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Rosario + Vampire: Season One (Limited Edition)
Rosario + Vampire is a fairly typical "fan-service" heavy series focused on a central male character (in this case, with the name Tsukune) being surrounded by a large number of women who are desperately head-over-heels attracted to him for some strange reason. Based upon the popular manga series by Akihisa Ikeda, this is a silly and offbeat series.
Plot-wise, the show takes place primarily at the Yokai Academy. Tsukune is a normal student and human teenage boy who doesn't get into the school he applied to and it bizarrely results in his parents finding a downright strange and quite random school admissions letter for admission into a school that none of them had ever heard of... Tsukune might have gone to a normal school if only he had gotten better grades.
It turns out that the Yokai Academy is no ordinary school. It's a school for monsters, created by monsters, and run by monsters. This means it has a multitude of strange students that aren't exactly human-beings. Tsukune had no idea what he was getting himself into by enrolling in the school. Can he survive the weirdness?
Tsukune is a sort of standard, normal teenage guy who doesn't really stand out as an overwhelmingly huge "ladies-man" but he somehow attracts all of the ladies anyway. Viewers are pretty much expected to just watch the show and accept that tons of the school's female students are attracted to him. His character is never given much of a developed story and he is mostly just seen at the surface-level. He never fully shows interesting sides to his personality that would be absolutely distinctive, other than the characteristic of being caring for others. I guess he seems to like the girls enough, as nosebleeds (all so common in anime) are frequently a result of what he encounters. I wouldn't say that the series seriously considers him as having a legitimate companion candidate in any girl besides the central female protagonist.
Moka is the main female protagonist who has her eyesight on Tsukune in the anime. Considering the massive Vampire craze of the past several years, it comes as no big surprise to see an increase in supernatural and vampire series. Her character isn't a standard-type of vampire at all. She's sweet, kind, and caring. Her personality is an interesting offset to the typical expectations most might have for a vampire-imbued storyline. She has long, flowing, pink hair and a magic locket that looks like a cross, containing the power built up inside of her vampire-side. She can transform into the powerful vampire-form when the locket's removed (which makes Moka have a more pronounced appearance with silver hair and a stronger build). As Moka transforms, everyone witnesses her gain a tough attitude, confidence, and a butt-kicking ability frequently needed to save everyone on the show from troublemaking monsters.
In addition to Moka, there are many other central female characters on Rosario + Vampire that have affection for "heartthrob" Tsukune. They are named Kurumu, Yukari, and Mizore. Kurumu is a succubus who is able to use powerful charms. Yukari is a witch who can use a variety of spells. Mizore is a snow fairy with the ability to control and freeze ice and snow. Almost every episode consists of them all fawning over Tsukune in an attempt to try and defeat the odds and win out against the rest of the girls in a quest for his affection. Each character is given a different type of personality and appearance. Kurumu is enthusiastic, cheerful, and playful. She is voluptuous and has blue hair. Yukari is immature, annoying, short, flat-chested, overly energetic, and yet almost like the sweet younger sister to the other girls (as she is several years younger than the rest of the girls on the show). She is almost always wearing a brown witch hat, has short brown hair, and uses a pink heart-shaped wand. Mizore is the most laid-back of the bunch and she has some indifference towards Tsukune at the beginning of the show. As the series progresses, she seems to desire Tsukune's attention just as much as the rest of the girls. She has purple hairdo, frequently wears a belt around one leg (for whatever odd reason), almost always has stockings on her legs, and she is characterized through being shy, popping up in odd random places (for instance, behind everyone else in a bush), and she seems to be a somewhat sad person when compared to the other characters. Besides Moka, she is probably demonstrative of having the most caring personality on Rosario + Vampire.
The Set: Season 1, Episodes 1-13:
Rosario + Vampire wasn't exactly what I was expecting. For starters, I was hoping that the series would turn out to be an entertaining show. The opposite's true during its introductory season. There just aren't enough worthwhile elements to Rosario + Vampire to warrant the time expenditure for something so characteristically repetitive, dull, and altogether ready to disappoint.
The best element of the series during its introductory season is the fact that it definitely had a worthwhile premise to work with. The entire idea surrounding having a school made up of weird and zany monsters in human-form is silly and seemed to be something that could find humorous moments with relative ease. The premise of the show stands out as something a bit different and interesting.
There are several elements to the animation that I found somewhat peculiar. The character designs are actually really well-done, absolutely distinctive, and not at all repetitive for the lead characters especially. The animation can sometimes impress in terms of lone moments of animation, done with high-quality artistic merit. The flipside of this is that the background animation seems boring, dull, and without clear focus. The show rarely emphasizes anything outside of the characters and "fan-service" moments. It could have benefited from creating a more unique world for the Yokai Academy. It's unfortunate that it never quite manages to create a more compelling environment for the show's quality concept.
