To Love Ru
The English word ‘love’ is approximated in Japanese as ‘rabu’, making the title of this series, ‘toraburu,’ which itself is the Japanese rendering of the English word ‘trouble.’ Thus the title is an awkward pun on ‘love’ and ‘trouble,’ which more-or-less describes the plot of the series.
To Love Ru borrows a lot from Urusei Yatsura. A beautiful alien princess comes down to Earth and, through a misunderstanding, commits to marrying a teenage boy who feels less serious about her than she does about him. Like UY‘s Lum, To Love Ru‘s Lala has the ability to fly and is in possession of an endless supply of bizarre alien technology. She’s kind, but naive, and is constantly being plagued by people from her past.
The male protagonist, Rito, is quite unlike UY’s Ataru. He’s a nice guy, and while he doesn’t love Lala, he is loath to hurt her (and risk retribution from her alien-invader father). So, he plays along with their sham relationship while trying to keep it at arms-length, as he is actually in love with one of his classmates, Haruna.
One of the running gags of the series is placing Rito in awkward situations, typically involving a nude woman (the nudity is usually covered with conveniently placed objects). There’s at least one in every episode, so if you like seeing nude anime girls, or think it’s hilarious when a guy trips and falls face-first on to a woman’s chest, then this show has you covered.
Aside from the fan service, To Love Ru is a passable comedy. It’s not uproariously funny, but there are some fun secondary characters, like the alien with the rocket pack, and the girl who was the most beautiful in the school until Lala showed up. It’d be nice if more time were devoted to character-based comedy, but the show is too busy setting up the next half-naked girl shot.
The animation is typical of late-night anime. The fighting scenes fare well, while the fan service usually consists of a slow pan over a still shot. It’s not amazingly detailed, but not so bad as to be stilted.
The series take a lot of cliches from old magical-girlfriend/harem shows, but doesn’t put its own stamp on any of them. It’s a lot of decent ideas played out by utterly forgettable characters. It’s not that Rito and Lala are unlikable, they’re just empty of any defining characteristics other than ‘nice.’
The DVDs from Sentai Filmworks present the 13 episodes on two discs. Video is anamorphic widescreen (with the original Japanese credits and titles), and audio is Japanese only, with removable English subs. The only extras are clean opening and closing credits.