Kind of an odd pairing to talk about, but I'll make the link.
Whilst reading Deathnote I kept seeing ads for Rosario Vampire. The cover girl looked cute, so of course that got my attention. Bought a couple of issues and this is pretty much what I found: Tenchi Muyo in a high school for monsters. Generally I find the story arcs are well written, but also repetitive. Big bad monster causes havoc, Tsukune makes the save by removing Moka's cross. Monster of the week would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids and their bat too. This is the same process for introducing all the main girls.
What has bothered me throughout the series is the high level of violence and blood that these kids find themselves in. The characters are 10-17 years old. Yes it's monster manga, but if it was a college setting, no problem. Then there's the sexual component. While I don't recall anything explicit, just the occasional hands on inappropriate places, shots of upskirts and bras, and girl with open robe on top of guy. Once again it's just the age factor. Especially with Yukari and Koko. Why? I really don't see the need to see these little girls in the situations that they put in all the time.
(What is it with witches in this series? Yukari is totally perverted at such a young age. Openly trying to get Moka and Tsukune in a ménage a trois and copping a feel on a grown up Koko. Let's not get started on Ruby.)
I have considered many times dropping Rosario Vampire from my reading list. What keeps me coming back is the writing. While it doesn't have the depth of say Deathnote or the warm fuzzy of Inukami, it's good enough to keep me interested at least. That's the important part. These characters are growing. They're not stuck in neutral like in Oh My Goddess. Friendships are formed and changed all the time. Most tend to have a deep emotional background as to their motivations. Even Gin. For someone that is hardly ever seen, he is really well put together, both physically and personality wise. That's why I tend to over look the violence and what some call fan service.
I digress to tell this story. A friend of mine has been buying this series for his son. I asked him if he even knows what is in Rosario Vampire. He said he flipped through just to make sure there was nothing he had a problem with. “Hey, it's not like it Hustler Humor.” He told me. He's right. As long as parents take the time to open up the book and see what is inside and not rely on the rather misleading jacket.
On to Girls Bravo.
There was a sale at the many Hastings were I live. Buy two get one free. Plenty of Girls Bravo to be had. How can I turn down a good deal like that with such cute girls on the cover? I thought to myself: “Self, you know what you getting into right? It's pretty clear on the covers and the rating on the back.” I was a bit wrong. I thought there was going to be nudity everywhere. We get plenty of fan service and compromising positions. When after many volumes we finally get some nudity, it is rather uncleverly censored. I only have four volumes. I doubt I'm going to continue with it. It's the writing. It's not good. Everybody is stuck in neutral and shoe horned into stories that are pretty generic. There is no growth what so ever. Not even the outlier characters get much. In Tenchi the characters didn't do much, but at least we saw Yume and Minagi grow, change, and develop.
Now the anime of both series is the opposite of the manga. Rosario Vampire is not well written and not really well animated. Where as Girls Bravo was superbly written and animated. I had low expectations for the anime of Girls Bravo, I was completely blown out of the water. Everybody had motivation, direction, growth, depth, and well thought out character background. The manga's stories were contained within a single chapter. The anime's writers were able to flesh out each individual chapter into a twenty minute episode and make it entertaining.
Both series have a problem: the over sexualation of the characters. While I could tolerate the poor writing of Rosario Vampire, I don't get the constant upskirts, Kurumu's much more explicit and has all sorts of sound effects, and Yukari even more perverted. Girls Bravo is a constant stream of nudity distracting from what was a good story.Maybe I'm just being too conservative on that particular subject.
Strange considering my mom let me read Hustler Humor when I was ten.
Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volumes 16 and 17.
Rosario Vampire, why am I still reading this? I'm not too sure. It's not the best, but it sure ain't the worst. While I try and figure that out, let's talk Season 2.
The anime. The animation was much improved, the writing very much improved. I like how it deviated from the manga with some original stories and characterizations, and when stories were directly lifted from the manga, they were actually just as good as the original. However the constant upskirts and nude transformation sequences distract in a negative way from what was a vastly much better series. I do look forward to Season 3. I know, these things have a tendency to be forgotten about after about 26 or so episodes. However there's still a lot of story left to be told.
