Things have officially gotten nasty at Yokai Academy. The third volume of Akihisa Ikeda's "Rosario + Vampire" ups this comedic, fanservicey manga to a whole other level, with a truly harrowing fantasy battle and some extraordinary repercussions for our "ordinary" hero. And then it's back to the romance and comedy.
The malevolent Kuyo arrests Moka and Tsukune, and reveals that he thinks Tsukune is a human. But when he tries to kill Tsukune the rest of the newspaper club leaps in to defend him, human or not... and Kuyo reveals his true form, which none of them have a chance of defeating. And with Tsukune seemingly dead, Moka has no choice but to inject her own blood into him -- which heals his wounds, and transforms him completely...
After that, Tsukune can't remember a thing. Suddenly everybody is saying that he defeated Kuyo, and a gigantic troll-boy is challenging him -- and when Gin reveals what happened, Tsukune flips out. And a sexy new math teacher is on campus, and declares that a rapidly failing Tsukune must take private lessons with her. But when Tsukune transforms into a formula-spouting zombie, Moka must uncover what the teacher has done to him.
The last two volumes of "Rosario + Vampire" were full of fanservice, comedy, and nasty confrontations usually solved by Tsukune yanking off Moka's cross. But that ends with the third volume -- they encounter a villain that is practically unstoppable (even for Moka), and the entire cast comes very close to dying by his flames.
And Ikeda shows he can handle the darker content -- lots of slam-bang fiery action, intense drama, and a spectacular climax as the superpowered fox-man Kuyo prepares to sadistically burn his enemies to ashes. Ikeda doesn't skimp on the aftermath either -- Tsukune and Moka have their first real fight about something major, and Ikeda makes Tsukune's fear and misery almost palpable.
Fortunately he then takes a break with some typical fanservicey comedy with a horror twist -- namely a slinky teacher with very unorthodox teaching methods. And a leather bustier.
His artwork has also takes a leap forward. The girls in this series have always been "cute," but the boys have acquired a more masculine beauty as well (particularly Gin and Kuyo, but even Tsukune has his prettier moments). And Kuyo's transformation from man to fox to fox-man is beautifully done.
Moka and Tsukune also have their first real fight (meaning: not a romantic-comedy squabble), and Ikeda does a good job conveying Tsukune's fright and anger at being lied to. But we also see how far the other characters have come -- there are hints of why Gin doesn't want to tangle with the enforcers, and Kurumu shows what a selfless person she's become.
Oh yeah, and there's a very cunning villain left on the loose -- presumably we'll see her again.
"Rosaio + Vampire Volume 3" ups the ante in every way -- for the characters, the art, and the plots. Definitely a good read.