My God, we used to watch garbage like this. We enjoyed it. This got a Season 2, which until a moment ago I had no intention of watching... but I'm a completist. I'll watch it and you'll all laugh at me.
Half of this first season, though, is bad enough to make you swear off anime forever. Ignore any excuses like "it's not meant to win Oscars" or "turn off your brain and enjoy it". This might have passed muster in the early 1990s, perhaps, but no later. Episodes 1, 3 and 7 are merely terrible. Episodes 2, 4-6 and 8 are horrendous, the kind of thing that anywhere else would be the laugh-out-loud nuclear low point.
Eps.9-13 then improve up to "not very good", with dramatic stakes and more serious enemies.
Tsukune Aono failed his exams and can't get into any decent schools, so his parents send him to a boarding school for monsters. (They're as dim as him.) Tsukune's a standard harem protagonist, but viewed today he's the show's biggest problem. Tsukune has no personality. He'd fail a Turing Test. He's a wish-fulfilment placeholder for the no-life target audience. Calling him milquetoast would be an insult to milk and toast.
That's the protagonist... and, what's more, girls will fall in love with him. HOW? My brain couldn't accept it. It's like falling in love with a piece of cardboard propped up against the dustbins. It's annoying just to sit through his dialogue scenes with Moka, which are the scriptwriting equivalent of white noise. Normally, when fictional characters talk, one expects characterisation and a dramatic purpose to the scene. This, though, is just generically nice noises being produced by faces so bland that you'd think they were Autons. At least that's better than his declarations of courage, though.
There's also lots of bad fanservice. I should explain. I can enjoy fanservice anime, after all, and nudity can be funny. This episode, on the other hand, has pallid, distracting fanservice that just makes you wish the show would grow up. It's panty shots. Lots of them, all framed in a way that's the opposite of sexy.
Oh, and Moka (the show's First Girl) is a vampire with a terrifying, ultra-dangerous VAMPIRE FORM!!! Normally, she's an ordinary schoolgirl who can go out in the day and even sunbathe on the beach in a swimsuit. She wears a cross around her neck. Uh-huh. Vampire. Yeah, right. (The show never mentions mirrors, garlic or needing to be invited into a house before she can enter, but I'm sure she'd have been fine with all those.) She regularly drinks from Tsukune, but this leaves no mark and so in practice is just a hot girl wanting to kiss his neck. What about that VAMPIRE FORM!!!, though? That's Moka's almost indestructible vampire-squared alter ego. Is it scary? Does it make her look monstrous, e.g. bat wings or grotesque fangs? No, in fact, she grows slightly bigger breasts.
Kurumu the succubus spends the episode being evil and hypnotising people with her boobs. (Literally. No, I'm not joking.) Afterwards, Tsukune says she didn't mean it maliciously, "because she doesn't look to me like a bad girl."
He's like a parody of idiot harem protagonists.
(There are things I like about the Tsukune-Moka relationship, though. Them calling each other "friend" is the only good bit of this episode.)
I quite liked Yukari Sendou, the 11-year-old witch. Being in love with Moka, not Tsukune, is refreshing (and so the show will forget about it after this episode). This was also the only episode to make me laugh, c.f. the knicker-dropping. However, the boob-groping in front of the whole school is stupid, I hated the fourth wall breaking and I was wondering why the show kept saying "youkai, youkai" without having any youkai. Everything thus far had been a European horror monster.
Three loser boys are in love with Tsukune's three harem members. Yes, including Yukari. A sixteen-year-old male is openly lusting after an eleven-year-old and no one treats this as abnormal or worth commenting on. Sod right off. This is quite hard to watch, not in a painful way but in a "piss off and die" way. I was pleased later when the boys proved to be proper youkai, but then the show immediately torpedoed my goodwill by adding tag phrases to the ends of their sentences. That narrator bat (dechuu) does the same annoying thing (dechuu) in every stop it stop it stop it stop it episode (dechuu).
