Episode at a Glance:
Making his way towards Gid’s spaceship, Rito is left wondering if it’s okay for him to be helped, but Saruyama doubts that anyone’s going to criticize Rito about this unreasonable game. Yui on the other hand is surprised she’s doing something this reckless and is envious of how Lala has a “prince on a white horse” type of hero, so she tells Rito to make sure that he makes it to the goal. The road in front of them is then suddenly destroyed, but Saki, Aya, and Rin come along in a small chopper and offer to help. Onboard the spaceship, Lala wants to leave and help Rito, but Gid orders her to stay, claiming it’s her duty as the imperial princess. With everyone uncomfortably stuffed inside the chopper, Saki reveals that her motivation for helping Rito is because she feels beating Gid is akin to beating Lala. Their chopper is then bombarded with attacking spores causing them to crash, but Yami comes along and bails everyone out, claiming that she’ll be the one that kills Rito.
Meanwhile, Risa and Mio drag Haruna out to help Rito as well, so the three of them take off in Ren’s futuristic, transforming, space taxi. Forced to proceed on foot, Rito’s group soon runs into a clothes dissolving, female molesting slime, which Yami decides to help out with. With everyone stalling the slime so that Rito can continue on, Gid takes notice of Rito’s judgment, guts, and number of friends he has willing to risk their lives for him. Lala is only concerned about her friends though, so Gid reveals that the slime won’t endanger their lives and that the purpose of this game is to make Rito an example for others. Nearing the spaceship, Rito gets paralyzed by spore gas that causes him to fantasize about Lala and Haruna calmly having their way with him. While Rito suspects that this is a dream, he’s overwhelmed by the thought of having both girls to himself and slowly gets sucked into the delusion.
Outside in the real world, Lala and Haruna call out for Rito, which brings him to his senses and makes him realize what he has to do. With everyone cheering him on, Rito manages to make it to the goal just before sunset, where Lala tearfully greets him. Having acknowledged him as the greatest man in the universe, Gid instantly gets Rito to marry Lala, but Rito is hesitant about it with Haruna on his mind. Realizing this, Lala lies about it being a problem with her –- how she wouldn’t be happy marrying Rito without taking his feelings into account –- and annuls the marriage engagement. This comes as a shock to Gid, since the repercussions of annulling a Deviluke engagement would require the destruction of the Earth, but Lala explains that she’ll erase everyone’s memories of her with her Bye Bye Memory device. Despite everyone’s protests, Lala tearfully tells Rito that she knew he’s the nicest person on Earth all along and that she loves him, before pulling the trigger.
At school sometime later, Lala transfers into Rito’s class as a new student, but quickly finds out that her device didn’t work. With everyone welcoming her back as if nothing happened, Lala starts tearing up in relief. Rito then tries to tell Haruna how he feels about her, but she simply stops him with a smile. Unable to hold back the tears any longer, Lala jumps into Rito’s arms.
For a final episode to a series that started off well but quickly lost wind in the middle, I would say that it was a lot better than I was expecting. First off, they brought in the entire cast at some point (including Ren and Run this time!), plus had everyone get involved with helping Rito. To me, this is almost a necessity for a two season series with a cast this large. Next up, they gave us the obligatory fan service in the form of some alien slime bondage, which admittedly comes off as a form of tentacle rape, but will surely please those with such fetishes. (Yui is looking particularly good there in my opinion…) In an unexpected turn of events, the finale also gave us a glimpse at the potential harem ending that everyone pretty much figured wouldn’t happen. While it was only a delusion Gid placed on Rito to test him, I can’t help but wonder how many guys out there would be able to resist this kind of predicament. That’s right Rito, you keep your hands down there!
While nothing was really resolved in the (26 episode) long run between Rito, Lala, and Haruna, I can’t imagine anyone expecting some closure from a harem anime. It’s usually the angst of the ongoing perverted interactions that this genre revolves around, so having any form of serious closure would only defeat that purpose. With that said, I was happy to see them add some drama the best they could, with Rito’s valiant struggle to the finish line backed by everyone cheering him on being one of the most prominent. The other of course being Lala deciding to erase everyone’s memories on Earth about her existence and trying to win over Rito anew. With Lala so serious about her decision that it even shocked Gid (mainly due to the repercussions of annulling a Deviluke marriage), I was naturally taken back a bit by it as well. It’s almost as if Gid didn’t want to see the Earth destroyed after he just acknowledged Rito as the greatest man in the universe, so I really wasn’t really fond of that idea either. Of course, it would be simply wrong to end on such a depressing note, so let’s all be glad that Lala’s inventions never work for a change! I know Lala is.
