Under Your Radar: To Loveru

Loop-the-Loop by KOTOKO

The bad weather is really getting him down
I see now!
He was just staring at the sky a bit disappointedly

I want to know (I want to show)
I want to know (I don’t know)
I want to cry (I can’t cry)

Even so
It can’t be helped (I won’t give in)
It doesn’t hurt (Nor does it itch)
I want to destroy (I want to fall apart)
If these are feelings I can’t give up
I should ignore the flickering yellow traffic light

The flying saucer of my heart is taking off at a high angle
Kick down that secret door that keeps me from being myself!
With a loop the loop, I’ll come back
These feelings are like a powerful magnetic pull. I send them to you!

How come we don’t decide things with our face-up cards?
Who are these morals for?

Radar Logo 2To Love-Ru Volume 1This week’s Under Your Radar is covering a series notorious for its blatant fanservice. Hailing from Weekly Shonen Jump, drawn by Kentaro Yabuki of Black Cat fame and written by Saki Asemi with no other manga (but a few games and anime) to his name, this week’s feature is To Loveru (written by fans as “To Love-Ru”, but the official licensor writes it out that way).

The title is a multilingual joke, since “love” is transcribed in Japanese as “rabu”, which makes the title read as “toraburu” or “trouble”. The series has received two anime adaptations, the first of which removes all but the most major plot points and replaces it with slice of life filler (in some cases completely changing how a character enters the cast), and the second of which (titled Motto To Loveru or Always To Loveru) skips to the end of the series with no context and adapts the final chapters of the series in a three shorts format. There are some OVAs that take place in between, but one character (Celine) who joins the cast as part of the main character’s household is never explained in the anime adaptations or the OVAs. The series has also received a DS game adaptation.

To Love-Ru Cast
The principal cast of the series. Yes, there are other guys in the series, but they’re mostly annoying arses, so it’s best to pretend they don’t exist.

The basic plot of the series involves Rito Yūki, who can’t seem to find the courage to confess his love to Haruna Sairenji, for whom he has harboured feelings for for years. He ends up engaged against his will to an alien princess named Lala Satalin Deviluke, a genius ditz and inventor whose husband will inherit rule over the entire universe. Needless to say, Lala forces Rito’s hand due to the sheer amount of suitors after her. Sadly, however, this instead results in the suitors coming in violently to try and get rid of Rito… until the plot forgets about it and moves on, with Lala eventually dropping the engagement in order to go after Rito fair and square.

And, of course, she feels the need to do this because, while she’s oblivious to the harem Rito builds up throughout the series, she is eventually aware of her best friend Haruna’s crush on Rito, as well as Rito’s feelings for Haruna. As the series progresses, everyone finds out that Lala is an alien princess and Rito eventually gains feelings for Lala on top of his pre-existing ones for Haruna.

The series proper is very much a light-hearted slice of life harem series, which is done rather well with one exception that shaped how the series was seen by people. And that is the fanservice, which I will not picture in this post to keep it safe for work.

Most of the fanservice is rather gratuitous, only occasionally advancing the plot, and tends to be a result of some ridiculous feats on Rito’s part (such as tripping over accidentally causing a chain reaction that results in someone’s panties dropping) or is the fault of one of Lala’s inventions (one of her early-series inventions is a teleportation device… that only teleports living matter).

If any of these sorts of moments happen near Golden Darkness, an assassin sent to kill him who ended up falling for him instead, Rito ends up on the run from her for the rest of the chapter because she hates perverts. To be honest, I only minded it in the cases where the chapters could have easily ended without it, which is about half of the time when factoring the full series events into things. Still, the mere existence of all of these scenes becomes a motivational force in the sequel series (it makes sense in context).

To Love-Ru Yami
This is the assassin. …No, really.

As the presence of the assassin would indicate, there are some action scenes in the series, some of which show that Lala isn’t just a genius, she can hold her own in a fight against the legendary assassin due to her superhuman strength (though her inventions and her tail’s ability to shoot lasers certainly help things). Of course, that’s not really too much of a surprise when you remember that her father conquered the entire universe. As a result, most action scenes are either completely lopsided or drawn-out ties played for laughs due to the amount of damage being dealt to the surrounding area.

The light-heartedness of the series has been enough for me to read the original manga at least four times and watch the first anime at least twice. Sadly, however, it got cut short due to real life issues.

You see, the artist’s wife, whom Haruna is based off of, decided to have an affair with someone they met online, then divorced the artist, kidnapped their daughter, and basically extorted his life savings out of him to both get his daughter back and prevent her from trying to fight an argument in court claiming that she should hold the rights to Haruna. As such, not only does Haruna get dropped out of the spotlight, but also, instead of the plot reaching a definitive conclusion, we get the aforementioned Rito falling for Lala. When Rito explains his feelings to Lala, she suggests that he marry them both, since becoming the king of the universe would allow him to practice polygamy.

To Love-Ru Darkness Promo Image

Which is where the sequel series, To Loveru Darkness (which recently got an anime adaptation of its own), comes in. Serialized in the monthly anthology Jump SQ after the artist paid his wife off, the sequel series is focused on convincing Rito and the entire harem to opt for that sort of resolution.

…But, seeing as Darkness is less than 30 chapters in, and is very different in terms of tone, I’ll save my opinion on it for another time.

The anime adaptations, minus the OVAs, have all been licensed for sub-only releases by Sentai Filmworks. Subscribers to The Anime Network can watch them online. The manga have received no English licensor (though they’ve been released in Italy and Germany), but Viz would be the literal only choice for it if it were to ever come over.

Verdict

In a move that will probably shock everyone, my stance on this series is that the fanservice is the only part of it that is poorly executed. Every single other element is at least decent for the sort of atmosphere the series is trying to evoke, and there is actual plot to be found and story to be enjoyed. I cannot dismiss this as meaningless garbage like I did for OniAi, because OniAi had no substance whatsoever and To Loveru at least has some that you’re being distracted away from by the fanservice. As such, at risk of a public lynching, my verdict on this series is:

Unjust

While the fanservice makes it unbearable if you have a low tolerance level to it, the series gets a passing grade without issue if you can learn to ignore it. I read To Loveru for the plot and character interaction because they are relatively amusing, and that is all there is to it. Do note, however, that the fanservice was so ridiculous that this is extremely close to scoring a Rightful, so it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

NSAT

As I said in my latest Rundown the Street, until further notice, Under Your Radar will be running 2-3 times per week, maybe 4 if I manage to get enough stockpiled. This is to whittle down the enormous backlog that’s growing faster than I can cover at one per week.

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One thought on “Under Your Radar: To Loveru

  1. “Yes, there are other guys in the series, but they’re mostly annoying arses, so it’s best to pretend they don’t exist.”

    Well, that’s usually the case, isn’t it? And worse yet, the ratio of male characters to female ones is usually ridiculously skewed in the ladies’ favor. Makes you wonder what sort of cataclysm could cause a population distribution like that.

    Anyway, I’m a little surprised that you gave To-Love-Ru a positive score (relatively speaking), but…well, not TOO surprised. I remember Y: Ruler of Time talking about it too, and in spite of the Underpants Armada he did say that there was an actual plot, it offered lighthearted fun, and it didn’t try to be anything more than a load of fun. So I guess I can see the appeal.

    …I still wouldn’t want to be caught watching it, though.

    Also, I know who that is in the teaser for next time! I totally know this! IT’S A PUMBLOOM!

    (I’ve been watching Game Grumps recently. Too much, perhaps.)

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