What They Say:
As close encounters of the twisted kind between the residents of the planet Deviluke (represented primarily by the female members of the royal family) and the inhabitants of Earth (represented mainly by one very exhausted Rito Yuuki) continue to escalate, the situation spirals even further out of control.
When junior princesses Nana and Momo transferred into Earth School where big sister Lala can (theoretically) keep an eye on them, things SHOULD be smooth sailing. But when Momo decides she’d like to “supplement” Rito’s relationship with Lala with a little “sisterly love,” you know Lala’s not going to waste any time splitting harems.
Unfortunately, it’s just about that point that Yami, the Golden Darkness, enters the scene with all the subtleness of a supernova, along with an army of possessed high school students! All of which is certain to make Rito’s life suck more than a black hole at the family picnic. Unless, of course, a certain semi-demonic princess can apply a little of her Devilukean Whoop Ass to exactly that portion of certain other heavenly bodies!
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this release is simple and straightforward as we get only the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series has a good mix of dialogue, wacky dialogue and action pieces to it that keeps it lively and flowing. The nature of the show is one that fits your standard romantic comedy with slice of silly action material well as the forward soundstage moves well through as we get a good range of material which does some decent placement at times and certainly with plenty of faster pieces as they move across the screen. The big action pieces aren’t exactly huge in a way and they lack a lot of punch but they fit for this kind of show. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is on one disc only with the twelve episode season as a whole here. Animated by Xebec, who has handled all the seasons so far, the series definitely holds up well compared to the previous ones and takes it on to the next level in terms of overall quality. The colors are very rich here with a lot of beautiful shading, a lot of great detail to be had throughout and some great solid backgrounds with the colors that hits all the right marks. The series really works the fanservice in this season and having something that just pops out in such a big way with the transfer here definitely makes it worth it. It’s a great looking release that will make fans very happy.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc inside. This season works a similar look and design as the previous releases, making for some nice continuity as the cover has a good black framing which makes the various pinks stand out all the more. The logo looks good as well as we get the same style as before with the rich colors that lets it stand out nicely The character artwork is certainly appealing with its bright vivid colors that lets us get a good look at Momo, Mea and Yami together in their school uniforms. The back cover follows the same layout with the framing while bringing in one piece of character artwork that looks really nice. There’s a lot of shots from the show through the lower middle that shows off the character designs as best as you can with a small space. The summary provides the usual comical look at the premise of the show while the rest is given over to the production credits and a clean accurate technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is a pretty colorful and engaging one with what it does as we get pink and blue swirls dominating the background done in a light way. It’s got a kind of softness to it but it’s just so vibrant that it doesn’t feel weak. The character focus is on Momo and Yami as they’re back to back, which looks very cute with the colors and detail.. The right side provides the menu navigation strip which is essentially just the episodes by number and title which has a lot of pop as well with the pink, black and white while the second volume has a touch more with the extras submenu. The release has no language options and the whole thing moves smoothly and looks good when used as a pop-up menu.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a couple of fun seasons behind it, I was definitely glad that another season of To Love Ru was made with Darkness. The previous seasons had a lot fun as it introduced us to Rito and Lala and the kind of simple relationship that existed, even if we get plenty of the usual lead male is so nervous that he can’t close any deal even if it’s pretty signed and sealed right on his lap. With this season, Lala and Haruna are pushed more to the background here, along with a few other characters, as the focus turns more towards Yami and Momo with a dose of a new character named Mea. Unfortunately, this season comes across as pretty incomplete in a way because of the main arc with Mea that develops, but honestly I can’t really find fault with it because so much of it is just so much fun. While it’s annoying, it’s not the end of the world because the fun is in watching the regular ongoings in Rito’s life and the women around him.
While Lala and Haruna are more background here, Momo certainly steps up to the plate. Her main goal here this season, light as it is, involves her Project Harem plan. She’s intent on getting Rito to accept the idea that as the next king of Deviluke that having a harem, concubines or whatever name he wants to apply to it will be perfectly fine and acceptable. And it will solve all of the issues that he has in that there are several women that are in love with him and want to be with him. So she’s going to make him understand the kind of closeness that others want by getting closer to him herself so that he can realize it. That means she’s doing her best to really seduce him, which isn’t easy since Mikan is on the case and he is regularly surrounded by others. But she gets a lot of opportunities and uses each and every one of them.
