Earlier this week, on June 10, 2014, anime publisher FUNimation Entertainment released “Date A Live” in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, and we took the opportunity to check out this harem, romantic comedy anime based on the series of light novels written by Koushi Tachibana and illustrated by Tsunako.
“Date A Live” takes place in a world that has been devastated by a disaster called a “spacequake”, and now smaller quakes continue to plague the population. The series follows Shido Itsuka, a high school student who lives with his younger sister Kotori. Shido’s life is changed forever when he rushes to his sister’s side, believing her to be in danger during a spacequake, but he instead encounters a young girl with strange abilities, whom he eventually names Tohka.
Tohka is actually a Spirit, powerful beings that are believed to be the cause for the quakes and hunted by the AST, a military branch using powered suits to kill Spirits. After witnessing Tohka battling with a classmate who turns out to be a member of the AST, named Origima, Shido awakens onboard a ship hovering above the city, captained by his little sister. Kotori reveals to him that she is part of a group trying to find a different way to prevent Spirits from causing the quakes, instead of killing them, and Shido may actually be the key.
Shido agrees to help save the Spirits, but is shocked to learn the strategy that Kotori and her team have come up with, in order to save the Spirits, Shido has to go out on dates with them and win them over. Not really comfortable when it comes to dealing with women, Shido receives help from Kotori and her crew, who watch every moment of the date and offer advice throughout.
After a few awkward moments and some interesting advice, Shido manages to get Tohka to like him and they kiss, which seals Tohka’s powers for the time being, preventing any quakes from happening. In getting to know Tohka, Shido also realizes that Spirits aren’t as bad as some might think, and he agrees to continue to help seal the powers of more Spirits, one date at a time.
I enjoyed “Date A Live”, it was similar to some other anime, but it still managed to present the story in an entertaining way. Having Shido try and get to know the girls mid-battle and talk them into going on a date made for some fascinating moments. It also made things interesting when Tohka or Origami, an outright stalker, who both believe that they are in a relationship with Shido, showed up when he is talking to some of the other spirits. And no harem series would be complete without fanservice, although “Date A Live” didn’t go as far as series like “Sekirei”.
Visually, “Date A Live” had a good look, the picture quality was clear and vivid and the animation, even during battles, was smooth. This review is based on the DVD version of “Date A Live”, the Blu-ray version may have an improved visual quality. The characters also had some nice designs, each fit with their personalities well and the girls’ Spirit forms were beautifully designed, I especially liked Yoshino, one of the cuter characters, and her giant puppet.
The English dub was actually my favorite out of the two options, which doesn’t happen often. The Japanese cast match up well and I enjoyed it as well, but I found myself watching the majority of “Date A Live” with the English dub. The English subtitles were all clear, easy to read, remained on screen for a fair length of time and the translations had good flow.
Included as on-disc extras are promotional videos, the clean opening and closing, trailers for other FUNimation Entertainment releases and a teaser for the “Date A Live” second season. Commentary for episodes 4 and 7 are also included, in addition to the OVA, “Date to Date”, in which Shido tries to drive Origami away with some interesting techniques, but she is surprisingly willing to go with whatever he comes up with. This was probably the most fanservice filled episode.
“Date A Live” didn’t have the most original story, but it does a great job of delivering a fun and entertaining harem/comedy experience. It has everything that a harem series should have these days, cute characters, a hapless hero and plenty of potentially violent jealousy. It also added some great action-packed battles and a whole lot of collateral damage. All of the characters were also likeable, although Origami was much crazier than I would have expected, something that becomes very clear in the OVA, if it wasn’t obvious before that point.
Date A Live
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Runtime: 325 minutes
Number of Episodes: 12 + OVA
Number of Discs: 2 DVDs (Also on Blu-ray)
Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles
Age Rating: TV-14
Release Date: June 10, 2014
(A review copy of “Date A Live” on DVD was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.)