Date A Live II Review

This is review number two hundred and eighty five. This anime is part of the Spring 2014 lineup. I guess, as of now, I won’t be able to catch up to any current lineup so I’ll just watch at my own pace. I’m sorry. TPAB is extremely busy. I’ll focus my all on the Spring lineup though and pace myself for my 1000 goal. That’s all that matters now. The anime I’ll be reviewing is the second season of Date A Live. It’s about hot girls and a guy. I remember my review of the first season is really popular so here’s hoping the second season is as good as the first one. Let’s read on.

Story

It’s the second season of Shido’s adventure conquering girls that causes dangerous earthquakes. With a kiss, he can seal their powers. His exploits this time includes some playful twins, a pop idol and a group of sketchy individuals out to kidnap Tohka for reasons involving the end of the world. It sounds like a fun time like last time for our hero Shido.

Taking the Pants Off

I remember Date A Live mostly because it has a lot of pretty girls in it. The story itself is both good and bad. It’s kind of hard to explain. The concept sounds really good with the protagonist dating girls so he can seal their powers with a kiss. It pokes fun of visual novels with all the stupid choices you have to make to get a girl to like you. The story is really not that good though. While there is structure, it was a thinly veiled harem with a hard to take serious plot. Who really gives a sh*t if the girls have some issues and the main character is having a hard time kissing her? It all ends with her being kissed and soon becoming one of those clingy girls who wants to get in his pants. The first season of Date A Live had a lot of interesting concepts but it was executed in poor fashion. The formulaic and predictable approach to the show made the interesting concepts a bit unremarkable. As a reviewer, I find it hard to be impartial with show. It was walking the fine line of great to mediocrity to bad. It had its good moments but it also has some really glaring flaws. I still remember the two days I spent making sure my review of the first season was fair. If it wasn’t for the crisp visuals and the really really really sexy girls then I never would’ve finished the show. I guess that is Date A Live in a nutshell. In spite of it all, it’s really just a harem show about beautiful girls in beautiful outfits looking pretty all the time. When I heard of a second season, I just gave a sigh and then just finished the damn thing quickly. It’s a good thing that it’s only ten episodes long. It doesn’t matter anyways because I was just in it to gawk at the new pretty girls in this show. In the second season, it has twins. TWINS!!!

Alright, so let’s recap the first season. You’ll need a refresher of it because the second season moved the story along without reminding us of the events in the last season. I watched it blindly and I was really lost. I still remember some stuff about it but the anime moved in its own pace without any intention of helping viewers remember what it’s about. I was confused watching the first few episodes of the show because I was lacking context. It’s as if the anime expects you to remember every small detail it had. I don’t do that. There’s no way I can especially with the amount I am watching. So, anyways, the first season was about Shido Itsuka who was given a task to date some girls. They are called “Spirits” and they cause spatial quakes that plague Japan. There is a task force to combat these super powered girls but Shido’s little sister has another plan. Shido will get the Spirits to like him and the seal their powers with a kiss. In the first season, he encountered three spirits. The first one is Tohka Yatogami who is a really serious person that softened up after falling in love with Shido. Next is Yoshino who controls ice. She is very timid and her arc is mostly about Shido helping her from the task force called AST. Lastly, there is Kurumi Tokisaki. She’s the yandere of the group that is crazy as f*ck. I believe her arc ended with her fighting Shido’s little sister who is also a Spirit. All the spirits that Shido conquered eventually shacks up with him so he’ll be on standby if they ever go berserk again. The first season ended on a happy note by the time the last episode rolled.

And here we are. A second season of Date A Live. Much like the first season, the setup is still the same. Shido will meet some new spirits, he dates her and then conflict arises that will conclude with a kiss. As I said before, the anime has a poor story. It has some great concepts because it is adapted from a light novel but the strong reliance on the harem and ecchi elements of the show will effectively cancel out anything intriguing story wise. Let’s be fair, I think a lot of the contents in the story are really good. They were just present in an unremarkable way that makes you regret ever investing time in it. One good example is the character development of Origami Tobiichi. She is a very selfish person who would take on the rest of the world in a brutal manner just so she can do right by the man she loves. Her strong emotions drive her into being somewhat villainous and she doesn’t care as long as Shido is happy and safe. You’d think the anime will build up on such a wonderful concept but then they devolve the character into comic relief and have her do things completely counterproductive of the compelling character we’ve seen before. Basically, the show will just let her sex it up as oppose to build the story some more. Date A Live is like this. Intriguing premises with shallow exposition and empty promises that dare wastes its potential for something as stupid as this:

