‘Kiss the girls, save the world.’ Who would have thought that tagline was literal? Well in the ridiculous world of Date A Live, the very fate of Planet Earth rests on the shoulders of a horny teen who must systematically make destructive spirits in the form of cute girls fall in love with him. It is harem anime turned up to 11; silly, packed with fan-service and just plain fun.
Date A Live is preposterous at worst but at its best the series is actually capable of truly affecting emotion. While most of the situation regarding the spirits is played for laughs, when it is done for drama the story of these tragic figures will steal your heart as well. They are given a sense of character beyond archetypes, something uncommon in the harem genre. Their detailed characterization is a welcome breath of fresh air in this genre and Date A Live makes some major strides to bring a new flavour to trodden territory.
The high stakes situation at the core of Date A Live involves some rather ill-defined scientific jargon, put simply there are these things called spatial quakes that are destroying large portions of the world whenever a spirit appears. This becomes the core mystery of Date A Live, but for the majority of its run it doesn’t care too much with the exploration of the true cause of these quakes but rather focuses on the nature of the spirit girls. Date A Live never leaves focus on the girls for long, it’s colourful female cast continuously expands and becomes more and more interesting as the series progresses.
There are times when the series pacing feels somewhat off, especially when the situation involving Kurumi comes to a head. However the series’ unbridled enthusiasm propels the show along at a steady pace for the most part. I found the series to be paced somewhat like Pokemon rather strangely.
In Pokemon each episodes introduces a new Pokemon for Ash to meet and possibly catch. The same applies with Date A Live, with a new girl popping up rather frequently and Shido meeting and ultimately ‘capturing’ their hearts. Who would have thought Date A Live and Pokemon would be so similar in structure?
While Date A Live is far from brilliant in terms of its storytelling, it does manage to be a fun ride with compelling situations and intriguing characters that you’ll come to love. The heart of the series is undoubtedly the harem of girls, each of whom is unique and given equal development time over the series run.
Visually and aurally, Date A Live is a blast for the senses. The vibrant colour palette implemented in the series makes for an appealing aesthetic experience. There are some exciting bouts of sakuga animation sprinkled throughout this season and not just in the fighting scenes. Even the smaller moments are fluidly animated rather wonderfully.
The soundtrack of Date A Live is equally versatile, with countless standout incidental tracks present. One of the interesting things I noticed with Date A Live is the multiple ending themes utilized in the series. Depending upon how the episode concluded a different ending theme seemed to play. It is a rather interesting idea to say the least and it doesn’t hurt that all of the anime’s themes are great bubblegum J-Pop tunes.
Madman Entertainment have done a great job on this release on season 1 of Date A Live, incorporating a number of additional features on the DVD that add to the viewing experience. Included are episode commentaries, promotional videos and clean opening and ending themes.
Date A Live is a harem for the modern-age anime fan, it is super flashy and incredibly ridiculous, but all the more fun for it. There is a heart underneath the farce making Date A Live something special among the throng of unsubstantial harem anime of recent times. By kissing the girl’s hearts as well as their lips, Date A Live saves the world of harem, for now.
You can purchase a date with Date A Live Season 1 at Madman’s online store.