Oh yes, the Date a Live review. To be completely honest, I don't even know where to start with this one. Let's start with an anecdote to explain why I ended up watching.
Back when I first floated the idea of a review marathon my friend's way, he immediately said, "I fully expect you to do Date a Live and review it completely honestly". Well, I did. I watched this thing like a full month ago, but I never could bring myself to write this review because I'm still not entirely sure if I liked it, hated it, or loved it.
Date a Live is what happens when you take a harem series, smash it up against a standard science fiction-y Japanese plot, and then watch as everything goes to crazy town and never leaves.
Basically, the world constantly deals with random detonations across the world. Eventually we learn that this is because something something something, a magical girl enters our world from another dimension, something something something. Anyway, the main character also learns that the only way to stop this from happening (without killing the magical girl character) is to make them fall in love with him and kiss the girl. This then locks her power, stops the detonation, and adds a girl to the strange harem. In addition, to accomplish this, he gets help from an organization that gives him their suggestions on how to proceed on the date.
Honestly, I'm still reeling from just typing that. What the hell?
The animation in the series is well enough done, they clearly put some time into it all. It feels like the blending of the CG elements and the more traditional elements doesn't go very seamlessly though.
For everything it lacks, it does have some genuinely good character moments sprinkled throughout. They are few in number to be completely honest, but you know, you take what you get when it comes to a series like this.
This series is so absolutely hilarious sometimes. I can't honestly tell if it is intended, but most things come off completely hilarious rather than serious. I mean, I have to admit, even when the series tries to play scenes out completely seriously, it almost feels like they are trying to parody the scene. Since this whole show is basically a "dramedy", I guess this was entirely intentional. It still feels like it isn't on some level.
Hey, you remember that one review I did a while back about Infinite Stratos? I mentioned that I figured that it was fanservice central? Yeah, about that, I lied. This series makes Infinite Stratos look tame. Where you can expect Infinite Stratos to slip in a bit of fanservice every episode, you can expect that Date a Live will cram it all in and you can't even miss it. I mean, it feels like these girls exist to explicitly cater to the (for lack of a better term) fetishes of the audience: you've got the strange Rei Ayanami expy (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!), the "normal" domineering woman type, the squick-territory young girl character, the not-quite-a-sister-but-really-fricking-close young girl character (crosses over with squick again), and the absolutely crazy ax-crazy chick that wants to kill the character (Oh, you know who you are too, don't lie).
In a nutshell, Fanservice: The Television Series.
Honestly, what the hell did I just watch?
More to the point, why did I make this a part of the great section? I feel like I've been entrapped by Stockholm Syndrome. Nothing about this show makes any sense really, nothing really happens, and nothing really gets resolved, but I just couldn't stop watching it.
Spoilers. I mean, I have to talk about this.
Kurumi's character represents why the series is absolutely fricking nuts. Not only is she ridiculously psychopathic, but when the main character starts to get through to her during their verbal standoff on the roof of the school, just when you think that the main character is going to pull off the straightest example of the simplest trope in the book (coming over to the light side), the show decides that it hasn't been crazy enough yet today. A Kurumi from another timeline (this is basically her "power"), reaches through time, kills her, and replaces herself. She then proceeds to mutter something about how this version of her was a bit naive.
I reiterate, what the hell did I just watch? Somehow this manages to be the most incredulously stupid thing ever and the most hilariously awesome ever at the same time. This situation defines what this show is: totally nuts and totally hilarious at the same time. When it tries to be serious, it comes off hilariously and rapidly leaves you scratching your head in total confusion over why the hell you are still watching this.
Early in the series, the main character "dies" and the one of the magical girls goes full-crazy on the killer. This part isn't hilarious, but that bit where the main character survives and somehow ends up falling down from above (seriously, when did that happen?) is another example.
What the hell did I just watch?
The first five minutes of the show.
What the hell did I just watch?
That bit with Origami in the hospital bed (fanservice, everywhere).
What the hell did I just watch?
Repeat ad infinitum. Nothing makes any sense and somehow it makes it completely, insanely watchable. How?
The purest form of an excuse plot I've ever seen. As I told you at the beginning, the entire purpose of the plot is to make a situation where a guy must date a diverse range of girls and load up a ton of fanservice in the foreground. There is absolutely nothing else here. The plot exists only to serve the fanservice.
As such, nothing in the show seems take itself seriously. The most serious scenes in the series come off, at best, amusing. The character backstories are all over the place, ranging from one-dimensional to unintentionally hilarious, furthering this conclusion. The whole feeling of the show doesn't really give the feeling that this meant to be serious at all. The stakes are low even from early on and they rarely get raised at all. Even in death, characters come back either hilariously or insanely.
The whole thing is so painfully predicable to boot because of this though. It plays so many tropes straight that you have to wonder if this is a stealth parody of harem and magical girl series. At the same time, you know it isn't because it doesn't feel that way. If you've seen this plot device before, you'll be able to tell exactly where it is going based on experience.
Lastly, this harem is all kinds of nuts on every level. As previously mentioned, it is made up of characters to cater to every possible (all right, I'm sure that we've missed a couple) audience. What occurs is a harem made up of a single character that a certain audience will like and the rest seem either creepy or squicky. It is so dysfunctional and all over the place that I can't even define it in a few words. This whole show is nuts.
If I had to say, this is average, but it has some sort of perverse ability to keep the audience watching. Maybe it is that thrilling feeling of watching a train wreck in slow motion that humans find irresistibly interesting to watch. I have absolutely no idea why I find it even remotely interesting to watch, but damn it they managed to convince me I liked it.
Well not like it. Damn it, how the hell am I supposed to describe this in words. Again, this is like the media definition of Stockholm Syndrome; after being exposed to the insanity, inane plots, nutter characters, and hammy dialogue, I had no choice but to keep going. Eventually I became enthralled with it because I started to enjoy the company of my captor.
Everything is hilarious, intentional or not. Yet, at the same time, some parts of the show creeped me out with copious amounts of squick.
Who is this series good for?
Take a harem series, smash it into a magical girl show, add in a dating plot, add ham (possibly cheese too), a cosplay-ready cast, and fanservice every ~20 seconds.
Sound good? What the hell are you looking at me so weird for? That is exactly what it is damn it.
Evangelion 2.0 tomorrow?
This is part of my Anime Review Marathon that I began in October 2013 to record my thoughts as I watch a variety of anime on my ever growing backlog. These reviews won't come out on a consistent basis, they'll come out when I feel I have seen enough of a series to pass a judgement on it, although usually I will finish the whole series before the review.
You can see all my articles on Dex's Corner.
THERE, I MADE THE REVIEW. GET OFF MY BACK (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).