Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shonen Jump Advanced)
Author: Akihisa Ikeda
Genre: Supernatural (Graphic Novel)
MSRP: $7.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Welcome to Yokai Academy, please wash your neck before entering.
It can be a frightening and overwhelming experience starting High school for most students and even more so when you don’t know anybody. For Tsukune Aono, first day jitters is the least of his problems when the school he’s about to attend has a faculty and student body that isn’t exactly quite human. This is Rosario + Vampire, Volume 1, an unexpectedly engaging and thoroughly enjoyable High school-themed romance manga with a humorous supernatural twist.
As a student with average grades, just about the only school that would accept Tsukune is Yokai Academy – an isolated High school far from home or anything resembling a normal area. In fact, the place is downright spooky to him and there’s a reason … it’s a school for monsters that are trying to learn how to coexist with humans. On his way to class, Tsukune meets an extremely cute girl on her bike named Moka Akashiya who introduces herself to him affectionately biting him on his neck and sucking his blood. You see, this incredibly cute girl with the extremely short skirt is a vampire.
Ok, we’ve read manga with vampires before whether it is shojo or shonen but the charming characteristic of Rosario + Vampire is that it handles the supernatural theme in a whimsical way that it has everything for everyone. Even if you’re bored with a High school-themed book, there are the mythical monsters to look forward to and there are a few fight scenes scattered throughout. It’s genuinely funny a good portion of the time and occasionally slightly goofy in others. Oh, and for those who care for it, there’s some fan service tossed in for good measure as well. Like I mentioned before, Akihisa Ikeda made certain there was something for everyone and he pulls it off wonderfully enough.
Half the fun is watching Tsukune try to survive the school as it’s only human. Just about the only one who knows he’s human is Moka who befriends him because he told her he doesn’t mind being around vampires. Of course, Tsukune is crazy about his new friend as most of the school’s male populace that just doesn’t understand what a beautiful girl like her is doing with a dork like Tsukune. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with a few male students like Saizo Komiya who turns into a huge hulking creature ready to remove Tsukune out of the picture to pursue Moka. Sensing her new close friend is in danger; Moka removes a rosary (or Rosario) and unleashes her true vampiric form. I won’t spoil things so I’ll just leave it at that.
Early in the volume we meet another challenger, this one comes in the form of a sexy young succubus named Kurumu Kurono whose master plan is to have the boys of Yokai Academy become her harem. She has another plan that involves Tsukune and thus Kurumu becomes something of a regular character and provides a majority of the fan service moments I mentioned earlier. Well, she is a succubus, after all and according to the numerous Monster Encyclopedia tidbits that appear throughout the volume, a succubus has her own unique abilities aside from seducing boys.
Each chapter features different villains that come straight out of legends and folklore. Even though the Academy’s rules state that students aren’t allowed to walk around in their true monster form, we meet a few who are willing to break it for their own reason. There’s a young man who likes Moka enough that he attempts to get Tsukune through scandal and a lovely student that has her eye on Tsukune by tempting him to join the swim team. True to the lore, Ikeda adds little facts such as the fact that vampires and water just don’t mix.
There is more to Rosario + Vampire than meets the eye and, while the theme might be a familiar one, Ikeda offers a refreshing spin that actually works. Yes, it plays up the cuteness factor but its inviting humor and fun moments will surely please monster fans as well as shonen and shojo manga fans willing to give this first volume a try. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, although a part of me wished the volume didn’t have to include a recap in every chapter. Still, if it’s a fun vampire tale you’re looking for then you will certainly like Rosario + Vampire
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Tsukune likes Moka and Moka likes the sweet taste of Tsukune’s blood so it’s a match made in monster heaven. There are some funny moments in this series that goes great with the High school romance/monster action/supernatural tale. Overall, it’s a great introduction to a good series.
The art isn’t original nor is it remarkable but it’s still adequate enough to be pleasing to manga readers. Certain characters (girls more than guys) get plenty of attention when it comes to details so Tsukune is the only plain-looking guy on campus.
Rosario + Vampire, Volume 1, is a delightfully engaging and occasionally very funny series that takes familiar elements and adds an enjoyable twist. The fish-out-of-water theme has been done to death, but there’s just something likeable about the main character’s predicament. In other words, there’s a lot to like here for manga readers.