In the anime world, sequels are a fairly rare sight. They offer a chance to finish a story, offer new perspectives, or even change direction from of a previous title. It’s an opportunity to refine a show’s strengths, and right the wrongs that may have occurred in the last run. Unfortunately, few are able to seize such a chance, and that don’t doom themselves ridicule and obscurity among the masses. After its disappointing debut, Rosario + Vampire was given such an opportunity for improvement. Will it be able to surpass the low standards set by its predecessor, or will both titles forever be remembered as missed opportunities?
A new school year dawns on Yokai Academy. As the first day approaches, monsters from around the world make their way to the school with hopes for an education and a chance to mingle with their ilk. Just a few months earlier, a human known as Tsukune Aono found himself in attendance at the school by way of an accident. Though he faced countless dangers, and gaggles of ghouls, Tsukune found himself enraptured with the school, as well as the many friends that he made during the year. And, with the break ending, he’s counting the days until he can return to the academy.
Upon arriving on the school grounds, yet another mysterious girl crashes into Tsukune’s life. On a bicycle. Again. Unlike his beloved Moka, though, this hot-headed redhead has a chip on her shoulder and a willingness to beat the very life out of those who stand in her way. This girl, Kokoa, is Moka’s kid sister, and she has but one goal: to rip the rosary from Moka’s neck and bring her ass-kicking sibling back into the world of the waking. Now, Tsukune needs to find a way to survive the rigors of a school filled with monsters, five deadly admirers, and a needy, borderline-homicidal sister. Will he be able to survive a second year?
The original Rosario + Vampire was a perfect example of how not to do a harem show, with its cookie-cutter plot, paper-thin characters, and an insistence on using elements of every genre under the sun. The overall result was a woefully bland title that rarely rose above the depths of mediocrity. Any potential that could be seen in the title was effectively squandered by the time the final credits rolled.
In many respects, Capu2 feels like an apology for the previous season. Rather than bury its roots in a mish-mash of ill-suited genres, the show instead embraces its roots as a goofy, sometimes racy harem show. At times, Capu2 feels like a parody of the previous season, as characters gleefully shatter the fourth wall time and time again with self-deprecating barbs about the premise and situations. At others, it is a biting comedy, as the female leads hurl humorous insults (and attacks) at one another and fight like super-powered children. While sight gags are still mainly used as an excuse to cram in an up-skirt shot, or to push characters into provocative outfits, Capu2 does manage to sneak in the occasional clever jab or humorous slapstick bit.
I was particularly harsh on the original Rosario + Vampire for its generally weak cast. The combination of a weak lead and a two-dimensional supporting cast served to bring the show’s flaws to the forefront, and ultimately sank the entire experience. Things have improved somewhat in the sequel, as efforts were made to give some form of depth to the resident archetypes. There is little actual growth between any of them, though, as any lessons the characters learn are forgotten by the time the next episode kicks off. Because of this, Tsukune never grows out of his “clueless twit” phase, nor does Mizore ever become more than the an obsessed stalker or Yukari the token loli-bait.
To put it bluntly, Rosario Vampire: Capu2 is anime junk food. While it never aspires to reach the levels of Love Hina or Tenchi Muyo!, it doesn’t need to. The series manages to salvage its mess of a precedessor to create a series that is genuinely entertaining, and surprisingly fun, despite its shortcomings.
Thanks to FUNimation for providing a review copy!