Hello everyone and welcome to a collaborative review series I’m imaginatively calling ‘Irina and Matt Review To Love-Ru’! And as the name suggests I’ll be joined throughout these reviews by Irina from I Drink And Watch Anime—say hello, Irina! Hello Irina! …I’m sorry, please don’t lock me in the closet again. I’ll do better…
Before we get into the review proper what were your thoughts when I brought up the idea about collaborating on an older series? (for those of you unaware Irina and I almost exclusively collaborate on currently airing seasonal anime and usually female driven sports anime). We have a very specific niche. I don’t think anyone else shares it… I like older anime but I think what I liked best was that you invited me to share my thoughts on an ecchi harem show. A lot of bloggers like the genres (I’m very surprised you’re not part of that new Ecchi Hunter blog to be honest) but I didn’t think I would ever get in on the action! For some reason I never get asked about my thoughts on naked girls. I need to rebrand. I’ll make sure to keep you ~abreast~ of ecchi in the future! (See what I did there?!)
And what preconceptions or familiarity did you have with the To Love-Ru franchise? (Wow this is beginning to sound like a job interview…) It is… and none. I hadn’t heard of it before you told me about it, Matt. And since you said it was your favourite series I figure it’s lighthearted, funny a bit lewd and there’s no abusing the girls. Do those count as preconceptions?
Sounds about right! So with that out of the way it’s onto the review itself! These reviews won’t be recapping the events of the episode—for that content you can check out my solo reviews—the first of which is here. Were you surprised how “sci-fi” the prologue was? Very much, it snapped me at attention in fact. I was quite happy to see that. Is it just me though or did the opening tag look more “classic” than the rest of the episode? Like as soon as I saw it I thought, oh this is an OLD show but later on I was like nah, it’s just an oldish show… Am I making any sense? I never considered that (as I don’t have much experience with a lot of old anime–especially action sci-fi based ones) but now that you point it out the art style in the opening could very well have been a nod to older shows.
As a fan of OP’s as I am too, what did you think of this one? I’m so sorry Matt, I don’t remember it. No please, the closet is dark and scary… I think I just got swept up by the episode and it got pushed out of my mind. I do remember the ED – it was cute. I pay better attention next time. Personally it’s one of my favourite of all time. Not only the song (“Forever We Can Make It” by Thyme) but the visuals—while simple I find very sexy.
The first half of the episode introduces to our protagonist Rito and the fact that he’s extremely shy around girls—not especially unique for a harem protagonist but it also means he doesn’t spend his time ogling them. What did you think of Rito? This may sound bad but I mean it in a good way. As I was watching the first half I thought well this is an anime. For me, it embodied all the stereotypes I think people associate with generic anime. Like it’s exactly what you think of when you think anime. But I really liked that about it. It was comforting and fun. Rito is that nice but slightly awkward kid, who’s just enough of a loser to be relatable but still cool enough to cheer for. A very good audience surrogate and I’ll be happy to watch him. He was a bit on the pleasantly bland side for the first episode but that can be said about most shows.
Also established early on is his infatuation with Haruna—an infatuation started after a middle school incident wrongly painted him as destroying a school garden—and Haruna being the only one believing his innocence. What did u think of Haruna as a character and did you buy into this ‘connection’ of theirs? I actually like the connection. I make fun of anime characters for falling in love over the silliest things but honestly, that happens all the time. Heck, sometimes we fall in love over nothing at all. It’s believable to me. As for Haruna herself, I kept trying to figure out why she was giving me major deja vu all episode. I thought maybe I had seen her on promotional material but she looked so much more familiar than anyone else. It was only towards the end of the episode that I realized that she reminds me of Yukino from Kare Kano. Long story short, I got distracted. I like her, but I need to see where the character goes!
And then of course there’s the elephant in the room—or rather the pink haired alien in the bath tub. Lala; who is the embodiment of pure joy and life, makes her introduction. What are your first impressions of her? She’s the one that really made the show feel like Tenchi Muyo for me. That’s a good thing! I like her transformation but it seems painful for her.
I think my opinions of Lala are pretty clear given I just referred to her as “the embodiment of pure joy and life” and not to spoil too much but she only gets better from episode 3 onwards. And then we get a surprisingly good-looking action scene as Lala summons one of her “inventions” to combat her pursuers (who are actually just employees of the royal palace wanting her to go home—as she’s just a teenage runaway). Sometimes 3D can look jarring against 2D, especially with a series of this age but I thought her octopus vacuum looked perfect. What did you think of this whole segment of the episode? Agreed, it was integrated well and fun to watch. It is impressively fluid for an older show. Mind you this thing may have had a BUDGET. Seems the manga did really well so the studio may have secured decent funding. If so they made good use of it, if not, then those are truly impressive visuals.
And then finally the end of the episode which has Haruna confronting Rito only for him to decide this is the moment to confess his “true feelings” for her. Which—of course—backfired horribly as Lala appears and assumes he’s talking to her! Oh no a love triangle through misunderstanding! How bizarre! Joking aside, the first episode was fun. Taken separately a lot of the elements and characters are pretty stereotypical but they are put together well and somehow it’s just a bit left of expectations. You know, just unusual enough to keep you interested while being comfortably familiar. The only thing I would have liked is for Lala to be just a little less helpless. But you really can’t tell much from just the first episode. It’s a strong start. I would have watched more if I didn’t want to avoid confusing the episodes before we review them.
My thoughts on the episode as a whole can be found in the link previously mentioned, but what about you Irina, what were your thoughts on this as a first episode? Anything else you wanted to add? I should really read ahead when we do these things… I already put down my thoughts. As for “add”, how about you share with us a piece of your To Love-Ru merch?
Sure, that oughta spice up these reviews! Probably one of my favourite things I picked up on my most recent trip to Japan was this Lala ⅙ scale bishoujo figure made by Alter. Obviously her “normal” outfit, as seen after her transformation scene is more striking but I just found this figure so sexy that I had to have it. The detail on it is so good, even something as inconsequential as the tread on her sneakers has such fine details, I love it!
Also – I disagree with your review about the breast physics. Some scenes are great but others really could use some more jiggle. Just saying. Just wait ‘til we get to ‘To Love-Ru Darkness’ the amount of jiggles will give you whiplash!
And that’s the first episode done! From here on out we’ll be releasing these collaborative reviews covering 3 episodes at a time every month. However, you’ll still be getting my single episode QandA reviews every week! Thanks for reading!
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