The Bee Love Tag – A Discussion of the To Love Ru Franchise

I have returned! I apologise for the slow inactivity, lockdown still somehow keeps me busy. But we are back and with a new tag post none the less. Courtesy of the wonderful Pinkie we have the Bee Love Tag. Now, I am unsure of how this tag works, Pinkie ranked the top 5 Bees in gaming, but I don’t have such extensive knowledge of gaming bees, so I decided to put a spin on things. The title has love in it, so I thought ‘why not use this opportunity to write about To Love Ru’. This was originally just going to be a general review of the franchise, but I figured why not spice things up a bit, and instead talk about the series and how it…let’s just say derailed itself.

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What is To Love Ru?


To Love Ru is an ecchi, romance, comedy, sci-fi anime that follows the hapless protagonist Yuuki Rito. Hung up over his school Crush Sairenji Haruna, as well as interference from a whole variety of characters, filling out almost every single waifu quota in the world, his life is turned upside down when an alien arrives on his planet! But this isn’t some squiggly slimy creature, but rather a pink-haired buxom cutie pie named Lala Deviluke, a princess on the run from her arranged marriage.
The first series follows Yuuki adapting to a new life with Lala in his life, as well as many botched attempts to woo his crush, as well as fend of Lala’s ever-growing affections after she decided he is to be her groom. Misadventures and hijinks ensue and sprinkle in one too many accidental fanservice antics, and you have a simple but heartfelt story with fun characters, a repetitive but fun plot and a handful of ecchi that adds that little extra spice to the mix. However, this was not to last, and in my opinion, the series took a serious nose dive at some point in its run. But what went wrong? Why did it go wrong? And how could the series I love so much fall from grace? Well, let’s find out.

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So many colours! So many Waifus!

 

Why I Loved To Love Ru


To Love Ru was in fact the first anime I ever saw, no joke. Forget gateway animes like Naruto, Dragon Ball and Bleach, my first introduction to the Japanese anime industry was this obscure ecchi fest with waifus galore! While the ecchi was indeed an aspect of the show that did draw me in during my teen days, it was more than that to me. For me, the anime presented creative ideas and settings that I had never really seen before in a cartoon. The show hooked me with its simple plot and fun characters, and from that point on my love for anime grew and grew. The anime itself also inspired me to take up my own creative ventures, and when I discovered Senran Kagura around the same time, the two combined franchises kickstarted my creative juices.
In a weird way, I can attribute who I am today to To Love Ru, it gave me an escape for when I made it home from school, helped me expand and work on my creative side, and launched me into the world of anime and even greater heights. From own novel series to descriptive essays to…well, blog posts, I owe it all to the discovery of To Love Ru. But what was so great about To Love Ru, or rather…what used to be so great about it?

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Underneath the cutesy ecchi is a cute story, I mean it!

 

The Promising Start


In order to gain a better understanding of the series and where I felt it went wrong, let’s look at why I loved it so much.

  • Series 1 (To Love Ru): The first series was basic but fun. It had a plot that kept things moving while also bot straddling itself to some big overarcing story that held back moments for downtime and fun side adventures. As I said before the story follows Yuuki Rito as he adjusts to life with a fun loving sweetheart alien princess while fending off her suiters as well as other threats from outer space. To me the story felt organic in its progression and character writing. Everyone was likeable, even the ones I felt weren’t meant to be, and it had a real feel good vibe to it all. While it was just ecchi fluff, it was good, wholesome ecchi fluff, and there were moments with a lot of heart to them. Overall this series was a solid starting point with its main pull being loveable characters and fun fanservive. A respectable 7/10 for this one.
  • Series 2 (Moto To Love Ru): The second series has one stark difference from every other series thus far, it had absolutely no plot. This whole series felt like an OVA compilation, even tho we had received some OVA’s beforehand. Speaking of those OVA’s, I chose not to discuss them because they’re basically the same as this series in terms of enjoyability factor, so consider what I say about Moto TO Love Ru to be my thoughts on the first set of OVA’s as well. This series had no structure, but rather focused on smaller side stories and one of adventures for the gang of characters to experience, and was mainly there to serve as a character moment montage for us to watch. As for the stories themselves, they were fine, definitely carried by the great cast of characters. The fanservice was dialled up a bit for this series, but it was still tasteful and fun-filled. This series is where the characters shine, no longer bound to a restrictive plot and given more free range to stretch their personality muscles and really bring their A-game in terms of enjoyability. The lack of a plot may be a turn off for some, but for me it was what made the series so fun. 8/10 for this one.

So that’s two solid anime series for the franchise. I definitely admit they are flawed at times and have absolutely no stakes other than the bare bones tension of series 1, but still, they were a delight to watch. Surely the next entry in the franchise would only add to this amazing world and characters, while also sticking to its roots. Right? Well…

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Obligatory swimsuit episode cos why not?

