OP: 「secret arms」 by Ray
「Unconsciously～頭ふわふわ☆心どきどき～」 (Unconsciously ~ Atama Fuwafuwa ☆ Kokoro Dokidoki ~)
“Unconsciously ~Light Head☆Beating Heart~”
The To LOVE-Ru anime is back, with all the classics: Rito being clumsy, Momo scheming, zany hilarity that doesn’t effect the status quo, and intrusive whiteout censorship. Basically, it’s another season that’s telling us to buy the BDs, though the second half was hilarious.
The Elephant in the Room: Whiteout Censorship
Shows like these always inspire a rant in me, so I’m going to get it over with quickly: whiteout censorship is storytelling poison. That doesn’t mean I always demand that the boobs and panties be seen—many anime (and American broadcast TV) have long been comfortable with implying the naughty bits, and that’s fine. Using the old shoujo trick of fading the screen to black when the characters go to bed is very effective. But if you’re going to show the naughty bits, get your show aired on AT-X and show them. Whiteout censorship is bad not because it obscures the naughty bits, but because it shatters immersion. It’s a constant scream of, “Hey! This is fiction! Don’t get too sucked into this world, it’ll rot your brain!”, which is more than a little annoying.
That’s to say, the ultimate question of this series is this: Should you just wait to see the season on DVD/BD? Yeah, probably. But there are things that To LOVE-Ru is still good at, which the broadcast censorship cannot destroy.
More of the Same
The first half of the episode was the kind of blatant re-introductory episode that annoys me. It was so clearly ticking off the boxes (He’s clumsy, she’s tsundere, she’s an idol, there’s the harem plan, Haruna still hasn’t confessed, etc.), and the problem was that it both took too long and wasn’t funny! Gatchaman Crowds Insight did a better job with its episode 00, where it just bluntly narrated everything and got it over with inside of two minutes. That was blatant too, but I didn’t feel like it was wasting my time, whereas I was bored during the first part of this episode. The lesson here, To LOVE-Ru: Darkness, is best encapsulated by something a wise man (Ron Swanson) once said: Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing. If you’re going to do something, do it all the way, and don’t waste our time.
A Surprising Leap
But once you get past all that, the second half is hilarious! Having someone get drunk on juice—erh, “sports drink” rather than booze isn’t anything new (also, trope!), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be funny! I still always remember the last episode of the first season of Minami-ke, where Hayami-sempai keeps maintaining that it’s only “high-grade juice,” even though every character was hammer and every viewer knew it was booze. That’s one of the ways to get away with the trope and dodge the censors, but we saw the other here: Have the drunk reaction come from something that kind of makes sense, but doesn’t work. Hence, space sports drink. Not originally, no, but it ended up being a lot of fun.
Selecting pictures of Haruna getting wet and flirty for linking purposes reminds me: The animation got a serious bump up this season. I’m actually impressed, since I thought the production staff would phone it in. The entire drunk scene was great, mostly for the same reason the opening scene was—getting to hear a high-grade seiyuu say all these silly and ecchi lines. There was one notable plot element, though: Momo actually told Haruna about the Harem Plan, and she seemed amenable to it. Not totally on board, but not totally against it, either. For a series so wedded to the status quo, that’s practically an earthquake.
Looking Ahead – To Wait For the BDs, or Not To Wait
The question remains: Should you wait for the DVD/BDs, or watch it now? I honestly don’t know what I’ll do. Most of the titillation comes from the scenario, and the gags, as overused as they are, are still there, but that censorship just snaps me out of the story every single time. The season looks like it could be fun, so I might watch it as I go, in the full knowledge that I, personally, probably won’t catch up to it if I leave it ’till the end (I have bigger fish to fry on my backlog). If you want to see the series right, though, I’d suggest waiting until those damn pink blobs go away.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The first half was slow, whereas the second was hilarious. The whiteout censorship, though, was uniformly vicious #toloveru_d s2e1
- Look, it’s Beavis and Buttface.
- Lala really is my least favorite Tomatsu Haruka role. She’s way too happy and … well, dumb-sounding, to be honest.
- It is sad how easily I can call the beats in this show. “He’s going to fall into her crotch.” (That one’s a gimme, it’s always happening) “She’s going to get drunk from that.” “He’s going to trip and spill that water on her.” “She’s going to sober up at the worst possible second.” I don’t know if it’s comforting or lazy.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: How to save Twitter, The secret to enjoying a long life, Story Review: Mad Max Fury Road, and How to not get butthurt when others insult stories you love.
ED: 「Gardens」 by Kawada Mami