Reviewby Theron Martin, May 31st 2012
Motto To Love Ru -Trouble-
Sub.DVD - Complete Collection
For a year now Rito Yuuki has been living with his younger sister Mikan and Lala Satalin Deviluke, the alien princess who adores him, and life is as crazy as ever. Whether it's Lala's twin younger sisters dropping by (one of whom flirts with him regularly), Lala's devices putting him in compromising positions, his attempts to confess to love-of-his-life Haruna going awry, or dealing with an array of weird alien creatures, Rito always seems to have girls around seeking his romantic attention and/or knocking him into next week for sexual harassment-styled transgressions that are almost never his fault. The complications aren't just his, either, as his friend Saruyama has unknowingly fallen for Rito's female form, Yami finds Mikan trying hard to befriend her, Kotegawa realizes that she isn't beyond love, and Run discovers that the star of “Magical Girl Kyouko” has much more in common with her than she would have guessed. But how many sparks will fly when Haruna finally decides that she's ready to openly admit that she's in love with Rito?
Although Motto is the second To Love-Ru TV series, it is not the second series in the franchise; a six episode OVA series, which has yet to be licensed and made legally available in the West, falls in between. That's a problem because the intervening OVAs are not just idle side stories. Among other things, they introduce and explain the presence of three characters who appear at the beginning of episode 1 of this series without any elaboration: Lala's younger (fraternal) twin sisters Nana and Momo and the plant-girl Celine. Nana and Momo explain enough about themselves over the course of this series that viewers who have not seen the OVAs will eventually be able to piece together who the twins are and what they're about, but Celine is never properly explained. (Basically, she's the human-shaped seed of a monstrous, sentient sunflower which once grew in Rito's yard.) The OVAs also cover the first incidence of Rito being turned into a girl, first show the ghost Oshizu in a body, and lay the groundwork for Mikan wanting to get chummy with Yami, all of which come into play in this series. In other words, skipping licensing the OVAs is a big oversight by Sentai Filmworks. Granted, though, To Love-Ru is hardly a complexly-plotted franchise, so fans who have not seen the OVAs should be able to muddle through; the lack of familiarity with certain details ultimately proves to be more annoying than crippling, and the particulars can always be looked up on a Wiki page.
Unlike the first TV series, which used episode-long themes, Motto divides its episodes roughly into thirds, which each third being its own distinct vignette. Except for the last episode, whose parts tell one continuous story, the content of the vignettes in each episode can vary widely; episode 5, for instance, has bits about Saki Tenjouin falling for Zastin, an alien skunk whose spray can temporarily de-age anyone caught in it, and Valentine's Day. The approach works well, as the overwhelming majority of the 36 parts are little more than stupidly silly gags that would wear out their welcome were they to go on much longer than seven minutes. Their comedic values vary widely, with the lamest ones generally relying heavily on worn-down harem stand-bys (although the series does also use some fresh reinterpretations of such gags, such as the part featuring Lala using a device to expand a bath that Rito is, unbeknownst to her, already in) and the funniest ones typically involving utter absurdity and/or unrestrained mayhem, but more often than not the humor generates at least some entertainment value.
The pervasive fan service continues unabated here; in fact, if anything it gets even racier, as almost none of the vignettes go by without some and it's the focus of many of them. The level of detail in what the fan service shows is greater, too, as visible nipples (or at least areolas) are now fairly common, if still typically hazed out from full detail. All of the female characters get involved this time around, too, with even Mikan, who was largely left out of it in the first series, having a few revealing moments. Some of it is even cleverly-handled, although plenty of the classics, like girls rigorously groping other girls, x-ray glasses that can't be removed, accidentally walking in on someone changing, clothes disintegration grenades, and of course teleporting without one's clothes abound. If you don't appreciate and/or have a very high tolerance for fan service then this is not a series for you.
Humor and fan service may be the foci here, but the series is not entirely devoid of other elements. Mikan's efforts to befriend and help more humanize Yami bear fruit here, and the way Run connects with the actress behind the savage magical girl parodies seen in the first series – a girl who is also more than she seems – is one of the series' most intriguing developments. (For that matter, the mere fact that Kyouko becomes a recurring character outside of her TV series is a surprise.) Haruna and Yui get some opportunities for serious self-examination, too, and the one predominately serious part focuses on Risa pretty much forcing Rito to go on what amounts to a date with her, with some unusually intense and weighty consequences at the end. On the downside, Rito has advanced little from being the good-hearted but girl-timid guy he was throughout the first series; he could be the poster child for male harem leads. The unrepentantly randy principal is also, unfortunately, still around and being regularly used for pathetic jokes of questionable taste.
The coloring of this series seems a little softened compared to that of the original, and occasional slips in quality control can be noticed, but otherwise the artistic merits remain consistent. Zastin is still the only male lead who doesn't look dumpy, while the girls get widely-varied appearances and loving attention, especially in the fan service moments; even Rito's female form looks good in a tomboyish way, and at least one of the girls is sure to appeal to just about any taste. The animation here does not impress any more than it did in the first series, while the background art still looks like something that could have been lifted from a typical ero game (in other words, well-drawn but not distinctive).
Opener “Loop-the-Loop” by Kotoko is not as much of a stand-out as the opener for the original series but is still a likeable song which gets things off to an enthusiastic start. Closer “Baby Baby Love” is nice but also generic and forgettable. In between the incidental music is used with consistent effectiveness, regardless of whether a supremely silly, sentimental, or more serious moment is shown.
Sentai Filmworks has not opted to dub this series, either, so it is only available in hard copy form on DVD. The only Extras are clean versions of the opener and closer.
Motto To Love-Ru will never be mistaken for a quality series, but at least it does not pretend to be anything more than what it is: a crazy harem romantic comedy. It mostly sticks to the fan service and humor that are its specialties, occasionally mixes in some clever developments, and uses its serious romance moments sparingly enough that they do not distract or detract. Because of that, it succeeds at being entertaining where other series of the same type would flounder.
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : B
+ Plentiful fan service, some very funny gags, some significant relationship developments.
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