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To Love-Ru Review

by: therik
November 26, 2008

story 2.5/10

To Love-Ru screenshot

Oftentimes, the arrival of a pink-haired, amply bosomed alien girl would be cause for great joy and celebration amongst the male population of the globe. Quite how To Love-Ru takes this premise and turns it into an unsatisfactory 12 hours is anyone's guess. I suppose, with my stall set out thus, you might expect a brutal savaging of the series, but it is my nature to at least attempt to give balance to my thoughts, so I will begin with the show's strengths.

Ostensibly, To Love-Ru is a love-comedy, based around a love triangle, epic awkwardness on the part of the male lead, and relentless bucketfuls of ecchi. As a formula, it is certainly successful, and the show rarely strays from the comfortable ground of wacky, improbable shenanigans and accidental head-breast contact. Beyond any doubt its greatest strength is that it does not - at any time - pretend it is anything other than what it is. WYSIWYG, if you will.

Further to this, nothing in the show is absolutely intolerable or offensive (unless, I suppose, feminism is a value close to your heart). In fact, the show meanders pleasantly enough along its path without once giving you cause to dislike it, let alone drop it. So why the scathing bile at the start? It is because, in all honestly, To Love-Ru's strengths are also its greatest weaknesses. Formulaic shows are one thing, but for an anime to stick so ruthlessly to the tried and tested is another thing altogether. It is about as adventurous as a geriatric aristocrat, and only slightly more interesting.

Each episode begins positively enough, with an upbeat theme and images of the girls in various states of undress, which is, I am not afraid to say, quite pleasant. However, there comes a foreboding sensation that something is wrong, and you can't quite put your finger on the exact problem. Fortunately, the credits help you out with this as the katakana-literate become aware of someone being credited with "character design". I have no desire to be unkind, but To Love-Ru's primary character design innovation seems to be taking pre-existing characters and making them nakeder. This is hardly rocket science and leads one to wonder about the rest of the show given how little effort was clearly put into to creating the drones that inhabit it.

Distressingly, the body of the episode inevitably follows suit, wagging its tail, and with a dumb smile on its face. The "alien from space" premise and all the material that could come from this are gleefully discarded in favour of the usual high school setting. This overused basin of normalcy plays host to plots which are bizarre enough to obliterate any suspension of disbelief, but too banal to generate any interest. Instead, it takes an agonising middle road somewhere between Seen It All Before Avenue, and Don't Honestly Care Lane. In the process, the writing cruelly compacts any promise that the To Love-Ru's theme may have offered into a series of bizarre "inventions" which are so ascientific, they may as well have "Deus Ex Machina" scribbled on them in indelible marker.

animation 6/10

I have no quarrels with the animation. It's functional and the females are drawn in a way which complements their undoubted stock-character allures. Indeed, the second ending credits contains some delightful artwork. This said, certain animation devices are overused to the point of rabid frustration on the part of the viewer. Rito's head, by way of example, seems to spend half its time filling with blood and steaming, like some sort of badly broken kettle.

However, I guess this is all besides the point, as I can imagine the question you may be asking, and the answer is no. For all their patent desire to draw the curvaceous and the erotic, the animators stick to a strictly PG policy on nudity. This, in all honesty, frustrates to no end. The anime's target audience is clear and - with this in mind - such pre-watershed teasing is unforgivable. Perhaps I need to retake the unit on Japanese cultural norms.

sound 7/10

Again, there is really nothing wrong with the sound. Every individual has a voice which befits their character, and Lala manages to strike a balance between getting on my nerves and not getting on my nerves with her high-pitched, permanent excitedness. No sound effects are overused and no music is fury-inducingly annoying or overplayed. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the themes are catchy, but my opinion is worth little on this matter. I actually like J-Pop, for crying out loud.

characters 2/10

Surprisingly, not only every idea in the anime, but also every character has been done before, and has been done better. The pathetic, self-insertion vessel of a male lead, the wackjob pink-haired extra-terrestrial, the nurse whose breasts are so pendulous one could imagine them being used to measure time - it's all old hat. The nearest we get to "interesting" or "character development" is the semi-tsundere disciplinarian Yui Kotegawa, and even her character is a pale shadow of those which it so barefacedly rips off. Indeed, To Love-Ru's main problem is not so much that it follows a tried and tested formula, but that it follows a tried and tested formula without offering so much as a modicum of novelty and - in so doing - finds itself infinitely inferior to most shows of the same genre.

overall 3/10

Perhaps the most damning indictment of To Love-Ru is that the best episode is one where 22 of the 24 minutes are taken up by another show (Magical Girl, Kyoko Flame, or some such) which the characters are watching. If this is not a clear indication that something - anything - else is better than watching this hodge podge of ill-executed madness and abyss of characterisation, then I don't know what is.

If it all still sounds like your cup of tea - I can't blame you, I thought I'd enjoy it too - then can I recommend you watch Shuffle! instead. It's the same thing but better. Plus you actually get to see nipples. If you've already watched Shuffle!... watch it again, ahead of this.

Anime Info

Rito Yuki is a bumbling boy who wants nothing more than to confess his love to the lovely Haruna, but a variety of obstacles always seems to stand in his way. One day, while relaxing in his bathtub Rito found his hands full - literally - with the breasts of a strange alien girl named Lala who suddenly appeared in his lap! She is the princess of Planet Deviluke, and she has run away from home to escape the prospect of an arranged marriage; and unfortunately for Rito, his accidental groping is the traditional engagement ritual of his otherworldly guest! Deviluke's emperor will destroy Earth if Rito backs down from his "proposal," but all he really wants to do is be with Saruyama! Naked antics, magical powers, misunderstandings, Lala's marriage-happy family and Rito's own shyness are many of the barriers he must face in his attempt to win the real love of his life – that is, if Lala doesn't win him over first!


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About the Author

therik's avatar

therik

When it comes to anime, I tend to be a fan of comedy, shoujo, romance or anything else that will put a smile on my face. However, I'll review pretty much anything. Whether you like or dislike my reviews, I'm always glad to receive feedback, and I'm always happy to get into intelligent discussions.

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comments

killermouze avatar killermouze
Dec 25, 2010

I've watched this genre extensively, and I agree wholeheartedly with this reviewer's points. However, I feel like a 3 is rather low considering it was more "eh" then "OMG MY EYEBALLS ARE FALLING OUT". I'd only recommend it to people who really enjoy this genre and have watched all the typically recommended ones.

I think a 5/10 is more approriate. Though in the reviewer's defense, I'm not sure how he constructs his rating scale. His 3 might be my 5.

 

Not doing anything really good or bad doesn't warrant a never watch rating.

LinkSword avatar LinkSword
Dec 25, 2010

I read two volumes of this a while ago. It was damn boring and relentlessly dumb.

The artist (not author) for the original manga was Kentaro Yabuki, the guy behing Black Cat. Whenever I think that a person who pulled such a good manga later worked (and will work again) on something like this, I get very, very annoyed.

@Icepeak: Suspense? On this? Surely you are not kidding?

Nero avatar Nero
Oct 6, 2010

buhuu, this sites reviewers suck, frigging 25 year olds who are only at seinen crap. ive watched 3 episodes so far and i have a haunch of what's going to happen so i cant complain and the alien part of the anime gives some suspense to it, it wouldnt turn out to be like shuffle.

Tyr162000 avatar Tyr162000
Sep 1, 2010

wow i would like to thank all you site reviewer's

every anime i watch and like you all hate so now i know how to find good anime's with out asking people all the time

greg975 avatar greg975
Aug 24, 2010

To Love-Ru makes me think of Gintama when Hijikata becomes an otaku! :D

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