I shall now expand on a point made in the previous paragraph: deviating from the original source material. I used to be one of those perfectionists that wanted movies and such to be letter perfect to the original book. Well, think about 2001: A Space Odyssey. The movie is boring enough, now imagine watching the movie after having read the book. I imagine that there were some howls of protest because Discovery went to Jupiter instead of Saturn. How much more boring, and much longer would the movie had been if the slingshot around Jupiter had been doable in 1968? I hate to imagine that. Now think of the sequel: 2010. It was pretty close to the book, but there was stuff added. The whole conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. Once again the strict constructionists probably whined all about, but I say it helped make for a more complex story and sped things up.
Nowadays I try and judge each book and movie based on its own merits and try and not to compare the derivative story from the original source material. Sailor Moon anime sucked not because it was nothing like the manga, it just sucked period.
Speaking of things that suck: Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 7. I'd swear reading about this particular plane ride from Japan to China took longer than an actual one. Then we're introduced to a rather complex relationship between two of China's top monster crime syndicates. To top it off the main antagonist of this season, Fairy Tale, is somehow involved in the chaos that ensues at the home of one of the crime families. I'm thinking we really don't need the involvement of Fairy Tale again so soon. We just came off of two intricate story lines let's give it a rest for a while.
I did find a couple of things interesting in this volume. The first was the juxtaposition of the two Mokas. In the previous volume Inner Moka was allowed out for the day with the predictable result: we're stuck with the broody, violent, doesn't like anybody Inner Moka permanently. She can't transform back into dear, sweet, innocent, loves everybody Outer Moka. My point to make here is that I think the names are reversed. Keep in mind that the silver haired Moka was what everybody else knew before the creation of the pink haired Moka. So the people who know Moka now call sweet Moka “Outer” and Super Vampire Moka “Inner.” It's really just the opposite. I can't possibly know if this is what the author intends, or is something I'm reading too much into.
One thing I've noted is that of the four vampire sisters, Moka is the only one to get a personality swap when sent to the outside world. I wonder if there is any real particular reason behind that.
The other thing about Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 7 I find interesting was the development of the character Fangfang. I was not happy with the introduction of him and his Sister Lingling. I was thinking we really don't need them. We see that in this volume Lingling seems to be slowly written out because now she is being treated like Ruby. You know, when we need a character to fill a certain role: pilot, mechanic, dress shop worker, butcher, baker, liquor store guy, etc, etc, Lingling, like Ruby, will be there. (It's easier to draw a character you know than to draw one from scratch.)
Fangfang on the other hand. I was against him for various reasons. The first one was because I thought he was going to be a gay foil to the girls. I'm not into boy/boy manga, I like chicks, real chicks (chicks who are chicks since birth.) Plus I was afraid that the one gay male character was going to be a negative stereotype and get treated to endless rounds of ass whuppin by the other girls. Then that's completely forgotten and he's turned into a perverted lolicon fetish type, and then just someone to get the crap kicked out of him at inconvenient times.
Anybody remember Gin?
In this volume Fangfang's character came into being: as a best guy friend of Tsukune. That is something that this series, and many other harem manga/anime is missing. Sure it's great to be surrounded by chicks, but it's also great to have a bud sitting next to you enjoying the big game. Tsukune and Fangfang become inseparable best friends. Nothing sexual about what-so-ever. Just a couple of dudes out having grand adventures, drinking some beers, beating up the bad guys, beating each other up, and will always have each other's back. There are things men will do and say that they will never do in the presence of a woman. The reverse is true: woman will do and say things with each other, but not with a man in the area. I'm hoping that the buddy/buddy friendship of Tsukune and Fangfang is explored with great detail down the road.
