What They Say:
Shido and his assembly of adorable aliens are back in the second season of this sci-fi rom-com romp! Itsuka Shido was a once a normal high schooler. But after a spacequake started by an armored girl rocked his world, life was never the same. Tohka, the extra-cute extraterrestrial continued to wreak havoc until Shido sealed her powers with a loving kiss.
For a guy whose kiss can seal a Spirit, Shido’s still not great with the ladies. In addition to the sealed Spirits he already must appease, he’s got three more beautiful girls with volatile powers vying for his attention. And with a mysterious organization on the hunt for Tohka, the DEM’s various attempts to subdue Fraxinus, and a new lady loving Spirit, Shido can kiss his normal life goodbye!
Contains episodes 1-10 of season 2.
The audio presentation for this release is pretty straightforward as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English adaptation is in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The tracks are locked with their subtitles so you can’t change on the fly to sample things. The series works a pretty good mix here, which is accented more in the English track from the limited sampling we did, as there’s a good bit of dialogue throughout it in standard “date” fare but also a lot of action. And the action does go big, noticeably enough in the original stereo track but with a bit more oomph in the English mix. There’s a good working of the dialogue since a lot of it is done through the earpiece and with a variety of characters throughout the show so we get some decent placement and depth with various scenes. The action works it all a bit more since it has some good destruction sequences and other attacks which utilizes the full soundstage even more. The series is definitely using the sound design well and it translates in a clean, clear and crisp form here without any problems.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The ten episodes plus the OVA episode are spread across two discs with eight on the first and three on the second. Animated by Production IMS, the series has a solid look to it that combines the great kind of fanservice that you’d expect from them with the detail and fluidity of the action that really sells it all the more. The show has a lot of detail in both characters and backgrounds and some strong animation across the board that it’s one of those shows that really feels like it’s the full package. Designs are great, colors are solid though they feel like they have a bit less pop than the first season, detail holds up very well and there’s nothing of significant note to really complain about overall. It’s very easy to get drawn into this release and just enjoy the visual quality of it all.
The packaging for this release is pretty nice as we get a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs from the two formats inside. The set comes with an o-card that replicates the artwork of the case but it comes across with a brighter and more colorful feeling to it. THe artwork is definitely good as it’s got the familiar layout of a lot of characters in a tree format that shows off a good bit of detail to them as well as some good colors. The focus is certainly more on the newer characters here so their prominence on the cover makes sense, even if Shido and Kotori are reduced to almost not being there. The back cover works some good Tohka imagery on the right for the background with a serious look and color design while the bottom has a good strip of shots of four of the main characters that take prominent roles in this set. They’re done large enough to be really welcome here as they’re not small and scrunchy pieces. The premise is covered well and we get a decent breakdown of the discs extras a well. The technical grid along the bottom works well for both formats with everything clean and clear and largely readable. The case artwork itself is identical while it also has some artwork on the reverse side where it breaks down the episodes by number and title. The left side gets a Miku shot while the right side has the Yamai sisters getting their moment in the sun. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for this release is decent overall as it plays to some aspects of the color design but for the most part is fairly traditional for FUNimation. We get a decent purple shaded strip along the bottom with the navigation which has the standard selections that all load quickly and easily, both during the main menu and during playback as a pop-up menu. The logo sits along the top in a clean way with it done all white while various clips play throughout it, as well as just some flash of blue early on that helps to sell the logo for it. The menu isn’t one that will surprise anyone or blow them away, but it hits all the right notes and works well.
The release is a bit slim on extras as we get a couple of fun English language cast commentary tracks for a few episodes and the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. There’s also the brief 17-second promo spot for the feature film announcement which is essentially just text.
After a successful first season back in 2013, Date A Live came back in the spring of 2014 with a second season and the announcement at the end that a theatrical feature was in the works. This season was a bit shorter at just ten episodes plus a follow-up standalone OVA and normally I’d be in favor of this since it can cut out some of the fluff and be a bit more story oriented. With Date A Live, I actually enjoy the fluff since it’s what drew me to it with the silly characters and situations through their interactions. The shortening of the series means that it’s more story oriented and that just didn’t work as well for me since the main story isn’t something that I find compelling. Mostly because it is almost a boilerplate kind of story.
With so much set up in the first season, this one gets to move right into things where life has moved into a routine kind of way and that’s a big positive for the cast. Life for Shido and the girls is about as you’d expect as they try to keep Tohka’s emotional levels right so that she doesn’t blow up the world. Origami is going through a fairly standard life here as well, getting a bit closer to Shido at times, but is moved more to a supporting player here this time around. Kotori makes out the worst as she’s shunted to a much smaller role where she’s largely in the base rattling off commands from time to time. She probably has about ten minutes worth of screen time throughout the season, or at least it feels that way. Pretty much everyone at the base has a far reduced role compared to the first season. Even Tohka’s role feels like it’s slimmed down a bit from the first season, though she has the expected larger role as things get serious toward the end.
