Final Review: To Love-Ru Darkness

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

To Love-Ru Darkness is a sequel to the ecchi romantic comedy To Love-Ru. The anime adaptation is the fifth in the franchise and the third TV adaptation. To Love-Ru Darkness focuses more on Momo and Konjiki no Yami over Haruna and Lala compared to the previous titles. To Love-Ru Darkness premiered in Fall 2012, was simulcasted by The Anime Network, and licensed by Sentai Filmworks.

To Love-Ru Darkness returns to a “less episodic and more plot continuity” presentation unlike To Love-Ru OVA and Motto To Love-Ru. It introduces Mea, a Trans assassin like Yami and focuses more on Yami’s past as well as Momo’s goal for Rito Yuuki. In the past, I’ve disliked To Love-Ru’s plot continuity attempt and thought it did better with the “3 in 1 episode” deal. However, To Love-Ru Darkness changes my view on this given better focusing and direction on where the series is likely heading in the long-run. Granted that the show is still the “same old” ecchi romantic comedy when it was first animated several years ago, it’s a lot more entertaining than it was back then. The fanservice is the same old same old but as I’ve said many times before for other titles, ecchi is okay when it’s done right. Yami being the focus for most of the show definitely adds a lot of color to show as she was always the most interesting character in the To Love-Ru franchise, especially given the connection with Black Cat, a series that also received the short stick in anime adaptations. Overall, it’s still a fanservice, harem title at the end of the day and is by no means for everyone but for those who have stuck with the franchise until now, I’m sure it’s quite the treat.

Art and animation have been improved dramatically since the franchise first began. Backgrounds and character designs are about the same as Motto To Love-Ru from 2010 with a few refining details. Animation continues to be by XEBEC but far more fluid movements. It is definitely one of XEBEC’s prettier titles to date beating out even this year’s Rinne no Lagrange.

OP is by Ray who has always had decent songs but nothing ever outstanding. She kind of like the new KOTOKO. ED is by Kanon Wakeshima. As a soloist, I’m generally not too fond of her works and like it better when she’s working as kanon x kanon. The ED song is okay but not all that memorable. Seiyuu is mostly the same as before with Peke returning to being voiced by Satomi Arai instead of Aki Toyosaki. Ryouko is also voiced by Harumi Sakurai instead of Masako Jou. Not much has really changed except a few tunes in the background music, mostly for the better though.

Enjoyment? It’s got a few amusing pieces every now and then. The back story of Yami was much appreciated as well as greater “friendship” development between her and Mikan. Could have used far more of the latter though as I occasionally did see the series wander off into some unknown and irrelevant territory. As said before, the less episodic approach brought some direction into the series but the lack of “seriousness” at times can be a major turn off and a result “force” a viewer to sit through some occasional garbage instead of being able to skip it.

Overall, To Love-Ru Darkness is still one of the better ecchi titles recently and on par with High School DxD due its likable cast. It’s obviously nowhere near groundbreaking but can be quite a fun watch at times due to the nice mix of fluff, comedy, and “serious action.” Of course, just keep in mind to not watch it in a work environment.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Focus on characters aside from Lala and Haruna. Mixes it up a little.
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Most of the cast have become far more likable but still some stereotypical characters.
  • Character Development (1.5/2): Great focus on Yami and to some extent the Deviluke sisters’ pasts. Good Ren/Run episodes
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1.5/2): A very large cast that continues to grow. Becomes harder to remember as time goes on but does a good job focusing on “key” characters
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): I question sometimes some of the middle content but otherwise fair pacing.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1/2):  You’re dealing with a bunch of alien life forms so if you’re expecting for a lot of down to earth action in terms of romantic comedy…that’s a bit impossible
  • Conclusion (1/1): Some advancement with Rito’s behavior to Momo’s “harem plan” as well as a different (albeit cliche) side to Momo.
  • Total: 7/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1.5/2): Details get better each season
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Designs getting better each season.
  • Fluidity (1.5/2): Greater complexity by XEBEC.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (2/2): Very colorful
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1.5/2): One of XEBEC’s prettier titles as of late. Rinne no Lagrange beats it out in some aspects (likely due to I.G.’s help though)
  • Total: 8/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2/3): Ray does the OP…okay. Kanon Wakeshima does the ED. Not really a big fan of her solos.
  • Background Music (1.5/2): Same as previous seasons with some refined tunes
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Same as previous seasons
  • Seiyuu (2.5/3): Same as previous season with a couple switch-ups. Cast is noticeably getting older, particularly for Lala and Mikan.
  • Total: 7/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1.5/2): A few amusing episodes. Comedy can still fall flat due to overused cliches.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1.5/2): Far greater anticipations that previous seasons. Wrap ups of Run/Ren characters as well as diving into Yami and Deviluke sister pasts are great.
  • Presentation: (1/2): Less episodic leaves gaps of occasional snooze fests.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Difficult given that it builds on some of the events of the previous series. Can be a standalone at times.
  • Recommendation (1/2): One of the better ecchi titles. Up there with Sora no Otoshimono and High School DxD.
  • Value (0/1): Long term wise, probably not much as it’s what people call the “typical romantic comedy” despite being a bit more explicit. If you want explicit, Yosuga no Sora and School Days are a better titles.
  • Total: 5/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 7/10

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