I have been into anime for almost three years now. During this time I have seen well over two hundred different series. So, I thought it might be time to start doing anime reviews. I have read the occasional review, and seeing I am currently a Professional Writing major, something like this I know I would enjoy. I get to combine two of my favorite things, so, with this first review, I decided to focus more on a series that does not have a lot of episodes, and one that I have already seen several times. The thought occurred to me to do at least my first few reviews on some of my favorite anime series. Fairy Tail, I concluded was just too long with over 200 episodes and counting, if anything I might do an arc based review once the current arc is over. A Certain Magical Index, although I have seen it sub and in dub, across both current seasons (since I am still one of those people hoping for season 3) there are 48 episodes. Since the last time I saw it was well over a year ago, I decided that too was not good. Without further ado, my first review will be on Date A Live the current 22 episode series.
Since this is my first review, I wanted to do something I am familiar with so I can work out everything to make better reviews with other series. Now, I will be discussing Season One Sub and Dub in two different sections. Season Two will also get its own area. I will not cover the OVA from season one, and at the time of writing this Season Two’s OVA has yet to be released as well as the film.
Date A Live, like most series has several categories it falls into. It is an anime that falls into the, Science Fiction, Romance, Comedy, Action, Harem (Wikipedia also mentions Magical Girl, which is kind of true as well, but the previously mentioned are the main) genre. If you like anything in those categories, you will be rather surprised with what this show could give you.
Season One Summary:
The first episode begins with a very brief summary of what happen thirty years ago when a spatial quake occurred. Now a spatial quake or sometimes spacequake depending, has an unknown origin and can occur at random times and can destroy anything in its way. Now skipping ahead thirty years, it has become apparent that spaceqakes have been only just started to appear again.
Then it introduces that main protagonist Shido Itsuka. As the first episode progresses, Shido asks his little sister Kotori, on what she wants to do to celebrate her birthday. This well, turns deadly later in the day during school when the spacequake alarm goes off and well, he discovers where she is. Out to go to save his sister he discovers the truth about Spacequakes, being caused by spirits. The first of many that he meets is Tohka Yatogami. Shido then wants to save her only to discover to do that she must fall for him to seal their powers,
Now, that is how it begins. The first season covers the Light Novel that it is based off of first 4 volumes. Episode 6 is a filler anime only episode, so that is about it. In each arc it introduces a new Spirit that Shido must save, seeing he somehow has the power to seal their immense power. It is explained later, or at least theorized later, on how he has this ability. Now, since I do not want to drag on for all the detail going into what each episode is about.
Season Two, like how most arcs in Date A Live are, takes place about a month later after the events of season one for this new arc. The opening episode is primarily used as a way to reintroduce the characters and really anything about the series as well as open up a few secrets as well. If one were to rewatch it, they could easily catch the name being dropped of the second Spirit that is introduced in episode 5, but it is a very short second.
This season is a lot different from the first; it is only ten episodes and covers volumes 5 to 7. In season one, he dates them, some problem, saves the day, granted in the third story arc it does not happen, but if you watch or see the show you will know what happens. Season two is different. It gets rid of that. The first half is not one, but two spirits, which are one in the same. They are a little over competitive and well luck would have it target Shido to be the deciding factor on who wins. The two set out to conquer his heart. So, it is reversed, which is a nice change of pace. Then the second part happens. Let’s just say the other spirit this season is not into boys and with Shido being a boy, well it defiantly takes a different turn. I will not reveal what the last few episodes covers, since it is major spoilers, but it takes a much darker turn then one would think, especially compared to some of the lighter parts of the series.
The Characters: (I am only going to cover two, seeing that there is a lot to say about them)
Shido Itsuka: He is the, well I guess at first seemingly average male harem lead that is at first glance, but although as the season and series for that matter progresses, unlike ninety present of the male leads in this genre, he is becomes a very strong character and is more focused on saving the people, rather than deciding or just is a natural perv like the other ninety percent, such as the main character in High School DXD and Rosario + Vampire (never mind about those series, especially my problems with the Rosario anime ruining the manga). He really changes a lot as the series progresses. At first he felt more dragged into it not wanting to see anyone get hurt. Come season two, well he is into the swing of things, and despite being put into awkward situations, he still is reliable, and willing to risk anything in order to keep the promises that he made.
