There was a young man from Japan
Who met a vamp with rather nice pan[ties].
He thought it was best
To rest on her chest;
I ain’t his number one fan.
I know very well that even when one isn’t being inspired by classic and not-so-classic literature, one must still pay the bills. This is the most plausible explanation for Rosario + Vampire‘s anime adaption, anyhow. Unlike my entry considering Macross Frontier, I’m not going to make any attempt to judge this one’s objective quality. Rather I will spread a little commentary-oil over the first-impressions water. [Oil and Water: Tracking Images of Pollution in Internet Discourse – I can see it now.]
Others have noted the prevalance of panties in this show. Ignoring the credits and preview,¹ there’s roughly one pantyshot for every minute of animation, though I probably missed some; JP Meyer unearthed a nico nico video which counts them.
The iconography of pantyshots deserves a thoughtful, cold-blooded blog entry all of its own.
[This reminds me of the time, some years ago, that I accidentally wandered into the wrong one-way gallery in the Fasion Museum in Bath,² and stumbled out of the other end red-faced, steamy-spectacled and a little corset-happy. Corsets, such complex pieces of engineering, are the underwear equivalent of Cthulu in their fearsome incomprehensibility.]
I will confess that I read some of the original manga some months ago. Panties were less in evidence (though not entirely missing) and the lack of broadcasting codes meant that the bloodsucking was rather more enjoyably over-the-top: less raising of a hand to one’s neck, more running around in circles with blood pumping out of one’s punctures. After a while the manga wanders a little from its fluffy begining, at one point featuring an emotionally and physically brutal showdown which begs to be drawn by Hirano Kouta (yet sadly isn’t). I fear the anime won’t get that far, however.
Culture commentators love vampires and vampirism. I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on the possible sexual interpretations of an action which combines penetration and sucking. And sex is only the beginning – what about bloodsucking as the transfer of capital to the aristocratic vampire? Stoker made Dracula a creature from a feudal state, decidedly out of place in mercantile Victorian London, after all.
Given that the general tone of Rosario + Vampire, however, I think I’d stick with sex if I was called upon to produce a reading of the vampirisim in this show. Especially since Moka’s vampiric nature is restrained by a religious symbol, the cross which she wears hanging from a collar around her neck (‘O to die on such a Calvary!’)³ and her gothic/magical-girl-esque transformation sequence makes her more curvaceous.
And Rosario + Vampire‘s bloodsucking is, so far, a case of lack of restraint: rather than choosing to drink, Moka reacts to the presence of blood and is unable to stop herself from tucking in. (I am tempted to draw a parallel with someone who would watch a show for the panties – but I must restrain myself.) Indeed, in the manga it seems that Moka is almost addicted to Tsukune’s blood, like people become addicted to coffee or Coke.
Vampire sex has undergone a rehabilitation since the time of Dracula and Carmilla. Living with a considerably altered set of mores, the sexual connection with bloodsucking seems less threatening, and more – well – exciting? Rosario + Vampire certainly looks indulgently upon bloodsucking, or so it seems initially.
Tsukune will of course assemble a harem of doe-eyed monsters, but the first episode establishes that it will only ever be what I term a harem certus: there’s no question of choice, as we already know who Tsukune’s in love with. ‘[F]or there to be any credence given to the rival, she’s got to be on a reasonably level playing field’, writes Ubu Roi, and it’s hard to be on a level playing field with someone who regularly drinks the blood (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) of the object of your affections.
A harem incertus might get in the way, though, since the Shuffling of heroines around in the hero’s affections produces drama, and this show is aiming to be funny, not overly dramatic. Boxcutters, after all, have a much shorter and less illustrious cultural history than bloodsucking does.
1. The next-episode-preview actually and entirely consists of a pantyshot with some dialogue played over the top. I laughed like a drain. Also: the next episode is another chance to use the phrase ‘busty succubus’.
2. I would like to put on record the fact that I was not visiting the Fashion Museum because I especially wanted to. All-expenses paid days off of school, with free train travel to Bath, one of my favourite cities, were involved, so a certain amount of emasculation was a reasonable price to pay.
3. Relevant trivia: 16th and 17th century poets used ‘dying’ as a euphemism for sexual climax. Knowing this ruins you for funerals, if you possess a puerile sense of humour.
- There are plenty of first impressions of Rosario + Vampire out there; I think the best combination of succinctness and accuracy can be found in Daijoubu’s entry.
- A more traditionally formatted take on the first episode is provided by the Subculture Anime Blog.
- Hinano decries the dumbing down from the manga.