Rosa-Vam Season Two Volume Six I found interesting not for any real great story advancement, but for the the fact that many of the hack premises that are usually done at the beginning of a series are being done this late. We have: bloomers, sports day, fate of the hero, lunch box/bento picnic, body measurements, and Freaky Friday. With some twists. The girls make a big deal out of the gym shorty-shorts. Usually on sports day the good guys are missing the main hero for the most part, and then have a miraculous last minute come from behind victory. In this chapter the heroes are there, but are getting the asses soundly handed to them, until the calvary shows up: moms. (Would have been nice to see them in bloomers.) While the moms are evening the score, Moka and Tsukune are having a picnic. Of course the picnic is ruined when the bad guys trample it and sports day is ended in a Dusty Finish when Moka and Tsukune are disqualified for their revenge tactics and everything degenerates into a Royal Rumble.
I mentioned Freaky Friday. In this movie a mother and daughter switch minds for a day. This plot has been used again and again. Most notably in last year's movie The Change Up.
The plot will often center around two people who either envy or hate each other. Somehow their lives are swapped then at the end they realize that things are not always as they seem and gain new found respect for each other. Rosario Vampire did it a little different, you would think that it would be say Moka or Kurumu, Kurumu and Yukari, Tsukune and Mizore getting the switch up. Some mind swap that would cause the most commotion among the gang of friends.
Yukari and Fangfang.
I was doing what you're probably doing now: “Say what?” Those two? How is that supposed to be provide some insight or even hilarity into these characters. There's no conflict between these two. Well, conflict comes about because now Fangfang decides to peep in on all the girls and even himself in Yukari's body during the whole body measurement sequence.
The real insight comes to Yukari. Normally on mind swaps the person gets a major insight to the person they have taken over. She sees herself from the outside and has the shock of her life. Her view of herself is completely destroyed when she finally realizes that she is a little girl with lots of growing yet to do. Of course, we can always count on Tsukune to tell her what her friends really think of her. So we can have that reset to zero by the next chapter.
I do have to point out something of a retcon that occurred: Mizore saying she hated the way Yukari talks. I can't seem to recall any instance of Mizore even hinting at that. Of course, that whole bit is forgotten by the next chapter.
In closing, I am enjoying the Rosario Vampire series. I like the way the characters are being developed. Each one is clearly defined. The artwork is not overly complicated. I can easily tell what is going on in each panel. The translation is been pretty good and smooth.
When I first picked this series up, I had considered dropping it almost immediately. I'm glad I stuck through and look forward to Rosario Vampire Volume 18.
By the way, is it Rosario Vampire, Rosario + Vampire, Rosario Plus Vampire, Rosario Cross Vampire, or Rosario To Vampire?
Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 8.
I hadn't planned on saying anything more about RosaVam until about the end of the year, but a little birdy named SEO shouted in my ear that I might want to say something more. He reminded me about how fortuitous it was to talk about some obscure Japanese video game when I did and it might behoove me to talk more about our favorite multiple personality complex vampire chick.
Talking about this issue let's get the one thing I didn't like at all out of the way first: the gore and viscera. One of the things that has made me kind of queasy through out the entire series is the blood. I understand that this is a monster manga but for the most part it's focus was romantic-comedy. Lately we have been treated to a big heaping doses of story telling. Along with that the realism has been getting more and more detailed. Now it is getting to a point that maybe going over the line even for me. There's a scene in which Moka's mother, Akasha, is cut in half and rather graphically depicted. Then later we see her laying down with some spilled guts.
I had mentioned several times before that I had considered dropping Rosario + Vampire from my reading list. There were several reasons I had been considering this action: kinda boring, no character development, occasional inappropriate sexual explicitness of characters younger than 18, in Yukari's and Koko's cases much younger than 18, and the occasional explicit blood and gore. Well, after 18 volumes it's kinda hard to just call it quits. If I do I more than likely in a few years I will just wind up going back and buying the back issues anyway to get caught up.
I'll tough it out a little while longer. Now let's get into some de ja vu.
