Published: Mar 19, 2011 to ?
Score: 8.411 (scored by 664 users)
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SynopsisIn the story, a boy named Itsuka Shidou meets a spirit girl who has been rejected by a devastated world. The girl, who Shidou names "Tohka," happens to have wiped out much of humanity 30 years ago, and now she is back. The only way to stop her is to date her.
Related MangaAlternative version: Date A Live, Date A Live
Spin-off: Date A Origami, Date Ast Like, Date A Party
Adaptation: Date A Live OVA, Date A Live, Date A Live II
Side story: Date A Live: Encore
Tsunako is a pretty good character designer.
Tachibana is anything but a good writer.
Guess what the hook of this series was?
This is a very odd series in that it presents itself as a parody of a typical harem genre formula, yet it strives to be one at the same time for some reason. Very strange.
Let's first discuss about the art- Tsunako is a pretty good character designer (outside of her tendency to draw incredibly similar faces), so the character designs in this series definitely stand out compared to the others in the market. In fact, Tsunako is probably one of the biggest reasons why this series even got popular in the first place after Neptunia's relative success in the niche market. Unfortunately, her art isn't complemented very well because you got a very questionable writer in the mix. It's really a mixed bag.
The premise is as silly as the title- Shidou, the MC, must date Spirits (basically aliens from another dimension with mostly uncontrollable supernatural powers) to prevent them from killing a bunch of people. I had difficulty taking this premise seriously because the latter sounds awfully grim while the former sounds incredibly silly. Fortunately, (or unfortunately) I'm not the only one who's confused by this weird premise because the author is clearly just as confused.
See, Tachibana is pretty good at setting things up- This includes things like making the premise, introducing the characters, introducing a plot arc, but then he always somehow manages to fuck things up, and completely shits on what could've been above standard. This is incredibly annoying because this series does have a potential to be pretty decent, but it's in the hands of a writer who just doesn't know what he's doing.
To get into more detail, let's discuss about the major characters in this series. There will be some minor spoilers up to Volume 7, so proceed with some caution.
Shidou, the main protagonist, is just a very, very average protagonist. He's that boring, nice guy who almost always does the right thing. While he is clearly inferior to a protagonist like Keima in terms of having a personality, he isn't actively an annoying excuse of a comic relief like Issei from DxD. It'd be great if he got any actual character development, but 7 volumes into the series, and Shidou still manages to be incredibly boring- His personality never changes, so he stays a static character for at least 7 volumes. What a great guy. But you see, there's a reason for that, but more on that later.
Tohka is one of the worst things in this series- Her introduction was pretty decent, though. She's initially very distrusting of everyone, but then in a span of a single chapter, she degenerates into a stupid moeblob who becomes incredibly clingy and manages to be annoying in every scene she's in. There's no character development here- All she needed was a little talk with Shidou and she's suddenly a completely different character. The only real development she goes through the entirety of 7 volumes is her being slightly less clingy so that Shidou can actually progress the plot without her being a complete nuisance, but really- It's a terrible idea to have the main heroine be a complete imbecile. One could also argue that Tohka isn't stupid, but just naive- However, she never actually learns anything and stays stupid, making her mostly a comic relief until she's relevant again so she can help Shidou pull off something he normally can't. Terrible execution of a potentially decent character.
I have very little to say about Origami- She's a good comic relief character, and is presented as a character who is supposed to do both comedy and drama. She can't do the latter because she's hilariously incompetent like the rest of her AST (Anti-Spirit Team) squad, despite supposedly being one of the best in her group. She keeps getting involved in multiple plot points, but she herself never manages to actually be a relevant character for the majority of them. Her motivation is also an antithesis to Shidou's in that she constantly goes after Spirits to kill them as opposed to Shidou's peaceful method, but due to her incompetence, this becomes irrelevant like the rest of her character. Another terrible execution.
Kurumi is a strange character. Majority of fans seem to like this character for all the wrong reasons- One being character design (that alone and/or combined with latter), the other being people wanting to self-insert to Shidou so they can have a stupid yandere fantasy where a crazed girl goes after them and does all the nice things for them except when they're being really envious. It's probably one of the most pathetic wish-fulfillment things I can think of, honestly. But more about this character- She's presented as an antagonist who wants to devour the MC, obtain his McGuffin power, and has a clear objective in her mind. Because this character actually has a motive unlike rest of her kind, she does stand out, and her abilities are pretty interesting as well. But again, this being written by Tachibana, her character execution is again, mediocre at best. She gets built up as this legitimately creepy character who kills people for a hobby, but the worst she does is killing a bunch of fodders. And they're not even regular fodders- They're unlikeable fodders so people can justify that her actions are totally good when they're not based on her profile. If you're trying to make the character seem dangerous, at least make them actively do something actually evil for a change. The dangerous nature behind her character is only in the profile, not her actions- Yes, she actually even attempted to do something legitimately threatening, but it was just immediately stopped. Can't cross that line, oh no! That'd be TOO spooky!
