There's no doubt that this one was the best so far in the To Love-Ru series, but I feel extremely conflicted about multiple aspects of this show. There were some awesome things that they did, but also a lot that I really despised.
Unlike the first two series which followed a mini-ep format, this one actually does have an extended plot which is developed throughout all 12 episodes. There are some branch-offs here and there, but they actually contribute to plot movement or character development, so there's no wasted episodes here. This time we actually have a central conflict, but the comedic aspect is retained as Momo hatches her very own plan, as you'll see when you start watching, so I'm definitely glad that they actually decided to make a plot this time...but I feel they didn't tell it very well. There are a lot of serious moments in TLR Darkness (much more serious than any scenes in the previous two), but the seriousness was not developed enough to have the impact that it should have. There were inappropriate comedic scenes mixed into the serious scenes which diminished the serious tone, or the serious conflicts were not elaborated enough to get us viewers into the mood and fully understand the situation. It's quite hard to explain without me spoiling the plot, and you might not even notice the issues that I'm talking about since they're pretty subtle, which means TLR Darkness didn't have any blatant problems, which is good! But comparatively, TLR Darkness went through a major improvement from the first two (unless you really just enjoy filler comedy episodes), so it's definitely something to look forward to when you begin.
The show has come a long way since the first one; the art is top-notch.
I've enjoyed all the opening and ending themes for all the series, and I don't think they disappointed with this one either.
This category is probably where my biggest ambivalence lies. On one hand, some of the characters really get developed like Yami, Kotegawa, Momo and Nana (Momo is actually listed as a main character here because she really is), while others nearly completely fall out of the picture like Haruna, Saki, and most regrettably, Lala. Lala gets maybe 30 min screen time total in all 12 episodes, and that part really made me sad since I had always considered her the most entertaining character in the show. Part of it is because of the introduction of even more characters, as if Rito's harem wasn't already large enough, and the cramped 12 episodes instead of the 24 in the first one really didn't allow all of those characters to get the spotlight.
But the characters that did get screen time go through some fantastic growth which was enjoyable to watch as we learn about Yami's past, Momo's true nature behind her devilish ideas, and explore Mikan and Rito's sibling bond even further. On top of individual development, the writers also did a great job developing the relationship between the characters since basically half of Rito's harem lives in his house now; we get to see how all of the girls in the house interact with one another.
I'll say it plainly: there wasn't enough Lala. That sounds extremely picky and trivial on my part, but why did we fall in love with this show in the first place? Sure, the fanservice may have initiated our interests, but fanservice can't sustain a viewer through 3 seasons. It was the highly interesting character of Lala Deviluke and her plans to make Rito fall in love with her as well as her quirky inventions that caused us to keep watching, and while the other characters are unique and intriguing in their own ways, the nearly complete disappearance of Lala made it feel like there was an enormous gap in the show. I only hope that they bring her back in the next season (I really hope there's a next season because the show has only been improving).
Enormous improvement in almost all aspects, except for Lala's screen time, which in my opinion is key to this show. If you don't really mind that Lala goes behind the curtains in this installment, then TLR Darkness will definitely be a fun and enjoyable watch!
Thanks a bunch for reading and do click helpful if you found it so :)