Over the years, the vampire has undergone several transformations from myth to literary mainstay to ultimately a cultural icon. The creatures of the night are more than fearsome bloodsuckers but also occupy the title of teen heartthrob as well and can be found gracing the covers of notebooks and Entertainment Weekly. Despite common misconception, sex and vampirism are not new to each other; even back in the original Dracula novels, Dracula as well as his brides were said to be attractive. Even in the novella that predates Dracula, Carmilla, the titular character is a young girl who is described as the personification of innocence.
Rosario + Vampire takes its cues from this aspect of vampiric lore, with a big heaping of fanservice to further hammer home that vampires are really just fetish objects desired by teens. While not as gratuitous as True Blood, the series does hit many of the same themes of wanting to be in an abusive relationship with a creature that, while attractive, can still kill you. The main protagonist of the series is Tsukune, a regular human who is decidedly average in his studies. He’s been rejected by every high school he has applied to, leaving him the only option of attending Yokai High, a school that teenage monsters attend to learn how to fit into society.
The first day of school brings Tsukune face to face with Moka, a cute girl who also happens to be a vampire. She develops a craving for his blood and thus begins stalking him for her opportunity to get another taste. Of course, Moka is sweet and not nearly as fearsome as her species would imply, in the process befriending Tsukune. As the two develop a curious relationship, a handful of the student body are not as tolerant of Tsukune and wish to see him six feet under. This leads to the revelation that there is another side to Moka, one that is stronger than any monster and twice as vicious.
The first season is fairly episodic, with a fairly simple formula: a new female yokai is introduced that threatens Tsukune, Moka transforms and saves him, female yokai joins the group. The formula shifts later on, but this is the primary method employed to introduce the majority of the cast.
Season 2 or Capu2 as it is titled sees Tsukune and his friends returning for their second year at Yokai Academy. The series shifts gears from its focus on Tsukune’s relationship to the introduction of Moka’s little sister, whose actions prove just as dangerous to the group as the enemies that once threatened them. In this regard, the second season is more substantial, giving audiences a new character that couldn’t just be defeated and whose arc would last longer than a single episode.
Rosario + Vampire’s biggest shortcoming is also what Funimation is banking on being it’s key selling point; namely the fanservice. The problem is there really is no reason for it. Series like Tenjo Tenge integrate the fanservice into the story, giving it a meaning. It’s beyond excessive but it has a reason for being there. Here, there really is no point to it. The up-skirt shots just amount to excuses to show panties. All it does is distract from the high school romance and angst that should be focal point of the series.
Gonzo provides the animation for the series, and while it isn’t as strong as the company’s past efforts like Samurai Seven and Trinity Blood, it fares better than Dragonaut. The animation is what one would expect from modern anime, with vivid colors and crisp lines. Certain shortcuts can be spotted be found while action scenes are given the most care.
Rosario + Vampire isn’t as heavy on the fanservice as other series but it does detract from the viewing experience. This is a fun series full of teenage melodrama and shonen style action but there are moments when the show unveils a panty shot or cleavage close-up for no reason but for the sake of doing so. Looking past that, the series is still worth checking out. The first season is mostly setup for the second and seems more like filler when not introducing the core cast. The second season pushes the envelope further and develops the characters and their relationships while giving audiences a meatier story to sink their teeth into.