Anime Review #1- Rosario + Vampire

I’ve actually been meaning to write about this one for a while. The premise is perfect. A boy who fails to get into any prestigious private schools is accidentally enrolled in a school for monsters, Yokai Academy. The only human, surrounded by snow ghosts, succubi, werewolves, vampires, witches, cat people and blob monsters quickly attracts a posse of magical females… who all want him. The age and premise make this akin to a gender-swapped City of Bones. Powerful females constantly protecting the puny human from a world that he was unwillingly cast into? Multiple suitors vying for affection? One of them is an outright stalker?

Yup.

Tsukune Aono flirts with Moka Akashiya (who is a sweet girl wearing a rosary that keeps her violent vampire form underwraps), Tsukune likes her but doesn’t like sharing his blood and isn’t 100% about dating a vampire. He is also pursued by a busty succubus, Kurumu…

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…and the super stalker Mizore.

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Mizore begins as a villain, willing to hurt Kurumu, Moka and even Tsukune himself while in pursuit of his affections. During the altercation Tsukune blames himself. Says that this is all happening because of him. Kurumu wisely speaks up, telling him that he is not to blame, “It is never the victims fault! People are responsible for their own actions!”

This is something that is few and far between in media aimed for the tween and teen set (although I wouldn’t rate this anime in that category) we often see victim blaming in YA. Examples include, audiences not liking Clary’s “friendzoning” of Simon, the “romantic” stalker Edward’s over protectiveness of Bella, Buffy’s mother blaming her for the creeper behavior by Angelus after they sleep together. So I had a fist pump moment when she blurted that out.

Tsukune is also kind of a special snowflake himself: he’s the only one that can remove the cross from Moka’s neck. He solves his problem using traditionally female tactics like talking out problems with the monster.

Although I’m touting the feminist power of Rosario + Vampire… Moka’s transformation scene leaves much to be desired in that category.

At Anime Boston there was a panel called “Fight Like a Girl: How Magical Girls Weaponize Femininity” the presenter was named Nina (if anyone has additional info, throw me a comment, I’d love to add it) and she brought up this excellent point about magical girl transformation scenes from Sailor Moon and Ballerina Tutu. The Females put on jewelry, get a hair makeover and/or change into a fancier outfit. This can have both negative and positive interpretations. From “you have to be beautiful and girly to have power” to “you can be pretty and girly and have ability as well” to “pride in your appearance can be empowering” and it is really individual preference that will dictate one’s interpretation.

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But with Moka: We get and upskirt, her breasts enlarge and her shirt busts open. Brief flashes of (albeit not graphic) nudity ensue before her hair lightens. Her inner-vampire is a true immortal in the body of a girl and I see why this happens but I have trouble concocting a positive twist on cleavage and panty shots being a sign of power. The anime itself is rated MA 18+ (there’s a BDSM teacher/monster, a perverted senior and a million upskirts) so the case can be made that this is for adults… but the characters are still Freshman and Sophomores and one member of their group is only 11, Yukari Sendou.

And the lessons learned are very teenage. Yukari, for example, faces bullying for being a witch (a “being of the borderline” AKA a supernatural HUMAN) until Moka and Tsukune stick up for her. She’s also coming to terms with her sexual orientation she falls first for Moka and then for Tsukune she wants them to have a three way relationship. In one episode, after being teased by volumptuous Kurumu she wants to grow up and visits the school nurse who feeds off her body shame and self loathing but transforms her into a beautiful womanly figure who instantly attracts attention. In the end she learns to love herself as she is and not grow up too fast. So the rating and life lessons are very incongruent. I don’t know what the rating is in Japan and I have heard that the 18+ rating is ethnocentric and based on prudish Western connotations.

Still.. there’s nothing empowering about wind blowing your skirt up.

If you can get passed that it is very good and lots of fun. I enjoy seeing how the group of friends gets out of trouble and am impressed with how often opening their circle up to other characters- who are mainly female- solves conflict. I also enjoyed the varied interpretations of monsters, and despite pandering to male audiences there is some genuine girl power.

Book Review- Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon #29

Do I have to read the whole book to say with certainty that this is the worst book I ever read?

