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.

First Impressions of To Love-ru and Shonen Jump’s troublesome alien princess.

Quick synopsis: To Love-ru, illustrated by Black Cat creator Yabuki Kentaro, is a harem, love-comedy about Yuuki Rito and the Deviluke princess, Lala, who teleports into Rito’s bathroom naked while he was taking a bath and lamenting over his failures in confessing to the girl of his dreams, Sairenji Haruna. Lala comes to Earth to escape her father and the arranged marriage plans he tries to make for her. Through various circumstances and misunderstandings, Rito becomes Lala’s fiance and his life becomes filled with all the troubles of living together, love triangles, and protecting Lala from various intergalactic suitors. The show’s title in hiragana (toraburu) is a play on the word ‘trouble’. Lala believes that the decision to marry should be based on love and be up to her, and so begins a story of freedom and fan service for all.

Notable Seiyu:
Sairenji Haruna = Saiyuri Yahagi (Karin/Chibi Vampire – Maaka Karin)
Lala Satalin Deviluke = Tomatsu Haruka (Kyoran Kazoku Nikki – Midarezaki Chika)

The main word that I could think of to describe this series is ‘ridiculous’. Ridiculous (and ridiculously ecchi) introduction of Lala. Ridiculous love comedy circumstances. Ridiculous (and ridiculously ecchi) clothes transformation sequence. Ridiculously ecchi OP animation. Ridiculous inventions created by Lala. Ridiculous alien outfits. Ridiculous jiggliness of Lala’s cleavage. A lot of these may or may sound very appealing to you, but for me, the one definite plus is how ridiculously cute and likeable Lala’s character is. She’s childishly playful and very cheerful, and I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the things she does. But seriously, the amount of fan service is to the point where watching too many of these kinds of shows (Kanokon quickly comes to mind) would turn you into a ‘no good, useless person’.

The show has followed a pretty standard sci-fi love comedy formula in the first few episodes, and the love triangle between Rito-Haruna-Lala will probably be the major underlying equation for the show even when they fully establish the harem (the OP shows the other female characters to be introduced as the show continues) and potentially other less minor suitor characters for Lala. Rito initially reminded me of Tsuna from Katekyo Hitman Reborn due to their similar look and build and timidness around girls, but Rito quickly shows he is a bit more decisive and dependable (I liked Tsuna a lot more after he started using the X-gloves). You can also kind of see the similarities in hair style between Rito and Train from Black Cat. I think Rito and Lala can definitely be interesting characters and develop into a nice couple, but I worry about the freshness of the show and whether it’ll still hold my attention after a couple more episodes. The problem with some harem love-comedies is that it falls into repetitiveness, either in itself or in the same pattern as other shows in the genre, but I don’t mind giving Lala a couple more episodes to totally impress me without resorting to getting naked. :p

Bottomline impressions:
To Love-ru: B-, continuing happily but reserving the right to drop.

Reminds me of: Beating Angel Dokoro-chan, but with nicer curves and the constant beatings to death replaced with constant naked-inducing ecchi situations.