To Love Ru anime review

To Love Ru anime review
The story is about Yuuki Rito, a high-school boy who cannot confess to the girl of his dreams, Sairenji Haruna. One day when coming home and sulking in the bath-tub a mysterious, nude girl, appears out of nowhere. Her name is Lala and she comes from the planet Deviluke, where she is the heir to the throne. Her father wants her to return to her home planet so she can marry one of the husband candidates, but she decides that she wants to marry Rito in order to stay on Earth.

Romantic comedies always seem to one of the most difficult genres of animation to write for. If you make the couples too nice, it's sappy and annoying. If you make them too mean-spirited, any romantic chemistry the characters may have feels forced and jarring. Even His and Her Circumstances tumbled in this respect, as it was quite the challenge to care whatsoever for its female lead, which also meant that everything bad that happened to her was justifiable comeuppance for being an utter bitch to people for the good part of a decade. And don't get me started on what XEBEC did to Love Hina, which was no walk in the park for our male lead in the first manga-centric place. And if you wondered whether XEBEC managed to redeem themselves with To-Love-Ru, we've both reached the consensus that you are in for one hell of a letdown.

The first problem with To Love Ru anime is the pacing. This is a series that really needed 11 minute episodes to tell a story. Why is this? Because the writing staff typically take a chapter from the manga, make it into an episode, and spend about half of the episode making up filler material to go with it. And it's not even good filler, either, usually used for the writers in creating material far creepier than the original manga to the plate (like Rito's friend wanting to be "dissected" by Lala, stripping himself of all but his underwear while pledging to do so!). I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this is how the episodes ended up being made:

Director: Hmm, this doesn't seem long enough.

Writer: Really? It's pretty much a word-by-word adaption of the manga.

Director: But it's not enough to pad out a whole episode. Add in 5 more minutes of filler here, and 3 or 4 minutes of pointless conversations there. Make up something. Anything! Like an anal probe scene. They're aliens, right? Aliens always have anal probes.

Writer: I hate you so much.

To put it into perspective, the opening animation consists of the series' staff credits being displayed on clothing strapped tightly over female body parts, which probably took far more effort to come up with than the writing of the grand majority of the first half of the series. The whole thing is set to a rather uninspired rock opener, which is somewhat at odds with the contents of the show, as one would expect this sort of thing from a show centered around fashion and trends, to which To Love-Ru could care less. In other words, I hope you like school uniforms.

Unfortunately, one thing XEBEC didn't change from the manga was its lackluster characterizations. Yuuki Rito is basically a mishmash between the common harem loser lead and Beauty from Bobobobo Bobobo: the former in that he's typically displayed as a wuss who faints at the sight of a bare breast, and the latter in that he typically spends most of the episodes being both confused and bewildered by daily events usually rapidly careening out of control, mostly through no fault of his own. In all fairness, he does have the courage to voice his irritations from time to time, which alone puts him above several male leads in similar shows, but he's usually roped in as the "nice guy" and "straight man" of the series, with whatever limitations that entail. Even his 11 year-old sister has more personality than him, playing it cool and being surprisingly supportive of both his feelings for Lala and his true crush, Haruna. She's also the only female character not continuously exploited for fan service or laughs, and she seldom raises her fists at Rito, much less slap him, which certainly plays no small part in turning her into a favorite with both of us. If all little sister archetypes were like Mikan, male abuse would lessen by a gigantic margin.

And then there's Lala. On one hand, it's refreshing to see a female lead in a romantic comedy so honest and open about her feelings for the guy she likes without being a clingy spaz who spends every single moment in his presence. (Like, oh... a certain fox-eared rapist in another show cut from the same cloth.) On the other hand, she's your stereotypical big-breasted ditz from space with a knack for inventions, which, while they usually work like they're supposed to, tend to create more chaos than strictly necessary. One of her creations is Piko, a robotic being whose role seems to be attaching itself to Lala and project whichever clothing she would like to wear and fulfilling the obligatory mascot rule. Problem is, when it comes off, so do Lala's clothes. And does this happen often for the sake of fan service? Simon says: "Yes, very!" While there's nothing genuinely wrong with Lala's character, the writing of this series doesn't do her any favors whatsoever.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Sairenji Haruna, Rito's crush and the girl he has always wanted to confess his feelings to. She is our token "nice girl of the show", and never really strays far from that role. Her problem is basically that she isn't really any more interesting than the other somewhat anonymous girls in the show, despite playing a much larger part -- like, y' know, one of the MAIN CHARACTERS! I'm quite frankly surprised that she has yet to be revealed to be a robot in the manga. She's only there because Rito wants her and because every harem needs more girls attracted to our male lead for any reason, or, in this case, no particular reason.

As for the of the cast: they're all high school stereotypes you've seen before. The popular, rich girl and her flunkies; a boy who can change into a girl when he sneezes (and back again, often at very inopportune moments); the perverted, male best friend; the sexy, female school nurse; the perverted, scatterbrained principal and the klutzy ghost girl. There are also two girls in Haruna's class who do pretty much nothing but rub their hands on her and Lala's breasts for "comedy". Worst off compared to her manga self is the class rep., though. In the manga, she came across as a somewhat uptight stickler for rules and regulations. In the show, though, she started off turning the school into a facsimile of a fascist military compound, and then proceeds to endear herself to all male viewers by forcing Rito to walk around in public with a plaque reading "Girls are not allowed to speak with him."

And then lastly we have Golden Darkness, who's basically Eve from Black Cat, right down to her manner of speech, fashion sense and the ability to use her hair as a weapon -- any weapon -- mostly in Rito's direction, of course. Naturally, she also settles on earth and takes a liking to reading books, which is another trait she seemingly inherited from Eve. Curiously enough, she's perhaps the one character that is the most like her manga self, which means that in the anime, she's less... severe than her fellow cast members. Even the series' best secondary character, Zastin (Lala's bodyguard), is partially a clone of Ryoga from Ranma 1/2 right down to his terrible sense of direction and genetical ability to fall into random manholes. To say there's a lack of originality in To-Love-Ru would be the grossest understatement both of us have made in our 5 year tenure as an anime reviewers. There's literally nothing here you haven't seen on a better show. Nothing.

Much like the manga, To Love Ru is basically a stripped-down Urusei Yatsura with the character designs of Black Cat, only nowhere near as clever, likable or funny as the former. However, it does have its moments now and then. The art is good and the character designs are faithful to the manga, if nothing else. The animation isn't all that, though, and its more inspired moments only elevate it to merely average at best. Urusei Yatsura's art and music might be extremely dated, but one episode of that series is vastly more imaginative, entertaining, and most importantly, fun than all I've seen of To Love Ru to date. When the best that can be said about this series is that at least it isn't Rizelmine and that the girls actually look their age, you know we're scraping for compliments.

Better than review, is a Trailer video of: To Love Ru. Watch it now:
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