「七番目の精霊」 (Nana Ban-me no Seirei)
“The Seventh Spirit”
If at first you don’t succeed, try to fool a dumber target.
Date A Live is back, baby! For those not familiar with this series, you’re probably not reading this because who starts with the third season? So, for returning fans: Date A Live is one of those classic (see: early 2010’s) series from the golden age of magical-fantasy-action-harem anime where there was like three of them being released every season, but we hadn’t quite gotten to the bottom of the barrel yet. It is, in other words, a perfectly serviceable magical-fantasy-action-harem anime, with its own flaws (the main character is your average bumbling milquetoast protagonist who asks entirely too many questions in response to any and all surprising stimuli) and its own strengths (the girls are mostly pretty good, except when they aren’t). While third seasons are increasingly rare, if something was going to get one, I’m not surprised it was Date A Live. So, how’s the premiere?
Eh, all right. Honestly it’s mostly the same, with Itsuki Shido (Shimazaki Nobunaga) managing an increasingly large harem of spirit girls which are causing the series to burst at the seams with repetitive reactions every time something happens, because all the girls gots to get in on the action. Which I appreciate in part, it’s hard to keep all your characters involved, but it’s a sign that the series is getting long in the teeth, and maybe needs to conclude some characters’ stories rather than constantly creating new ones.
But the girls are still mostly good, especially imouto/commander Itsuka Kotori (Taketatsu Ayana), presumed end girl Yatogami Tohka (Inoue Marina), and the twins Yamai Kaguya (left) (Uchida Maaya) and Yamai Yuzuru (right) (Sarah Emi Bridcutt). But the realization that occurred to me when Izayoi Miku (Chihara Minori) barged on the stage is that none of these roles are the best these seiyuu have done. Not even close. (When Taketatsu Ayane doing a replacement-level tsundere imouto is the best performance, you know everyone’s mailing it in … though that’s only because Sanada Asami’s Tokisaki Kurumi wasn’t here this episode. More’s the shame.) All of which I could also say about the animation. Who knew J.C.Staff would be a downgrade from AIC Plus+ and Production IMS? I did not expect that. Apparently they didn’t get shit for a budget on this one.
But how about dat new spirit? Natsumi (Mano Ayumi) is the new girl on the block, an onee-san type known as the Witch, for obvious reasons. (Also, she do magic.) It seemed like things were going too well at first, until she sneezed and revealed her true form, only Shido is an unobservant idiot and he didn’t notice. Classic Shido!
Honestly, the best parts of this episode were all at the end, when we were past the carousel of everyone getting duped by Natsumi (magic exists you fools! Half of you can use it! Be more skeptical ahhhh!). Tohka and AST pilot Tobiichi Origami (Togashi Misuzu) accurately picking out the correct Shido for ridiculous reasons was the glowing moment, though I’m hesitantly excited about the task in front of Shido. This could turn into a legitimate mystery … though I doubt it will. This is still a magical-fantasy-action-harem anime through and through, and I expect it to stay there. This is Date A Live’s opportunity to impress, though. It’s been given a new lease on life, this rare third season that so few anime get. As a certain massive alien head once said: SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!
My second novel, Freelance Heroics, is available! (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Third book in progress now! Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the last two posts: Celebrities’ Political Opinions, An Author’s Review of: Freelance Heroics.