First Impressions Omnibus – To Love-Ru: Darkness, Sukitte Ii na yo

[HorribleSubs] To Love Ru Darkness - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.09_[2012.10.10_10.03.43] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_01.01_[2012.10.10_10.47.48] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_20.40_[2012.10.10_11.07.27]

Here’s some romantic Yin and Yang for you.

To Love-Ru: Darkness – 01

[HorribleSubs] To Love Ru Darkness - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.30_[2012.10.10_09.57.51] [HorribleSubs] To Love Ru Darkness - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.20_[2012.10.10_10.04.54] [HorribleSubs] To Love Ru Darkness - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.29_[2012.10.10_10.10.28]
[HorribleSubs] To Love Ru Darkness - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.37_[2012.10.10_10.10.36] [HorribleSubs] To Love Ru Darkness - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.58_[2012.10.10_10.12.57] [HorribleSubs] To Love Ru Darkness - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.35_[2012.10.10_10.14.34]

Poor Rito. Crayola just doesn’t make a color blue enough.

You pretty much know what to expect here.  There’s a new girl in town, Kurosaki Mea (Iguchi Yuka), who I’m sure will be sitting on Rito’s face soon enough, but apart from that nothing too much has changed in the world of To Love-Ru.  Rito still pines over Haruna and gets cock-teased constantly, and his huge harem continues to grow.  Is that the sun I see rising in the East?

I will say this – it probably makes little sense to watch this edition of TLR before the uncensored version is released, because the ecchi is cranked pretty high and the censor beams are just ludicrous.  Apart from that, though, what strikes me is that TLR just isn’t as insulting and stupid as it should be – somehow, there’s a charm to the series that never totally escapes me even in the low ebbs (though the second half of “Motto” tested that).  Maybe it’s Rito’s persistent decency, or Haruna’s innate kindness and beauty (I find her smile comforting too, Rito-kun) or perhaps the complete lack of pretense about just what kind of series TLR tries to be.  But for what it is, it works.

As for Darkness, as usual we have a skeleton of a story.  The focus so far is largely on Momo who, as Rito says, has a much more calculating and deceitful quality to her than her sisters.  She intends to make Rito see the wisdom in a literal harem, as he tries to figure out how to unravel the Lala/Haruna conundrum.  Mea will play a role, too, and given that Yami’s name is in the title her tsundere relationship with Rito is sure to be a focus.  Also of note is the hilariously peppy ED, which sounds like it fell out of a lavish Broadway musical.

Sukitte Ii na yo – 01

[Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_01.33_[2012.10.10_10.48.20] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_04.46_[2012.10.10_10.51.33] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_05.03_[2012.10.10_10.51.50]
[Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_08.32_[2012.10.10_10.55.19] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_14.34_[2012.10.10_11.01.21] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_16.00_[2012.10.10_11.02.47]
[Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_17.47_[2012.10.10_11.04.34] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_19.16_[2012.10.10_11.06.03] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_19.56_[2012.10.10_11.06.43]
[Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_20.43_[2012.10.10_11.07.31] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_21.19_[2012.10.10_11.08.06] [Hadena] Sukitte Ii na yo. - 01 [720p] [C2B23192].mkv_snapshot_21.53_[2012.10.10_11.08.40]

Interesting that the two most discussed shoujo series of the Fall both led with the story of the death of an elementary school class’s rabbit.

There are themes emerging this season – rabbit deaths, white cats, the same seiyuu showing up over and over – and first episodes that are solidly good.  This is another one, an episode I liked as much as the opener of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – which surprised me a little bit, given the buzz I’d heard for both shows.

I think it would be fair to say that Sukitte Ii na yo is a more traditional shoujo romance than Tonari, based on the premiere.  The male lead is a sensitive hunk, and the overall tone has less of a dangerous edge – though there are some dark moments.  It’s an interesting trend that shounen leads tend to be somewhat generic audience avatars while shoujo heroines (I use the term intentionally) are allowed to be more fully developed characters, with issues all their own.  I don’t think we need to get into the psychology of that, but Tachibana Mai (Kayano Ai – again) is definitely a girl with some emotional scars.  She’s a social pariah of the first order, someone who hasn’t fit in for so long that she’s convinced herself it’s intentional.

Into the mix steps Kurosawa Yamato (Sakurai Takahiro, who I like but really is getting overexposed – the roles are starting to blend together) and his best friend Nakanishi Kenji (Shimazaki Nobunaga, who by contrast is relatively new and making a very good impression).  Both seem to fit the classic mold – Yamato is the school idol but somewhat blasé and dim to the effect he has on girls, and Nakanishi is a goofball skirt-chaser with a major crush on buxom mutual friend Aikawa Asami (Taneda Risa), who has her own unrequited crush on Yamato. 

