Irina and Matt Review ‘To Love-Ru’ Episode 1

Irina and I review ‘To Love-Ru’ Episode 1, because forcing your friends to watch your favourite shows is the best!

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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?!)

No, but my pants are all of a sudden.

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.

It’s a classic style.

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.

How could you forget this?!

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.

You here that Rito? Even Irina thinks you’re bland!

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!

She can talk to me any day…

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.

Who doesn’t have access to a giant robotic vacuum cleaner octopus?

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!

The lighting isn’t the best in my office, sadly.

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!

Irina’s face if she ever gets to watching ‘To Love Ru-Darkness’.

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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Making A Splash – ‘To Love-Ru’ Episode 1 Review

An Introduction and Review Schedule for the ‘To Love-Ru’ Anime QandA Special Series of Reviews

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The Episode Review

What’s the show? To Love-Ru Episode 1.

Episode 1 Title Card. Perhaps a Nicolas Roeg reference?

So tell me about this show you’ve decided to commit 2 years of your life reviewing every single episode (because that’s how long its going to take)? Wow, straight in their with the big questions, huh?

I mean nows a good a time as any, is it not? Sure. I mean, I love everything about this show and if you care to follow me over the next two years you’ll find out exactly why. What follows is an absolutely biased look at a series I’ve deified in my mind for about a year now so don’t go expecting nuanced critique–but likewise expect a lot of references to things that have yet to happen in the series. In other words, this is pretty much for fans of the series only. Or those who don’t mind spoilers for future episodes.

It’ll be a while before we meet him.

But it’s an ecchi series, how many spoilers can it contain anyway?! I thought this too, until I sat down to watch Episode 1 again for the first time in… maybe like 9 months? Either way, To Love-Ru’s first episode is an impressive piece of art that’s almost hard to quantify and even harder to compare against the rest of the series that is to come.

And why’s that? Because Episode 1 is emblematic of everything that made this series inherently bingeable in the first place, it’s fast paced and frenetic and fun and… not really anything like the other subsequent 3 seasons of To Love-Ru that come after.

Best OP visuals ever.

 

Okay, I think you’re getting ahead of yourself. Let’s just focus on this episode and this season, yeah? Fair point. So the series starts with Lala, in space, in her spaceship being pursued by a convoy of “attackers” insistent on reclaiming her. And already a more action heavy tone is being set to a series which will ostensibly become an Earth bound, slice of life centric ecchi.

We get jiggle physics 30 seconds into the show. Good stuff!

What did I say about reviewing this episode, not what’s to come?! Sorry. I’ll try and restrain myself on that part.

Sure sure, so what happens next? Well to cut a long story short, Lala’s spaceship crashes into the school of our male protagonist Rito Yuuki–who himself is already preoccupied with courting the girl of his dream, classmate Haruna Sairenji. A wholesome, very good-girl who you should probably not get too attached to if you intend to follow this series unto its fruition…

Cute from any angle.

Please. Please stop with the not so subtle future spoilers, it’s doing me a harm. Okay, I promise that’s the last time! (Spoilers; it’s not the last time).

Okay so what happens next then. So after another failed attempt for Rito confessing his feelings for Haruna he returns home to lick his wounds when his peaceful bathtime is interrupted by Lala’s sudden (naked) appearance in front of him. From here things quickly progress as Lala introduces herself, her robotic costume maker ‘Peke’ and her general situation which basically amounts to the fact that she’s a teenage runaway who’s sick of being told who she should marry by her father. In short; Lala is an alien princess and genius inventor who is somewhat indifferent to the human race but she’s put her trust in a “bland” human because he was too much of a ‘good guy’ to let her get captured by the royal guards of her home planet–shenanigans ensue.

Lala changing into her trademark costume. Love it!

“Shenanigans” Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like where this is going? I don’t know what you’re inferring, sir…

Don’t play dumb with me, I can literally scroll down the page and see you have a segment of this review called “The Fanservice Review”… While I’ll go to my grave defending how good the characterisation is in this series, I fully admit that the majority of people who clicked this review are just here for ~dem anime tiddies~ and yeah, that’s where this review will soon pivot. But I’m not quite done yet.

*squeeze*

Okay what happens next? Well Rito is walking to school the next morning, lamenting having intervened with Lala when Haruna approaches him, she wants to talk about what he was doing running across the roof with a strange girl last night (she caught a glimpse of him while walking her dog) but he interrupts taking this as the opportunity to confess his feelings for her. He pours out his feelings, all the while bowing his head only for Lala to have appeared between the two of them. Lala misunderstands and thinks he’s talking to her and reciprocates his feelings, further upping the ante by suggesting they get married!

