Please excuse Judge Josh Rode while he watches Cowboy Bebop so he can remember why he likes anime.
Our review of Rosario + Vampire: Season One, published January 1st, 2012, is also available.
Sooner or later you will have to make a choice.
Rosario + Vampire: Season One started slow, but finished with some interesting ideas, inspiring hope Season Two would turn out to be something special. Alas, that hope was just a tease.
Facts of the Case
Tsukune Aono is a regular human who attends a school that's supposed to admit only monsters. Fortunately for him, his delicious human scent makes him very popular with the girls, especially vampire Moka Akashiya, succubus Kurumu Kurono, witch Yukari Sendo, and snow girl Mizore Shirayuki, all of whom fight for Tsukune's affections. The "Rosario" in the show's title is not a character's name, but refers to the rosary that Moka wears to keep her power in check. Removing the crucifix from the rosary allows her true, super-powerful self to emerge, but only Tsukune is able to remove it
Season One was all about Tsukune, but Season Two is about everyone else.
The last three episodes of Season One featured Tsukune's life being saved by Moka when she fed him some of her blood. In a traditional vampire story, that would have turned him into a vampire, and there were implications something like that may have happened. But Rosario + Vampire: Season Two doesn't bother to acknowledge it until its final episode. Everything up to that point is much like the majority of Season One…only more so.
Instead of developing new ideas, Season Two takes everything about the first season and makes it bigger. The girls were in love with Tsukune before, but now they literally hang off him and their Tsukune-obsessed-more-buxom mothers are added to the mix. There are still plenty of short skirts and panty shots, but those are tame compared to new full frontal nudity.
The previous standard episode script is broken up a bit in Season Two, which turns out to be not such a good thing because the show loses focus. These episodes are more about the characters and less about plot. I never want to bash a show for focusing on character, but Rosario + Vampire never finds a good balance between story and characterization. It would be different if the characters grew, but they're exactly the same as they were before, except for where they're worse. The super powered version of Moka gets some extended screen time and fails to stay in character. She actually runs away from her little sister, who she can defeat easily, and her attempts to come on to Tsukune ring false because she goes about it in a way that's not true to her character. Ruby the witch pops up in different guises, becoming Season Two's version of The Bat, the only character who gets some significant development.
Rosario + Vampire: Season Two doesn't just recognize its failings, it revels in them. If you watched only the last three episodes of each season, you would have a short, intense, and truly interesting show. Too bad you have to slog through the other twenty episodes first.
The standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer suffers during dark scenes but is fine the rest of the time. The art and animation are right in the middle of the anime continuum, with reasonable detail and shading. The Dolby 5.1 mix doesn't add much, with little surround effect and even less use of the subwoofer. The only extras are textless credits.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There are some good ideas in Rosario + Vampire: Season Two. The show stays in Yukari's point-of-view during the "Body Measurements and a Vampire" climactic battle, even though she's huddled in darkness and can only hear her friends' voices from a distance. It's an effective scene and one of the series' best. There's also an obsession with breaking the fourth wall. Characters talk to the audience, make reference to other characters' storylines (Kurumu complains about the other girls getting more featured stories than she does), and refer to past adventures. One of the best bits is when The Bat gets yanked out of the air while trying to do his expository narration. This kind of thing wouldn't work in every show, but they're some of the funnier bits of this one.
Just like in the first season, Rosario + Vampire: Season Two wastes time for ten episodes before finishing with a reasonably strong triple-episode arc. If the entire series had that sort of focus, this would be an anime worth talking about. Instead, it's just another forgettable hormone-infused harem that isn't worth your time or money.
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