As a reviewer, I am sickened by the way it just doesn’t do anything remarkable despite having every opportunity to do so. I am pissed at the way it sticks to cliché and the predictable when it has the chance to really wow its audience. Is the light novel really as shallow as this show? It just crawls under my skin and it irritates me when I promise myself I’d be impartial all the way. As a reviewer, I hate this show. As a pervert who can appreciate pretty faces when he sees it, I absolutely love this show. I also love the pan ups the show has. I love to screen cap every pan up, open my photoshop and just paste them together. I’m not proud of this but I do love seeing a lot of this in the show:

Date A Live is for the shameless idiots who are simply attracted by beautiful characters despite the blatant shallowness of the show. It’s like a Kpop video. I don’t listen to the song and I believe every music video was designed to be a shameless eye candy. If you are a shameless idiot like me who loved the show and secretly loathe it or hated the show but secretly loves it, then you don’t may want to try the second season. It’s a decent harem show despite the pretentious attempt at a bad story.

The second season has three plot points in it. All of them involve a girl waiting to be perved and Shido following her route so he can kiss her. The first one is about the TWINS!!! I love twins in my anime. This was triggered by watching PA Works’ Another. Anyways, Shido and his class took a trip to a remote island. Their actual field trip plan was changed at the last minute and it seems that some shady people are interested in Shido and the spirits. That’s not in his mind though because he soon discovers that there are two spirits living in this island. TWINS!!! I’ll type it that way from here on out. Kaguya and Yuzuru Yamai are having an intense duel in this island. Apparently, they were once a singular spirit but they got split. Two personalities emerged and now they are fighting to determine which personality remains once they merge. The other one would simply vanish. The Yamai TWINS!!! has been dueling for a long time and have since entered a tie. It’s now time for the tie breaker and it’s a challenge both are confident they can win. It’s a fight to prove who is the most charming. How do you determine the winner? Shido. The girl who can get Shido to fall for her wins. The plot point soon becomes one massive ecchi show with the TWINS!!! trying to one up each other by doing a bunch of dirty things to Shido. The guy must soon make a decision though or else the Yamai TWINS!!! might become impatient and decide that they don’t need Shido to determine a winner after all then just kill everyone in the island. It sounds like a fun field trip, doesn’t it?

This first plot point is nothing but a massive fan service portion of the show. The TWINS!!! really did nothing but just perv it up. At every opportunity, it was just Shido getting lucky. These are also really pretty girls. Even with the quality of the anime that I downloaded suck, you can still see how much of an awesome eye candy the two girls are. Of course, the story of the TWINS!!! is also pretty decent but the later parts felt a bit forced and I just didn’t really feel right. After doing nothing but flirt with Shido, they suddenly get all serious and it was really stupid. The show is guilty of this all the way from the first season. It presented serious moments that is terribly forced that makes the predictable and cliché elements of the anime come out like a sore thumb. An ecchi show with a very weak story is nothing new though and maybe that’s why it’s easy to forgive Date A Live for all the poor moments it had because it balances out with the positives ones. Still though, the first plot point is just one massive slutfest and I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed watching it all unfold.

The second plot point is about this girl named Miku Izayoi. She is an idol and she hates men. She is attracted to girls. Yeah, she’s one of those. Miku has the power to control other people’s will using her voice. She can also do some damage with them but she mostly uses it to get what she wants. If she likes a girl, a little suggestion can get that prey under her thumb in minutes. Shido now has an interesting task of trying to get Miku to notice her. Miku absolutely hates men so Shido must approach with caution. Miku’s terribly bad and arrogant attitude rubs Shido the wrong way though. Shido decided to give Miku a lesson. He’ll teach her that she doesn’t always get what she wants and she’s going to learn it the hard way. With the school festival coming up, a co-op of ten schools including Shido’s and Miku’s, it was decided that a battle to decide the best school will be the appropriate bitter pill Shido will force Miku to swallow. Shido will prove to Miku that her arrogance is misplaced and she will soon eat her words. This wager is not without its risk though. If Miku’s team wins, it’s agreed that she will obtain all the powers of the spirits Shido has sealed up. With such a heavy outcome on the line, beating a girl that can cheat to get what she wants won’t be an easy task to accomplish.