What adds a little more to all of this is that she really loves him and is looking to make it happen. It’s not a crush or something that’s just a whim, you really do get into her head at times, and towards the end, to see that she really cares for him while also having a deep craving to be loved herself. It’s a very natural thing and quite understandable for the age and with the connection with her sister. While Momo has some awkward elements to her at times, there’s a lot to like with the way she goes about it while struggling with how far she’s going. She has such lusty dreams of Rito and puts herself into a position to be utterly used by him, but she also knows that she’s completely safe with him which makes it easier to do. At the same time, when he actually does touch her – not in a sexual way at that – she recoils because she realizes what being intimate could really mean and be about. There’s a good story to be had with her across this that you can easily root for her.
While this dominates, we get another main storyline across this as well. This comes in the form of a new student named Mea that has arrived. She ends up befriending Nana, who is having her own struggles in being Momo’s sister since people tend to ignore her compared to the way Momo stands out. So when Mea makes friends, it’s an easy in for Mea into Rito’s group, which is part of her larger goa. We get the clues early on that she’s working for some other entity that’s intent on getting Yami back into her proper role of being the Darkness again so that she can battle her as there’s an old grudge between them that’s slowly revealed. The focus on Yami in the role she’s taken on since deferring her assassination contract on Rito is interesting because we do see how she’s finally figuring out who she is rather than who she was made to be. Yami’s a hard character to get into since she has such a facade over her, but her arc that’s mixed into the season gives her a chance to be humanized more and to have some really touching moments with Rito when the two are bonded together for a day as she reveals more of her past that helps to explain a lot of things about her. She hasn’t been a favorite of mine since her introduction but she definitely is a lot more interesting this time around.
While all of this plays out, we get plenty of silliness as well which obviously makes the whole thing a good deal of fun. One episode has Rito being gender swapped for awhile and there’s all kinds of hilarity with that, especially when he finally takes a little bit of time to explore his body. We get another story that spends sometime focusing on Ren and her alien nature with the way she flips genders and ends up going through a strange maturation process as well. Mikan has some great material as we get a bit more of her relationship with others as well as the growing depth between her and her brother. Thankfully Celine gets little time but we get a good episode focusing on Kotegawa as well as Momo tries to prod her into revealing herself to Rito to further Project Harem. We also get another new character in this season with Tearju, a woman who had cared for Yami when she was young and instrumental in how Yami had changed. This is a lot of setup for future material but there’s some hilarious fanservice involved when she takes on a teaching position, having been friends with Mikado, and she and Rito end up with some heavy naked time. With socks.
Fanservice is nothing new with a series of this nature, though To Love Ru Darkness really ups in terms of quality as it has a high level of it here with designs, fluidity of animation and detail. Where it does stand out even more though compared to other fanservice shows is that it provides copious amounts of nudity throughout it, not just winks and nods with smoke and mirrors. It goes all out in being a very sexual show where the breasts are bared, the poses are overt and there’s plenty of hands on material. It, of course, doesn’t go all the way because it can’t, but they come close. Hell, there’s a dream sequence with Rito force feeding Momo an ice cream stick that provides pretty much everything you need. It’s very easy to feel guilty about watching all of this, particularly when you factor in the high school ages, but at the same time you have to admire the beauty of the animation and designs and just how much they put into it. I’m probably destined for a special kind of hell for enjoying this. But enjoy it I did.
To Love Ru Darkness gives me everything I want out of a series like this. It gives me gorgeous animation, great designs and plenty of boobs, sex jokes and seduction moments that make me laugh and enjoy the whole process. But it also gives me some pretty good characters with their motivations, feelings along with dreams and desires. It can be viewed as a pure panty fest to be sure, or a show that has a habit of baring its breasts constantly, but it also delves into some fun character material. And it does it by spending the season working with the supporting cast from the previous seasons as it shuffles most of the female leads off to the side, though everyone gets their chance at story material as well. With the size of the cast and the kind of harem situation going, they did some great stuff this time around and the payoff was more than enough for me. It left me wanting a whole lot more.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.