 

The Fall into Darkness


To Love Ru Darkness, and its follow up To Love Ru Darkness 2nd, were where the series veered off the road and into a canyon. It tried to drive back up but ultimately couldn’t pull it off. But what do I mean by this? Well, these two series committed some cardinal sins of To Love Ru and aided in the shows an ultimate slide from quality.

Sin 1: The Fanservice

Now, I’ve talked about this before in my review of Senran Kagura Shinovi Master, but it bears repeating here. Full frontal nudity in an ecchi isn’t a negative for me, I’ve watched Highschool DxD and love that anime, but what is a negative to me is when you shift from tasteful tame fanservice to just straight up full frontal. We have a case where instead of the ladies decency being covered by conveniently placed objects and hair, they just went for a DxD style of fanservice, and it’s so distracting.
Now, why do I think this? Well for me it feels like a desperate grab for the viewers’ attention. What kept me hooked before was the fun character moments and interactions, the fanservice serving as a nice little humorous bundle of moments to give the viewer a chuckle and eye candy. However, in Darkness the fanservice is given full reign of the scenes it’s used in, much more explicit than before and took away from the plot for me.

Sin 2: Momo Deviluke

Darkness did not handle the characters well, I would go into all of them but this post is already extremely long and I only just made it to the halfway point, so I’ll concentrate all my fury on who I consider the worst character. Momo Deviluke was previously a mere side character, a little bit of a tease and overall fun.
However, Darkness decided Momo is the main female character now, and on top of that, out of nowhere wants Yuuki to have a harem! This comes right out of nowhere, in the previous series, Momo had never even expressed an interest in this ridiculous plan, so it seems so out of place. Lala is heavily shafted in this series, upstaged by her younger sister and basically serving as a side character, completely sucking out a large factor of the shows appeal. A lot of characters lose out in this series, all simply to serve as a way to give all the attention to Momo and her stupid harem plan. So yeah, Momo’s presence in this show has become more of a hindrance rather than a way to progress it.

Sin 3: The Plot

This is the shows biggest sin, the storyline is terribad (yes I combined terrible and bad into one word, that’s how bad it is). The story takes on a much more traditional story arc, or about as traditional as you can get in this setting. Instead of light-hearted fun with some romantic shenanigans, Darkness and Darkness 2nd bring in a new plotline revolving around the awakening of a powerful entity simply known as…well, Darkness. To add to this the person possessing this supposed supervillain is Yami, a side character who now comes to the forefront as a central character. Now this isn’t as egregious as Momo’s forced main role as Yami is an interesting character and actually has motivations other than wanting to build some dumb harem. However, this brings in a lot of unnecessary additions to the story that serves only to advance Yami’s story. The worst part is that despite Darkness introducing all these concepts and ideas that relate to Yami, none of them are even acted upon until Darkness 2nd when the real antagonist Nemesis shows up. And even worse than that, Nemesis’s arrival does nothing to advance the plot until the final moments of the series where she remembers ‘Oh yeah I’m the villain, guess I gotta move us into the final act.’ The final part of the plot however, is the worst part, the defeat of Darkness. So by the end of Darkness 2nd, Yami has fully succumbed to the power of Darkness and is causing havoc. Yuuki however can defeat her by…pleasuring her in such an intense way that she reverts back. This is a moment that left me slack-jawed and frankly frustrated. This development kills any tension this scene would have had, taking the fanservice to a point where it’s ridiculous. With that, the story ends, leaving us with a few OVA’s that barely captures the joy of previous OVA’s.

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This…right here, this isn’t what To Love Ru was meant to be.

 

Final Thoughts and Nominations


In conclusion, To Love Ru had an unfortunate evolution. I do get the feeling I’m in the minority with my opinions on Darkness, but I am glad people can enjoy something when I can’t. Darkness has some positives, and sometimes does manage to reclaim that magic from the previous series’, but it just can’t seem to hold on to it. I do hope To Love Ru continues as a series and it will always hold a special place in my heart since it essentially aided me in getting where I am now in terms of my creative endeavours.
This brings us to the end of another tag post, and now for the nominations!

8 thoughts on “The Bee Love Tag – A Discussion of the To Love Ru Franchise

  1. AH Yes the post I got without rules.. Apparently originally there were rules! They have just been forgotten. We apparently, (A geeky gal found this out) talk about the definition of love.
    I think you got a hell of a lot closer than me! So good job on that!

    I have a big Lala figurine, personally I found Momo cuter design wise though I never watched the show long enough for her to be introduced. I have read about how she suddenly was pushed into the spotlight and that is something I really do not like either. I am not a big fan of Harem show’s in the first place but when a show shifts more to it later on.. or adds characters in much later seasons.. they kind of feel like assholes to me and it can ruin a show for me easily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 100% I agree. If there was build up to these shifts in characters then I wouldn’t have a problem, but it just comes out of nowhere. Momo herself was introduced in an OVA, and all of a sudden is the female lead? I like her design and all but she just took over the show, and other female lead is either forgotten or just suddenly developed feelings for yuuki because STORY

      Liked by 1 person

  2. While I can see why not everyone would get into to love ru but as far as everyone else and especially in Japan nothing really changed for them. in fact for most they could argue this seemed like the only natural direction to go in if a continuation were to occur after the original manga on shonen jump ended. not to say there hasn’t been criticisms since the OVAs and Motto when to love ru was still on shonen jump’s main weekly line up skipped a lot of important chapters and far as fans of the manga were concerned the anime did do what the manga creator yabuki kentaro focused on which was just the daily life of a group of people from various places getting into hi-jinks and an occassional adventure here and there.

