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Date A Live III – Now With More Spirits Than Ever Before!


Also there was some action and shit, whatever.

Another season of Date A Live comes to a close. Here, at the end of it, and having approached it from a different point of view than before—older, wiser, with less time for anime and, thus, someone who marathoned most of it in the last few days (note: only that last one is remotely true and/or relevant)—it made me mull upon the nature of Date A Live, and the allure it holds over those of us with trashy taste. But first! I wanna yak about everything that happened this season, ’cause there wuz a lot.

I’m not sure how many light novels with season encompassed, but it largely focused on two different spirit girls: Natsumi, and Tobiichi Origami. That the second person is now a spirit is super crazy, but I’ll get to that soon! Natsumi is a fun character, though she has the issue that I felt with Miku last season (though Miku this season has partially assuaged it): it’s not entirely clear what role she adds to the cast that isn’t already filled by another character. Grumpy, maybe? And her magic actually does add something real to the group battles (much like Miku’s support magic does), but she doesn’t immediately stick out. Her arc, though, was pretty fun over all. I really felt the mystery of who she was impersonating was lacking, mostly because Shido is an idiot (an enduring issue), but once that was over and she chibiified everyone, I enjoyed the resolution of her arc. I’m not sure she adds enough to not feel like clutter sometimes, but she doesn’t always feel like too much, so that’s a good sign.

Which brings me to another thing this season did well: better integrate all the various spirit girls/haremettes, so they all didn’t feel lost in the crowd. This is something I felt the series has struggled with before, but I thought everyone got at least some screen time this season, which was much appreciated. Mostly I groused about the lack of Kurumi, but I always complain about that. I want 100% Kurumi. She is best evil spirit.

Then there was the Origami arc. Once again, there were good and bad things. For the record: I hate time travel. Usually it comes off as uninspired (once you’ve seen/read one time travel story); mostly, it’s aggravating. And that happened here, especially when Shido was characteristically stupid and useless at preventing the tragedy (just push her parents out of the way more than one second ahead of time, jeez!). Plus Origami’s whole face-heel turn (trope!) was really hard to take seriously early on. But once again, the tail end of the arc was better, once we got happy|Origami and the intrigue of the spirit Devil. Which goes to show: Date A Live is better when the story goes quick, as long as it’s not rushed. That might not make sense, but it does. Rushing when the story needs time is bad, but when the story doesn’t need a lot of time, Date A Live is better. The second halves of both arcs were that, and were better for it.

Then there was the last episode. That was great! Best episode of the entire season, I wish there were more like that.

Which brings me to my rumination on this series as a whole, because, as you may have noticed, my impressions of this season are split about evenly between good and not so good, but with an overall satiated tone. The reason for that is … well. The thing about Date A Live is … it’s not always good. Sometimes it’s bad. Often it’s uninspired and clichéd. But I still enjoy it. Why? The characters can be good, but aren’t always. The premise is decent, but it’s wonky. The magic is sparkly, but the rules don’t always make sense. Which made me realize something big about this series: I think I tend to enjoy it precisely because it’s clichéd. Or because it’s tropey, to take the kinder tact. Because the truth about tropes is that they work because they’re familiar, but also because they work.

Not much about Date A Live is innovative, or even a cut about the rest, which is why I was so many episodes behind on this season when it came time to do the finale (other shows I found time for even when I was busy; with Date A Live, I did not). And that’s a dangerous place for a story to be in, to be so easy to set aside. But once I actually was watching it, I enjoyed it. It’s an easy kind of enjoyment. I don’t think many would call Date A Live high art—not the anime, which has uneven animation and is frequently rushed, and not the light novels, because they’re light novels. (Good stories come out of light novels, but it’s despite the format IMO, not because of it. It’s a shite format. f i t e m e.) But that doesn’t mean the series isn’t fun.

Generally, what Date A Live does is lean into young males’ fantasies just enough to be amusing, maintain enough distance (from the haremettes) to keep the plot going, instill in the main character enough morality to not feel debased, and mostly not do anything to fuck things up big time. Most of Date A Live’s mistakes are ones of low ambition; in the moment-to-moment game, it mostly works. This whole realization of mine isn’t an indictment of the series, nor a celebration. It’s just as I said: it’s a realization. Date A Live is fine, it mostly works, and at the end of the day, it’s fun to watch. There are worse things, even though I’ll always save the depths of my love and respect for stories that try to do more, even if they don’t always succeed.

All in all, season three of Date A Live was fun. Probably better than season two, maybe not better than season one, though I’d have to go back and compare them to be sure, and honestly, I ain’t gonna do that. It was enjoyable! Plus I really appreciated how the one skill Shido is world-class at is makeup application. He’s an epic-level cross dresser! That gave me a good laugh, even if the season still had far too little Kurumi. Maybe next time. Let’s shoot for 100%, we can get there crew.

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, or follow me at stephenwgee.com for miscellaneous blogging.

March 31, 2019 at 1:55 am
10 comments »
  • March 31, 2019 at 4:42 amMistic

    I want 100% Kurumi. She is best evil spirit.

    I wholeheartedly agree :D

    I disagree about time travel, though. I love time travel stories. I’ve loved them since I first watched the Androids Saga in Dragon Ball Z. So, an arc where time travel plays an important role, Origami’s character is explored like never before, and Kurumi gets the spotlight? Yes, please.

    What really hurt this season wasn’t the story, I think, but the quality. It’s not that it was all bad; it was inconsistent. One moment, characters are drawn well and action is decent. Next moment, characters have been hit with the ugly stick. The only exception was, for the most part, Kurumi (as viewers pointed out, the animators know their priorities) and several parts of Origami’s arc, especially when Devil was involved.