The whole angle about Miku preferring girls is a really nice one. I personally enjoyed it and I also enjoyed the lengths Shido had to go to make Miku notice her. The setup is pretty good and it’s a shame that the progression was pretty disappointing. The bet between Miku and Shido was rooted on the fact that Shido can only win with the help of others while Miku prefer to shove them away or use them like dolls. That important piece of the story wasn’t properly presented though. The maid café and the eye candies were more of a concern for the plot point than to actually develop the really interesting story. Miku is a great character. She is cunning, evil, arrogant with a touch of a dark past to complete her yet the show did an unremarkable plot about an idol getting what she wants. It was a point A to point B kind of story where it doesn’t really matter how you go to point B as long as you go there. A lot of the important details about Miku are glossed over and most moments felt forced. The show had an interesting climax where Miku went crazy but not properly building up the story to this point really bothers me. If there is one thing I like about this plot point, it’ll be the reappearance of our favorite yandere in a leading role next to Shido. Yes, Kurumi appearing and going all yanderu on the anime made this plot point awesome. It also saved the last plot point because she played a huge part in it as well.

The last plot point is something that was being established since episode one. It’s about this group called the DEM Industries being interested in Shido and the spirits. It consists of a shady guy named Isaac Westcott who lurks in the darkness apparently drawn into Tohka who he considers is “the princess”. Alongside him is the most powerful wizard named Ellen Mathers. Wizards are like those people working in the taskforce AST. They have superb skill to fight against spirits and Ellen is deemed the best of them all. They hatched a plan to kidnap Tohka for reasons unknown to us. The last plot point is just one big battle between Shido and the team against the DEM Industries. After DEM successfully capturing Tohka, Shido is now desperate to reclaim her. He’ll walk the depths of hell just to reach her. He is desperate that he even employed the help our batsh*t crazy yandere to rescue Tohka. DEM originally plans to just take Tohka but unusual events soon also draw them towards Shido’s direction. It seems that whatever they are planning involves both Shido and Tohka. It isn’t revealed in the anime and majority of the elements of this plot point had some massive lose ends. Some cool fights are left unfinished, the evil plan not revealed, and the revelation about Shido is left up in the air. The big reason? All will be revealed in the upcoming Date A Live movie. Stupid as f*ck. This anime is a big movie lure. Now, that’s a first time. I have seen anime hype up a movie but nothing like this. It now feels like the whole point of the second season is to milk the franchise that will build up into a movie. I think that’s why it has only ten episodes and majority of the visual aspects aren’t consistent. The show did do a wonderful job setting the movie up. It laid the ground works splendidly and introduced a large cast that was successfully established to play a big role in the upcoming movie. Those sneaky bastards. There is considerable effort given at the final plot point so I can easily assume that the movie is going to be epic. Just the main idea of the crisp visuals presentation translated to a movie gets me excited. Seeing all those sexy characters in a high quality movie format sounds amazing. Yes. If only some more effort was given to the plot though. If Highschool DxD can do it then Date A Live can do it as well, damn it.

Characters are all pretty one dimensional. Though they might have some interesting background, the anime didn’t really do anything worthwhile with them. They remain eye candy with bland personalities through and through. It’s an Ecchi anime so it’s not surprising especially with the shallow story. Shido is your typical main character. Girls are attracted to him because he’s such a nice guy and he doesn’t really do anything but go with the flow. He mostly just follows orders from his little sister like a dog and some of the things that he does do by himself all feel hollow. They just needed him to be the cool guy standing up to the girl, there is no context beyond that because he’ll revert into the ecchi main character with a harem afterwards. There is something odd going on with him though. His association with the spirits is nothing special but he’s doing some intriguing things in the second season that will make you doubt if he is even human. The way he acts like a clueless idiots when girls fall for him is also something to note at. I always thought that light novels have rich exposition and then you look at Shido then wonder if the original source isn’t just a trashy stupid ecchi book. Shido’s cool guy side is pretty decent but he doesn’t really do anything important in the show besides being the one that pervs it up and save a girl from something. He is a bland character as you’ll ever meet and there’s really nothing wrong with that.

