Let this be a lesson to you underachievers out there - if you fail and don't get into a good high school, you may end up in an alternate dimension at a school filled with monsters, succubi, cat girls and scantily clad buxom women by the bucket-load. I don't see there being any downside with this...
Rosario and Vampire is a rather silly harem anime set at the fearsome Youkai Academy; a school run by monsters for young monsters who need to learn how to acclimatise to life in the world of humans. The school is outright hostile to said humans, and even though all of the students hide their true forms in order to camouflage themselves for when they enter the human world, the sheer smell of human blood is enough to bring out the hunger for human flesh. So, when Tsukune Aono finds himself enrolled at Youkai Academy he quickly learns that he could soon be the first course of the day for any of the hundreds of young monsters attending the academy, and needs to keep his human identity a secret to prevent becoming somebody's snack - a task which is easier said than done.
Before I go any further, I must quickly explain the monster hierarchy that Rosario and Vampire sets up quite early on. Essentially, a fully fledged vampire is the dog's bollocks, and other monsters pale in comparison to their power... at least in theory. Unfortunately, due to the immense amount of power that the vampires posses, their powers are sealed by a rosary during their adolescence.
So, with this in mind, when Tsukune falls into an anaemic and stunningly beautiful Moka Akashiya on the way to school, he doesn't realise that he has made perhaps the best alliance imaginable at Youkai Academy. So when she sniffs his nose bleed and takes a little taste... well, Tsukune becomes the daily breakfast for a vampire, and as her first feed, Moka finds him completely irresistible. But is this romantic love, or hunger?
As class begins with his new pink-haired long-toothed lover, Tsukune soon realises that his affiliation with Moka brings with it unwanted attention, such as the lustful jealousy of the other men in the school, and the lustful gaze of other female monsters who want Tsukune all to themselves; after all, this is a harem anime. Over the first half of the series, Tsukune finds himself in the hungry eyes of:
- A buxom succubi, Kurumu Kurono, desperately seeking the continuation of her species (She is my personal favourite!),
- A bi-sexual lolita witch, Yukari Sendo,
- The icy snow stalker in stockings, Mizore Shirayuki,
- Form room teacher and Newspaper Club representative, Ms Nekonome (although this isn't as official or up-front as the others, I know Ms Nekonome wants to "nyan" all over Tsukune...)
- The maths teacher, whose techniques for learning trigonometry and calculus equations involve gratuitous quantities of bondage and whipping, (I could have used her techniques for revising and learning at A-level...)
- Plus several more who shall remain description-less and nameless for now, for fear of spoiling the ending...
Between the four girls and a horny lecherous werewolf who is the club president the group forms the Newspaper Club at Youkai Academy, after which they all go to do journalistic things together, which includes the usual taking pictures, writing articles, and irritating those with the power to end all of their lives (sounds just like writing for UKA! - Ed).
The Rosario and Vampire series is loosely based on the first seven volumes of the manga which has been released in the UK by VIZ Media, with some minor changes to the sequence of events which from what I can tell, mostly involving the introduction of Mizore, who appears much sooner in this animated adaptation. Additionally the anime is more serialised following a “monster of the week” format. The manga, although having the same events within it has, in my opinion, a stronger storyline and more character development, and a smidgen less fan service. However, having read the manga and now seen the anime, I am torn between which is the superior format.
Rosario and Vampire is produced animated by Gonzo, with assistance by those masters of fan-service, Gainax. This combination of creative input means that not only are the characters well-written, easily accessible and very lovable, but it also means that the fan-service is of the highest quality. I would go so far as to say that outside of the pinnacles of Strike Witches (panties) or Ikki Tousen (bare bouncing breasts), I have not seen as many varied styles of panty shots and cleavage in a single anime before. It takes a certain eye for quality on the production team to vary lingerie that much, with most producers preferring to go for the simple white knickers for their panty shots. I appreciate this eye for detail. Outside of these fan service scenes, the animation quality remains generally high, with only a few minor drops in quality towards the end of the first series.
Oh, the voices! If you are a Nana Mizuki fan of any kind, then this series is for you. Not only are we graced with her singing for both the ending and opening, but she also does the voice(s) of Moka throughout the series if you listen to the quite excellent Japanese dub. My praise this time however actually focuses on the English dub. The usual American names are there (Monica Rial as Yukari, Brina Palenca as Kurumu doing her Holo voice...) and it seems this time they have clearly had fun acting this series out. The English script has its fair share of quite atrocious puns, with the girls doing their best to give as sultry a performance as possible. In this case, I would recommend the English dub over that of the Japanese, purely as I believe that the English performance is of better quality.
The Rosario and Vampire anime is the most inexpensive route to accessing what is a well developed universe. In addition to the anime, you have a well-developed manga series, ongoing well into its second series, which is readily accessible to the UK market. If you enjoy the characters in the anime, I would advise picking up the manga series as well, as what the printed version offers is more story and more detailed focus upon its characters, but less detailed and animated fan-service. All in all, Rosario and Vampire is a big ball of titillating fun which is readily accessible and enjoyable.