Tohka Yatogami: She is the first spirit Shido meets. Well, where the other Spirits come and go, and make minor appearances in each arc or episode. She is the one guaranteed to be in each episode, although there is one other, but to avoid spoilers she will not be mentioned. At first she is rather cold, but once she warms up she is a very friendly person, this is after her powers are sealed. She is the one of two characters that is always caring about Shido, she even explains to him in season two how to use her weapon so if the problem ever arises she know he could be alright. She always knows Shido will be there for her, and is one of the driving forces that pushes and helps him save the other spirits.
Sub and Dub:
The overall quality for both, well, I saw sub about 3 times now and dub once. Personally the longer I watch anime I am leaning towards sub, just because 90 percent of what I watch just came out today, literally. Most people I have read in comments for the dub, well did not like the choice in some of the people. Personally I had that opinion too, that was until I watched it. This is more for Tohka’s voice then anything. I am glad Funimation got away from their usual people, because it turned out a lot better than having the same people always. Although I am not one hundred percent sure when it comes to the voice actress for Tohka, this person has not done many roles before, about ten maybe. The voice takes time to get used to, that is if you saw the sub before. If you watch the dub, well then the voice will not seem weird. I am rather content with the voice cast for the English version, and I think some over others fit rather nicely.
Well that art is good, I love the faces that can be made sometimes when it comes to Shido, it looks how I would feel if I was in that situation. The theme is still in my head. What surprises me that season one has four different ending themes. I view that rather uncommon for a series that is only twelve episodes. The only other time I can think of that happening is in Riddle Story of the Devil. So the ending themes are fairly solid across both seasons.
Before I get to the final part. One thing that I really like about Date A Live, is how surprisingly little fan service there is compared to most series now a days in the harem genre. After episode 1, there is not that much and only shows itself at random points. Episode 6 and the OVA, are pretty much all fan service, episode 6 being anime only and OVA having no effect on the actual plot. Even then, a lot of the jokes and generic archetypes that would typically be found in this genre are very little, and very little at that. That is one of the main reasons why I enjoy it. It does not try to set itself in the same jokes that most anime in this genre do, or most anime do in general, and the characters are always changing to and actually have some character development, this is mostly in the main four characters, Shido, Tohka, Kotori, and Origami. Also, there is an over arcing mystery on what is going on that builds up more and more as the show progresses, which is also rare in this genre, normally everything is self-contained and nothing gets done some of the time and after a story arc ends things tend to reset, which is not the case here.
I am taking out the fact that I have put emotional value into this series, such as crying at the same thing each time, no matter how much I tell myself it is happening, or the jokes I always seem to laugh at. Anyway, since this is a harem genre focused at times I will judge it based on that, and based off other series as well that are in other genres. For being different, and really standing out compared to others as well as really not feeling at times like it is part of the harem genre, I give bonus points. In terms of plot at times it is alright, it changes it up each arc which is interesting. The story itself at times can get a little repetitive in terms of events that happen, in season one.
It is different compared to most series that I have seen in this genre, it does not have the same jokes, or character types (some of the time), which are a major boost for the series. They also set focus more on just a small group of characters out of the mainly female cast. So, a lot of what would normally be found in the harem genre would not be found here. I am not saying Date A Live is the next master piece and recommend you to buy it. It is good to check out if you tend to watch shows in this genre and want something different, so you are not always dealing with the same character different name or the same joke you saw in the last five shows. If you are unsure, just watch the first three episodes and judge for yourself.
Overall Score: 80/100
One series that I always seem to think about that is similar, in a very minor way. The World God Only Knows, if you liked Date A Live, and have not seen that show, maybe check it out.
Currently Date A Live licensed by Funimation is available for streaming for free legally (although I am uncertain about the dub seeing I bought the DVD, the OVAs are not available online legally) on both Funimation and Hulu.