To Love Ru Season 1 Review

The name of this series, which is based on a manga written by Saki Hasemi and drawn by Black Cat creator Kentaro Yabuki, is a pun based on the similar ways love and trouble sound when spoken with Japanese syllables and is meant to be representative of the kind of trouble that love brings the main character in the story. That's as subtle as this series ever gets, however. Within the first couple of seconds the opener establishes the tone for the series by showing Lala, the main hottie, cheerily prancing around topless (albeit with strategically-placed hands), and that is only the beginning. What follows in this release are thirteen episodes of unabashedly trashy entertainment which do not even pretend that they are about anything more than rampant fan service and cheap laughs. But sometimes that approach works, and this is one of those cases.

Appreciating the merits of this one does require wading through a lot of faults, however. To call To Love-Ru derivative might be an understatement; its content is, essentially, a conglomeration of structures and gimmicks common to male-oriented romantic comedies put out over the past three decades. An unassuming but good-hearted guy has a gorgeous alien princess fall in love with him and seek to wed him? Yeah, that's never been done more than, oh, about a thousand times before, and this one is not any fresher a variation than any previous iteration. (The most unfortunate legacy of Urusei Yatsura lives on!) Girl first appears in the guy's tub while he's taking a bath? Been there, done that. Despite having a difficult time staying cool around women, guy gets practically swarmed by them? That, too, is also trite, although at least Rito does not get nosebleeds. Unfortunate circumstances constantly put guy in a position to accidentally grope his love interest or bury his face in a girl's crotch? Yeah, you could name about any romantic comedy of the past decade. Hot nurse who wears fantastically school-inappropriate clothing? That's practically a uniform requirement for schools in Japan, isn't it? Haughty Queen of the School type who feels threatened by the guy's woman? See Ah! My Goddess. Character who changes gender in certain stressful situations? See Ranma , although this is a more extreme case. And so on and so forth. Little of what the series has done so far has even a shred of originality to it. And can we ever get a male lead in one of these who is bold enough to take advantage when a sexy, naked girl keeps crawling into his bed at night?

So what makes something like this actually watchable? Despite its many flaws, it is often quite funny in those little moments where it steps beyond normal anime romantic comedy schlock. The otherwise-weak first episode shows some of the series' comedic potential by keeping Rito from confessing to Haruna on one occasion because he gets trampled by a random herd of elephants - in the middle of a Japanese city, no less. It takes bolder steps forward in the second episode with Zastin, the armored guy, who spent the first episode looking like he was going to be the irritating Overprotective Guy stereotype but instead, shockingly, starts showing great comic timing; one later scene involving something going awry for him during an apparently-serious fight will make almost anyone giggle despite themselves. A later scene involving Lala's cooking ingredients getting out of hand is a hoot, as are most of the bizarre suitors (especially the Rocketman-type alien and his problems with a certain dog) and many of Rito's fantasies. And when Lala's immensely powerful father finally makes an appearance in episode 13 - well, that is a surprise that should not be spoiled, but it will either make you sputter or roll your eyes. The series even has the savvy to play Rito's impossibly good-natured side up for laughs at one point.

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