To talk about that feeling I have seen it before I need to go back to Rosario to Vampire Season 2 Volume 17. I forgot to mention about this the last time, so I'll do it now. There's a scene where all the main characters are wandering around Fangfang's mansion. It's empty and they're trying to figure out where everybody else is at and it seems to be haunted. Other than most episodes of Scooby Doo, I kept having this feeling I had seen this before, but I couldn't remember where. I was going insane. (Going?) I knew I had seen it just within the past month of this issue.
Then Suzumiya Number 11 came in.
Well, Rosavam did it again. It's only been a couple of weeks since it's release so I won't do any spoilers as to what happens in this volume that set off my de ja vu detector. However that doesn't mean I can't talk about a now twelve year old anime that may or may not be similar. The final episodes of Orphen Season 2 had a big battle with an ancient beast that absorbed sorcerers to increase it's powers to escape a prison. The final episode saw two people, father and daughter, impaled by some tentacles and drawn back into the monster's prison to help protect a girl that had her personality subdued and replaced.
That comparison came to mind right away only because I had just watched Orphen a couple of weeks before. It was on sale for about $20. That's the way I run things now. I just wait for stuff to show up in the used video stores or for the super saver compilations. (Guess that also shows just how interesting Suzumiya is to me.)
The similarity of event between Rosavam and Orphen I think is purely unintentional. Just two great writers that happen to come up with same idea many years apart.
I've talked down on Rosavam enough. What stood out the most was the attention to detail. Most of this issue was very well drawn throughout. As an example close ups of characters mouths had a sense of depth. As in you were looking into their mouths and not at a painted on hole. The flower pattern on Aqua's dress wasn't just a stencil, it looked like each petal was carefully planned out as to what the flowers would actually look like depending on the pose. A scene of Akasha flying backwards in which we get a sorta upskirt that reveals the cage holding her skirt. You can even see the rivets holding the bandings together. We finally get to see Kurumu use her succubus powers.
Which leads to a final question: of the three chosen characters to go inside Moka's mind, why Mizore? I understand Tsukune. Tohofuhai, I guess because in these things you have to have an old fart of a guide with you that knows everything. Mizore? Reminds me of the final chapters of Sailor Moon when the four asteroid named Sailor Scouts get told the entire story. Why them? Was Kurumu or Fangfang too obvious? Did it come down to a coin flip between Mizore and Yukari? How many licks does it take take to get the center of a Tootsie-Pop?
Now to answer some questions that other people have been asking. I know you have because I hired Kurumu's mom to peak inside your dreams.
“What chapters of Rosario Vampire have nudity?”
This particular volume has nudity in it. The typical non-detailed stuff that can get on Japanese broadcast TV at later times. This volume is rated older teen, but what does that mean? Is that 17, 18, and 19? A friend of mine said no way would he allow such a thing in his house. He doesn't mind it personally, he just doesn't want his kids to see it. I remind him that it was his son that told me about the site that I got all these manga scans from. Boys will be boys.
You'll note that I make sure NOT to give the name of the sites I got these scans from. I believe in supporting the original artists as much as possible. You can go to Amazon, Hastings, or Barnes and Noble to find your own copy of Rosario Vampire Volume 18. Of course I have no qualms about using someone else's time to save me an extra $10 and a day or so of ripping up a copy and scanning it.
Though I will say thank you and I do appreciate the effort put forth in some people's buying the original Japanese volumes, ripping them up, scanning, and translating them.
“Is Rosario Vampire too explicit?”
Depends on your point of view. Look at the ratings. Though that can be entirely misleading. Which is one of the reasons I ranted so much last year about nudity. I have planned further ranting about that for a later date.
You have to look through it yourself and make up your own mind.
"Which is better Girls Bravo or Rosario Vampire?"
That is a matter of opinion. There is plenty of arguments for and against each series. My assessment, whatever that is really worth, is that the Girls Bravo manga is not that good. The anime is really good in terms of character development and story writing. Rosario Vampire anime started off not so good and slowly built into some respectability. The manga has it's ups and downs, but is worth supporting.
“Why did Yukari say old farts in episode 6 of Rosario + Vampire?”
I went back and watched both episodes 6. I never heard her say "old fart." In the English dub she called Kurumu a “moo-cow.” I think it was added in by the English writers to better fit the mouth movements and to play off the rivalry between the two.
