Tsukune’s looking forward to his second semester at Yokai Academy, assuming he can survive an encounter with the newest, striped-shocks wearing member of its student body…and her penchant for turning people into popsicles.
Writer/Artist: Akihisa Ikeda
Translation: Kaoru Inoue
Adaptation: Gerard Jones
What They Say
QUIZ 5: ABOMINABLE SNOWGIRLWHEN A LITERAL FROST QUEEN FALLS FOR YOU LIKE AN ICICLE OFF THE EAVES OF AN ALPINE CHALET, IT'S BEST TO TAKE...
a. a snowday
b. a chill pill
c. the heat off of her
Last we saw Tsukune and his ghoulish groupies, they were…well actually, last time I reviewed an installment of Rosario+Vampire, the series had only just launched with its first volume. So I hope you’ve been following along, because this Mystery Machine won’t be making U-turns.
Volume #5 opens by immediately finishing the storyline from the previous book. For their summer break, Tsukune and pals were taken on a short trip to the human world, where they encounter a sunflower field full of plant monsters controlled by a sexy young witch named Ruby and her sinister master. Ruby isn’t all too evil, as we eventually come to find out, but her decrepit master’s hellbent on destroying the nearby human city. This senior sorceress would have been pretty well positioned for achieving her aims, had it not been for those meddling kids and their super-powered vampire lass. Sufficed to say, the crone gets defeated, Ruby is saved, and the Tsukune gang board a bus back to monster-ville.
Now safely returned to their demon academy, everyone’s preparing for the coming semester. This new term’s first bell also brings with it a fresh face, Mizore Shirayuki. Those who’ve already seen the Rosario anime, or have at least been feasting on random artwork, will recognize Mizore’s short-purple hair, striped knee socks, and the black belt strapped between her legs.
Having come to the franchise first byway of the animated adaptation, which injects Mizore into the action at an earlier juncture, I found myself slightly thrown by her absence in prior volumes. Not that she necessarily played a large part in the related anime episodes, but her personality—or in a certain sense, the lack thereof—added the final piece to Tsukune’s yokai love triangle, so it’s good to finally see this dour female included in the manga.
Beyond the later appearance, however, Mizore’s initial story arc plays-out in essentially the same manner and also comprises the bulk of Volume #5. Filling the always needed quite-girl role, she offers a cold demeanor bolstered by the actuality of being a snow woman, capable of wielding frozen water in a variety of deadly fashions. This reclusive ice chick, who was truant for most of the first semester, has formed a particularly obsessive crush on the school’s solitary human student, Tsukune, and she’s no longer content with merely spying her lover from afar.
Mizore’s introduction is handled much the same as Kurumu’s and Yukari’s, in the sense that the manga doesn’t weave a thick plot around the soon-to-be main character. Going forward, this should work well, because it doesn’t laden her with excessive baggage; although for the volume at hand, she comes across largely as another monster-of-the-week, which continues to be one the series weakest attributes.
The book comes to a close with the lead-in to what will likely be the focus of several resulting chapters, concerning a group of misfit monsters looking to gain some major respect by taking down the mighty Tsukune. If you’re not following why any fanged fiend would fear a measly human, then I’d suggest reading Volumes #1-4.
While Rosario+Vampire stays rather formulaic from a narrative standpoint, one area of noticeable improvement has been manga-ka Akihisa Ikeda’s artwork. Characters have grown more proportionate and three-dimensional, continually shedding the generic elements to their looks, replaced by sharper, strong features. Especially in this volume, the development of Ikeda’s style is readily apparent. The manga, thankfully, still flows well from panel-to-panel, but now there’s greater detail to the backgrounds with more complex shading, all around. Speaking purely of the aesthetics, this is definitely a volume that makes one anticipate forthcoming releases.
Through it all, the strength of Rosario+Vampire is the likeability of its characters, particularly Tsukune’s female love interests. The story, which on occasions does hit some jerky transitions between major events, remains an entertaining platform to showcase these attractive girls, as they beat-down ugly monsters and fight for the affection of the series’ unlikely hero.