Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 10.
(Total Panty Shots: Two, maybe three. Amazingly enough it's NOT Kurumu.)
At the end of the last volume we were told to expect this one in October. Based on the fact that Volume Nine came out a week ahead of schedule I was telling anybody that cared that I was going to have this page up in October. Well, October rolls around and nothing. Ironically enough not even by Halloween. (Though I think it is kind of poetic that a monster manga comes out on Election Day.) The most surprising thing was that it came out in electronic form first. I got an email from Viz saying so. I thought that was incredibly stupid. If they had changed the way the images were stored on the iPad I could see it, but they are still stored as individual JPEGs. They got it right before: Sell the hard copies for a couple of months and then release the digital version. This is the smart way because no doubt there is someone seeding torrent sites with official copies as I type this out.
Enough of that drama. Now for the drama of a boy and his harem.
We start out with Tsukune learning about his new powers and coming to the realization that Moka isn't the only one he cares deeply about. The story transitions to Moka and Aqua aboard a blimp that docks at the flying fortress that is Fairy Tale headquarters. It is here that the dreaded Alucard has been stored for many years and Moka sees him for the first time for the second time.
In order to make full use Alucard, Fairy Tale must wait one month which is coincidentally the amount of time it takes Team Tsukune to train up to rescue Moka. Strangely enough they walk right inside FTHQ. (Didn't Aqua, Fujisaki, or anybody from the 7th Branch Office give a description of Tsukune and tell the guards to NOT let him and his friends in?) What was supposed to have been a clandestine mission turns into battle royal when our heroes are discovered rather quickly then find themselves involved in a boss rush/gauntlet match.
Oh God spare us.
These types of stories get tedious after awhile. Made even more so because I am concurrently reading Oh My Goddess. Its boss rush is running somewhat similar to Rosavam's: The overwhelming power of the boss is defeated by the clever tactics of the goodguys. The bosses are really nothing more than monster-of-the-day with no backstory to make you care about what is going on. You do learn a little bit more about the goodguys, but it seems more of a retcon than anything else.
Not all of these gauntlets are bad. The one from Rurouni Kenshin was good. In that the bosses were people we met many time prior. Even though we had to suffer through a whole hell of a lot of talk, I myself did care about all the characters involved.
Back to Rosavam, there are a few things that I thought were interesting about its boss rush. The first was the return of the witch who really knows how to crack a whip: Ruby!
Ruby's battle for the most part is no different than any other boss rush battle I have seen: Ruby gets her ass kicked most of the time. Ruby does get in a few good hits. As Ruby is about to be defeated for the last time, Ruby pulls off a victory. We also get the flashback portion to help explain how Ruby's powers were developed. Here I have to admit it was good thing to review because the last time we saw any of Ruby's inner feelings was way back in Season 1 Volume 4. What made the battle really interesting was Ruby's use of magic to invoke scientific fact. I thought it was neat way of teaching the reader about electrical conductivity.
(As a reminder: Manga reads from right to left. As an English reader I tend to read the punch line before the setup.)
In the second gauntlet match starts off with Fangfang who is soon joined by Yukari. This to me harkened back to the whole mind swap business a while ago. I had wondered why at the time, now seeing these two paired up again, I think there maybe a little bit more going on between these two that only the writer would know for sure. Then again, I'm probably reading way, waaaaaay too much into it.
Overall. The writing was a little hack in this volume. Explaining Fairy Tale's plan with Moka and Alucard twice. The whole boss rush thing. Character development did get pushed a little but was overshadowed by other elements. The background artwork was mostly outstanding but was punctuated by simplicity. Same with the characters. This is a technique employed by artists the world over. They work their asses of to put awesomeness out for a few pages and then switch to ink saving, time saving, writer's camp/carpal tunnel preventing giant head on white background. I did notice what seems to be a style change going on. It's in the eyes.
I mentioned earlier that the online version of Rosario Vampire Season 2 Volume 10 came out before the brick and mortar version did. It was interesting to read it that way first. The backlight of the iPad really helped me see all the detail put into it. The screen size really enhances the readability of the manga format used by Viz Media. It is really-really nice to be able to read a page flat as it was intended without it having a bend.
A couple of final points: Does Issa Shuzen know anything about his castle being destroyed and the fact that one of his wives took Alucard? What about Koko? She was there and hasn't said a word about it to anybody.
Thens there's this: