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  • While I normally don't give spoiler warnings in my reviews because it's my personal belief

  • that you can't adequately review something without talking about specific scenes, this

  • review is kind of different since I know not a whole lot of people watched this show and

  • I'm trying to get them to do so. That means I don't want to spoil stuff that should be

  • experienced first-hand. However, due to my policy of "you should watch three episodes

  • before judging a show", I consider the first three episodes to be fair game. However, I will

  • not spoil anything major beyond those three episodes, or will be just vague enough about

  • it that I don't ruin the more important events that are happening in a scene.

  • Anyways, on to the review!

  • In the first episode alone of Date A Live, there are a decent handful of panty shots.

  • In the first few minutes alone there are about three. "Whelp, this show is going to be pretty

  • awful," I thought to myself. There were a couple of funny quirks introduced in the episode,

  • like Shido's classmate who's girlfriend is a girl from a dating sim, and that one chick

  • whose only line of dialogue is "gross", but nothing big enough to make me change my first

  • impression; especially at the end, where it showed that Shido was going to use dating

  • sims to "train" himself in order to seduce the Spirit girls. It seemed like the show

  • was going to turn into a totally straight-faced version of The World God Only Knows.

  • But then the show did something I didn't expect: it became self-aware.

  • Obviously I don't mean that in the literal, robot sense of the word; I mean the show points

  • out the mindset of guys that play dating sims and think they can pick up girls in real life

  • the same way and laughs in their faces. Well, okay, it's not that extreme, because there

  • are times where they make dialogue decisions dating sim-style and they actually do work, but

  • most of the time they choose the blatantly incorrect option and justify it with the silliest

  • of reasons before it almost gets Shido killed. I mean come on, the crew choosing the decisions

  • is made up of a guy with all five of his marriages ending in divorces, a guy with a hundred waifus,

  • and an incredibly masochistic, lolicon vice commander, among others.

  • I don't know whether the first episode was just there to trick people into thinking it'd

  • be a "kawaii anime girls uguu~" show so they'd watch it before it did a 180° or not, but

  • the show becomes absolutely hilarious. I know that's not exactly something I can argue since

  • a person's sense of humor is about the most subjective you could ever get, but if you

  • find the idea of a wacky adventure to the hot springs that just won't go right for the

  • main characters while an entire town full of food stands that are actually military

  • weapons level half the city in an attempt to delay the opposing army to be a funny concept,

  • you'll probably have a decent amount to laugh about here.

  • It's actually pretty amusing how the show changed from something to laugh at into a

  • show that you laugh with.

  • That's not to say that the show can't be serious, though. In fact, it handles serious situations

  • pretty damn well. A lot of shows have the problem of being too dramatic about stuff,

  • so it's like the show is trying to make you feel certain emotions at certain scenes, rather

  • than just having those reactions come from you naturally. Date A Live, believe it or

  • not, is actually an example of how to do those kinds of scenes correctly.

  • For example, there's a scene in the second half of the series where Shido is able to

  • notice something that others don't. However, he can't entirely make it out, and as he tries

  • to concentrate on it, his mind starts going haywire and he winds up passing out. Rather

  • than simply being a scene trying to get you to feel concern for the main character, the

  • scene also showed that there was more to what was going on than meets the eye. This is also

  • known as: foreshadowing.

  • There are more examples than just that, though. Rewinding back to the third episode, there's

  • quite a bit of dramatic stuff going on near the end of the episode, the beginning of which

  • is Shido getting shot and supposedly killed. When it happens, it doesn't linger on a shot

  • of his corpse, or do reaction shots from every single character in the show; rather, it just

  • focuses on Tohka and Origami, and their reactions. Tohka because she was finally going to be

  • able to escape from her cage of solitude and distrust with Shido's help, and Origami because...

  • well, she's the one who shot him.

  • In all honesty, Tohka could have had more of a reaction to the whole thing. She's just

  • kind of emotionless about the whole thing until she yells about how the world has denied

  • her. It's actually a pretty powerful line, seeing as how Tohka was always being hunted

  • down despite her not consciously doing anything wrong, and her one chance at freedom from

  • that was taken away from her. The problem is that she shouts the line and there's this

  • random gust of wind that flutters her hair and clothes, and it just makes the whole scene

  • look silly rather than more dramatic.

