To Love Ru Collection 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, March 11, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2010
While the fate of the world will surely be at stake eventually, right now it's all about the beach, hot springs and naked living.
What They Say
As if being accidentally engaged to a demon-like alien princess while attending high school and still making points with the girl he REALLY likes wasn't enough to keep Rito on the edge of insanity, he's now stuck with an more dangerous challenge: living up to the expectations of Lala's devil-like father, King Deviluke! And if that's not bad enough, the girl Run (aka, sometimes, the guy Ren) decides to make her move on Rito, the school is overflowing with even more not-so-well disguised ghosts and aliens (some of whom need an education on how to emphasize their feminine side,) SOMEBODY lets word slip that Lala is actually an alien princess, and to cap it all off there's a trip to the waterpark PLUS the obligatory Hot Springs episode! Love isn't a battlefield' it's the War of the Worlds.
The audio presentation of this release is a pretty standard monolingual release with the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. To Love Ru has a good bouncy mix to it with its music and the way the dialogue plays out as there's a lot of frenetic energy at times. The mix here captures that well as the characters are outgoing and feel it. There's a good bit of directionality throughout it with the way the characters bounce back and forth – or get thrown about – and this mix does a good job with it. Dialogue has some spot on placement and depth in key scenes and everything comes across clean and clear throughout.
Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The two disc set has thirteen episodes across it in a six/seven format. To Love Ru has a very bright and clean look to it with colors that pop well off the screen. Costumes are particularly good here, whether they're school uniforms or the things that Lala wears when she comes up with new costumes or her usual attire. Backgrounds have a good real world feel throughout but without a huge amount of detail. They're not minimal though which is good as the extra detail gives it more life. Backgrounds maintain a solid feel outside of a few scenes that have some noticeable noise and there's only a few hints of line noise during a couple of panning sequences.
The first cover was one that felt busy even though it wasn't just because of the detail and the combination of colors. The second volume has a similar feel because of the same thing though it has four characters instead of the three of the first, made up of the secondary cast which looks a bit softer overall. The cover has a good black framing which makes the various pinks stand out all the more, which would normally be a problem, but the combination of the two here looks really good. The character artwork is certainly appealing with its bright vivid colors and the looks of the characters and they do a good job of giving the logo a creative design as well as making clear how much is on this volume. The back cover follows the same layout with the framing while bringing in one piece of character artwork that looks really nice. There’s a lot of shots from the show strewn about here that showcase all different sides of it, but you see more of the fanservice than anything else. The summary provides the usual comical look at the premise of the show while the rest is given over to the production credits and a clean accurate technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for To Love Ru are cute enough as they take a lot of familiar elements from the cover with the designs and colors. The first menu has Darkness as its character artwork while the second has Haruna and Lala in wedding dresses, both of which are also found on the silkscreening on the DVD itself. The layout is simple and pared down with just the top level individual episode access and a special features section, which is admittedly useless on the first volume as the special features are the credits and trailers for other show. The menus have a good upbeat bit of vocal music to it and the colors are filled with the pinks, purples and blacks that make up the shows’ theme in general. Simple but effective is the word of the day here as it sets the mood well. What little submenu access needs to be done is quick and problem free.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To Love Ru was an interesting show in its first half as it really sold me on the open fanservice and the way it was telling a tamed down version of Urusei Yatsura in a way. All the basics were there with the alien princess who gets engaged to an unlikely guy who has the hots for another girl that in turn likes him a lot but is put off by this new up front relationship. The cast is smaller and the fanservice is a lot more blatant (and more appealing because of the animation) but at its core there are a lot of similarities, especially at the end of this series where everything hinges on a game with the alien invaders by the unlikely hero. Add in that the series ends like the closing of a first chapter and it really gives this a stronger feeling than I would have expected.
The second thirteen episodes do however feel a bit weaker than the first in a couple of ways, one of the biggest being an episode that delves into a completely unrelated side gag story that I suspect comes from something else within the manga. It essentially does the whole show within a show gag for 99.95% of the episode with none of the characters in it. There can be fun ones like that but this one falls flat completely as it deals with the Magical Kyouko character who is dealing with General Mojak, a guy trying to take over the world by putting unfashionable afros on everyone's head. Add in a fire chief who wants Kyouko to spread her explosive flames all over him and it's weird and more importantly completely unfunny.
This is the worst that the set gets and thankfully there's a lot of fun material to be had here in that whole brain candy sense. The only other episode that left a negative impression with me is the one that had Saruyama in a dream state of sorts that involved him imagining himself in a period drama that goes terribly awry. It has some great visuals, especially with the filter used, but it's so steeped in character history that some of the humor can be lost and there's some repetition brought into it as well which makes it annoying to watch. Even the episode that had Saruyama being sought after by a cat-woman (more cat than woman) who just had kittens as a mate was more fun and interesting than this.
Most of the episodes deal with fun things, such as the cat-woman one where Saruyama works hard to find a girlfriend to get out of that sticky situation. There's a school festival episode that involves the class making an animal cafe that serves okonomiya that involves all sorts of sexy costumes and the importance of working together for things. Predictable but the point of To Love Ru is about the fanservice and silliness. This is also very apparent in the big fanservice episodes with the time at the pool and the search for a close hot spring. The pool has lots of swimsuits and scantily clad moments where it really does seem like the world revolves around Rito as all these women are drawn to him. The hot spring episode is very cute as it has Lala digging deep into the Earth with everyone in tow to discover the best hot spring they can, all while passing by numerous amazing treasures. Both go for the skin in a blatant and fun way, and it's because they do it in that way that you can laugh and enjoy it for what it is, nipples and all.
One of the best episodes that's not pure fanservice related involves Lala coming down with an alien flu that alters her personality on a daily basis. The first part is priceless as she becomes completely shy and opposite of herself and Rito finds that surprisingly enticing. A few other changes are thrown into the mix but the best is when she becomes completely supportive of Rito becoming the greatest ever and helping him to conquer Earth so he can begin that journey. With a full on military getup on her, she designs a cadre of androids to do the job. The best is when all of Rito's friends decide to throw in with Lala on this for their own sweet holdings when the conquering is all said and done with.
Like any show of this nature, it does have to spend at least the last one or two episodes dealing with something bigger than the usual silliness and fun. For To Love Ru, it's the return of Lala's father as he's come to conquer the world in an open and outright fashion. But he does make it something that Earthlings can fight back with and he assigns Rito to the job of challenging. The challenge is simple in that when they start the game he has to make it to where Lala's father is within a certain period of time. With all the stops pulled out by him, Rito has quite the challenge ahead of him with the fate of the world at stake. It's the expected big kind of plot you'd expect for the end of the show but they do it well enough so that it's fun and we see the growth and changes of the core characters that has come from the show so far.
At the end of To Love Ru I find myself thinking very positively about it overall and hoping that Sentai Filmworks will be able to acquire the OVAs when all six are finally released. While for the most part it doesn't really rise above itself that much when it comes to being all about the fanservice and situational comedy that stems from it, it executes it so well and the characters are fun enough that it all works together really well. The core trio is what works the best and all three of them are fun to watch, though Haruna won me over as my favorite of all of them, both because of her design and personality but also because of her position where she is aware of things but still doesn't let go and wants to try and find a way. I didn't go into the show with high expectations but I ended up enjoying it for its simplicity and fun as well as lots of fanservice. It's a big, pure guilty pleasure.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: To Love Ru