Well, it’s been an interesting four days so far. I got nominated for a blog award, spilled my guts out about my feelings towards Shinmai Maou no Testament (ugh), and started a conversation with some of my fellow bloggers. That’s some heavyish stuff, so let’s talk about something more light, more fun. How about an anime series where a guy has to date girls in order to protect the world?
After the cut let’s take a dive into the 2013 anime series Date A Live.
If Date A Live is anything, it is an example of how much success you can have when you have an ironclad commitment to your premise.
The story is simple but effective. Young girls known as spirits have been coming down to the earth and causing spacial quakes that create massive amounts of damage. The governments of the earth believe that only overwhelming military force can defeat them, while the organization known as Ratatoskr believes they have an alternative solution: date the girls and make them fall in love, therefore sealing their powers with a kiss.
Now that’s an absurd and almost stupid fucking idea of a story, but Date A Live makes it work because it has a 110% commitment to that idea and they are dedicated to explaining it fully. Date A Live presents the idea, explains how it works, shows how it might have come about, and then spends most of its runtime showing how dating the girls is actually the most effective way of dealing with them. How neglect or misunderstanding can cause the powers to ‘snap back’ and the relationships between main lead Shido Itsuka and his history behind his powers. If anything Date A Live is fully committed to creating a history behind its ideas and plot.
In terms of characters, Date A Live has a great cast. Shido Itsuka may not have the lovability of an Issei Hyoudou, but he’s a solid lead whose connection to the story and plot is more than skin deep. The female cast is also extremely solid, with Tohka Yatogami being an adorkable ball of adorkable who almost carries the entire show with her perfect balance of comedy and seriousness. Little Yoshino and her puppet Yoshinon provide more than enough cute moments. Kotori Itsuka rocks as both the classic “little sister’ and the hard-nosed commander of Ratatoskr and Origami Tobichii’s gimmick of being an emotionless soldier obsessed with Shido is one great comedic moment after another. Finally series anti-hero Kurumi Tokisaki is one of the great yandere characters of the genre with one of the most unique takes on time-magic I’ve seen in fiction yet.
If there are problems it is that Date A Live sometimes tries to bite off a bit more than it can chew. While most of the girls are as developed as they can be, the character of Mana Takamiya feels almost completely superfluous to the story and should have been either removed or been combined into other girls. Kotori’s gimmick of having “commander mode” and “little sister mode’ is woefully underused which limits how effective her character can be. Origami’s entire backstory feels like the buildup for future seasons, and the recurring scenes of Tohka misunderstanding a situation and freaking out can feel like one too many at times. However, these are minor complaints when compared to how well done, committed funny and endearing the rest of the story is.
Date A Live is a perfect example of a B+ anime series. It has the potential to be better, but what is there is well told, well crafted and has enough love and effort that you can forgive some of the evident criticism. Its absolute commitment to the story and world it creates is central to its success and that hopefully is going to carry onto the upcoming third season in January 2019. Full of heart, comedy, solid characters, and some good drama, Date A Live is a series I suggest anyone who likes romantic comedy give a look at. Hopefully, you’ll be as impressed by it as I was.