08 Oct 2012
It's a new year and a new term at Youkai Academy.... a year since a pale and weird chap called Tsukune Aono joined the school; a year since he had his blood tasted by the anaemic and beautiful vampire Moka Akashiya. a year or so, since he attracted the attention of the succubus Kurumu, the stalking snow woman Mizore and the lolita lures of the young witch Yukuri. Tsukune has grown as a person a lot since he first joined the ranks of the monster academy, but what will his second year as the proverbial cuckoo in the nest bring?
The rhetorical question above actually has an answer - anaemia. Tsukune quickly finds himself not just dealing with Moka’s ravenous advances, but also the advances of her younger sister and, towards the end of the series, her almost insatiable inner self.
For those not paying attention during the first season of Rosario and Vampire, or during the first seven to eight volumes of the first manga series, Moka Akashiya is actually the third (half) daughter of a very influential and powerful family of vampires who form one third of the triumvirate who protect the monster realm and its barrier with the human world. Moka is not the youngest daughter though, and when her youngest sister Kokoa Shuzen arrives at Youkai Academy, chaos ensues as she tries to almost continually and obsessively bring out Moka’s inner self, leading to many repeated attempts to attack and kill the weaker outer Moka as the series progresses. Ah, sibling rivalry, how fun! This kind of relationship makes me extremely glad that I was an only child!
Continuing on with the analysis of Moka and her sister’s relationship before I get to the guts of Rosario and Vampire season two, its quite important to note that her younger sister Kokoa is unsealed - in other words, she is her vampire self all of the time whereas at the same age Moka was sealed to prevent her power from destroying everything around her (the reasons for this are explained later in the second series of the manga, but are not really considered during the anime). Because of this, when Moka and Kokoa fight, Moka always won until the rosary sealed her vampire power. This disparity between siblings meant that there was always feelings of inadequacy from Kokoa, leading her to having clinical obsessive compulsive tendencies towards her sister and acts of violence. I am sorry to report that these feelings do not get resolved during the season, causing Kokoa to act almost as a slapstick comic relief character throughout the second Rosario and Vampire series, when in actuality she is simply a very broken little girl with a very deep personality if you read through the second manga series to date.
This nicely leads me into the commentary on the rest of the series. Whereas the first Rosario and Vampire season had its quite silly harem moments, it was dispersed with strong story arc elements from the manga which broke up the stream of panty and breast jokes. This is unfortunately a feature lacking in the second season, which I blame on the second manga series being in its infancy when the series was commissioned by Gonzo. What we are given instead of the quite awesome story arcs from the manga are short or singular episode arcs almost divorced from the manga series, which at times do little to convince me that the characters are growing. Speaking about growing, the Yukari-turning-into-an-adult story is actually taken from an idea in the manga, but it wasn’t Yukari who was affected, it was Kokoa.
Another element in the second series is the involvement of the parents a bit more in the story's development, which actually was rather amusing. The behaviour of Kurumu’s mother (a succubus) and Mizore’s mother is very entertaining, especially as they fight and behave almost exactly as their children do with the same rivalries. It certainly got a lot of chuckles from me!
So far I have not really mentioned Tsukune. In the second series he is actually the single character who doesn’t devolve into the tedium of repeated jokes and dialogue. His relationship with the Mokas (outer and inner) grows immeasurably during the second series, almost to what I would call a "good end" as he finally gets to meet and confront Moka’s father, the powerful vampire lord Issa Shuzen in order to heal and restore Moka while simultaneously fixing the barrier between the monster and human worlds. This arc was actually rather sweet and I very much enjoyed it!
Skipping a bit now to avoid spoiling the story any more, there is an unfortunate issue with this second season's UK release involving the English subtitles on the first disc. Although I personally watched the English dub purely for the excellent voice acting and the quite amusing puns, the Japanese dub/English subtitle option is unfortunately spoiled by the subtitles sitting approximately 120 pixels from the bottom of the screen on the first DVD only. The downside of this is that the subtitles act as almost a censor bar for the quite gratuitous breast and panty shots present in the first episodes, meaning that the many fleeting glances of raw breast flesh are spoiled by the yellow lettering of the subtitles. This happens regardless of the platform you play with disc on - PlayStation 3, PC, a stand-alone DVD player, you name it. UK Anime has confirmed with MVM Entertainment that this issue is also present on retail DVDs, and the issue has subsequently been reported to Madman Entertainment in Australia, who authored the release. Keep an eye on the UK Anime news feed and forum for any further news from the distributor if and when we receive it.
Despite this, don't let that releatively minor issue stop you from ordering this release as, unless you rely on the Japanese dub to enjoy yourself, its not a major issue. I am personally a believer that in this case the English dub is quite superior to the Japanese dub and it hasn't stopped me spending my hard-earned cash so far!
When compared to the source material for this second series, and the first series of Rosario and Vampire, this second series release is the weakest of the bunch in my opinion. I found that when compared to the excellent stories in the first series in terms of character development and dialogue, the second series is lacking. It is not without its highlights though, and even with its overly slapstick scenes and repetitive dialogue, Rosario and Vampire's second season is still highly enjoyable with some quite touching moments.