Staring in Mirrors…


I can’t believe it took me so long to finish another series after Vampire Knight took about a day and a half, but I finally got through To love-ru. Let me rephrase that…I finally got through the second half of To love-ru. Let’s reflect.

We left off with the show firmly establishing the Rito-Lala-Haruna love triangle in the first few episodes and shot down Rosario to Vampire after making some comparisons between the two shows. Starting with about ep6, To love-ru begins introducing its harem cast – the rich and haughty Tenjouin, the gender bending Ren/Run, the sexy alien school nurse Mikado, the strict but caring discipline committee leader Kotegawa, and the Eve (from Black Cat) lookalike assassin Golden Darkness. And even though the formula is standard and repetitive, the episodes are still relatively watchable from the entertaining situations, quality female character modeling, and because Lala is still so cute and likable. Of course the ecchi and fan service are still pumped out regularly, and I’m pretty sure the animator for the series has a thing for tentacle play. And clothes dissolving monsters. The example below is not the only instance. :p

So where did things go wrong? Episode 15. The premise of the episode itself wasn’t great, but the real killer was the very un-dramatic scene of revealing to everyone in the school that Lala was an alien. You’d think people would at least be shocked or in disbelief, but the general attitude was more like “Oh, well that makes sense. Now go off in your spaceship and do your thing. Oh, and its totally cool if Haruna flies up with you too.” What…? In literally a minute, the writers successfully blew up one of the biggest premises behind the show – Rito having to keep Lala’s secret about aliens while still enduring all of her crazy situations. Thats just baddecisions.com right there. And as the episode goes on, it feels more and more like a filler. A bad filler. I check Wiki to read for any differences between the anime and manga versions when I read this bomb, “The anime uses characters and general themes from the original manga, but is for the most part original story material after the first episode.” WTC! Now, I should elaborate that I’m fine with an original story in anime. Conan does it all the time. But it has to be quality and it can’t just be various episodic filler stories. And by episode 15, I’ve gone too far to just drop the series, so I endure eps 15-23 slowly (very slowly) over 2 weeks. I finally finished ep26 tonight. The struggle is over.

As disparaging in quality the first half and second half of the series was, the last two episodes return to a proven harem anime standard for series ending. A final problem is introduced that keeps the protagonist and the main girl apart, and its up to everyone from the harem group, even the odd piece of the love triangle who must choose to give up on her own wishes, to help the guy overcome the obstacle and reunite with the girl. In To love-ru, Lala’s father takes back Lala and challenges Rito to fulfill his promise of becoming the number one man in the universe by racing to his ship as he throws obstacles in his way. Rito asks Haruna to wait on hearing his true feelings, then goes off to make it to the Deviluke king’s ship to bring back Lala and prevent the earth from being destroyed, with everyone helping him along the way. The ending does take an interesting and unique turn when Lala decides that she can’t marry Rito just yet and uses an invention to erase everyone’s memory of her so that Rito can meet and fall in love with her again as a normal person. At least it would have if the anime went through with that choice, but like all her other inventions, it doesn’t work and she returns to school with everybody and the status quo remains unchanged. So they don’t take the ambitious ending, but if the anime writers didn’t want to make a decision, they could have tried pushing the threesome ending where Rito can’t choose between Lala and Haruna and they both accept sharing his attention. Instead, they lame out and leave things unsettled in the Rito-Lala-Haruna love triangle. That’s typically my least favorite ending for a harem anime, and that’s too bad because with an original story, writers could have pushed one way or the other regardless of the ongoing manga.

PS. I’m at least happy that they brought back the first ED song in the last episode since I wasn’t too much of a fan of the second ED. I think I’ll also pickup the manga version whenever I get the chance.

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The complement to the first impressions series, the Mirrors series of blogs will offer reflections on completed shows.  Ironically we’ll start with vampires who have no reflections. As these posts are reactions after finishing a series, there will undoubtedly be some spoilers, so keep that in mind and maybe finish the show before reading.

I was able to finish the series in two days between classes and studying time, so maybe that speaks for how enjoyable the show is to watch or how I watch too much anime. In either case, to comment on some of my first impressions, I was surprised in actually how minimal the conflict between choosing Zero or Kaname actually was for Yuuki. Yea, there are times when the series goes into how undecided and confused she is (even Zero brings it up with Yuuki) but there’s no gut-wrenching moments of indecision or big confessions that end up straining the relationship between one of the characters in the love triangle that you might see in other romance animes. I’m happy about that. Good job for not taking 3 episodes to decide to help Zero and then wavering and crying about it after the decision. In fact, there isn’t much resistance on Kaname’s part and the more central focus of the series was between Yuuki and Zero (looks like the writers didn’t add flashy chains and an uber-cool name to their protagonist just for show).

I could go into how well they’ve set up Zero’s suffering/new found resolve to live on/resolution of his past/etc, but I won’t. People how like Zero probably already know and can express it better while people who like Kaname more are probably more interested in how much he gives for Yuuki and stuff like that. I’ll just say 1) for me, the set up was about on the level of Sasuke’s whole bit in Naruto and I didn’t think it was particularly anything special, just well executed and 2) yea, Kaname probably does do a lot of things for Yuuki’s sake, but I feel like he’s actually very twisted – as in, he’s plotting something and what he does serves his own motives too. I was reading some comments after ep13 where people are making him out to be a saint, but I don’t buy it at all. I’m thinking he gave Zero some of his blood more because Zero is still useful for him in his grand scheme of things and less for Yuuki, even though that’s what he says. I don’t know – I don’t plan on reading the manga, so we’ll be finding out with the seond season in October. Speaking of that scene, I will say thankfully that it was the first even remotely yaoi moment in a series that I thought would be using it more with all the bishies running around (kinda like a reverse fan service for girls).

There was some action, but the degree of action has been disappointing, so I guess its just not that kind of show, whether they want to run that part in the OP   where the different night students are throwing around their powers or not. The OP (“Futatsu no Kodou to Akai Tsumi” – On/Off) is pretty awesome songwise, and the clip of the ED (“Still Doll” – Kanon Wakeshima), though short, is hauntingly beautiful. So all in all, I was pretty happy with the show and will look forward to the second season.