While To LOVE-Ru was met with a lot of opposition when it first started airing, I found it as an ample opportunity to try and show the other side of harem anime. i.e. The simple realization that it’s meant to be kind of idiotic, comedic, ecchi, but most of all fun. Keeping those goals in mind, this genre never aspires to be overly profound with its plot, so if you come in with unreasonable expectations, you’ll undoubtedly leave disappointed. Evidently, lack of a thick plot turns some viewers away instantly, as does any signs of a series being overly fan-service, but there are a lot of people out there who enjoy their To LOVE-Rus with their CODE GEASSes and Macross Frontiers—myself included. In a real world analogy, if you go into McDonald’s expecting a gourmet burger, you’ll probably end up giving up on fast food chains altogether. However, if you look at McDonald’s for what it is, you may find that it’s pretty good in moderation. Much like our diet, I find that having a well-balanced selection of anime to watch really helps diversify one’s tastes and opens one’s mind to the other shows out there. When everything’s seen in the broader sense, one might even grow to like a genre they usually simply disregarded without giving it a chance.
With that said, there is of course varying degrees of quality within a genre so I’m not advocating To LOVE-Ru in particular here. In fact, I was disappointed with how several episodes were completely devoid of the love triangle between the main characters. While I don’t mind that the anime strayed completely from the manga, I wish it focused a bit more on the love triangle theme rather than the new aliens they kept introducing week after week. Because of this, I almost wish they took the good portion of the series and compressed the number of episodes down to a single season instead of dragging it out for two. However, unlike a lot of people though, I actually didn’t mind the Saruyama-centric episodes, as I found him rather amusing being played by Yoshino Hiroyuki (Allelujah Haptism in Gundam 00, Treize in Allison & Lillia). To me, he was sort of the unsung hero in the series as he was always openly perverted, but never really acted on those urges despite being the only other male close to Rito’s harem.
Looking back, I felt that this series had a lot of potential (which is why I was pretty excited about it after reading the synopsis), but fell short in terms of what I was hoping for from a harem anime. It did have its moments though, but unfortunately the inconsistent quality of the content week to week had my anticipation of each new episode declining. We can’t expect every harem anime to turn out into a Love Hina, so to be objective about it, I would say that the series was “fun” but by no means “great”. I did like it more than Kanokon though, which started airing at the same time. If anyone has checked out the DVD versions of Kanokon, you can see exactly what kind of show they were going for, so To LOVE-Ru was a much better series in comparison.
Overall, it’s been fun covering To LOVE-Ru (with some weeks being a lot more fun than others), so if nothing else, I hope you enjoyed all the ecchi screenshots I included. =P
– Yuuki Rito (結城 梨斗) / Watanabe Akeno (渡辺 明乃)
– Lala Satalin Deviluke (ララ・サタリン・デビルーク) / Tomatsu Haruka (戸松 遥)
– Sairenji Haruna (西連寺 春菜) / Yahagi Sayuri (矢作 紗友里)
– Gid Lucione Deviluke (ギオ・ルシオン・デビルーク) / Nakamura Hidetoshi (中村 秀利)
– Zastin (ザスティン) / Koyasu Takehito (子安 武人)
– Saruyama (猿山) / Yoshino Hiroyuki (吉野 裕行)
– Tenjouin Saki (天条院 沙姫) / Kawasumi Ayako (川澄 綾子)
– Momioka Risa (籾岡 里沙) / Yuzuki Ryouka (柚木 涼香)
– Sawada Mio (沢田 未央) / Chiba Chiemi (千葉 千恵巳)
– Kotegawa Yui (古手川 唯) / Nadzuka Kaori (名塚 佳織)
– Ren/Run (レン／ルン) / Ooura Fukuya (大浦 冬華)
– Peke (ペケ) / Arai Satomi (新井 里美)
– Konjiki no Yami (金色の闇) / Fukuen Misato (福圓 美里)
– Mikado Ryouko (御門 涼子) / Jou Masako (城 雅子)
– Yuuki Mikan (結城 美柑) / Hanazawa Kana (花澤 香菜)
– Kujou Rin (九条 凛) / Hashimoto Mai (橋本 まい)
– Fujisaka Aya (藤崎 綾) / Mizuhashi Kaori (水橋 かおり)
– Honekawa-sensei (骨川先生) / Asou Tomohisa (麻生 智久)