

But if it was just eye candy, I would have lost interest and stopped reading it long ago (see: Ichigo 100%). What interests me about RosaVam is its characters. Strip away the short skirts, the various bondage references, and the rest of the barrage of fan service, and you have a (much shorter) manga about a bunch of outcasts fighting to stick together for as long as they can.

You also have a much more interesting version of main character Aono Tsukune. In the anime, he’s a wishy-washy dweeb with no real personality, who attracts girls to himself with mild kindness. In the manga, he’s a pacifist who has to fight with his inner demons constantly, or else he’ll go berserk and have to be put down like a mad dog, and later, he has to turn that into the strength to protect himself and the little bit of peace he’s found. That’s what separates the manga from the anime: the anime exists to sell CD singles, boob mouse pads, and all sorts of other character-based merchandise, while the manga has a story with real drama, real conflict, and occasional “wow!” moments.

For example, the most recent volume of the manga introduces Otonashi San, a quiet and reserved girl who happens to be an alumni of the main characters’ school. She’s a siren, an ancient creature of the sea, but all she really wants in life is a warm, inviting place to call home. The other monsters in the area have other ideas, and want to turn her into a weapon for their plan of eliminating humans from the world. The main characters, Tsukune and his harem of monsters, not only have to protect her from a veritable army of beasts and monsters, but they have to help her gain acceptance from her human friend, whose husband was eaten by a monster very similar to San. It’s almost heartbreaking when San reveals her true nature to the woman who’s at once her boss, her best friend, and her surrogate mother, with every expectation that the woman will run away screaming. Moments like that are why I keep reading the book.

Of course, on the other side of the ledger, there are scenes like the one where Rubi ties herself up into a bondage fetish position because she “got bored.” And the loli references, and the constant boob-smashing, and the… well, let’s just say there’s a lot on the other side of the ledger. So you have to take the good with the bad with a manga like RosaVam – but at least with the manga, the good parts are good enough to keep you going.

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