People on this blog need no introduction to this series. I’ve discussed all of the previous three seasons and The Summer of Love II was all about it! But that was then and this is now, and now we have a brand new season! Does it hold up? Is it an upgrade from the decent but ‘okay’ third outing? Well after the cut let’s take a look at Date A Live IV and find out!
When we last look at the series, I made my disappointment at the third season clear. While I don’t think it was out and out bad, it was a considerable step down from what had been done before. Most of that falls onto the studio. J.C staff bit off a bit more they could chew with that season of anime, and DaL was where things came up short. The animation was just…not good which was a shame because the events of that season are important for putting to bed one of the bigger plot lines of the series.
That said, as is fitting for Date A Live, a new season means a new studio adapting it. This time the anime has been given to Geektoys and thankfully this is a very obvious step up. Like with High School DxD and its fourth outing, DaL undergoes a noticeable new art-style that separates it from the previous incarnations. And like with DxD the art style has its fair share of supporters of detractors. I was a big fan of the change, finding it (like with DxD) to be more in line with the light novel, and also giving the show it’s own unique identity. Not everyone will feel the same way, and god knows if it’ll stick around, but I do place this animation at least on the same level of season 1 in terms of its quality.
In regards to the story, DaL strikes a balance between having the same old stuff and moving the story forward. This season introduces the final two girls of the cast, with the mangaka Nia Honjou and the mysterious and long-haired Mukuro Hoshimiya. Out of the two, it is Nia who ends up making the most splash, being an older woman and having a personality that feels new and fresh. The gang’s attempt to make her fall for Shido and then beat her in manga sales was a great way to re-introduce the cast. It just really helps set her apart from the previous characters. The same however cannot be said for Mukuro who, while a great design, falls into the all-too familiar trap of “harem bloat” that all of these shows suffer from. Including Kurumi this brings the total number of spirits to 10 and the strain on getting them all to have moments is noticeable. While it fares a bit better in the Nia arc, by the time Mukuro rolls around there is very little to set her apart from the others.
The latter half of the season turns it attention towards Kurumi, long the fan-favorite of the entire series and star of her own spin-off. It is clear that DaL is slowly coming to its end because most of this story is focused on revealing who she is, her role with the mysterious phantom and her growing attraction to Shido. It’s good stuff and Kurumi has more than earned her fan adoration with both a great design and a personality that feels wholly separate and unique among the cast. And while it is left on a cliffhanger it was good to see that DaL was able to shift from its status quo into new things. This is doubly true for the revelation of who Phantom is, one that will no doubt shock long-time viewers of the series. I already knew who it was, but even I was surprised at how it was done and it kept me wanting to know more. I was also glad to see that a lot of the supporting cast got a few more moments in the spotlight, having taken a backseat in the previous season. The same can be said for series baddie Sir Issac Westcott who finally seems to be getting his shit together and being a real villain the series has needed.
Date A Live IV is a great return to form for the series after a very unbalanced third season. I was honestly shocked that it was getting a fourth instalment after that, but once again this show is the little anime that could, somehow being able to keep going with sky-high popularity. With a fifth season already green-lit for production, Date A Live is now the only ecchi-harem show in the entire genre to go beyond four seasons. Honestly, there is no other show that deserves it more, because while it is forever the ‘B-tier’ of harem, it is hard-ass workhorse that never shies away from what it is and keeps burning bright. It was great to return to this series after so long and if you haven’t given it a look, or want to try out a harem anime, this should at the top of the lists.