Apr 29, 2014
Master10K (All reviews)
It was a breath of fresh air when the Shounen Jump title Rosario + Vampire came out, bringing with it an interesting take on the harem genre, within a Monster Academy setting. But alas it came to an abrupt end, along with the Monthly Shounen Jump magazine. Fortunately it was popular enough to warrant a continuation in the form of Rosario + Vampire II.

Rosario + Vampire II being a Shounen, Supernatural, Harem manga, with a bit of Comedy & Action thrown in for good measure. Although this is technically a sequel, R+V II feels more like a reboot, as it re-introduces the characters and setting from the ground up. Making it fairly accessible to those who have yet to read its prequel. Even if that means having to rehash various moments of character development or plot elements from R+V (especially regarding Tsukune). But now it is set during their 2nd year in the Monster Academy, a couple months after the madness during the school fair and begins with the male protagonist getting right into the usual comedic-mishaps with his harem. Nevertheless the mangaka has learnt some lessons from his previous outing, as the whole "monster of the week" angle has been scrapped completely for a more character-driven tale. With the tales ranging from the 2 chapter outings, to some fairly lengthy arcs that shape the rest of the story.

This means that the characters end up a whole lot more fleshed out, from being given their own chapters to shine; whether that is in combat, or just some character-building. Yes that includes even the likes of: Kurumu, Mizore, Yukari and Ruby; making them all worthy members of Team Tsukune. Of course Moka, being the "best girl" gets a whole volume of back-story to herself. As for Tsukune, he continues to progress from the badass he eventually became towards the end of the prequel, which is all fine and dandy. Yet there were some missed opportunities where the mangaka could have taken things further with Tsukune's relationships with the girls, if only he wasn't too afraid to stray from the status quo.

Now I remember reading R+V and witnessing a mangaka go from several panels of mediocre scribbles, to artwork that's beyond what you'd expect in a harem. Now I have to say the artwork in R+V II is superior to its predecessor, simply because the mangaka had already found his own style to settle on and so there was no need for him to improve that much upon it. So the pages contain characters with a superb level of detail put into their facial expressions, fully fleshed out vistas and some rather elaborate monster transformation designs. Though be warned, as towards the end things do get Gantz-level gory once the story intensifies.

In the end R+V II helped remind me that a harem manga can be very entertaining, by not even being much about the harem in question but by just being an enjoyable & rather compelling to read (even if that means turning it into a shounen battle manga). Although this manga has its fair share of flaws, like the usage of the "shounen power-up trope", there's just so much to like about it. I like how it feels when the mangaka takes a step back to assess the various relationships; whether in a jokey manner (like in Ch.23), or a more serious manner (like in Ch.17). I like the contrast in the artistic style and quality between the comedy and action. But most of all I like how this is a harem with a solid plot and a well-developed plot at that. I just wish it ended better, but that seems to be the wish I have with most manga & anime out there.