Anyone who is familiar with visual novels of any kind is probably familiar with the fact that many of these games involve choices that the player must make and depending on these choices, they will be progress down a certain route. Well what if these choices had to be made to actually date a person who has the potential to destroy a city? That is where Date A Live comes in and now that the first season has been released in North America, is it worth picking up?
Thirty years prior to the events that begin in Date A Live, the world was devastated by a massive disaster called a “spatial quake” that killed millions of people. Since that day various spatial quakes have appeared around the world at random times, though they were rare until five years ago when they began again but this time mostly in Japan. The populace has learned to prepare for these massive disasters that tear apart the landscape and generally leave nothing left alive, but even then the amount of damage they produce and the constant threat of these spatial quakes haunt the lives of the populace.
That doesn’t seem to bother a certain high schooler named Shido however, as he begins his day with his little sister Kotori gleefully dancing on his bed to wake him up. Being the loving brother he is, Shido lets her off with only minor teasing and promises to meet her later in the day for a family dinner. Despite their plans, a spatial quake alarm sounds and although he should be heading to shelter, he runs to try and protect the stubborn Kotori.
Along the way he finds the epicenter of the spatial quake where he is surprised to find that the source of these quakes seems to be a beautiful girl who begins to attack Shido thinking he is trying to kill her. He doesn’t have much time to react to this however as a squadron of flying female soldiers called the AST, a special task force created to attack the beings that come from spatial quakes and drive them away, appear and begin attacking the girl resulting in Shido passing out.
Things don’t get much better when he wakes up, as he learns that his little sister is actually the commander of a special organization aboard an invisible aircraft that has been created to tackle this situation in a different manner. Kotori explains to Shido that these spatial quakes are caused by Spirits, and that Shido has the power to seal away their power by raising their affection for him and eventually kissing them, allowing these Spirits to live a normal life and avoid causing any additional damage.
Despite sounding rather odd, this actually plays out rather well and creates an interesting harem style story that is a bit different than your average series. This is helped by the fact that as Shido begins to date these Spirits, the first of which is the naïve first spirit Shido names Tohka, he is coached through his dates with them by a team of, for lack of a better term, perverts, and his sister Kotori as they give him various dialogue choices similar to what one would find in a visual novel.
The entire premise works very well thanks to that fact and how likable the cast of characters are in this series. As the series progresses we see how things work with the naïve but devoted Tohka and another more reclusive and shy Spirit named Yoshino, only for things to become a bit more complicated as Shido’s classmate and AST ace, Origami, who seems to have a stalker obsession with Shido, begins to make moves on him as well.
While the first half of the series works well in this regard and there are a number of more humorous episodes focused around some harem antics in the middle, things begin to take a dark turn as Shido encounters a homicidal Spirit that seems all too eager to become close to him, a returning face from the past with numerous secrets, and a blow close to Shido that brings the series to a head with the final episode wrapping up that arc, but leaving plenty to continue on with in the already aired second season.
Rather than follow the standard flow of a harem series, Date A Live stands out as being exceptional by keeping the core cast of characters small enough to manage and giving actual storyline reasons as to why Shido has to date these girls as well as keep them happy with him while also delivering a ton of humor that fans of the genre will be eating up. While some questions are left unanswered and vague, especially regarding Shido and Kotori, it is clear that more will be revealed as the series continues to progress which is a good thing since Date A Live is a series that comes highly recommended.
If there is one thing that can be said about Date A Live outside of its great humor, is the fact that the series has some amazing looking artwork and character designs. While Shido is far from special and the standard look of most of the normal characters is simple, the Spirits in this series really stand out as special looking thanks to how detailed their normal clothing is as well as their appearances. That doesn’t even touch upon their Astral Dresses, which are the outfits they are in when using their abilities, as these outfits are not only even more detailed than normal but thanks to how colorful the series is, really standout as special.
The same can be said for the many action sequences that occur in Date A Live, as the Spirits often clash with the AST or one another in spectacular form that rarely ever sees the animation quality take a dip. In fact, the only time the quality drops at all is when a character reacts to a ridiculous situation for the sake of comedy. It is worth noting that there is some fan-service in this show, but it is very tame considering it is limited to swimsuits and some very partial nudity that really shouldn’t bother anyone.
With the release of Date A Live FUNimation has provided an English dub alongside the Japanese voice track and it pretty good for the most part. While Bryn Apprill, the voice actress for Kotori, does an amazing sounding job with the character and the rest of the cast does well, Michelle Rojas’ voice work doesn’t mesh very well with Tohka’s innocent somewhat idiotic nature after she is sealed away.
There are a few nice sounding pieces of background music used throughout the series but as one would expect, most of the tracks are fairly forgettable. The opening theme “Date A Live” by Sweet Arms is an amazing sounding opening theme, while the series makes use of three different ending themes, “Save the World” and “Save My Heart” by Iori Nomizu are the most common ending themes while “Strawberry Rain” by Iori Nomizu is used once but is actually the best of the three.
There are a number of on-disc bonus features found in Date A Live, with there being a clean opening theme, all three clean ending themes including an extended version of Strawberry Rain, various promo trailers, a teaser for the second season, two commentary tracks and the OVA episode. The two commentary tracks are for episodes 4 and 7 and feature the ADR director Joel McDonald in both, posing the voice cast various questions following the theme of the series.
Also included in this release is the OVA Date to Date which is listed as episode 13. This OVA takes place sometime after Tohka was sealed but before the appearance of Yoshino and it focuses on a date with Origami that the group tries to fail on only for a number of hilarious events to occur and is closed out with another date with Tohka that is also humorous and contains a bit of a call out to the second season’s twin spirits.
Date A Live is a fun series that leaves some questions unanswered in favor of continuing the series later, but provides more than enough entertainment in this first season thanks to its unique premise and a likable cast of characters that work well together to provide viewers with plenty of hilarious moments. With top-notch character designs and an enjoyable storyline Date A Live’s first season is certainly worth checking out.
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