Alien princess Lala Satalin Deviluke runs away from her marriage proposals and ends up on Earth, where she ends up staying with a high school boy named Yuuki Rito after literally dropping into his bathtub. Shortly after her arrival, they're assailed by two guys dressed in black, but Lala's invention saves the two of them from certain capture.
The next day, Rito tries to confess his feelings for his long-time crush Sairenji Haruna, but his words fall on Lala's ears instead! She accepts his feelings and tells him they're now engaged right in front of Haruna! And with this, Rito's life takes a very strange turn.
Stig: I blame Motto To Love-Ru for this. Because after I watched that, I got it into my head that, you know...maaaybe the TV series would improve after a rather rocky start. It wouldn't be unheard of either. ToraDora for instance didn't leave the best of first impressions, but improved by leaps and bounds once the contrived setup was established. Rest assured, though, this is NOT the case with the original To Love-Ru series, which just bombs like you wouldn't believe once the initial setup episodes are done.
Tim: Why are Shonen Jump's action series so hard to pull off in anime? I mean occasionally you get a good conversion (Dragon Ball, One Piece, YuYu Hakusho), but for the most part they're jam-packed with padding, terrible filler, and some of the lowest-budget animation Shuiesha could farm out to. But as bad as Shonen Jump action shows are treated, their romantic comedies tend to fare much worse. Like Ichigo 100%, which took a 160+ chapter manga and made..26 11-minute episodes out of it. Or I''s, which was blessed with an ill-received OAV before finally getting one that did justice to the source material 3 years later�which still condensed a manga that ran for over 100 chapters into a combined runtime of 180 minutes.
Sadly, the To Love-Ru anime is no different from the other Shonen Jump anime adaption flunkies. It takes a cute manga and adds in some of the most dross filler in anime period. We're not even going to bother talking about the cast, because the paper they drew the sketches of these characters on has more depth than 90% of the cast. Aside from maybe chief heroine Lala, who's cute, likable, but a little grating at times, the only decent characters are Rito's little sister, the calm and supporting Mikan, and busty, alien school nurse Ryouko Mikado, the only other character with a functional brain. (Though you might be tempted to question that, since she is the one who tasked two high-schoolers with running a huge inn... while in the middle of their school year?) And of course, we'd be remiss to leave out the principal of everyone's school, whom we kept wondering why he was allowed to keep his job. Or even walk around free to randomly sexually assault girls, which he does in almost every single one of his appearances.
In our original review, we talked about how the show was just kind of "average". Well, as it turns out, watching To Love-Ru is kind of like digging a giant hole in the ground with just a shovel; the further you go in, the harder it is to complete. Just when we thought the show couldn't top the debut of Nazi Yui in episode 8, it somehow went further downwards with episodes about absurdly entitled (and VERY "unofficial") idol managers, dinosaurs and amazon tribes in the center of the Earth(!), an alien inn, and a lame, speech-ridden two episode finale. That's right, they made the SEASON ENDING a tedious, irrelevant two-episode filler arc that amounts to absolutely nothing, and that's barely even the tip of the dread-filled iceberg. In the rare time the anime actually adapts something from the manga, they add 10-12 minutes of filler, like the haunted building episode. Remember that episode? A couple of the students go into a haunted building, only to find out that homeless aliens were behind the whole thing? Well, apparently, so did the creators of the anime, and at least one of them thought it needed more cross-dressing.
To coin from our original review of the director's thought process:
Director: Hmm, this doesn't seem long enough.
Bleh! Give us the 7 minute episode format from Motto To Love-Ru any day. This is a thought that had to be shared by more than the two of us, since that's the setup Motto went with. (The Darkness TV series does half-hour episodes too, but at least it's based off a monthly series, and there's barely any filler.)
Even good art and animation couldn't save To Love-Ru's sorry ass. Well maybe it could have, if it had good art and animation. The characters might look faithful to Kentaro Yabuki's gorgeous manga illustrations in small screenshots, but in motion they flow terribly, and the backgrounds are often completely generic. The music follows suit, with lousy synth music and mediocre at best themes that open/end every episode.
Stig: And some of the filler plots... may I tempt you with an episode about Pregnant Space Kitty Assassin? How about an episode where Rito's backstabbing asshole friend Saruyama lives out some kind of stupid samurai comedy thing due to repeatedly being bashed over the head by one of Lala's inventions? Or how about a Magical Girl Kyoko special where she runs around fighting some guy who gives people afros? It's... actually quite rare to see a show fail so spectacularly in comedy that it leaves me WANTING to see it resort to lame male abuse instead. How do you DO that?! How do you make me WANT to watch one of my most grievous pet peeves in anime instead of what it has to offer?
Tim: At first glance, the To Love-Ru anime is just okay, maybe inferior to the manga at worst. It's only when you go past the first 8 or so episodes that you see what a wretched, poorly paced, bland-looking, unfunny, empty mess of a series it really is. It's a watered down Urusei Yatsura for the 21st century, with nary a hair of the brilliant timing and whimsical fun that series has. Go watch that instead of wasting time with this abortive adaptation of the charming (though guilty pleasure of a) manga.
Recommended Audience: In addition to fan service and some topless shots/partial nudity, the series also pulls out suggestive themes and the occasional juvenile comedic hi-jinx that have become staples in high school comedy anime. For teenagers and up only.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (26/26)
To Love-Ru © 2008 Saki Hasemi / Kentaro Yabuki / Shuiesha / To Love Ru Production Committee
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