Some shows are just better because of fan-service. It doesn't happen that often, and quite frankly this kind of attention ruins more shows than it helps, but it takes a certain something to make a series click. When I saw To Love-Ru a little while back I was thoroughly pleased. The particular brand of humor for this series was light and bubbly and the show was chockfull of everything fan-service fanatics crave. Despite being over-the-top at almost every instant To Love-Ru used charm and personality to impress.
Sure this show is packed with panty shots, cleavage, nudity, and nearly every other exploitation of the female form, but it also doles out the laughs with a great sense of humor. It's almost like having your cake and eating it too, except here the cake is a boob and eating it would just be...well...just wrong somehow, but I digress.
The series began as a manga back in 2006 and it all came from the minds of Saki Hasemi and Kentaro Yabuki. Two years later in 2008 it became a 26 episode animated show and eventually became popular enough for some video games and an OVA release. The first collection of 13 episodes was very entertaining and I had a great time with it. Unfortunately To Love-Ru proved itself to be a show that was almost exclusive to fans of the harem-comedy genre. Those without an appreciation for that particular brand of humor probably would find themselves bored with the show.
To Love-Ru follows the life of an average, every day high school student named Rito Yuuki. He was never very lucky with girls but that all changes when an alien crash lands in his tub and he accidentally proposes to her by grabbing her breasts. Unfortunately for Rito this alien girl, Lala, happens to be princess to the Deviluke people and she takes quite the liking to him. She considers their engagement serious and upon this, hilarity ensues. The first half of the show took this premise which landed in the first episode and ran with it right to the thirteenth. At the end of the installment Rito found himself confronted by none other than King Deviluke himself for the right to become the top man in the universe.
The second collection picks up with Rito training for his inevitable confrontation with Lala's father. That particular conflict is saved for the ending of the show, but in between there's all kinds of stuff fans of the first volume should expect. Outlandish alien contraptions put Rito's life (and sanity) on the line, there are plenty of awkward situations that Rito finds himself in, and the show uses various harem-comedy staples to their fullest extent. What else can you say when the show heads to an amusement park, hot spring, and a cultural festival? I swear it seems like these kinds of episodes are absolute musts that publishers agree to include when producing a show.
Despite the somewhat familiar territory what's here is extremely good. Rito's relationship with Haruna grows, Lala continues to fawn over him, and all the while new females are being introduced to throw themselves at him for inexplicable reasons. All while this is going on Rito comes ever closer to his inevitable confrontation and wedding day. There's a certain sense of impending doom that looms over the kid, but you can't help feel envious in some respects. Such is a harem-comedy I suppose.
All around To Love-Ru is a charmer and packed with plenty of laughs. The characters are bubbly and memorable, the trappings of the show are endearing enough, and the writing is solid even though the show plays it safe most of the time. If you enjoyed the first half then you'll love the second. However, if you haven't seen the show at all then all you need to ask yourself is if you appreciate the harem-comedy genre. If you answered "yes" then this is a series that will grab your attention from the first episode and keep you locked in its large-breasted embrace until the final episode. Highly Recommended!
To Love-Ru hits DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The show is uncompromisingly colorful with a vivid palette, smooth animation, and an all around picture quality that is quite solid. There's little to no grain and throughout the image is pretty crisp and clean. Some blocking appears at times and there are elements of interlacing at others, but neither flaw is really enough to detract from the attractiveness of this show.
Much like other Sentai Filmworks releases To Love-Ru comes with Japanese 2.0 stereo as its one and only source of audio output. The quality is good for what it is and it meets expectations of a shot of this nature. The dialogue and sound effects are relatively flat, and though a 5.1 presentation would have gone a long way to improve some scenes, what's here is serviceable. Optional English subtitles are included just in case you were wondering.
Clean animations and some trailers are all you're going to find on the second release of To Love-Ru.
To Love-Ru is quite the charmer. It's unrelentingly funny from star to finish and even the mediocre episodes offer up plenty of chuckles. This volume does play things somewhat stereotypically, but there's enough energy to keep it from feeling too generic. Sure this series may be a guilty pleasure from start to finish, but sometimes that's what you're looking for. To Love-Ru doesn't reinvent the wheel and it doesn't dethrone the classics. The show stands out for its merits and there are plenty of things to love.
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