OP: 「楽園PROJECT」 (Rakuen PROJECT) by Ray
「Continue～コンティニュー～」 (Continue~ Konteinyu~)
So the premise behind this latest adaptation of the To LOVE-Ru series is this: princess Momo Belia Deviluke (Toyosaki Aki) is trying to form a harem for main character Yuuki Rito (Watanabe Akeno), while meanwhile Konjiki no Yami (Fukuen Misato) is beset by mysterious forces that are trying to get her to finally get around to assassinating Rito like she’s supposed to. Sorry, that’s all the summary you’re going to get from me; the episode actually did a good job of reminding us what went on at the end of the original To LOVE-Ru’s run (accidental confession, Rito loves two girls, a lot of other girls love him too, etc), but let’s be honest – that was a reminder for existing fans, not a primer for new ones. If this is your first time with this series, then there’s probably no better place to get into it (other than the very beginning, of course), but it doesn’t look like Xebec is going to help you get up to speed.
But enough of that, I need to actually talk about the episode! In short, I was quite pleased. This was a very faithful adaptation of the manga, and I think that for a show so clearly aimed at existing fans, that’s a wise move. But that aside, the manga material gone over here ended up fitting into the episode quite well, and it felt neither rushed nor too spread out. Oh, don’t get me wrong, some things were changed a bit, but all the same events happened and often in exactly the same ways as the manga. It’s a wise move…but it certainly complicates things for me. I mean, if most people who are planning to watch this are fans of the series and probably manga readers, what is there for me to talk about? You all already know it! Hmmm…
Oh, yeah, there is that one thing – the censorship. In the season preview I called out the manga on being “a harem show so ecchi it borders on hentai. Borders hard.”, and I stand by that (though there is a plot here, and it’s pretty good! Just wanted to reiterate that). Unfortunately, all the nibbly bits were hidden behind that damnable censor steam, taking away all the fun! If I had any qualms about the episode, this was it. It’s fine if shows are made with blatant fanservice (on up to nudity) in mind if that’s their thing, but when we get shackled with such obtrusive censorship it really snaps you out of the story and destroys the suspension of disbelief. Why oh why isn’t this airing on AT-X?? (For those that don’t know, AT-X is a paid subscription channel that can pretty much show as much nudity as it wants. See: High School DxD) So frustrating!
Other than that…ahhhh, this is why I don’t like to cover adaptations of things I’ve already read, it’s so hard to know what to talk about! If you don’t mind, I’ll riff on the production a little more and then toss the rest of my thoughts willy-nilly into the “Random thoughts” section below. Oh, you don’t mind? Thanks, I appreciate it.
Now, on the production let me just say that I’m impressed. This easily could have been a haphazard, phone-it-in adaptation that depended on fanservice to sell BD/DVDs while keeping costs down by not doing anything more than is strictly necessary. However, it looks like Xebec is taking this seriously and is putting forth all due effort to make this show look good. Take the animation: in some ways it was pretty minimal (lots of panned shots, scenes with little movement, etc), but the artwork is pretty good, the character designs are pleasant, and whenever they needed to poor on the animation they resisted being cheap and did it well. The fight scene in particular was a pleasant surprise, because though it didn’t last long, the character’s motions were fluid and well done. I think of it like Space Bros – the animation might not be the best you’ve ever seen, but they never let it get in the way of the story.
All-in-all, early signs are promising for fans of the series. If Xebec can keep churning out a faithful adaptation then I think they’ll have success, especially once people can buy the BDs/DVDs to take care of that one problem. I won’t be covering this, but I will be tuning in, and I look forward to plenty of schoolgirl Yami, Momo being Momo, Rito stumbling into girls, and ecchi antics with the whole gang. Should be a blast!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – A faithful adaptation of a good manga…but damn, that censorship! Oh well, the plot is already starting in earnest. Bring it! #ToLoveRu
- Who says this show is all fanservice for guys? Behold – manservice!
- Misleading pictures are fun.
- Seriously, there’s nothing more depressing than making full-lengths that are half censor steam. Why hello, BD/DVD bait…
- More girls with eyepatches?
- Poor Nana (Itou Kanae). FOREVER ALONE!
- Momo is watching you.
- I really do like Momo and Yami as the female protagonists. Lala and Haruna are fine, but anything that lets me hear Toyosaki Aki being sultry is a massive improvement in my eyes. Swiftly approved!
- Even in her fantasies, Momo isn’t the one right next to Rito. FOREVER. ALONE!
- Yummy, marshmallows.
- Remember those misleading pictures? I could do this all day.
- I could enjoy this series based solely on Momo’s faces. I think my favorite was her “da fuq you just say bitch?” face she gave to Yami near the end. That said, Rito got in some solid ones too.
- That was a nice plot hook at the end, with Yami turning around – and then the episode ends. Lemme tell you, if I didn’t already know what was coming next I’d be annoyed! Fortunately, the plot is actually pretty strong, so I look forward to it getting up to speed. Some fun things again!
- You hate ecchi things, Yami-chan? You’re in the wrong series then!
- The OP and ED playing back-to-back at the end was odd. Not sure I see what the point was. As for the sequences, the OP was generic to me. It reminded me of an old Shakugan no Shana song, like it was something Kawada Mami or KOTOKO would churn out in a weekend. Not bad, but I guess I’m just tired of that sort of thing. As for the ED…well, I appreciate that they tried to do something a little different, I really do. That doesn’t mean I’m going to like the result, though. The ED fell flat for me, thought I did enjoy Momo going all Madoka-style. Maru~!
- A quick reminder: an OVA came out a few weeks back, so if you haven’t gotten a chance to check that out then I recommend you do. There are a few amusing little stories there, and all of the fanservice this episode should have had. It’s a good time.
- Mea (Iguchi Yuka) is watching you too.
- Seriously, all day!
ED: 「ファールプレーにくらり／サクラメイキュウ」 (Foul Play ni Kurari / Sakura Meikyuu) by 分島花音 (Wakeshima Kanon)