    Darkness in terms of story isn’t that out of place since if you’re familiar with Yabuki Kentaro’s works then it would only be natural he’d eventually focus on Yami’s origins at some point and I guess he felt a full manga focus on her would work. the full exposure nudity stuff was due to the fact he was successful in shonen jump that he was given more freedom to work in jump square to draw the female body properly and far as all of that goes I don’t think many people hated this since if you’re just talking anime then Motto to love ru would be more the one who started it but far as manga goes for darkness around before high school dxd was known to everyone it was already doing it, it’s just high school dxd pushed it more and that in turn made other series push it so far as the lewd industry goes everything was a chain of events that made these creators more bolder to do more bold lewd things to the point now ishuzoku reviewers is the latest push in that evolution.

    darkness is still pretty funny and hits a lot of good points for everyone but as I said there are criticisms to be made. it’s not that the story came out of nowhere for people or even felt it had to be taken too seriously given other similar events prior, the first problem would be for most lala replaced by her sister as a main character where Momo compared to Lala just made everything too easy, 2nd problem is people did get frustrated with Rito still pretty much being a wuss for western audiences and japanese audiences I’m not sure if they were as into him. the story by itself was fine but the manga as seen in the anime had a tendency of getting distracted with side stories that were fun but did start becoming formuliac where darkness did have good success overall but even yabuki kentaro felt he needed a break since from the way he wrote and set things up it’s clear to people he does have a direction he wants to go in and it’s also why even now he’s still a well respected creator for the series where even something like yuuna and the haunted hot springs takes a lot of inspiration from to love ru and the fact to love ru is still loved by people today I think is kind of impressive.

    The other big problem which I can’t really blame kentaro where that change you mentioned in the series didn’t have to do with anything overly complicated or people telling kentaro to keep working on to love ru cause at this point he’s kind of up there with the other top mangakas that revolutionized the manga industry where he’s allowed to do what he wants compared to others. not as much as toriyama but somewhere up there. anyway one of the big noticeable changes is how he handles haruna which if you weren’t aware was based on his wife… who he divorced not long after the original to love ru ended so you can kind of see how it was awkward for him to focus on a character based on his ex-wife especially after he re-married. which is kind of why there’s that more noticeable shift of Yui taking more of an interest in rito than the original which is also kind of why she’s become pretty popular during darkness.

    So with all that said and not intending to tell ya to give it another chance or anything but I do feel like somethings did need clearing up and answers to where these changes in direction came from since even now fans are waiting for yabuki kentaro to announce if he will do a 3rd part or not now that he’s done with the darling in the franxx manga adaption of the anime. so whether you like to love ru or not you can’t deny that yabuki kentaro definitely knows how to respect his fans that continue to support him and he does take criticisms pretty well and as I said the new level of nudity that to love ru technically did before high school dxd that it would push further when it would air and even before them it was lum from yatsurei, you don’t have to like it if you feel they could’ve done better and to before compared to senran kagura season 2 and a lot of TNK’s other works after high school dxd season 2 haven’t been anything great since TNK has this bad habit of doing nude shots with not much subtance these days which range from high school dxd born, senran kagura season 2, daimidaler, valkyrie drive, and jet girls. and those are a handful of examples I do think do this worse by comparison where to love ru darkness and motto to love ru were more of the experimental process that even now could argue are still being experimented in how far can anime push things before going full hentai since that double standard line is never all the way clear hence there’s loop holes.

    just some food for thought to consider.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was a really great comment and opinion piece. I had a feeling I would be in the minority with my opinions, and I 100% understand and respect where you’re coming from. I do wish the series to continue because even though I didnt like darkness and 2nd much I still watched every episode because I love the franchise, even if the series’ themselves are very up and down.
      Thanks for reading and thank you for the opinion, its actually given me a lot of thought, maybe I will go and give darkness a second chance hehe.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow what a first anime to watch haha! I watched it relatively early on, because a lot of my early anime watching was straight up binging ecchi guilty pleasures. Then I fell out of interest, and now I’m right back into it, although I think with a better idea of what I like and dislike.

    TLR Darkness… yeah I’ve seen that one. What a wild ride. Not that I remember too much from it, but I do remember not liking Momo because I didn’t like how they pushed Lala aside. But in it’s defense, the anime did manage to make a name for itself as an infamous ecchi because of what they did, so there’s that!

    Thanks for the nomination Brother!

    Liked by 1 person

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