Addendum: In doing research for the third article I have been watching the anime, and I have discovered that Yukari did indeed say old farts. It was in episode 7. After having been dumped in the lake, Moka, Tsukune, and Kurumu are in the News Paper Club room wrapped up in blankets sneezing and bitching about Mizore, A.K.A. "Frosty the Snow Skank." In this case it makes perfect sense to call them "old farts." Have you ever been in a retirement home? I'm going to talk a lot more about it in the third Rosavam article.
Unfortunately that's all the questions. Ageha got pissed because she caught me ... er...uhm... someone dreaming about Tsurara, in bloomers. I ..er...That person is alright but will have to use his non-dominant hand to type out blog entries for awhile.
Putting it all together
What you see here is the culmination of many years of studying how to write in HTML and CSS. All of it was done with trial and error, mostly error. I must give credit where credit is due: all the idiots that got it wrong and somehow climbed to the top of Google rankings.
The first thing I worked on was the images used as background elements. I used Google image search and found Madman.com.au. There they had all kinds of official images. Didn't have to pay for them, which is a plus.
Now to edit them all.
One of the ways I learn is by reverse engineering how other people do things. There is a right-click option that lets you view background source HTML and images. One of the thing I learned is that background images can be very huge and can be split up.
I could have just overlaid the text into this, but it would be difficult to see. If I used the newsprint back ground that you're seeing right now it would have covered up Moka and I didn't want that. So I resized the image to 500 pixels.
Then enlarging the canvas to 1400 pixels a copy/pasted the image on the right side.
Finally adding in the newsprint to the center.
That is still pretty bland, there needs to be more. How about background images for each section?
Problem, the text won't show up. I've researched opacity setting for images, however I can never seem to be able to get that to happen without affecting the text. So I employed two work arounds. The first was to fade the newsprint into each image.
That helped, but wasn't enough. The second was a screen.
After running it through Photoshop Elements to turn it into a transparent PNG:
(After having done all that, I learned how to make a semi-transparent PNG.)
Comes now the coding.
For years I just let FrontPage and Web Expressions do all the coding for me. However, I wanted more, and sometimes you have to dig into the code to fix a problem. I looked at the source code of various sites that had the look of what I wanted. Tried it out for myself. When that wasn't helping I would simply type my questions into Google. That was helpful, most of the time. Once in awhile someone's mistake would make it to the top of the search. Like trying to figure out how to get a div inside a container. It's doable, but some advice was wrong and combine that with my total confusion how things work, well disaster would happen.
You may note that the child divs are not as wide as the container divs. I did this so that the text wouldn't spill out over to your right (Moka's left) side. Now comes the next major issue I created for myself: text alignment. Most of the time I always have the text centered or justified. This is a result of me not knowing any better when I first started making this site. I wanted the text and images centered right in front of the reader's eyes, not all the way to the left, or right. Later I would learn about tables, containers, and divs. (Oh my.) Even after schooling myself I still center my text. This time was different, just me being silly. But, I wanted to set off titles by making them centered. (Great plan.) Problem was by clicking the text Center button at the top of the editor window it centered all text. What to do, what to do? Put it in a div as well:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that all really needed to do was to go <p align-center></p>. But the " World Wide Web Consortium now regards the attribute 'align' as outdated. Newer constructs are recommended." (Stoopid World Wide Web Consortium. What do they know?) So both the titles and most images are in their own divs. Except in this section, just me being silly.
Now the final major coding issue: importing from the blog. It wasn't just a simple of of copy paste. You see there are three ways of viewing this site in the editor: Design, Split, and Code. Mostly I work in Design mode. When I pasted the blog text into this mode all kinds of additional coding comes along. The divs with their styles and breaks which ultimately interferes with the coding I had already set for the page. I paste in the text to Code mode which removes all formatting. Like the paragraph breaks. Even my little sarcky offsets. Of course spending all damn day putting that stuff back in.
I should have just left it as a white background with a table in the center.