Quality entertainment is one thing in any anime show that has ever existed, whether it’s supposed to the intention or if it was unintentional. With that in mind, many people try to reach to the conclusion that shows like Date A Live are the reason why anime has gone downhill in recent years from the fact that it has officially run out of ideas on what to do with any kind of story. Doesn’t matter how well they tell it, just how it entertains the masses. For me I find this type of thinking to be overly cynical and silly because this isn’t exactly a new way of thinking. Anime studios for years have always put filler shows in season slots since the beginning of anime, whether they were all bad or good is debatable from today’s standards. Nowadays it seems Harem shows like Date A Live are now the best way to churn out these kinds of filler slots to appeal to the casual fan-base who like to watch girls flaunt over one guy in comedic ways.
The overall premise of Date a Live is actually quite a common trope of parody shows such as The World God Only Knows, where one male character is sent on a mission to capture the hearts of girls that are around him. The only problem is that Date a Live doesn’t really rely on parody or satire at all, it’s a straight up action show with romance thrown in for good measure. In fact the one way I can describe this show is take The World God Only Knows and rip out most of the charm and wit that show had and then you have Date a Live. Now it may seem unfair to say that these two shows are similar when they follow different types genres but they are nevertheless similar in one particular area that makes them indistinguishable that I described earlier.
With that said, is the show entertaining to watch regardless of this? Yes it is. The one thing that I will commend Date a Live is the production values and the artwork are absolutely gorgeous to look at. From how every frame is very fluid in all the action sequences can definitely make you think that the people who worked on this show did their absolutely hardest in making this very good eye candy. Even at a draw distance the characters still look magnificent even by today’s standards.
With the technical praise gone out-of-the-way, how does this show fair with its characters? To elaborate this more further, the characters from their archetypes and personalities are mixed. On one hand you have a character like Tohka who is an absolute joy to watch because of her very energetic personality and Origami who is very nicely detailed from her battle armor and humorous deadpan emotions. On the other, a lot of characters just don’t give anything on the plate in terms of depth or entertainment. You could call them clichés, but sometimes you can come up with imaginative ways of giving clichéd characters good depth to them but you hardly get any of that with Yoshino, Kurumi, or Kotori. There in the show just because they’re there to get the plot going and nothing else. It doesn’t help the fact to make the plot going when you put too much filler arcs that aren’t very entertaining in the first place.
While I’m on the subject of discussing about the characters in Date A Live Shido himself is such a weak protagonist in the sense that there’s absolutely nothing about him that makes him a well-rounded individual. He is nothing more than your average teenaged boy who is generally nice but doesn’t has the balls to ask any girl of the girls anything with a straight face. Yes I know there are real life guys who are like him but in no single second did they even give any kind of strong trait that makes him imperceptible from other protagonists in most harem shows. I know it’s not often you get protagonists such as Yokodera in Hentai Ouji or Tomoki from Otoshimono who are very strong in how they express their feelings, but is that really asking too much?
One major problem that needs to be said is the overall pacing of the show. Not only with the plot but also the character progression. It seemed as though the writers wanted to rush out the important steps that make great characters and didn’t bother to slow things down to make girls understand Shido more instead of him just kissing the girls in order to make them head over heels for him. It is not uncommon to see anime that are adaptations of manga and light novels to skip a lot of things that the original source material originally laid out, but it’s important to realize that the best way to do that is to skip the unimportant arcs in the original manga. From what I can tell, being a person who never read the light novel, they seemed to have rushed some plot arcs that seemed quite important in the light novel. Then there’s the ending that seemed like a cop-out in telling us, “Hey there’s going to be a sequel! So you’re just going to have to deal with it!” At least that’s what I wished they should have said, at best that could have been a little more amusing.
In the sound department, the voice actors do a nice job with the material they are given but they are ultimately forgettable in the long run. All except for Marina Inoue as Tohka who does a magnificent job by giving Tohka a great energetic personality once she started dating Shido, from the sound of her voice you can tell right away that she was having tons of fun voicing her.
In the current Spring season of 2013, I would say this is not at all a terrible show to sit through. I did have some decent fun with the great action scenes and nice comedy, for what little material they could come up with. With the 2nd season announced, I wouldn’t mind sitting through another season of this. Let us hope that they will learn their mistakes and make it better than the first one.