The Summer of Love II continues! The first season of the series is now wrapped up, and it’s time to give my thoughts on the second half! Like last time, these 6 episodes adapt two light novels, and with it comes the introduction of characters, good and bad, that will be vitally important, or not important, to the series going forward! So join me after the cut as I dive into the next two arcs of the Date A Live: Kurumi Killer and Itsuka Sister!
The last half of season 1 is important for many reasons, but mostly because it introduces what will become one of the most popular and beloved characters in the series to the show. While Kurumi Tokisaki will be getting a character dive of her own in the future, I want to briefly talk about her right now, and contrast her to the other character introduced at the same time.
Kurumi’s introduction is a great change up for the series, because it lets us know early, that Shido isn’t going to be able smooth talk his way out of every challenge. Unlike the adorkable Tohka and innocent Yoshino, Kurumi isn’t able to be wined, dined and dated, and instead is a force of nature that upends the story. She is violent, sadistic, and dedicated to her quest of consuming the energy of her victims. Despite Shido’s best efforts to turn her, Kurumi remains unconvinced and established herself as the series’s Vegeta character for the foreseeable future. I’m trying to be careful about how much I say about Kurumi because again, she is getting a character dive, but the character not only works for Date A Live, but raises the series to bigger and better heights. I especially liked how Tohka, now more adjusted to the job Shido has to do, is more supportive and understanding of the whole dating aspect, despite her jealously and clingy nature.
The same however, can’t be said for Mana Takamiya.
Harem anime, even the best ones in the genre, often suffer from cast bloat, where there are too many girls for the story to give any singular focus. When harem anime have a large cast of girls, while it may be good for the waifu wars, it often means that many are underdeveloped and underused, and character traits and personalities are spread too thin. Mana’s character, introduced as the DEM member tasked with hunting Kurumi and Shido’s actual real sister, is very much this problem. She feels totally superfluous to the story, a plot device not in it enough to have any real meaning, or really established any chemistry with the class. The fact that she is Shido’s real sister should be the massive thing, but it is treated with such flippancy, that it doesn’t really amount to much, even in the next two seasons. Hell the fact that Mana doesn’t even show up in the third season, and is only around for a few episodes of the second shows you how important she is to the plot. Furthermore, like I said above, Mana’s character could have easily been removed from the story, and her plot divided and given to both Origami and Kotori, who could have benefited from a bit more character depth. The fact that you could do this, and minimal changes to the overall story just goes to show how much Mana really does for Date A Live.
Itsuka Sister meanwhile, doesn’t have that problem, and instead focuses on Kotori, now revealed to be a spirit herself, and her date with Shido. Like with the previous arc, Itsuka Sister is more about laying groundwork for the bigger story of the series, but it also gives time to develop the relationship between the two step siblings. I’ve always enjoyed Kotori’s character, but she is also someone I think is a bit under cooked compared to the rest of the cast. Her gimmick of having two personalities tied to whether she has black or white ribbons on is interesting, but Date A Live rarely uses it, opting to keep Kotori in commander-mode for the majority of the story. It is not a deal-breaker, and it makes sense for the story, but I do wish that Kotori would have switched back and forth more often, as I think it would have led to some great situations and comedy. Her reveal as a spirit is done well however, and it helps kick start the Origami story-line of her trying to avenge her parents, something that carries over into the third season.
Most of all though, Itsuka Sister helps show that the dating premise, as much as the show is committed to it, is able to be flexible. Shido himself knows his step-sister quite well, and instead of trying to railroad her through a date that Kotori knows is being orchestrated, he instead just tosses the communication away, and takes Kotori to the places that he KNOW she will like. It’s a cool little bit of development for our male lead, and shows that Shido isn’t a complete doormat, he knows Kotori well, and when the rubber hits the road, he always steps up.
Kurumi Killer and Itsuka Sister are both good stories that move Date A Live forward. They introduce one of the most important and beloved characters, as well as lay a surprising amount of groundwork and foreshadowing for the future. However they also start to show why Date A Live is forever the B+ harem series. Characters are introduced they aren’t important, and others have traits that aren’t fully explored. Still the good parts vastly outweigh the bad, and Date A Live remains fun, forward moving, action packed, funny, and really cute. This is a solid first season, and things will only get better as we head into the second, but next week we’ll instead take some time to examine the opening and ending themes of the series, so stay tuned for that!
- Shido’s three-way date is that classic romantic comedy beat, and it’s done quite well here.
- Origami’s apple feeding scene is just as good in the sub as it was in the dub. Her thirsty nature coupled with the deadpan expression just works.
- I didn’t talk about it but Kurumi’s time based powers are honestly some of the most intuitive take on that power-set I’ve seen in all my years of anime. It is really damn fucking cool.
- Shido freaking out at the amount of gore and blood after Kurumi’s assault is something I’m glad they added. This guy is at his heart, just a teenager, and Kurumi is the moment where the show ‘gets real’ for the first time.
- Phantom, who is the nominal ‘bad guy’ of the series, is being teased this early, and frankly that’s a great thing. It hasn’t really showed up in the three seasons so far, but I have hopes it will in the fourth. I love it when foreshadowing starts early.
- I’ll get into this in her character dive, but Kurumi is defiantly one of the more digestible types of Yanderes. She’s crazy, but not in the real “oh my god, call the police” way Yuno was from Mirai Yuuki. I’d use the phrase Disney’d, but i think that’s just insulting.
- I also love how Kurumi is kinda just a troll, sometimes. I also like how her ‘earlier self’ shows some hints at being a good person. This character is just so great.
- I’m not a big fan of how the ending themes ping-pong between two songs. I mean just fucking pick one and stick with it, then maybe it would have some good animation to go with the songs.
- Kotori’s spirit form and weapon are really awesome. A giant flaming axe that turns into a giant cannon? I’m all for that, but Kotori is rarely in her spirit form, so that kinda sucks.
- Oh, and that battle mania that Kotori shows in her first fight? Never shows up again so far in the anime. Really weird that it is even in here, but that’s a recurring thing with the series.
- The bathing suit competition was a great bit of fanservice. Anime makes one piece swimsuits just fucking work, especially when they hug the tummy. Love it.
- Yoshino is kinda under-used after her introduction, which is a bummer, though Yoshinon kiss-blocking Tohka at the end was a great way to end the series.