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To Love-Ru: Collection 1
Every once in a while you come across a show so full of fan-service that it borders excessive. In some cases it works, and in others it fails miserably. I dare say that To Loveru utilizes these elements with great success. Sure, nearly every scene is full of panty shots, cleavage, naked boobs, and what have you, but the outlandish, slapstick sense of humor makes the reaction to each of these hilarious.
Originally this show began as a manga back in 2006. It was written by Saki Hasemi and featured artwork by Kentaro Yabuki, who worked on Black Cat. The franchise was later turned into an anime in 2008 and since then it has received a couple video games and even an OVA release in Japan. I think that speaks to the popularity of the title overseas, so it stands to reason that it should be just as successful here, right? After checking out the first 13 episodes of the show I can honestly say that it's highly entertaining, but it's something that fans of the harem-comedy genre will embrace more than others.
The show centers around the life of a high school student named Yuuki, who happens to be about as unassuming as they come. He is your average every day teenager who dreams of girls, hangs with his friends, goes to school and, well, not much else. In To Loveru's opening moments we see him agonizing over talking to some girl named Haruna. It would appear that he has a massive crush on her, but just can't seem to muster up the courage to actually strike up a conversation. The problem is any time he actually does get the gal to do something about it an unseen object has the misfortune of striking him in the head without fail. In the first episode of this show he doesn't get hit on the head, but rather a UFO crashes down right at his feet!
You would think that a person would take these incidents as a hint, but Yuuki is rather single-minded. Rather than be bewildered about almost dying from a crashing UFO he soaked in the tub that night and imagined Haruna in a bikini. It was at that very moment that his bathtub exploded and left him cupping a pair of large breasts that belonged to a very cute, very naked alien princess. This single act changed Yuuki's life forever.
The girl's name is Lala and she's from a race of people known as the Deviluke. As luck would have it the grabbing of breasts, such as Yuuki did, is part of the proposal ceremony. Soon enough Yuuki finds himself with a galactic misunderstanding as he's accidentally betrothed to Lala. Making matters worse is the fact that Lala's idiot brother has threatened Yuuki with the fate of the Earth on his shoulders if he tries to back out of the relationship. All poor Yuuki wanted was to be with Haruna, but now with a sultry and well-proportioned alien princess at his side that will undoubtedly be a little more challenging.
If you've seen any harem-comedy then I'm sure you probably already have some idea how the show goes. As the episodes progress things become more complicated for Yuuki with regards to relationships. Some of the characters fit stereotypes, but I dare say that Lala grabs the most attention. She's not ashamed to show her naked body, she's boisterous, curious, and almost always cheerful. This contrasts Yuuki's brooding, reserved, and often depressed nature, but the two play off each other quite nicely.
Things get more complicated and dangerous for Yuuki as the show progresses. Misunderstandings continue to happen as he winds up in one awkward situation after another (usually something Lala does to embarrass him, like transporting them both naked into the girl's locker room where Haruna happens to be!). What really sells the comedy here is Yuuki's overreaction to absolutely everything that happens around him. He's constantly blushing, freaking out, or blowing up in each episode. Granted many of these incidents occur due to one of Lala's inventions going haywire.
There are so many reasons To Loveru is a success. Sure it doesn't completely reinvent the harem-comedy wheel, but it's a charmer through and through. The gratuitous amount of fan service gets a little silly at times, but the brand of humor, storylines, and characters more than make up for it. If you appreciate the genre then this release is a must have. Highly Recommended!
To Loveru 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 Loveru 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 first release of To Loveru.
To Loveru is quite the charmer. It's unrelentingly funny throughout these 13 episodes and it has oen of the best, bubbliest personalities I've seen in anime for quite some time. There's a lot of potential here and it's easily the best harem-comedy to come along in ages. With that being said some of the fan-service elements are over-the-top and some characters are rather stereotypical, but despite these flaws this is a highly recommended series. Bring on the next installment!