Night play is a Dark Hunter novel. It’s about werewolf type creatures that are cursed. Half of the species has human hearts and half animal hearts. There are also Bears and Hawks and other shapeshifters. It doesn’t really matter, because aside from shitshows of manliness the whole umm… plot… is kind of in the back ground.

Yeah, so the main character, Vane, is mourning his brother who is in a coma and expected not to recover, they are being hunted by their father. His sister and mother are both dead for the same reasons. Sounds really… tragic? overly dramatic? angsty? Doesn’t matter. For the first half of the book you’ll almost never hear about it. Vane meets “Bride.” a woman working in a vintage shop and falls madly for her.

And we follow these two idiots around forever. I’m on page 141/371 and I don’t know how much more I can actually stand.

Here are SOME of the offending issues:

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Vane goes into her shop and asks her for a recommendation for a gift. She asks if its for his GF. He says “I could never be so lucky.” and she thinks he could get any girl, who would turn him down -and I quote- “On second thought, she hoped she never met a woman that attractive. If she did,she would be morally obligated to run her over with her car.” No you wouldn’t! No you would not be ‘obligated’ to cause her drastic physical harm! What the fuck is wrong with you?! How other women look is none of your damn business! Insecure freakshow.

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Vane, after creepily asking Bride if she worked in the store alone SMELLED that she got scared and thought “But then, (humans) were weak, especially their females.” This is the main character. Who I think I’m supposed to think is troubled but charming… BUT FUCK YOU.

He says his last name “Kattalakis” and she says, “That’s very different. You must have a hard time spelling it for people.” Why the fuck would he have a hard time spelling his own name, bubblehead?

Later, they get marked by a thing that says they are soulmates. Vane takes this a sign that he should stalk er… “protect” her and he changes into wolf form and spies on her having an annoying conversation with her friends about “who’s the fattest’ One; I hate that shit. Normalized chick behavior of talking about who’s fat and what freaky diet they are on. For some reason this is acceptable female bonding. And of course, two, Vane is pretending to be a canine and spying on her and sleeping inside her house under false pretenses!! NOT romantic. NOT sexy. NOT charming. Sick. 

Bride’s ex shows up to drop off her stuff. He’s an ass to her. Vane, in Wolf form, bites him. Taylor, the ex, says he will sue. Bride says she will say that Taylor threatened her and who will believe him? So now this uncomfortable, but NORMAL adult interaction has turned into a shit show of manliness. Which is bad enough, but then THEN to top it off, Bride says that she will make false allegations that he was intimidating and/or abusing her. So, let’s just make it look like women make flip decisions to file false abuse charges. Just lying hos when they don’t get their way, huh? Then Vane in human form shows back up and gives Taylor a black eye. After throwing tens of thousands of dollars around to get movers to take Bride’s things inside. Once again, our he-man hero doesn’t need words, he just needs physical violence and big paychecks. Also, why he has so much money makes no sense.

He does, at one point, ask for consent. Very rad. unfortunately this came directly after stalking and ‘one true love that i must protect’ BS, “I might toss you over my shoulder and ravish you again.” “Would you really?” “I would if you’d let me.”

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But a meager 4 pages later; “He’d never understood what had driven his father to attack his mother. Now he did Every part of him simmered for (Bride). It was feverish and raw and he wasn’t sure how to control it. I’m sorry.. abuse and rape are presented as something that happens when someone is “passionate”? I mean, what the fuck here? He’s just so attracted to her he might violate her! Fucking romantic, huh?

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I’m all set.

We have a MC who is a confirmed violent stalker who thinks rape is a normal way to show affection. Bride is a fickle, shallow, boring, low self esteem having Pollyanna. She spend pages upon pages focusing on her negative body image and shitty internal dialogue. We’re supposed to see that Vane thinks she is beautiful. But he’s a fucking creepy stalker. His word don’t mean shit in my book. Fuck it, in anyone’s book. Beauty starts from within. And a woman with no self confidence who only sees herself reflected through the eyes of a man, who hates other women because of their appearance, who cannot deal with normal grown up social interactions on any level? Nope. Not beautiful.

The characters names: Daimon, Kyrian, Acheron, Vane, Fang, Bride.

NO ONE HAS THESE AWFUL NAMES

How long must I tolerate this crap? Will I DNF or see how many glaring flaws I can add up? Tune in next time.