The girls are all pretty one dimensional. They are really just there for eye candy so you can’t expect much from them. They possess some pretty cliché personalities as well. The one thing they all have in common is that they have the hots for Shido. The previous cast didn’t really do much. Yoshino pretty just spread cuteness around, the little sister did nothing as well except sit in a chair and the rest of the cast just followed whatever role they played in the first season. There are a few standouts though. One good example is the three classmates of Shido. It’s the three girls with the last one only saying “lame” when she speaks. Since most of the events of the second season happened in school, we got a chance to see them more. I always find them funny for no reason. They all have one line and they’re all stupid in a special way. Of course, there is also Origami who still holds this bittersweet role. I especially loved her role during the school festival where her undying love once again turned the rest of the world against her only to see Shido happy. It’s a real shame she wasn’t utilized more other than comic relief from time to time. Kurumi is also someone you just got to like. It’s an automatic thing because the girl is freaking insane. I still remember the severed foot from the first season. It was awesome. Kurumi had her moments in this season as well but it appears she has a backstory the anime is intentionally glossing over. I think she’ll play a big role in the movie but we shall see soon enough. Tohka, on the other hand, is someone I find unbearable. I did not remember her being so whiny in the first season. I guess the snobbish arrogant spirit left a bigger impact on me rather than the lovey dovey idiot she became. She’s a permanent fixture in the show so you can’t escape her. I appreciate her being somewhat the “main” girl but I still do not like her character. It’s clingy in an annoying way. I dunno. I don’t like her now. She had her moments as well though especially during the last plot point.

The new spirits also had their moments even if their personalities suck as well. As I said before, Miku is an interesting character. She is attracted to girls and she has the right amount of antagonism to set her apart from the rest. She still has some generic traits to her especially the played out “idol schoolgirl” angle she has going on but Miku made the show interesting. The TWINS!!! are pretty bland though. They’re a couple of bickering siblings who happen to love each other secretly but are too stubborn to say it. They possess the power of air currents so they can conjure storms but they didn’t really do much in the series. As I said, they just let loose some awesome fan service and I bet a lot of people were happy knowing the first few episodes had so much ecchi in it. The DEM characters are all pretty decent. They’re generic and the anime could’ve used them more but there is enough to gather intrigue for the movie. Isaac is the typical arrogant super boss that doesn’t lift a finger but he commands everyone around him. Ellen is the one I like though. She is considered the most powerful wizard and her fights with a bunch of the characters proved just how insanely talented she is. Granted that the show could’ve produced a more awesome fight with an untouchable skilled fighter like her but, again, I think they’re saving it for the movie.

Studio AIC Plus+ actually handled the first season. The second season was handled by a fairly new studio called Production IMS. I think this is their first try at producing an anime. You can tell the quality certainly dipped below the one AIC Plus+ had but it’s no excuse. The director was still the same and the story was still pretty shallow. The idea that the series will continue into a movie is pretty interesting but I personally don’t think it’s worth it. I love the crisp visuals and I’m sure the movie will double that but I can tell the story isn’t going to improve a bit. As much as I am drawn to Kurumi’s backless red gothic Lolita dress, I don’t really see how a movie can be exceptional when the effort given to this season is pretty below par. It’s like they made this one so they can do a big movie. I guess the plan work in away but I still don’t like it. Will I secretly watch the movie so I can screencap some sweet faces of Origami? Maybe. Yeah, I don’t watch a lot of movies. I never had motivation for them. Anyways, the second season possessed all the good and bad things about the first one. This one just have a shorter episode and it felt more forced that it usually is. I think the lack of a refresher episode or just something to get viewers to catch up made the whole thing look forced. They just wanted to get it over with so they can focus all their efforts in the movie. Storywise, Date A Live always had a bad story and I think a lot of people watching it understands that. They are really just here for the girls and the visual experience. On that note, I do have a lot of good things to say about it so let me just dump so more negative stuff here. The story sucks. It’s really bad in a technical way that you feel a bit mad because the show can do better. They can be better than ten forced episodes of a series about dating girls that destroys the world. So many missed potential, my heart weeps.

