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To Love Ru Darkness Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

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To Love Ru Darkness DVD Complete Collection
To Love Ru Darkness DVD Complete Collection

As if Rito Yuuki’s life couldn’t get any more complicated, someone out there wants to push Golden Darkness into carrying out her job to assassinate him. Who is this mysterious enemy and can Rito survive?

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! It’s “Wham, bam, thank you, Space Ma’am” time once again in TO LOVERU DARKNESS!

The Review:
Audio: 
Being entirely dialogue-driven and lacking action, the Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital 48Khz 224 kbps audio mainly came out of the center speaker. In general the audio was fine, except for a few odd places where it was somewhat muted. Not exactly a dropout, but as a character from off-screen came on screen, she could barely be heard until coming full center of the frame during one scene.

Video: The video has some noticeable issues with dot crawl and other noise, especially noticeable with some items in the usual red/pink color range. This despite bitrates that floated near 7 quite a lot during some of those scenes where I clearly spotted it. It is not constant and was most noticeable in part of the closing animation, which can’t quite be Sentai’s fault since they no longer do any replacement of credits for opening and ending segments. This is the video they were given by the original production team. Fortunately, it was not a constant irritant and there were other stretches of the show where the video looked quite clean and crisp.

Packaging: 
The two discs are housed in a standard DVD keepcase, using a flippy hinged holder in addition to the back cover for the discs. The discs themselves feature character artwork. The front cover shows a picture of Yami, Momo, and newcomer Mea in the school uniforms of Rito’s school. The back has a large picture of Kotegawa, Lala, and Run to the right of the catalog copy, framed by screenshots from the show. The technical grid is at the bottom, containing the usual run of information. The episodes are split evenly, six to each disc.

Menu: The menu design is simple and straightforward, with a piece of artwork showing the girls on the left side of the screen, while the list of episodes on the disc are arrayed descending in order on the right side, giving easy access to a particular episode as desired. At the bottom is the link to what limited extra disc content there is. A looped piece of the opening theme or the ending theme plays depending on which menu you are on. Access times are fast and the menus serve their purpose well enough.

Extras: The first disc has the regular run of trailers for shows either just released or soon to be released along with the disc authoring credits. The second disc has the clean opening and closing animation. That’s it, nothing else.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Following the first two seasons, To Loveru and Motto To Loveru, we now have have the latest batch, To Loveru Darkness. From the title, one would think that this season would focus on Konjiki no Yami, Golden Darkness, the cute and quiet yet lethal assassin who originally wanted to kill Rito Yuuki, but now largely ignores him, though she has become very close to his sister Mikan. And there is indeed a larger overarching plot involving a shadowy figure, whom we learn much later goes by the name Nemesis, who is trying to spur Yami to kill Rito. The title of the season and this connecting thread, however, wind up being little more than a giant red herring. No, it’s not that Yami does not feature prominently in this season, nor is this menacing threat unreal or insignificant. It’s just that by the end of the season, there is no resolution at all to the situation, one of the reasons why I’ve given a story content grade on the C-level (it could have gone lower). By the end of the season, you have to wonder a bit, “So what?” There are revelations, plenty of revelations about Yami’s past and about this shadowy figure who menaces our hapless idiot milquetoast harem leader, but there is no grand battle, no dramatic confrontation to end the season. That’s not such a bad thing, really, but it does make this whole larger plot seem like little more than a red herring, meant to distract us from what this season does well.

The reason why the grade is a C+ and not lower for the story is that there is one thing this season does do which improves upon the previous ones, though not enough to earn this a higher grade. If the season had instead been titled “Momo’s Harem Project” and left out some of the pseudo-menace, it would have rated higher. That’s because the real star of this season has to be Momo Belia Deviluke, the younger sister of Lala (who takes a backseat to events for the most part). This is a very good choice actually since Momo is far more interesting than most of the other female members of Rito’s harem. A complete faker who puts on a goody-two-shoes front at school while she can be a Machiavellian plotter at heart with a mean streak you don’t want to evoke, something very interesting happens to Momo. While the process was already underway in earlier episodes, it is during this season that Momo’s constant playing around with Rito, her frequent attempts at seduction at all hours, begin to change into something a bit deeper. She begins to fall in love with Rito for real.

To a certain extent, one can understand it. For all of her attempts at seduction and quite forward moves that could drive a eunuch to sexual arousal, Rito remains steadfastly correct (or cowardly, as it depends on how you see things) in his behavior. Where I think most heterosexual males would have given in to their instincts, Rito does not take advantage of Momo’s playing at sex. This resistance put up by Rito does much to help change her attitude, since by the end of the show we see that all of her bravado and apparent maturity is just a false front (not a surprise for Momo, who normally shows us only facades, not her real feelings). That hesitancy, however, comes from the more genuine feeling of love that develops inside of her, making her react to Rito’s unexpected touch with surprise and an urge to retreat. While she claims to want to turn Rito from a herbivore who could not impregnate a woman even if she basically threw herself at him and ordered him to do it into a hot-blooded man, when the situation potentially comes to be, she shrinks back.

The truth of Momo’s feelings are not lost on Mikan, who gets a good single focus episode later on in the run where she expresses her growing envy of the place Momo seems to be taking in Rito’s life. Thankfully no overblown histrionics, no idiotic cat-fighting, since we’re not dealing with one of those younger sisters with “the sickness” that has stricken too many younger sisters of late in anime. Instead, an acknowledgement by Mikan that Momo has some serious feelings for Rito now, though Rito appears to remain utterly oblivious to the whole thing.

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