The production values of the series are also at fault. The animation isn't anywhere near as fluid as one might expect. Instead, there are countless scenes where it seems as though a poor job was done at animating the series through too much emphasis on extending some of the drawings into far lengthier moments than necessary. It's as though the series was a "motion-moving" manga at times - rather than a "motion-moving" anime. It's an oddity in that there already is a manga to read for Rosario + Vampire if people so choose to read it. The whole point of the anime should be to successfully translate the manga by Ikeda and form an entirely fluid anime experience. Rosario + Vampire's animation isn't terrible, but there is a lot of room for improvement.
There are far more areas where the series doesn't seem to be living up to its full potential. The music score was nice enough but nothing from the score really stands out afterwards. The songs used for the opening/ending credits are somewhat annoying techno-pop tracks, and the vocal tracks used throughout the series sound nice enough but don't actually add anything extra for story or characters. It's almost as though the show goes into an auto-pilot music mode when the writers sense that the story doesn't have enough material to successfully create an entire episode without some added moments like these.
The series features too many weak scripts during its first season. The biggest drawback is how almost every single episode is resolved in the exact same way. It makes for a pretty disappointing experience to see essentially the same plot ideas reused repeatedly without much to differentiate things. The main idea presented was that one of the bad monsters from the school tries to attack all of the central characters and Moka has to transform to save the day in her full-vampire form. Tsukune removes her magical jewelry, and leaves everything else to her. That is exactly how almost every episode of the first season ends.
Not only is the series repetitive on several levels, but the humor itself isn't anywhere near as humorous as the show seems to think it is. The jokes are frequently without laughs and the puns are too silly. Sometimes the attempts at humor seem to be created simply be the show attempting to be as weird as possible. The weirdness of it all is meant to make us be able to laugh as an audience but it doesn't work that way. Worst of it all is an unfunny bat that appears to tell viewers unnecessary information (such as the length of battle scenes).
The last thing that wasn't good about Rosario + Vampire is the biggest issue of it all. This series is seriously perverted... and not in a good way. Like most anime series with lots of fan-service aplenty there is an abundance of sexual imagery that is used throughout the show. While it's typical for these types of shows to include scantily clad teenage girls it's weird that the show added a young girl to the cast with the witch Yukari. She's clearly a little kid and this type of character has no place being in a show like this one. The series actually has moments where it is sexualizing her with imagery that shouldn't belong with the rest of the series. Rosario + Vampire has countless scenes where all of the main cast (only for the female characters, of course) are wearing short skirts that blow in the wind and are otherwise shown to some degree. This leads to an enormous amount of shots of panties. The weirdness factor really begins to be too much when the show actually shows Yukari's panties and starts dressing her up in different revealing costumes with the other characters. Yuck. I should probably also mention the newspaper guy, Ginei, who is a big contributor to the school newspaper club that all of the primary characters choose to be involved in... he becomes one of the central characters over the course of the season but shouldn't have been one considering his favorite hobby of being a notorious peeping-tom, harassing girls on the show by stalking and taking photos of them. Yet somehow this is a character that the writers just expect for the audience to accept as part of the main group of characters without ever questioning it beyond mere acceptance of the character. This is another huge mistake that is detrimental to the show.
Rosario + Vampire had some interesting ideas and showed viewers some potential, but it didn't live up to its premise and all the elements that arrive with it. It just wasn't all that good as a show and it had some negative aspects that really undermined elements which could have been considered noteworthy.
Rosario + Vampire has been given a pretty impressive presentation from Funimation. The colors are vibrant and the overall image remains clean, crisp, and reasonably sharp. While this wasn't the most impressive PQ that I have seen a Funimation DVD release contain, it certainly ranks among the better releases to date in this area and it won't disappoint fans hoping for a nice release. The series has been presented in a 16:9 broadcast aspect ratio, preserving the widescreen image with anamorphic enhancement.
The audio was generally impressive as well. Both the English 5.1 Surround Sound mix and the Japanese 2.0 stereo options would be worth listening to. The English surround is better in terms of the use of sound effects and expanding the music score and songs. The dubbing was pretty impressive as well for the English version. The Japanese dub is good too, though, and is going to be worth keeping as a preference for those who prefer to listen to any anime with the original dub version. English subtitles are provided.
The only extras included on this release are text-less songs for the opening/ending credits and trailers for other Funimation releases.
Season 1 of Rosario + Vampire has been released as a Limited Edition which includes an art-box and artwork booklet. The art-box is big enough that when the packaging filler is removed, the Rosario + Vampire: CAPU2 second season set can be placed alongside the first season set packaging to form a more complete collection package.
Please note that Rosario + Vampire: CAPU2 is sold separately.
Rosario + Vampire just wasn't all that good. That's a nice way to put it. The characters are barely given time to develop into interesting characters that viewers can connect to (which seems essential for this type of show to completely work) and the comedy can seem a bit lame most of the run-time. The jokes are also too repetitive and so are the plots. Skip It.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.