Sight and Sound

dateAliveII-25

So I just recently found out the show’s character designer is actually a girl. Tsunako designed the characters for Date A Live, and even lead the design for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. It’s another majorly ecchi thing with pretty girls in really beautiful costumes. I also understand why I am now strangely drawn to the characters of Date A Live. The character design doesn’t emphasize the usual ecchi components. Right? The show never bounces any boobs or gets a girl to undress so you can look at her ass. No, the approach is completely different.  Unlike other ecchi characters that boasts big breasts and sexy hips with big asses and plump nipples, Date A Live characters are attractive in a very different way. They are just really pretty girls in well-designed costumes. Sure, they might have some slits and some cleavage but nothing blatant like you’d expect from a show with a healthy growing harem. Tsunako puts the emphasis elsewhere. When I first saw Tohka in the first season, I first noticed the bright colors of her design. Even in Hyperdimension Neptunia, characters have a bright color palette. This is intensified by the crisp visuals I’ve come to love from the series. Tohka has a really beautiful face. It’s well constructed with a fierce expression. You’ll then notice the length of her limbs. Both her arms and the beautiful legs she has. This will then get you to notice the beautiful armor she has on. Notice how the design never explicitly highlights the perverted parts. I think this was on purpose. Tsunako’s approach in Ecchi isn’t on the stuff that men are mostly attracted to. It’s amazing how she got away with it. Even with the sexy AST outfits with the see through clothing, it’s never the boobs or the mound. It’s the sexy curves accompanied by a fair chest outshined by the stunning mecha outfit the characters has on. I look at Kurumi and I am attracted to her wonderfully designed dress with the back exposed and the laces strung about. You can tell Tsunako’s designing video game characters comes out in Date A Live because of the flashy outfits each character has on. Now I understand why they are great eye candy. Tsunako focused on making the characters attractive in another way. We should let more girls design ecchi anime. On that note, we should let dudes design our otome games. I would so die a happy man if that happens.

The animation is inconsistent. I’ll be fair, I downloaded a crappy quality but I do notice the lack of some details on certain scenes especially during the first few episodes. I switched to a higher quality later on but I can still see some short cuts in animation here and there. The faces would change shape during certain scenes and it often throws me off the anime. The overuse of bright lights during certain scenes to compensate for the lack of the visual crispness the series is known for is also a bit jarring. The first season had the smallest details given some good look and you can tell the second season is a bit sloppy. Animation wise, it’s good but nowhere near as good as the first season. The quality did pick right back up though during the last plot point. They wanted to draw you to watch the movie so some effort was certainly given. The fight scenes were held off until the last few episodes and they were pretty fantastic. Flashy camera angles were used and the stunning effects from the first season were re-introduced. The inconsistent quality sucks the enjoyment a lot from the show though. Especially in the first few episodes where you’re waiting for the visual allure to come out and it doesn’t. I think a reason behind this is because Production IMS didn’t quite capture the vision AIC Plus+ planned. This resulted in a bit of a weird experience for people who fell in love with the first season.

The Ecchi elements of the show are nothing special. The eye potential is pretty awesome especially when the girls tease Shido. I especially love Kurumi licking his face. That lucky bastard. There were a couple of naughty scenes involving a girl, Shido and a bed but nothing too indecent. There was also a hot spring moment but again, nothing too explicit. The flirting moments were cool and a bit funny at times as well. I particularly like it though when the show does a close up of a girls face. With the inviting skin color and the intensity of eyes, it’s the best eye candy in the show. The visual quality dropped a bit but the pan up posters is still really awesome. I still have the ones from the first season with Origami in her AST get up. Those damn legs, gawd, why do I like this show?!

The anime’s OP is “Trust in you” by sweet ARMS. They also sung the OP song in the first season so that’s a nice novelty. The song isn’t really that special. It sounds like your generic opening song but I am attracted to the singer’s voice. It’s calm in a weird way that gives the song a very calm pacing. It’s weird. When the chorus hits, you’ll naturally like it because of how well the singer sings the lyrics. The OP sequence introduces all the characters, both new and old, and a short insight on the events of the show especially the one about Shido and Tohka. It’s a decent OP but a bit deceptive because it acts as if the characters are so important in this shallow anime.

The anime’s ED is “Day to Story” by Kaori Sadohara. This is a pretty nice song. I love the slow pacing at the start and the singer certainly sets a romantic mood with her voice. The lyrics are what make this song special though. It’s about a hero trying to go to his love wielding a sword to cut down anything in his path. It’s more romantic in the song though. The ED sequence features Shido holding a sword with generic backgrounds changing one after another. It ends with an eye candy array of all the girls in the show ending with Kurumi of all people. It’s cool despite the lack of a brilliant animation I am itching to find all throughout the show.

Overall Score

5/10 “The show still had great eye candy but a forced story much worse than the first season does affect the experience.”

The first season was good for one thing: the cute girls with their sexy bodies. The second season is pretty much the same but with a lower visual quality. I assure you, it isn’t the same experience. As much as I like seeing Origami half naked, the overall experience is a more lukewarm than the one you got in the first season. If you like harem and ecchi then you should check this one out. If you like shallow stories with pretty girls then this anime is for you. If you saw the first season then it won’t hurt to see this new season. It has its good and bad moments so just take a look yourself if it is worth your time.

Thoughts~

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