Tsukune grows a character trait: sexism. "What should I do? A weak human who relies on girls to protect him!" Goodness me, your male pride feels dented. Hate hate hate. At the end of the episode, he's distressed at being rescued by girls once again and dramatically proclaims, "I'll protect everyone!" He then fails.
Tsukune wants to show Miko his cool side (which doesn't exist) and be good at something. I want him to die. We disco
ver the school swimming club, with over-sexualised girls who say things like, "We've only female members, we'll give SPECIAL SERVICES to any boy who joins." When they turn out to be evil (of course), the episode's shot-by-shot continuity can't decide whether the pool is full of girls, full of boys or empty.
Excitingly, though, Moka turns out to have a vampire weakness! She's vulnerable to water. It doesn't have to be running water. She'd probably die if it rained. (Has she never got caught in the rain, then?) In this episode, she jumps in the pool anyway because that's how much she loves Tsukune... and immediately gets knocked unconscious by her own vampire physiology and sinks. Well, that was an invaluable heroic action.
Moka turning full vampire increases her water resistance. This isn't explained. However, we're told that "when Moka-san washes her face or something, she uses water that has been neutralised by herbs."
Herbs. I repeat: herbs.
Girls sing for no reason, although admittedly the songs are fun. Bikini tops keep falling off without showing anything, presumably to ensure eye-rolling from 100% of any possible audience.
Tsukune and his harem join the school's newspaper club. Until now, it's only had only one member, Ginei, who's male. A male supporting character in a harem anime? Will he turn out to be evil? Well, d'oh.
Ginei likes photographing girls in a state of undress. (To enable this plot development, it seems that the school's girls tend to strip next to windows, even when they know there's a peeping tom out there.) When Tsukune tries to investigate and gets himself in slight trouble, Ginei's recommended cure for being called a peeper is to do some peeping. Tsukune falls for this. Intelligence level = pondlife.
Moka hates sleaze. Ginei framed Tsukune as a peeper to try to make Moka hate him, but then keeps promising to make her "his woman" even after his scheme's unmasked and the girls have seen his peeping photos.
The girls dress up as famous detectives to deliver some extremely ordinary logic. They also get embarrassed about panty shots, which in this show is like fish getting embarrassed about water.
A new girl (Shiroyuki) shows up and is fixated on Tsukune because, um, cough, harem genre. In response, Tsukune shows spinelessness. He wants to go the newspaper club, but lets himself get stopped by... well, basically nothing.
The episode finale has the entire school looking for Shiroyuki. Tsukune immediately finds her, with neither effort nor explanation, then so do the rest of his harem.
The Sexy Teacher can piss off. Even apart from her silly clothes, she announces that students helping each other in study groups is bad and that learning should only happen with the assistance of a trained professional. This is so idiotic that I was exasperated at the rest of the cast for listening to it.
I was reminded that Tsukune is an idiot who couldn't pass exams, but Kurumu is even dumber and Shiroyuki asks about the difference between addition and subtraction. These are high school students.
Non-risible antagonists appear, for a two-parter and a three-parter. This is actually okay, if you can buy the finale's idea that school prefects are allowed to arrest, try and execute their fellow students. (They call themselves the Public Safety Commission, but they're prefects.) There's also the problem that your natural reaction to Tsukune's imminent execution will be to approve and look for popcorn.
A lesser problem is Ruby's questionable statements in ep.10. "I won't have anywhere to go!" Yes, you will. It's a big world and you're a spell-caster whose magical monsters can eat people. Who's going to get in your way? A harder-to-dismiss argument would have been "I'll lose my home".
It's a mountain of manure. It's a load of shite. It's a fanservice show where the fanservice is insipid and annoying, with stupidity that makes other harem shows look like masterpieces. I'll keep watching, though, because... (a) Moka's likeable. She's also a cliche and anime's least convincing vampire, but she's a nice person. (b) the show's on an upward trajectory. (c) I've started the show and I'm bloody-minded. Okay, it's mostly (c).