  • You don't need any "dramatic effects" to make a scene more intense, you just need to have

  • characters show a bit of their humanity and get emotional. Not overly so, but just enough

  • dialogue to show where their current mindset is at, and a bit of intensity to their actions

  • to show they're losing their restraint. You don't need to beat the audience with a stick

  • to get that kind of raw emotion across.

  • Origami's reaction is actually a perfect example of this. When she realizes what she's done,

  • she doesn't start wailing to the skies or sob uncontrollably, she just straight up shuts

  • down. You don't necessarily need aggressiveness to show raw emotion, the whole "losing their

  • restraint" part of what I said has to do with composure in general. You can have

  • that happen towards either end of the spectrum.

  • I also like the audio effect they used for Origami in that scene. All the outside

  • noise was sort of muffled, while the only thing that could be heard clearly was her

  • own thoughts inside her head. It showed just how hard what just happened had hit her. She

  • didn't even take notice of the fact that Tohka was bombarding her with attacks, she was so

  • horrified by what she had done that she had lost all sense of self-preservation.

  • If you're still confused about what my point is with dramatic scenes, I'll try and simplify

  • it. The point is that there's an actual storytelling purpose behind these scenes, rather than them

  • only being there to tell you what emotion to feel at whatever time it may be. You don't

  • need to dwell on anything, you get the message across about what's going on and what the

  • characters are feeling, and then you move on with the scene. You don't need constant

  • crying or shouting from characters to also feel those emotions. Just get your audience

  • to connect with those characters (or at least whatever situation they're currently going

  • through), and then just let it happen. The audience's connection to the characters and/or

  • their struggle will make them feel the intended emotions, not shoving the camera constantly

  • into a character's face and essentially saying, "THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE FEELING RIGHT

  • NOW".

  • It's not just these tense situations that Date A Live manages to handle well, though.

  • It also has a (sort of) main antagonist who's batshit crazy. Maybe it's just personal taste,

  • but I love psychotic villains. It's an example of a trope that I think is inherently good.

  • An insane villain allows you to have their actions be unpredictable, but still make logical

  • sense because... well, because they're fucking crazy. Being illogical is logical for these

  • kinds of characters. Even better is when there's a reason for the character's insanity, and

  • seeing how this girl's powers work, yeah, you can see how she might have been driven

  • loopy.

  • Though, despite everything I've said, this is all stuff you could still manage to find

  • in a good chunk of other harem shows. The world and such may be different, but the qualities

  • I've mentioned are still decently prominent. However, there's one thing Date A Live has

  • that most harem shows lack, and that's a main character who isn't a bland self-insert.

  • You see, the point with harem shows is to make the lead male personalty-less so that

  • the audience can insert themselves into his shoes and see themselves with all these wonderful

  • ladies in their fantasies. However, Shido isn't like that. He's a nice guy who genuinely

  • cares for these girls. Perhaps not romantically, but he still goes through the process of seducing

  • them because it's the only way to save them from being murdered. It also helps that Shido

  • typically does an infinitely better job of gaining the trust and affection of these girls

  • when he completely ignores the dating sim dialogue suggestions he's given. They actually

  • show this extremely well, because he essentially gets brainwashed into thinking the dating

  • sim route is the way to go for women, but when he gets genuinely invested and his emotions

  • flare up, he starts saying all the right things. Not because he knows they'll work best, but

  • because those are his genuine feelings and thoughts.

  • This would still kind of get shaken up if the girls all genuinely developed feelings

  • for Shido due to what he does though, but Tohka is really the only one this happens to. The others

  • seem to just know why he did what he did. Similar to how he's seducing the girls without

  • any real romantic feelings because he wants to save them, they understand this mindset

  • and don't develop feelings in return.

  • ...Unless they're just hiding it.

  • I'm still surprised by how much I enjoyed Date A Live. I'm still wondering whether it

  • was a genuinely good show, or if I just approached everything that happened in the right mindset.

  • Who knows? I still say give the show a shot if you haven't already, it could end up surprising

  • you. Even if the show itself doesn't surprise you, the soundtrack just might.

  • Seriously, the soundtrack is pretty amazing. I mean, sure, some of it is generic, happy,

  • anime music; but there are a ton of great tracks on it. Even if you don't like the show,

  • give it a listen. I recommend "Seirei", personally. It's fantastic.

  • And that's my review of Date A Live.

While I normally don't give spoiler warnings in my reviews because it's my personal belief

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Date A Live Review

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    阿多賓 posted on 2013/12/11
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