Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DVD Review: To Loveru, Collection 1

To Loveru is epic, I dare say. Sure the fan-service is gratuitous. Yes, some of the harem-comedy elements are sometimes too familiar. But you know what? It works. I loved this show from the very first episode and right up through the end of this collection I couldn't get enough of it. Sure, nearly every scene is full of panty shots, cleavage, naked boobs, and what have you, but the outlandish, slapstick sense of humor makes this show a true joy to watch!

Originally this show began as a manga back in 2006. It was written by Saki Hasemi and featured artwork by Kentaro Yabuki (Black Cat). The franchise was later turned into an anime in 2008 and since then it has received a couple video games and even an OVA release in Japan. I think that speaks to the popularity of the title overseas, so it stands to reason that it should be just as successful here, right? After checking out the first 13 episodes of the show I can honestly say that it's highly entertaining, but it's certainly something that lovers of the harem-comedy genre will embrace more than others.
The show centers around the life of a high school student named Yuuki, who happens to be about as unassuming as they come. He is your average every day teenager who dreams of girls, hangs with his friends, goes to school and, well, not much else. In To Loveru's opening moments we see him agonizing over talking to some girl named Haruna. It would appear that he has a massive crush on her, but just can't seem to muster up the balls to actually strike up a conversation. The problem is any time he actually does get the gal to do something about it an unseen object has the misfortune of striking him in the head without fail. In the first episode of this show he doesn't get hit on the head, but rather a UFO crashes down right at his feet!

You would think that a person would take these incidents as a hint, but Yuuki is rather single-minded. Rather than be bewildered about almost dying from a crashing UFO he soaked in the tub that same night and imagined Haruna in a bikini. It was at that very moment that his bathtub exploded and left him cupping a pair of large breasts that belonged to a very cute, very naked alien princess. This single act changed Yuuki's life forever.

The girl's name is Lala and she's from a race of people known as the Deviluke. As luck would have it the grabbing of breasts, such as Yuuki did, is part of the proposal ceremony. Soon enough Yuuki finds himself with a galactic misunderstanding as he's now betrothed to Lala. Making matters worse is the fact that Lala's idiot brother has threatened Yuuki with the fate of the Earth if he tries to back out of the relationship. All poor Yuuki wanted was to be with Haruna, but now with a sultry and well-proportioned alien princess at his side that will undoubtedly be a little more challenging.
If you've seen any harem-comedy then I'm sure you probably already have some idea how the show goes. As the episodes progress things become more complicated for Yuuki with regards to relationships. Some of the characters fit stereotypes, but I dare say that Lala grabs the most attention. She's not ashamed to show her naked body, she's boisterous, curious, and almost always cheerful. This contrasts Yuuki's brooding, reserved, and often depressed nature, but the two play off each other incredibly.

Things get more complicated and dangerous for Yuuki as the show progresses. Misunderstandings continue to happen as he winds up in one awkward situation after another (usually something Lala does to embarrass him, like transporting them both naked into the girl's locker room where Haruna happens to be!). What really sells the comedy here is Yuuki's overreaction to absolutely everything that happens around him. He's constantly blushing, freaking out, or blowing up in each episode. Granted many of these incidents occur due to one of Lala's inventions going haywire.

The show looks gorgeous on DVD as well. The series is presented with anamorphic widescreen and the image is about as crisp as one would expect. There is a minuscule amount of grain and compression artifacts, but neither is enough to detract from the bright, crisp, and clean look of the animation. Japanese 2.0 stereo with English subtitles is the only way you're going to be listening to this show, but it's just fine enough. I do wish there was a 5.1 track just to improve upon some of the sound effects here, though the 2.0 is serviceable. Bonus features include trailers and clean animations only.
There are so many reasons To Loveru is a success. Sure it doesn't completely reinvent the harem-comedy wheel, but it's a charmer through and through. The gratuitous amount of fan service gets a little silly at times, but the brand of humor, storylines, and characters more than make up for it. If you appreciate the genre then this release is a must have. If I may be so brazen, I dare call this one an instant classic.

Maki Rating:

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