Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Akihisa Ikeda
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Advanced)
MSRP: $7.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
With less panty flash but with more action and drama, the series takes a chance.
I have to admit that I am now officially something of a fan of the WB television series “Smallville” but this was not always the case. Having been introduced to the series by my girlfriend, I followed the series from the beginning only to be disappointed by the Meteor-Freak-of-the-Week format of the first season. It reminds me of the first few volume of Rosario + Vampire that had Tsukune and his friends going up against different monsters for every chapter. It’s fun for awhile but the formula gets old quickly.
Then the series began to get a bit on the darker side and that is definitely Ok with me but it reverted back to business as usual. Thankfully, Akihisa Ikeda brings Tsukune back into the darker side of the story in Volume 8 while still maintaining a little of the comedy and hot girl fan service that made us like the series in the first place. It’s all there but there’s more drama and more fight scenes as well.
In the opening chapter, Tsukune – having been saved by the Headmaster of Yokai Academy – is now working for him. Rather, he’s being forced to work for him or face expulsion thanks to the events of the last chapter in Volume 7. His first assignment, it seems, it to join the festival committee that is currently planning its annual three-day student festival. The good news is that the Student Council President, a youth named Hokuto Kaneshiro, is a passionate and inspiring fellow who says he wants peace at this school. He is well aware that the Anti-Schoolers are planning on sabotaging the festival so he makes it clear that they must be stopped. This, of course, sounds good to Tsukune
The bad news, however, is that there seems to be a spy in the committee and only the girls – via the cute witch Ruby – know about it. It isn’t until Tsukune is taken to an isolated place in the school grounds that he is told of the spy by a fellow committee members and is then attacked by the same person that he finds out that the Monstrels are still gunning for him. With Kurumu and Mizore providing the backup, Tsukune manages to survive the attack but once again he has come close to unleashing the power of the vampire’s blood within himself.
While Kurumu isn’t convinced that Hokuto isn’t a very good person, Tsukune ignores her advice to stay away from the Student Council President. He is convinced that Hokuto wants to change the school by bringing peace to Yokai Academy. In the meantime, Hokuto is keeping some bad company as he meets up with an enemy that had given Moka a hard time in the last volume. Just about the only one who sees their meeting is Moka herself. It becomes clear that Hokuto might not be who he says he is and that Tsukune is in danger.
In a rare moment in the series, it is the girls that get to work as a fully functional team without Moka and Kurumu arguing or Mizore hiding in the background. Unfortunately, the girls are too late because Tsukune arrives in time to find the festival committee slaughtered by none other than the Student Council President himself. Trust me, I’m not spoiling any surprises here because the volume simply points it out from the beginning.
What is surprising, however, is Hokuto true plan and how he executes it. The final chapter in this volume contains a major battle as the girls attempt to save Tsukune as Moka is held back by the same familiar face that she faced in the last volume. There’s a fierce and bloody battle as Tsukune puts up a fight to save his friends as well as something else that threatens something else he holds dear. There’s plenty of blood as well as the battle as Tsukune’s life hangs on the balance and Moka pushes herself to the breaking point.
If anything, Volume 8 of Rosario + Vampire will be remembered as the volume where the series took a chance and actually made things all the more interesting. It’s not that we didn’t mind the playful nature of the earlier volumes nor the excessive fan service but we also want a series that won’t fall into a repetitive cycle. Hopefully, Ikeda will continue to take a chance again to keep this series moving ahead into new territory.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Working for Yokai Academy’s mysterious Headmaster, Tsukune is placed on the festival committee that is planning this year’s school festival. Impressed and touched by the enthusiasm of the Student Council President, Tsukune blindly follows his upperclassman’s lead while being targeted by a spy on the committee as well as the rest of the Monstrels. There’s definitely more drama and action as a result.
As I stated before, Ikeda is certainly adding more blood and fights in this series. While the fights are handled decently, it’s the flashy splash panels that are becoming the true eye candy of this series.
Volume 8 of Rosario + Vampire is once again heading headfirst into darker territory while pushing aside the comedy and panty flashing of past volumes. This is actually a good direction for the series but unfortunately the series tends to revert back to the business-as-usual routine. Here’s hoping that the series maintains this darker feel in the Rosario + Vampire series a lot longer this time.