This is a part of an ongoing collaboration of ‘To Love-Ru’ reviews between myself and Irina from I Drink And Watch Anime, the links to the other reviews can be found at the bottom of this post. My words are in bold, while Irina’s are in plain text.
The Episode Review:
And here we are with Episode 7 and once again it’s a case of my memories of an episode being ever-so slightly out of balance with the reality of the re-watch. In this case I remembered this episode being a hilarious and wholly entertaining episode that introduces two(?) new characters. I even sold it to Irina as such when we were Twitter DM’ing after the previous episode, but I think I may have oversold it a bit! I wouldn’t say it was a bad episode but I’d be lying if I said it’s the one I’ve enjoyed the most so far (still the cooking episode – it’s hard to beat that one!) Actually Matt, now that you are rewatching them, which one has been your favourite so far? Probably episode 3 or 4, my opinions have changed a bit it seems but I think that’s more a case of getting character moments confused with one’s that occur in later seasons. You think I’d be better at this by now!
Anyway, right off the bat we’re introduced ever so-briefly to a cute mint-haired girl wearing the boys school uniform for Sainan high. It’s an ambiguous sort of introduction that’s almost completely forgotten after the credits roll. Knowing what I know about this character I thought her introduction was kind-of obvious, but did you guess the ‘twist’ of this character on your first time watching, Irina? Yup – not my first anime 🙂 Also Ranma ½ rules. Just saying…
If you’re not familiar with this show or this episode; spoilers (obviously), Oh wait, uhm…forget that Ranma comment it as just random…hahaha… but her name is Run and she’s an alien but from a shape-shifting race known as the Memorze and whenever she sneezes she transforms into a boy named Ren. 99% of this episode is spent with the character as the boy, Ren as he seeks to assert his “manliness” in an attempt to woo Lala–whom he was a childhood friend of. “Friend” being used rather loosely here. Brilliant exploration of stockholm syndrome in this episode!
This episode, or rather, Ren has a preoccupation with proving his “manliness” and while the ideals of manliness this show has Ren focus on are pretty outdated in the grand scheme of things, I kinda love how this show never had any of our female protagonists particularly insistent on the importance of stereotypical perceptions of manliness and instead have their own unique and personal ideas on what’s “manly” (i.e. what appeals to them in the opposite gender). The old school gender normative standards of manliness were really played for laughs which is a touch ironic from a show that really insists on traditional standards of femininity. What was a bit funny to me is that Ren is originally presented as very popular with girls is not manly enough by his own standards and wishes to outdo Rito for Lala’s attention but the two are pretty much identical. He could just have died his hair brown and called it a day.
And then we get to what is arguably the ‘make-or-break’ part of the episode, which is basically an over-the-top ‘Rocky’ parody with Ren training in increasingly ludicrous ways to become “manly” and I think I appreciated the absurdity of this more the first time I watched it–on a second viewing it lost some of its comedic appeal. How did it fall for you, Irina? I liked it. I have a soft spot for boxing references in anime. However, I also did think it went on a bit too long though. Eventually it got a bit played out and my attention started to waver. I may have gone to the kitchen to get a drink…
Are you a fan of parody-style comedy in general? I am a fan of most types of comedy, parody being way up there (my favourite form of deconstruction). I think I prefer surrealism and absurdism a little, hence my appreciation for the cooking episode, but in general I like a good tongue in cheek parody. They can be tricky and really rely on your audience being familiar with what you’re parodying so it’s a gamble but when it pays off, it can be delightful.
There’s a lot of weird moments where it feels like the show has gotten away from its main characters just for the sake of introducing a new one. Episode 5 did this as well, Rito, Lala, Haruna and Mikan all felt like side-characters in their own show. It felt more obvious to me the second time watching it. Definitely. To be honest, it sort of felt like a filler episode to me. I don’t know how important Run/Ren is but they could easily have introduced the character in 5 minutes or so. A lot of it seemed like padded for time. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable just sort of not crucial, if you know what I mean.