If you’re read any shoujo you know what’s going to happen – Yamato and Mai’s paths will cross by accident, he’ll see her inner beauty and try to draw her out of her shell.  But I like the way it’s brought off here, through the creepy stalker who frequents the bakery where Mai works.  You really get a sense of how hard it is for her to allow herself to trust anyone (and apparently with good reason, though details are still scarce) and of Yamato’s innate decency.  I hope he’s given some flaws as the show progresses though, or that perfection will start to wear pretty thin.

While nothing in this premiere was as startling as some of the stuff in Tonari and the animation from ZEXCS can’t touch the lovely art of Brains Base, it still worked for me because of authenticity and emotional depth. Those are two good qualities to build a show around, and the latter was especially surprising.  Good first episodes don’t always bear fruit, but they’re sure a better sign than mediocre or awful ones.



  1. S

    On TLR, it should get a little less in need of Sun Beam City effect. There'll be the ecchi, but it won't as much as ep 1. At least from the manga of it I've read. (I was really bored one day) Plus, there is actually a story, which, in a weird way, even though the mangaka could up the ecchi, the plot actually quite improves.

    On "Sukitte Ii na yo", it wasn't too bad of a start, though I was left with "why don't you just call the cops?". I know why, but… still. Having watched Code:Breaker right before probably didn't help. (The main MC there used the "Phone will beat 30 armed men" trope failure to excellent quality) Does seem like it'll be interesting, but I have a hard time hanging onto a shoujo series week over week. Especially a more "normal" romance one. Feels like one long exercise in waiting.

  2. N

    I enjoyed Sukitte Ii na yo, but I hope the character don't persist in being quite as childish or bland as they were here. Mei comes across as one of those teens who thinks she's got the world worked out already, and Yamato plays the popular guy who only notices Mei because she doesn't instantly drool at the mere sight of him.

    Still, even with that, there was a certain authenticity to their emotions, as typical as they were, and that helped keep everything smooth.

    Plus, Yuuji Nomi is doing a fantastic job on the music. I really wish this guy got to compose more anime soundtracks more often, because I enjoy just about every score he writes.

  3. M

    Funnily enough Takahiro Sakurai once commented about his lead role in drama cd for a shoujo manga that he already feels too old to voice a high school guy. I think he feels the same here, but he's just too popular with shoujo (and yaoi) fans to be passed for a shoujo anime casting.

    I see you already take note of how the anime industry is overusing the same VA. Hopefully there's a new generation of talented VA to avoid this.

  4. a

    Ahhh, they look nothing like they were drawn in the Sukitte Ii na yo manga (which had a somewhat distinctive style) but much more generic. Well, I guess it might have been tough to replicate that in animated form.

    I think Mai is a pretty awesome character, it's too bad she's stuck in a story that is full of clichés and other characters that are much less interesting.

    "I hope he’s given some flaws as the show progresses though, or that perfection will start to wear pretty thin." The main flaws I remember from 20-something chapters of the manga is that he's, as you said, pretty blasé and dim to the effect he has on girls. I would make that very blasé and dim actually. And sometimes he's just a plain old coward.

  5. l

    I haven't seen Sukitte yet. It's the 1 show left in the season that I desperately want a legal stream for. If none shows up, I'm going to have to decide whether to break my year-long ban on fansubs. That's how badly I want to see the show.

  6. b

    Holy rays of light and shadow-kun plaguing TLRD!
    And I heard the AT-X version is also censored. The world is doomed!
    Nevertheless, I'm still watching it. And it was off to a good start so yeah.

    I personally liked Tonari's first episode than Sukitte but I still like it.
    It's probably the chemistry of the leads; it clicked more in Tonari. And the stalker thing didn't play out that well. But there's still room for this. I definitely chuckled when Mei thought they'll swap phones.

  7. A

    The name is Mei, not Mai, Guardian Enzo.

  8. a

    I think Enzo is pretty busy getting settled into his new life in Tokyo … and apologised in advance for the side effects of that life-changing move (like more typos in posts than usually).


  9. I

    When is the uncensored version of TLRD supposed to come out, with the BDs?

    On Sukitte Iinayo I also thought that despite having a very similar setting and heroine, this was a proper shoujo hence I enjoyed Tonari more. It does have some funny moments and while it certainly isn't generic (as long as a reverse-harem doesn't form) it certainly isn't new either. Of the two I feel inclined to cherish Kaibutsu-kun and drop this if it doesn't have an interesting story or angst comes in.

  10. B

    Just watched Sukitte today, I must say I liked it, possibly the most of any of the shoujo shows this season in terms of the premier. That male lead does seem a little too perfect at this point but I'm sure he'll be given his moment to expose human weakness, they always do. Must say I'm pleased with how much shoujo there is this season, it's definitely an underrepresented genre and one I've been a fan of for a while, good to see it getting some spotlight.

    Haven't watched To Love Ru since the first season ended and have no plans to get back into it.

Leave a Comment