And that main premise here is that the entity known as the DEM corporation, aka the Deux Ex Machina corporation, wants to draw out the true power of the princess that Tohka is and essentially end the world. There are teases of larger goals here but it’s not something that really comes through in a compelling way here. The man behind it, Ike, is a non-entity when you get down to it as it’s a one-dimensional character that pops up with bland dialogue from time to time. Where he makes out a bit better is in his minion Ellen, a young woman that he sends to track and understand Tohka early on and then to capture her later. She’s got some good combat skills and fits in with the general character design style here that makes her appealing to watch as it unfolds. The DEM is just so perfectly named that I have a hard time giving it grief, especially since “story” isn’t why I really watch the show but rather the characters. The goal is simple and somewhat achieved at the end but there are no real surprises how the arc plays out. Anyone who watches this type of show can figure it out from the first episode if not the first half or less of the first episode. That’s just how things work at this time with these kinds of works. The radical ones are just that, radical and rare.
What this show does do that works well is have fun with the characters. Shido’s need to keep Tohka in a calm state has a lot of fun things that happen because of it since she gets upset easily. When she sees that Shido is off with Origami for a while, her jealousy ramps up. It doesn’t help that she’s watching bad TV dramas herself or that Shido is carrying a suitcase that he’s taking to get fixed, she just fills in with her mind everything that’s going on with the worst case scenario. That doesn’t say much for Tohka and it’s very easy to admit that. It also doesn’t help for the writers because she’s just such a simple character as adapted from the numerous light novels. Again, this is what the audiences want and the writers are delivering it in this field. It’s silly and goofy and could all be solved with maybe thirty seconds of communication between two characters. But that’s a great many shows as misunderstandings are the basis for them.
One of the early arcs that worked well for me involved the school trip for the gang that takes them to a crescent island where there’s all the expect fun in the sand and sun elements. It’s not as fanservice heavy as it could be, or you’d expect it to be, but it’s light and engaging in all the right ways. It’s here that we’re introduced to two more spirits in the form of the Yamai sisters, Kagura and Yuzuru. The quirk of these two is fairly fun in that they were originally one person that was split into two and when they eventually recombine one of them will disappear because of it, leaving the other dominant. Hence they fight it out to win – though each wants to win in order to let the other take over. Naturally, Shido gets caught up in it since he’s really good with spirits but it’s the personalities of the pair that works since they’re obviously opposites but also just filled with enough character to be cute. It also doesn’t hurt that after their arc their roles are reduced for the most part so that they’re not driven into the ground or dominating the whole season.
A bit less enjoyable is the introduction of the spirit Miku, who gets codenamed with Diva since she’s an idol singer. My tolerate for idol material within a show that’s not about idols is minimal because it’s just a forced way to try and generate interest from that segment of fandom. Miku doesn’t really feel like she fits in the series because of that and you get that whole “she’s here to move merchandise” angle about her. There are some fun moments of banter between her and Shido as they deal with each other and she has her usefulness in the final arc just as the Yamai sisters do, but that’s just it; they’re written for their end roles more than anything else. It’s a rare series that doesn’t add more and more new characters in quick succession these days.
We also get some time where Shido has to crossdress in order to achieve the goal du jour. These are, as always, stupidly fun.
This set also includes an OVA and these kinds of episodes can really go in some bigger ways when not restricted by broadcast standards. Date A Live opts to got sweet instead of sexy here as it focuses on Shido connecting up with one of Kurumi’s selves that split off. That version of Kurumi is interested in making good memories with him amid the Tanabata festival and it’s the right kind of sweet as we see them doing things together – at least until they get caught out by the real/evil Kurumi. While Shido is your standard bland male character, I’ll admit that I actually like him fairly well compared to some others because he’s not as wishy washy as many of them are. So seeing his good guy side here isn’t a problem and it works well with what this Kurumi wants, which is a nice change of pace from the darker Kurumi that we usually get to deal with.
While the second season of Date A Live didn’t wow me as much as the first season did, some of it was probably the change from AIC+ to Production IMS in terms of visual design, there are a lot of things to like. But in the end it suffers from the sophomore season problem in that it feels like it isn’t quite sure what it wants to do and it feels more like setup for something else rather than its own beast. It adds more cute characters at the cost of diminishing most of the existing ones but it expands the world just a bit. It’s a cute enough season overall that has its moments, I could use a Yamai sisters spinoff to have some fun with that, but it’s like a spinning in place kind of season overall.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Tracks, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, News Flash
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: March 22nd, 2016
Running Time: 280 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.