Published: Mar 19, 2011 to ?
Score: 8.351 (scored by 773 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 II, Date A Live
Side story: Date A Live: Encore
Tsunako is a pretty good character designer.
Tachibana is a pretty awful writer.
I wonder what the hook was. Every passing volume, I wonder what this series could've been if it was written by someone competent, with the same premise and all. That's a pleasant thought.
After deciding to catch up to the most recent volume, I can pretty much guarantee that the series isn't going to get better. This is a pretty 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. At first this seemed like a very subtle form of self parody, but no- It's literally just a generic harem. It had the potential to be not one, but that has been thrown out of the window a while ago.
The first thing to discuss is art- Possibly the only positive trait in the entire series and the only reason people were compelled to read this series. 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 Tachibana can't write.
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, 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 11 volumes into the series, and Shidou still manages to be incredibly boring- His personality never changes, so he stays a static character for all 11 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.
Origami is a prime example of author not knowing what he wants to do with his characters: 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. Furthermore, there is a very obvious, sad excuse of a plot twist later in the series that was seen from miles away who bothered to check the characters' names. Not only is the plot twist completely unsuccessful in making her a better written character, but it also manages to take away what relevant trait she had as a character- Meaning, she's completely empty as a character now. Must be a mandatory thing for harem.
Kurumi is one unique character that had the potential to be good. Unfortunately that did not work out very well because the author couldn't decide whether to use this character for pandering or to use her in the original intended purpose. He decided to do both and added another contrived thing in the mix by making her a deus ex machina to resolve yet another contrived plot element later in the series. Despite her overwhelming popularity, no one actually likes this character aside from very shallow reasons like her gothic lolita design and the personality trait she's constantly attributed with (ie yandere) although she's really not one. Apparently fans' interpretation of an insane character who wants to cannibalize a character means they are crazily in love or something. I don't think that's how love works. But I guess those self-insert fans needed something to justify liking this character aside from her character design.
Here's the thing about this particular character: 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 would be too spooky! At her introduction, she was the only legitimate malevolent spirit, which could've been a cool way to tell a story by having a spirit that's not "misunderstood" for once. But now due to fan popularity, she seems to be heading towards the whole "totally good guy all along with extreme motives" which is just setting flags for her to be yet another empty harem fodder because there clearly needed more. It also eliminates any and all possibility of a spirit possibly being actually genuinenly evil for once and making all possible future spirits and their characterizations to be incredibly predictable. Honestly, despite the direction this is going, Kurumi is really the only decent character trapped in this shitty series. Send help before it's too late. Someone.
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. All I got to know about this character from the entire arc was that she's a frail girl who gets scared a lot, which I already got from her character design. And there's no more to it. If your writing says less than a character design, then you have a problem with your characterizations.
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 to the spirit until they feel bored enough to let him kiss them to resolve the arc. But then 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. The problem doesn't even seem legitimately solved- The idea behind the arc and the character was good, but why the half-assed conclusion? What's with the pacing?
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 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? 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. 10th/11st volume, deus ex machina comes to save the day. Sure, the method had presented itself in previous volumes, but the character capable of using the said method never showed the intent (or even hinted at it) of using that particular method in that particular manner, especially considering the resources it takes for that character to make it happen in the first place.
Without any failures on MC's part (excluding Kurumi), 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. In fact, there is not a single significant character development for Shidou eleven volumes in. This poor writing can all be attributed to the awful fanbase the author constantly tries to please via pandering. 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 actively wondering whether Shidou will succeed or not. Of course they wouldn't. He always succeeds. Good writing? What's that?
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. Even the whole "choose your action/say something" comedy gimmick got old 3 volumes in, so that's yet another example for highly formulaic everything this series offers. While pandering 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 (since the author is pandering to popularity based polls by fans), except that you have the authority to make it canon because it's your own. The proper way to handle it would be to just settle it with side stor- Oh, the author already does that but apparently it's not enough, so it gets shoved into the main plot anyways.
I had my doubts for this series- In fact, I thought that maybe this was all just a clever parody deep down, but then I realized that was giving this series way too much credit. The most disappointing thing, surely, is that it had the potential to be a clever parody- But then it fell on itself and became the exact thing it was supposed to be parodying, and in the most generic way possible. Furthermore, even if it's generic- It could've been good with some creative writing, but even that wasn't the case here.
A lot of people defend this series with some hilarious claims like "You're taking this way too seriously/You have really high expectations." But here's the thing: 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. Some people claim that you'd need to "turn off your brain" to enjoy a series, but would you really be considered enjoying it if you actually have to do that? Or is that considered just being willfully ignorant?
That being said, this series held a lot of promises- But that is no longer the case. The series devolved into what is possibly one of the most generic harem series I've ever read, and I can't really see it coming back from it. If you want a quality writing and/or actual comedy that doesn't rely on boring gags involving women's tit sizes and asses, look somewhere else and stay far, far away from this. 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, Light Novels Alliance!, Red Eyes Fanclub, Tokisaki Kurumi FanClub, Yoshino Love
External LinksOfficial Site, MangaUpdates, Wikipedia