And by the end, just as Ren’s about to have his dream realised of having Lala call him “manly” a fly lands on his nose and he transforms into half naked Run. Half?
One thing I thought was lazy about the episode though was how they had the explanation of who and what Ren/Run is appear as just text at the end of the episode. I feel like they could have cut down all the training shenanigans by at least a minute and just have had a scene where Ren/Run explains to the others their race and the lore behind it. See, I thought that was part of the joke. Put all this time in a somewhat random personal quest just to have all the relevant information thrown at you like an old school PSA or something. I didn’t hate it. It did contribute to the filler feel of the episode though.
The Fan Service Review:
The fanservice in this episode was pretty lazy. There was the naked Run traumatized in front of an auditorium full of people. To Love-Ru loves the set up of having the ladies find themselves naked in public settings. I guess it’s pretty standard for the genre? You really seem to think the worst of this show for those scenes, huh? I think traumatised is going a bit far, it’d be a shock for anyone to end up half-naked in front of a group of strangers but her character in the manga is an exhibitionist so maybe this was the start of that tendency (we won’t get to see her like that until ‘To Love-Ru Darkness’ however.) Not really. You suggested I give the counterpoint when we started the collab so I figured I would. The counterpoint I see is that such situations are portrayed as embarrassing and to the characters in the anime and then just laughed at which is a bit mean to the ladies. I’ve been watching a few ecchi lately and I noticed that a few of them show some consequences which I appreciate. This said, it’s the sort of thing that happens in these shows, I get it. I also know that people that have had harassment situations (which is a lot of people) may be uncomfortable watching these scenes, which is also fair enough. True, I should probably remember what I say because I don’t half the time…
The rest of the fanservice were just censored still shots of Lala, Mikan and Haruna taking showers, that were ranput in at random moments without it having anything to do with the plot. It was actually pretty funny. Did you enjoy it? Interrupting a would-be action scene with Lala and Mikan having a shower, pretty much the best kind of interruption. Also I don’t know why you keep calling it censored, there’s clearly a nipple in the first scene (well not clearly, it’s quite foggy but that’s because of all the steam in the bathroom…) Oh, it was just for readers that haven’t seen the show, so that they don’t expect full frontal or something like that. Uncensored?
Still, the fanservice aspect seemed a little thin in this episode, don’t you think? It was centered around two or three brief moments, not ideal unfortunately but I guess you can’t win them all!
My memories of this episode conflated it into a much more dynamic and entertaining episode than it was in reality. Granted, I still had a fun time and found most of the jokes held up, I think it’s just my love for this particular character–and specifically how Ren/Run’s arc “ends” in ‘To Love-Ru Darkness–must have influenced my memories of it a bit. Still, a very good episode in my opinion and absolutely an improvement of the previous. What are your final thoughts on the episode, Irina? It was mostly a set-up episode, I guess(?). On it’s own it felt a little aimless. Why are we following yet another character when we haven’t developed any of the ones we have already been introduced to? I assume it’s just the old school narrative where every week we get another new person to follow around until we have our full cast. Reminds me of early Sailor Moon episodes. These are sort of difficult to judge in the moment . Usually you only get to appreciate them once you get to know the character a little better.
Hate to break it to you, Irina, but we’ve got at least 3 whole episodes (though not in succession) that are going to introduce even more characters to the show! Yup just like Sailor Moon. Love it.
My final score for the episode is 88/100 and my score for the fan-service is 70/100.
Previous ‘To Love-Ru’ Reviews:
Solo Episode 1 Review
Irina and Matt Review ‘To Love-Ru’ Episode 1
Solo Episode 2 Review
Solo Episode 3 Review
Solo Episode 4 Review
Irina and Matt Review ‘To Love-Ru’ Episodes 2, 3 and 4
Irina and Matt Review ‘To Love-Ru’ Episode 5
Irina and Matt Review ‘To Love-Ru’ Episode 6
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