    Natsumi is a fun character, though she has the issue that I felt with Miku last season (though Miku this season has partially assuaged it): it’s not entirely clear what role she adds to the cast that isn’t already filled by another character.

    Personally, I think that DAL has an overabundance of Spirits. Strictly speaking, characters like Yoshino, the Yamai sisters, Miku and now Natsumi could be taken away from the series and the overarching plot wouldn’t change much, or at all.

    Then there was the last episode. That was great! Best episode of the entire season, I wish there were more like that.

    What an irony! LN readers didn’t like it, because it adapted an entire volume in one episode, leaving many things out (especially Kurumi scenes, which should be considered a crime against humanity). Meanwhile, anime-only viewers seem to agree that it was one of the best (you can’t miss what you didn’t know).

    All in all, this season of DAL adapted 5 volumes (8-12) in 12 episodes. Compare that to the first season (4 volumes in 12 episodes) and the second one (3 volumes in 10 episodes).

    Which made me realize something big about this series: I think I tend to enjoy it precisely because it’s clichéd. Or because it’s tropey, to take the kinder tact. Because the truth about tropes is that they work because they’re familiar, but also because they work.

    What you mention reminds me of Extra Credits’ “Destiny is Gaming’s Law & Order”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfhPNsQtaXo

    While it was about a video game, the principle stands: there are some sources of entertainment out there that we come back to not because they’re extraordinarily good, but because of the opposite. They’re not masterpieces, but they’re “safe”, you know you’ll be entertained despite of (or because of) not requiring any great commitments.

    There are only two things that I do consider excellent in DAL: Kurumi Tokisaki (seriously, she even managed to be 2nd in those Anime Trending popularity polls, and she still has a chance to become 1st) and the music. DAL’s OST is one of my favorites of any anime series.

    That gave me a good laugh, even if the season still had far too little Kurumi. Maybe next time. Let’s shoot for 100%, we can get there crew.

    Crossing fingers here. A potential S4 could cover volumes 16-17, which, from what I’ve read, are basically “Kurumi Tokisaki Strikes Back”. But it will depend on anime and LN sales, I suppose. Or China. For some reason, the Chinese market is so good for DAL merchandise that they have their own DAL-themed cafes and mobile games (by the way, it seems that DAL visual novels will come to the PS4 and Steam this summer in the West).

    • March 31, 2019 at 1:08 pmStilts

      Oooo, I’ll watch that vid. I like Extra Credits.

      And yeah, the OST is pretty good. Not top notch, but effective (you always know who’s the center of a scene by the music … especially Kurumi’s music).

      • March 31, 2019 at 4:08 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

        I looked up stuff on wiki after the episode and my god, things get even crazier, lol.

  • March 31, 2019 at 8:52 amboingman

    I initially wanted to follow this, but the talk about lackluster animation scared me away and I’m currently waiting for the blu-ray’s. Have yet to rewatch the new edition of the 1st season anyways that added some scenes.

  • March 31, 2019 at 9:36 amGreed

    https://randomc.net/image/Date%20A%20Live/Date%20A%20Live%20III%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2001.jpg
    That is a lot of skin Origami is showing. Now to look for more characters similar to her.

    • April 1, 2019 at 8:25 pmIncognito

      If you want more Origami-like characters with casual, deadpan kinkiness, I recommend Oboro (Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san–especially in the manga) or a classic like Xenovia (High School DxD).

  • March 31, 2019 at 1:05 pmNo name

    Nice job of the anime series but there some confusion in some episodes like spoiler alert that origami past change because of the protagonist actions. That causes a time paradox and time & realities itself will fall part or whatever and the protagonist don’t remember of the time travel in the first place?

    Speak of which, is there will a travel time thing again, maybe a Red vs Blue theme and the antagonist cause them to create a grandfather paradox?

  • April 1, 2019 at 12:21 pmYanDaMan

    Kurimi still best waifu, but the hurricane twins are a close second :3

  • April 1, 2019 at 1:36 pmJon

    They compressed an entire volume in the last episode. Yes, overall, the main story was simple, but they
    they left aside a LOT of information, and the entire drama of Kotori and the order to kill Shido felt too anticlimatic, and it was the strongest point of that volume, Overall, Date a Live is a guilty pleasure, I like every character of the cast, all the girls are likeable and loveable, and even Shido is not as dense or a pussy, or a Gary Stu, to hate him.

  • April 1, 2019 at 8:23 pmIncognito

    Ya know, if I hadn’t read that an entire light novel volume was compressed into that last episode of Date A Live III I might have thought that J.C. Staff did a passable job. (“Ignorance is bliss” and all that crap.) Heck, I would have forgiven them thanks to Kurumi showing up in that episode.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the season was indeed dragged down by off-model moments (including part of the scene where Shido meets Past!Kurumi) and rushed pacing (incidentally, a similar problem with Index season 3). It also feels like they didn’t have the time to maximize sakuga moments out of the light novel illustrations.

    Here I was excited to see Origami’s arc in animated form…only for it to turn out the way it did. Small wonder that I’m feeling uneasy about One-Punch Man 2.

    And yeah, I do agree that suddenly doing a 180 on Origami’s character development back in season 1 was a “WTF?” moment. Perhaps it’s also because of the nuances/minor details in the light novel that were omitted in the anime? I’m not sure, TBH. That being said, NewTimeline!Origami subconsciously harboring the casually kinky tendencies of the OldTimeline!Origami was hilarious.

    Well, J.C. Staff will most likely do fixes on the Blu-Ray/DVD release (plus the OVA episode). But after that, they should take a load off and hand Date A Live season 4 over to Passione (the studio who handled High School DxD HERO). But that’s just me.

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