April 27, 2010

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Rosario+Vampire Volume 3

Written by Akihisa Ikeda
Illustrated by Akihisa Ikeda
Viz

Tsukune and his friends have done the unthinkable--they've attacked the teen guardians of the school. With the help of a scaly informant, the fascist guards know Tkusune's secret. The punishment is death for all involved, and can even our little band of newspaper club heroes survive against these odds?

Plus, even if they do, can Tkusune survive math class and enjoy his summer?

There's a few variations on the general theme this time, as we see that Tkusune's friends care for him, even if he's not all that he appears to be, and one of them is even willing to make a big sacrifice to save his life. It takes a bite out of what has become a familiar formula by this point, but just isn't enough to save this one for me.

I really did like the way this volume opened, and I was hoping it would keep this one interesting for me. I still like the premise and the characters are people I like to see getting into trouble. I also liked the way Moka and the others stand by Tkusune. However, once we get past the big fight scene and dramatic revelations, we're back to the same tunes that felt played out by the end of the second trade.

Through three volumes,Tkusune is always either grabbing Moka's rosario to save her or save himself, and sometimes both. It's a pattern that just doesn't interest me, no matter how cool the monster of the week is. I love the idea of using mythological creatures from various pantheons, but if they're just going to be cannon fodder (and that seems to be the case), then it's really no fun at all. Even Superman loses sometimes. These battles are far too one-sided to remain interesting, at least for me.

What's worse is that I'm starting to guess what the monster is before they even show themselves. The mystery or the surprise value is gone when you're calling the monsters about ten pages before they're revealed. That may not be Ikeda's fault so much as it is that monsters and myths are a hobby of mine. But still, if you're writing a manga that centers on horror monsters of all kinds, I think you can expect even your teen readers to have a good grasp on them and how they work. This lack of suspense might be the biggest disappointment for me and is a big reason why I'm not planning to keep reading this series.

The other problem is that with each progressive volume, the fan service is getting worse. There's just too many T&A scenes for my taste, and they often don't have any sort of grounding in the story. I don't object to attractive women, but objectifying high school kids is not cool, and would make me think twice about giving this to a teen reader of either gender. (What is this saying to that reader?) It's also entirely one-sided, as we aren't getting a lot of beefcake, except for maybe the troll.

This is definitely shonen manga--it hits every note you'd look for in such a comic. The problem is, that's not what *I* want out of a story. This is just too formulaic for me in a way I don't care for. We have a boy hero who all the women love, they fight all the time against the villain of the day, and everyone wears skirts that are entirely too short. The interesting concept of a school for monsters just isn't enough for me.

I'm not going to judge if you like that type of manga. I mean, I will read just about any shojo book, and those often repeat themselves, too. Just be aware that if you are reading Rosario + Vampire, you're not going to encounter anything particularly different, and the premise becomes the same rather rapidly. I think I've read enough to know this isn't for me, but if you are a big fan of shonen, you may feel quite differently. There are some changes in this volume, but not enough to make a difference. Your mileage may vary, but I'm done unless I read a convincing argument otherwise.