I understand that this series is half-comedy, but I think if you're trying to introduce something like this, I think it takes precedence over comedy.
As for the rest of the Spirits I haven't mentioned yet- If the above was any indication, the same applies to the rest. Decent introduction, awful execution. Yoshino's a fragile girl who's emotionally damaged from being hunted down- Understandable premise behind the character. After her arc, her presence completely disappears and any further character interaction between her and Shidou is nowhere to be seen. Furthermore, her character arc is incredibly short and she isn't given much time to interact or develop with Shidou outside of more talking. Man, this Shidou method must be incredibly easy. All I got to know about this character from the entire arc was that she's a frail girl, which I already got from her character design. ...And that's it. If your plot says less than a character design, then you have a problem with your plot.
Miku is surprisingly a pretty well-written character with fairly descriptive past that explains her trauma and her current personality, and she stays pretty consistent with her profile. She actually feels like a legitimate threat compared to the rest, where everything is resolved by people evacuating and Shidou talking. Tachibana surely can't mess this up. But he did. The man deserves a medal.
She fawns over the MC after her arc and she stays that way. Her past trauma is never really brought up again, and Shidou is all she needs to stay sane. What. The problem doesn't even seem legitimately solved- The idea behind the arc was good, but why the half-assed conclusion?
And more importantly, why keep these characters around when they might as well not exist after their respective arcs? I get it from the pandering standpoint just to maintain the pseudo-harem quota, but it really doesn't make sense to me from the writing standpoint. Wouldn't it be better to just have the MC fail at times so that the audience can't predict what will happen to the Spirits at the end of their arcs? Tachibana says "no." The author just shows that he can't do actual drama, and always has to write an ending where everyone just lives happily ever after. I completely understand that this is half-comedy, but if you're trying to include drama in there, at least stick with it until the end. I'm not arguing that a character must die/disappear to make a drama good, but there is not even a single form of consequence/risk present here. Even in the 7th volume, when all seems completely hopeless, everything just sort of works out and everyone pretends as if nothing happened. No lasting impact whatsoever.
There's no moral lesson learned or anything- Shidou did the exact same thing as always and the problem was solved. That's highly formulaic and boring. The premise behind it wasn't formulaic because it actually tried to be different by combining different plot points, but the solution/conclusion was essentially the exact same thing. Definitely not any way to do proper drama if you're introducing one. Either do it right or don't do it at all.
Without any failures on MC's part (excluding Kurumi, since she's an antagonist), there is completely no sense of accomplishment from Shidou succeeding his missions either. That being said, since Shidou always manages to succeed, he never really develops as a character- He remains the character he was in the first volume, and he will constantly repeat what he always did. Right now, the only thing these supposed fans are looking forward to are "oh when will this new girl join the harem omg she's so qt i cant wait to self-insert! why isnt kurumi saved yet???" instead of "Oh, will Shidou be able to save this Spirit or will the AST/DEM get them? Will he fail or not?" That's really not the kind of fans you want, Tachibana.
Overall, this series is a huge disappointment from start to end. The comedy is pretty decent, but it sometimes feels very inappropriate and out-of-place when some half-assed drama gets thrown in the mix. And the drama can't really be good either since Tachibana just can't write anything but a typical happy ending, so there's no anticipation. The author is trying to do both, yet fails to do both well. It's really a shame because the world building has the potential to be pretty interesting and there's actual few mysteries for the audience to speculate about, but all that is hindered by mediocre writing and unnecessary pandering. While pandering/fanservice doesn't bother me that much, when those get in the way of potentially decent plot and consistent character development, then it's actively annoying. It's like writing a fanfiction of a series, except that you have the authority to make it canon because it's your own. Joy.
Before you say anything, yes, I get it- This is a pretty standard fare for a pseudo-harem/harem genre, but that doesn't mean the writing has to be bad/mediocre. One of the worst things you can say to defend a series is saying something like "You're taking this way too seriously/You have really high expectations." If a series presents a drama, how am I supposed to take it? Not seriously? Half-seriously? If I have to selectively ignore a series' shortcomings until I can get rid of all the flaws to finally conclude that a series is "good," then the series as a whole isn't good. This is no different. You can't cherry-pick only what you like and artificially lower your standards to come to an incomplete conclusion to justify a series. You're not defending it- You're just ignoring its flaws. It's not an argument, it's an excuse. The only time when that excuse would be viable is involving a series targeted for children, and this isn't one.
That being said, this series does hold a lot of promises. The ingredient for something decent is all there, but you just have an incredibly shitty cook. And because of that, those promises will likely never be kept. read more
Related ClubsAnime Discussion Brigade, Brother Complex & Sister Complex, Date a Live, Date A Live (デート・ア・ライブ), Date A Live Girls no Daisuki, Date A Live Valkyrs, Dere Girls Alliance, Icha Icha Research Club, Red Eyes Fanclub, Tokisaki Kurumi FanClub, Yoshino Love
External LinksOfficial Site, MangaUpdates, Wikipedia