When one princess from the planet Deviluke arrives on Earth, she ends up in a marriage pact with your typical mildly wimpy high school student. Naked hilarity ensues!
What They Say
One should always understand other people's customs before making commitments. Unfortunately, Rito Yuki had no idea the planet Develuke even existed when their Princess Lala teleported naked into his bathtub, let alone that touching a girl's breasts is how they propose marriage!
Given that he was in the tub when she appeared, and slippery soap suds being what they are, Rito's now engaged to a beautiful girl with a pointed tail. Worse, various aliens are showing up on missions of varying hostile intent, the girl that Rito really loves is still completely unaware of his feelings, and all of the new customs he's got to learn seem to involve touching a girl's chest! (Okay, maybe he'll get used to that last one, but he's still in high school and a bit intimidated.) Can a nice boy from Japan become the next King of Galaxy A or will he just end up feeling like a boob?
Contains episodes 1-13.
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 cover for To Love Ru feels very busy, even though it isn’t in a lot of ways, simply because of the detail given over to the characters and Lala in particular with her elaborate costume, particularly with her headgear. 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 with all the dark torn clothing. 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 nore 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 Lala as its character artwork while the second has Haruna, 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)
Based on the manga by Saki Hasemi, To Love Ru is a twenty-six episode series that brings an exhibitionist type of alien princess to Earth. The manga series finished its run in 2009, but that was a fair bit after the anime had finished ending so there's going to be differences in the show when it comes to the end. To Love Ru owes a lot to the past with shows and manga that have come before it, but after taking in the first thirteen episodes I have to admit that I enjoyed it more than I expected. There's certainly a mild Urusei Yatsura vibe going on here which is very appealing but it's also because To Love Ru has fun with its sexuality, nudity and simple romantic comedy elements.
To Love Ru revolves around the pairing of a young woman named Lala and a young man named Rito. It's not exactly the most normal relationship as Lala is a princess from the planet Deviluke who has essentially run away from home and landed herself on Earth, where she actually ends up naked right from the start inside of Rito's bathtub. Rito's a fairly normal high school kid who is good at sports, has a bit of a green thumb and seems to have decent grades. He's your basic nice guy that has hit a serious rough patch at school though. Ever since he met a girl named Haruna in school a couple of years prior, he's been madly in love with her. That love took an awkward turn this year though when the garden she tends at school got ruined and he got blamed when he came across it and was discovered that way. Haruna hasn't held it against him but most everyone else has given him dirty looks ever since.
His interest in Haruna is certainly more complex now that Lala has landed and decided that she's going to live with him for awhile and revealed her true nature to Rito's sister Mikan. The parents are out of the picture so it's easy to deal with there. Rito's not going to let Lala stop him from getting closer to Haruna though so he sets things up to confess to her his true feelings. It's that point that sets the real stage for the series as his confession of love is intercepted by Lala who takes it very literally as a marriage proposal. So much so that they're essentially engaged. Haruna witnesses all of it and is decidedly confused, but she also gets the picture that the confession was meant for her, so she gets to slowly explore her own feelings for him as time goes on even as Lala gets closer to Rito.
The basics of the show are certainly familiar with the alien princess setting herself up on Earth to marry a high school student. Her problems with fitting in are large ones to be tackled repeatedly, from social issues to her choice of clothing. Lala does end up going to the school that Rito and Haruna go to which adds even more of a wrinkle to events since all the other students quickly become aware of the relationship between her and Rito. The school comedy is fairly straightforward with the science fiction angle applied to it, such as the school nurse being part of the Deviluke empire who is helping to keep an eye on things. There's also the captain of the ship that was in pursuit of Lala, a man named Zastin, who takes easily to Earth life and serves as her guardian there. He's pretty chummy with Mikan as he explains the reality of the situation to her so she's fully in the loop.
Like most comedy series, as it progresses it adds more characters. The class rep in Yui has a good episode where she gets more involved in things and there are other characters that filter in. Where the show takes a less than welcome turn is when some of the aliens arrive on the scene. One episode has a fish-like creature that's come to Earth to take Lala for his own but does it in an almost classic creature double feature kind of method. The aliens don't seem to gel with the show as well as it's done in other shows as everything works better when it's kept to humanoid characters. When the humanoid aliens show up, including Lala's father, the flow works and the comedy doesn't go poorly. A lot of this is situational comedy to be sure, but the characters are all quite likable and the comedy works well because of it, especially since it plays the raunchy side reasonably well.
The design for the show with its animation is another angle that helps this rise above being just a mediocre comedy-romance. A lot of it rides on the girls and they manage to pull it off really well. Lala herself is essentially the lead for it and her personality shines through in her design, with bright colors, very outgoing and vibrant, with a fair bit of skin showing that pushes her free spirit nature. For Haruna, she has a bit more of the classic beauty to her with the shorter haircut, a more reserved demeanor and a more Japanese approach to relationships as she's spending more of her time watching events rather than directly interacting in it and trying to get what she wants herself. The other characters make out well overall, though many don't stand out hugely. Rito has a good look but like most male leads of a comedy-romance like this he has a bit of that beaten down nature to him. He's not a wimp character, but he's more reserved and not all that interested in being the center of attention.
With To Love Ru I found myself conflicted at times. There are several episodes that didn't work that well for me, generally involving the non-human aliens that come to visit. But the majority of the show I found to be fun as it had a sexy romantic comedy playing out with the somewhat clueless Lala doing her best to be with Rito while Rito tries to dodge her to get closer to Haruna. What's fun is that it really does play it sexy at times, with Lala getting naked (among others) and the show not being afraid to show it. This first half of the series does a good job of setting up the basics of it all and having fun with the relationships being established while bringing in more people along the way. At the end of the set, everyone is well established and it manages to be a bit more than an average show that would fit a time slot. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would and found myself laughing and smiling a lot more than I probably should have, but it does quite a lot right here and has left me looking forward to the next set.
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.