The Summer of Love II: Date A Live I Episodes 1-6: Tohka Dead End and Yoshino Puppet

The Summer of Love II begins!

This year, we are taking a three month long look at the popular harem series Date A Live, and the journey begins today with our look at the first six episodes of season 1! I’ll be using the Light Novel titles were appropriate for these story arcs, because it looks like most 6 episodes chunks will take up either one or two character arcs in of themselves. As like last year, the post talk about the story in general, while a list of ‘minor thoughts’ will be located at the bottom. Let’s not waste anymore time, and get into it the first two arcs: Tohka Dead End and Yoshino Puppet!

Tohka meets Shido
A guy meets a girl, and they go on a date.

As with every long running series, the first six or so episodes are mostly about setting up the series, establishing the characters, the premise and getting the major foundations put in place. Date A Live is no exception to that rule, but it is also a series that moves at a solid pace and doesn’t bog itself down in too much detail. Now anyone who has been around this blog or has read my views on Date A Live before will know that I have praised the series for having an ‘ironclad commitment’ to its central premise. Six episodes in I still stand by that, because everything that makes Date A Live the show that it is, is on display here.

The arrival of Tohka, the ‘main girl’ of the series also comes with the demonstration of what a show like Date A Live is a going to be about and how it actually works. While comedic through and through, the idea of dating the girls and keeping their happiness meter up in order to kiss and seal their powers isn’t something that is thrown out there. It’s explained well, and demonstrated many times over the course of both these arcs and beyond.  When Tohka is happy, her powers are sealed, but when she is angry, or is jealous, something she discovers quite quickly, her powers will come rushing back to her. There isn’t a simple ‘one and done’ solution to this, and it provides some nice development and light drama throughout all of the stories now and to come. If you’ve ever played a dating sim game, then the antics on display in these two arcs will give you a laugh.

Tohka Eating 1
Tohka just works. Adorkable always works, and she’s probably harem’s best ‘main girl.’

Tohka herself of course is an absolute delight. While I was surprised that her first appearance has her in her most serious demeanor, that quickly vanishes when she meets Shido and begins to go on her date. I’ve said it before, but Tohka is absolutely fucking adorkable, and one of the few ‘main girls’ that is actually extremely popular and well loved. Every scene she is in absolutely pops whether she is freaking out over good food, getting jealous over Shido’s affections, or throwing down in some solid action scenes, Tohka just absolutely works. Much of her B-story is about her trying to suss out her feelings and realize she is love, and I was glad to see that a lot of that groundwork is laid down this early. As Date A Live follows an episodic style of “one girl, one arc’, many of the other members of the cast fade in and out of prominence, but Tohka remains the one constant, so it’s good that she pulls the viewer in so well.

Kotori and Shido bed
I’ll get to Kotori’s gimmick in the next six episodes, but her introduction and mannerism are pretty cool.

Of course she is not the only one introduced, and these six episodes also show off Kotori Itsuka and Origami Tobiichi, both of whom are important members of the cast. I’ll get into both of them as the story goes on, (both of them get their own story arcs), but what I will say so far is that both of them fill in the cast quite well, establishing their general role in the plot, and giving Shido and Tohka people to bounce off of. Kotori switching from the stereotypical little sister to hard-nosed commander works well at this point, and Origami’s mix of deadpan personality, and devotion to hunting spirits., coupled with her stalking of Shido is a good laugh. If anything, Date A Live throws a lot of cast members, most of them minor, at you during these first two arcs, but they always remain memorable.

Orgami Sniper
Date A Live also doesn’t shy away from the grittiness, and Origami’s sniping scene is pretty brutal.

Yoshino, the nominal second spirit to be introduced is a personal favorite of mine. Aside from being cute as a button and with cool ice powers, her gimmick involving the puppet Yoshinon is a creative route to the take the character, and what happens when they are separated is something that comes up again in multiple seasons. She is absolutely a member of the supporting cast, never really having as much story weight compared to the other spirits. If anything, Yoshino represents what I said before about the girls jumping in and out of spotlight, and Yoshino pretty much serves as that supporting role. But damn is she just fucking adorable doing it.

Yoshino Cry
If you make Yoshino cry. I will find you.

Tohka Dead End and Yoshino Puppet pull double duty of introducing viewers the world of Date A Live and setting everything up, and it does it with respectable strength. Even though this is my fourth re-watch (and first time watching it in Japanese), I felt right back at home with these characters and this world. I laughed at all the comedic scenes, and appreciated the subtle hints of foreshadowing for things like Origami’s past, and the mysterious Phantom. These were a great set of 6 episodes, and I look forward to what comes next, when the series most famous and beloved character arrives, but that’ll be two weeks from now

Join me next week as The Summer of Love II takes a look at the English dub of Date A Live!

Additional Observations

  • The three background girls are a bundle of fun, especially the one whose only line is “Gross”. That’s it..that’s she says for three fucking seasons. It’s wonderful.
  • Shido proposing to the teacher still makes me laugh my ass off, so fucking good.
  • The opening narration changing with each episode is a cute touch, but also kinda weird. I mean really, you gonna do a monologue about hot springs? Alright.
  • Kotori’s first appearance gives the show one of the only real panty shots. While their are a few more sprinkled throughout the first two seasons (none in the third), it is absolutely one of the times where fanservice is up front in the pilot, then not around for the rest of the series. Shame really, it’s a nice booty.
  • I laughed my ass off when Reine fainted right in the middle of class, I didn’t remember that scene at all, real funny.
  • Also her calling Shido ‘Shin’ all the time is very important to the series. There is some solid foreshadowing and build up to future plots, which is always good.
  • The amount of tech and time put into things like the ‘Date Town’ really help show how committed the series is to the dating concept, and that sixth episode is a blast because of it.
  • I haven’t spoke much about Shido yet, because honestly? There isn’t that much. He’s right in the middle of the harem male lead scale. Not as developed as DxD’s Issei, but far better than the doormats of Infinite Stratos or Shinmai Maou. I’ll get to him a bit later, but right now he’s fine. I liked how he enjoys pranking Kotori, which gives him a bit of personality.
  • I love that the abilities of the spirits have biblical names. Zadkiel and Sandalphon are both absolutely badass. The astral dresses too are beautiful, and credit to the author with coming up with a cool and unique style.

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