Love After World Domination
It's love at first sight when Fudo Aikawa, leader of the Gelato 5 superheroes, meets Reaper Princess (Desumi Magahara), one of the chief lieutenants of the evil Secret Society Gekko, and after some slight hesitation she falls for him too; he admires her beauty, while she admires his ability to absorb her punches. How can this love work?
I gotta say that the simple-yet-outrageous premise of this show seemed exactly like an idea that might be pitched to a producer of American sitcoms (in the U.S., we call this "high concept"). Of course, it only works with a profound lack of awareness in its cast, but don't worry, they HAVE that. (I'll get more blunt about this later.) So how could things be made MORE unimaginative? Well...our hypothetical pitchman might say something to the producer along the lines of, "Hey, we'll make the heroes like the Power Rangers! EVERYONE loves the Power Rangers!" But the truth is, some folks don't like the Power Rangers AT ALL (raising my hand here), and think that even the CONCEPT of the Power Rangers is unworthy of anything but the most biting satire (ahem...Level E). So I admit I began watching this show with a few strikes against it in my mind.
It should be noted that Fudo and Desumi's "dates" usually occur while their respective teams are battling each other; they just sneak away during the action. They also betray their own comrades to create opportunities to see each other. So Fudo, in particular, would not seem the most honorable hero around (I guess I’ll have to give Desumi a pass; members of evil Secret Societies are held to a lower standard), but Fudo's placement of Love over Honor seems to be excused here on the grounds of his good (i.e., EXTREMELY simple) nature, the purity of his love, and the fact that the battles are obviously not meant to be taken seriously anyway.
To demonstrate that latter point: if EITHER side seriously wanted to win, it would be easy enough to discover the "street" identities of their opponents; early on, Fudo discovers Reaper Princess' real name, AND even her personal habits, from her social media accounts. We even see Gekko members sporting personal accessories "branded" with their skull motif while shopping, etc. For a "secret society", Gekko seems awfully Public Domain. (By the way, compounding the problem, at least one person on EACH team knows that Fudo and Desumi are a couple.)
Oh, and getting back to Fudo and Desumi's "dates", you might wonder why their comrades don't miss them when they sneak off together. The answer seems to be that EVERYONE here is PROFOUNDLY stupid, on BOTH sides. I'd suggest simply accepting that, and just roll with it; you'll feel better when watching this show if you do.
It's Cast Intro Time:
Fudo (Red Gelato) can be summarized by two things: the earnestness of his infatuation with Desumi, and his obsession with strength training. Beyond that, there's not much.
The other Gelato 5 members get mostly short shrift, at least in this first outing. They are:
Hayato Ojino (Blue Gelato) is a "pretty boy" type who naturally gets the attention of ladies- but if they DON'T offer him attention, he's subject to chase them.
Misaki Jinuji (Yellow Gelato) seems to be interested in attracting some male attention. You'd think that she and Blue would be a natural pair, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
Daigo Todoroki (Green Gelato) seems mainly concerned with rules and, even MORE so, protecting his own image. We actually get a little of his background, but only because it has a long-standing personal connection with one member of our main couple.
Haru Arisugawa (Pink Gelato) is the youngest, maybe middle school age; the story does find a particular role/function for her.
So let's next go to the Opposing Team. Gekko is structured as follows: the footsoldiers are organized in squads, each under a Princess (from the "Princess Series"); each Princess is subordinate to a Monster; and the Monsters all report to Gekko's leader, Bosslar. There's some eccentric design and naming involved with the Princesses and Monsters (as I'll point out later, I wish this had been expanded on more than it is), though my favorite Gekko Princess was Beast Princess (Kiki Majima); she's as stupid as any of them, but at least she's dedicated, albeit EXTREMELY hotheaded. (While there might be a temptation to "ship" OTHER Gekko Princesses with Gelato members, for the most part the Princesses already have crushes on members of their OWN team.)
I really liked Desumi's character design, BUT her Reaper Princess costume...well...in its general appearance, PARTICULARLY the baggy "ears" (or are they horns?) on its cowl, looks like something thrown together by an inexperienced cosplayer with no fashion sense, more designed to inspire ridicule from her opponents than terror. (I'm sure this unfortunate costume was all Desumi's idea, and the manga artist had NOTHING to do with it.)
The Gekko skull motif, in general, seems "inspired by" (stolen from?) the bad-film "classic" superhero-versus-monsters film Infra-Man. (Mystery Science Theater 3000, for one of its seasons, went to the same fount of costume inspiration.) And THAT brings me to the main problem I have with LAWD; it's way too tame. For Infra-Man was manic lunacy from start to finish, but LAWD, despite having very similar trappings, seems WAY too restrained; the Fudo/Desumi romance, in particular, was disappointingly conventional (at least after they actually fell in love). LAWD, as I feared, mostly stayed within the constraints we'd expect in an American sitcom, though in fairness the last two episodes DO loosen the iron grip on the reins a bit (and I found them MUCH more fun, for that.)
I'd also note that Desumi's sister might be right; love makes you weak. As I said, only Beast Princess, who DOESN'T have a crush, seems to have much enthusiasm on EITHER side.
The Recs include one Bradley reviewed, as well as the most relevant episodes (Power Rangers spoof) of Level E. We are AVOIDING recommending the Nana Rangers from Seven of Seven, out of mercy to the viewer.
I've rarely criticized a show for not being crazy ENOUGH, but there it is. The lack of background development for several of the Gelato 5 members is another problem; maybe with Fudo and Desumi now comfortable with each other, they'll be able to do better on this in a subsequent season. To create a bizarre, colorful cast of characters and then to focus almost exclusively on two of them - who happen to be involved in a by-the-numbers romance - kind of disappointed me. And while some of the jokes work just fine, there were some missed opportunities as well. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: We've got a beach (swimsuit) episode for mild fanservice, and of course there's some slapstick violence. We'll go PG-13 to be safe.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Love After World Domination © 2022 Hiroshi Noda, Takuhiro Wakamatsu / KODANSHA / Koiseka Production Committee
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