Well that escalated quickly!

Oh boy, you weren’t wrong about shenanigans. Anything else you wanted to add before we get to the other kind of “shenanigans”? Well if you’ll allow me to get meta for just a moment I’d like to speak about how different my first viewing vs this viewing was.

So Japanese of Rito to be worrying about people wearing shoes in his room.

Go on then. The first time I watched ‘To Love-Ru’ I was intrigued but not blown away, a part of that may have been how much the first episode was trying to impart while simultaneously give gratuitous air-time to its ecchi moments. Likewise I was enamoured with Haruna (Rito’s “since middle school” crush) but kind of annoyed by Lala–despite her good points. Now, with hindsight clouding my objectivity I can say Lala steals the show, even though this Lala isn’t really indicative of the Lala who will come to consume the screen time of the coming 25 episodes. Episode 1 Lala is far more measured and calculated than true Lala which will rear her awesome insanity in its full come Episode 3. But I suppose it’s something of a blessing we weren’t inundated with Lala’s full ‘Lala’ right off the bat. Which leads us too…

The Fanservice Review

Is there any particular reason I have to be here? I have no interest in discussing fan service? Because I like to see you suffer.

 

Wow, not even pretending now? Okay fine, let’s get this over with… how is the fan service in the first episode? It’s kind of remarkable in how right they get it and how quickly too. I’ve mentioned in various places before that I think Kentaro Yabuki (the original mangaka) is probably my favourite artist in terms of how he draws the female body and while the animation and art style of the everyday scenes is ~good~ but nothing mind-blowing the same can not be said for the fan service. It’s clear that the show knew it needed to execute that particular part of the series flawlessly if it was to be well-received and while I can’t speak for its reception in Japan at the time I can say at least for me I was impressed.

 

Showin’ some tail.

Uh-huh and what about it makes it so impressive? It’s kind of hard to put into words, you kind of need to see it in motion–thankfully that’s what gifs are for!

Oh boy… There’s a weight to the animation of the breast physics, when Rito’s hands cup Lala’s breasts in the bath its like you could almost touch them yourself they seem so real. And this isn’t even the best the show gets in terms of animation quality and attention to detail.

Yep, finished. #TMI

 

And what about Lala herself? She’s beautiful, she’s cute, she’s sexy–she’s basically the perfect (anime) woman–well except for a certain black haired goddess but we’ll talk more about her when she appears later in the series. Plus her openness and liberated attitude about her body is very refreshing, it’s something that makes Lala so endearing as a character.

Lala’s appears in the bath before Rito. Good technology!

And the other girls? Well the only fan service we get from Haruna is a fantasy sequence in which Rito’s best friend Saruyama goads him into fantasising about her in a bikini–it’s a brief pan over a still image but it’s still well drawn. Haruna’s a very sweet girl who I have some minor issues with but I won’t bring them up until they are more relevant to the episode in discussion. And then of course there’s the girl that is the Internet perverts favourite for lewding (at least if the sheer number of fan-art and doujin’s are anything to go by)–Rito’s little sister Mikan.

Always imagining.

“Little sister” should I have the FBI on speed dial? Jokes aside Mikan is something of a grounding force for the series, especially as it progresses into seasons 3 and 4 (getting ahead of myself again, I know) but even in her two brief scenes her character is already solidified–in her wry sense of humour and almost parental authority over Rito. In any other series a character as “normal” as Mikan could be a detriment but here she’s a delightful antidote to the craziness. But the show doesn’t feel the need to lewd her (yet lol)

Mikan is Sassy AF.

The Conclusion

So final thoughts and score for Episode 1 of ‘To Love-Ru’? Unable as I am to really give a first impression of the series as this is the second time watching it all I can say is that this first episode was even better than I remembered. Obviously a lot of that will be because of the fondness I’ve acquired for these characters over the 80 subsequent episodes I watched after but it’s also an expertly crafted 24 minutes of comedy, romance, sci-fi action, ecchi and even a bit of intrigue. It’s already done a great job at establishing Rito’s personality (his almost comical embarrassment in the face of any kind of nudity) as well as the connection between him and Haruna. If I were to complain about anything it was the aforementioned characterisation of Lala which feels out of step with the rest of the series but I think it can be excused given the tone it was trying to strike with the whole seriousness of “being pursued by bad-guys” shtick. My score for the episode is 93 out of 100, while my score for the fan service is 80 out of 100.

Good guy Rito.

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