Now that I’ve managed to pull myself away from my Super Smash Bros coma, it’s time to jump into the well of character dives again!
I love being able, to sum up, things in a few words. For some reasons the idea of taking an anime or character and just breaking it down into a sentence and a few words that encapsulate it just works for me. We live in a time where video and written essays can go on for ages (I’m guilty of this too!) and I have always been a ‘cut to the chase’ sort of guy. Skip the bullshit, get to the point.
Which is why for our next character I love that I can sum her up in one perfect word. So after the cut let’s take a dive into Date A Live’s leading lady: Tohka Yatogami.
Tohka Yatogami can be summed up in one word: Adorkable.
She’s a loveable, cute, fun and just dumb girl. One of anime’s strengths as an art form is that, unlike western titles, girls and female characters are often seen with a far wider range of emotions and roles. Girls in anime are allowed to be different things, whether they can be warriors, mothers, school girls, sportsmen or zombies. They can be funny, mean, indifferent, scheming, happy, loving, or sad. Now while western titles can and has had female characters like this before, I admit that too often than not, it feels like there is always a statement trying to be made, a political stance to address, or a reassurance to fellow girls that “you can be this too.” When it comes to anime I have always loved that they just let their females be themselves.
In terms of Tohka, Date A Live can credit much of its success for just letting her be herself. She can be dumb, like in the first few episodes when she runs around claiming everything she sees to be a “date.” Or how she calls the military soldiers who are bent on killing her the ‘mecha-mecha’ squad. Her initial dorkiness helps endear her greatly to the audience and provides some of the best moments during the crucial ‘pilot’ phase of the story. Even later with her legendary cell phone seen, we can see it is this personality trait that just makes her work.
Or here in the first episode when she first gets her powers sealed.
Her dorkiness is also thankfully central to the plot. Since she is portrayed as a spirit who doesn’t really know how the world works. Tohka’s unawareness of social norms and cues, especially in the realms of dating often lead to one comical misunderstanding after another. So many times in Date A Live, we see Tohka misread a situation and blow things massively out of proportion which leads to Shido trying to calm her down and see sense. However, this is always done in a comedic style and never with the intent to hurt Tohka. Though it can admittedly get a little old at times, (this happens three times in the first episode of the second season) Tohka is always able to endear herself to the viewer because of her innocence and the show’s commitment to the premise of dating the girls to keep their powers in check.
However, Tohka is not always a dork 100% of the time, and despite that being her dominant personality trait, she is also perceptive, understanding and kind. She is able to talk about things that are important to her and help people out with their problems. When Kurumi is on her rampage and Shido is struggling with how to stop her, it is Tohka the lovable dork who is able to talk to him and help him calm himself for what is to come.
Tohka Yatogami is simply adorkable. Yes, she might be a little ‘too’ dumb at times, but she is a great example of how Anime lets their female characters just be themselves, with none of the ‘baggage’ that other shows feel they always have to carry around. She is a balance of comedy and drama, being able to cause so many moments of laughter, but also help Shido through his struggles of trying to seal all the spirits. She is the heart of Date A Live, a character so simple that you can sum her up with one word, but with enough depth that she can also be more than that. I doubt Tohka will ever be anime’s most endearing female character, there are just SO many. But she is Date A Live’s second greatest strength and a prime example of how anime make their female characters work by letting them be characters first.
Also, Tohka eating is just perfect.