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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First Impressions of Rosario+Vampire and the other pink-haired sci-fi beauty.

Quick Synopsis: Aono Tsukune, who didn’t get into high school because of his low test grades, was fortunately able to enroll at Yokai Academy, allowing him to become a high school student afterall. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a mistake because it is actually a high school for monsters and demons that requires its students to disguise themselves as humans so that they can learn to fit into human society. And while he worries about keeping his human identity a secret and whether he can survive in a school of monsters, he is able to become friends with Akashiya Moka, a vampire who is initially attracted to Tsukune because of the taste of his blood, but later also because he protected her despite him being human and her being a vampire. As their relationship grows throughout the story, Tsukune and Moka also continue to make other friends and enemies at Yokai Academy in typical harem, love-comedy fashion.

Notable Seiyu:
Aono Tsukune = Kishio Daisuke (Vampire Knight – Kuran Kaname, AYAKASHI – Kusaka Yuu)
Akashiya Moka = Mizuki Nana (Naruto – Hyuga Hinata, Allison & Lillia – Allison Whittington; Lillia Whittington-Schultz, Tsuyokiss – Konoe Sunao, Basilisk – Oboro)

When I started watching this show, I was already thinking that watching two harem, love comedies was not gonna be one of my priorities, especially with a huge list of other shows to go through. So despite the respective high popularities of Rosario+Vampire and To Love-ru, one of them was prolly getting dropped. And although I tried to be as objective as possible and even took both shows to episode 5, I had to pick To Love-ru over Rosario+Vampire. Here’s some comparisons between the two shows:
Pink-haired girls: A large majority of choosing To Love-ru over Rosario+Vampire was from the simple fact that I liked Lala a lot more than Moka. Admittedly, Moka is pretty cute when trying to resist sucking blood from Tsukune, but she just doesn’t have the same charisma that Lala has whenever she brings out her malfunctioning inventions. A lot of this is just preference whether you want a more playful Lala or a more caring, kind-hearted Moka, but liking the show’s main driving character is huge. I mean, come on, guys aren’t watching these shows because they admire Rito or Tsukune.
Scrawny but wholesome protagonists: While we’re on the subject of Rito and Tsukune, I also thought that Rito was a stronger male character. Tsukune, even though he’s dependable enough to protect the girls in a pinch, admits to his own weakness. Not to say that Rito isn’t as physically weak, but depending on Moka to bail him out of every fight kinda wears on the viewer. Maybe its just the way the shows set up the problems where Rosario always requires someone to take down the troublemakers while To love-ru can leave their comical situations to resolve on their own. But I’m liking how Rito at least knows who he likes (though it’ll prolly change by the end of the series) while Tsukune hasn’t showed any major romantic aspirations with anyone yet, even with is more rapidly expanding harem.
The episode formula: For me, the biggest problem with Rosario + Vampire has been its repetitive episode formula, which is also the typical outline for harem building. Every episode has pretty much been 1) Introduce a new female character (if there is to be a new character introduced in the episode), 2) create a problem either associated with that new character or just one in general for the group, 3) develop Tsukune and Moka relationship either positively or negatively that will lead to positively, 4) resolve new character’s problem, usually through a confrontation ending with Moka’s transformation, 5) end the episode with harem members clinging around Tsukune. You could probably think of a similar formula for To love-ru, but I’ve found the situations created be at least be much more comical.
Ecchi factor: To love-ru does not give up on its ecchiness even after the first few episodes. Lala still ends up naked a lot and even Haruna and the newly introduced Tenjoin Saki get into questionable positions, often because of Lala. For Rosario+Vampire, the creator seems to prefer the relatively tame panty shot (and the Kurumu boob attack) over To love-ru’s full exposure. Its also amusing how the mouse-bat flys around as a censor sometimes. Basically a matter of preference, but I thought Rosario is more tasteful in this aspect despite the more hilarious situations the ecchi leads to in To love-ru. The creator of To love-ru also seems to have a thing for tentacles…
Transformation sequence: Which is more ridiculous, Lala’s clothes that make her gasp or Moka’s bats that increase her butt and breast size? Hey, what did you expect when you started watching a harem, love-comedy?

OP/ED: The OP theme for To love-ru was pretty catchy for me. I found myself humming it in the elevator and caught myself wondering where I had heard it. The OP theme for Rosario was ok, but personally nothing special. I’ll probably like the ED theme for┬áTo love-ru more than for Rosario if I listened to them more frequently. Needless to say, the quality of the OP and ED animation is a lot higher in To love-ru.

Story sequencing: This is a minor thing that probably other shows have taken liberties with, but (Wiki tells me) the episode order for the anime doesn’t match up with the story order in the manga. For example, Episode 3 is actually Chapter 5 while Episode 5 is Chapter 3. This seems weird and you’d think it’d affect the animation for subsequent episodes (like having to include the girl introduced in Ep3/Ch5 into Ep5/Ch3) but in fact, Episode 4 is already an anime exclusive (hurray to some maybe, but that translates to “filler” for me) so the anime is just based off of the manga (Switching Ep3 and Ep5 may not seem like a big deal, but consider it when Ep8 is Ch12, Ep 10 is Ch15-17, and then Ep11 is Ch8). Just seems like a bizarre decision to me and makes me want to simply read the manga instead.

Bottomline impressions:
Rosario to Vampire: C, dropping the anime, but may consider switch to manga-form.

Reminds me of: Monster Princess/Princess Resurrection, but less horror/action and more emphasis on harem love and comedy. Moka is also more Lala-like than Hime-like.