The Winter 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Date A Live III

How would you rate episode 1 of
Date A Live III ?

What is this?

Life has settled down into a calm state for Shido – or at least as calm as he can be when he's juggling the romantic interests of a half-dozen sealed Spirits and one aggressive classmate. Another spatial quake warning sends him out to a ruined amusement park to meet the newest Spirit, the green-haired Natsume, who dresses like a witch and uses magical powers to render AST attackers comically ineffective. Although things go well at first, he inadvertently offends her, and her retribution comes by pretending to be him and trying to ruin his reputation at school. When that effort ultimately gets thwarted by Origami and Tohka, she resorts to a much more involved plan that could result in one of the people around him disappearing. Date A Live III is based on a light novel series and streams on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 9:30 AM EST.

How was the first episode?

Theron Martin


I'll be frank: I've never found the Date A Live franchise more than sporadically entertaining, even by harem standards. I didn't go into this third season with much enthusiasm or anticipation, so the first episode would have had to be pretty bad to disappoint me. Thankfully it wasn't, but until its final twist landed, it also didn't do anything to increase my interest. It just kind of exists.

The episode opens with a tired gag about the guy having to brave the horrifically atrocious cooking of one of his love interests (in this case all of them), though it does show at least some slight inspiration by having the food turn out to taste better than it looks. The chain reaction of girls pretending to have burnt lips so they can get kisses from Shido is probably supposed to be funny but just comes across as lame harem antics, as if the series needed to do something to remind everyone what its central appeal is supposed to be. Things pick up better when new Spirit Natsumi shows up. Though she more or less fills the missing role of the seductress (Kurumi sort of played that role, but that label doesn't feel accurate for her), the curious way her magic works can be entertaining, and a mystery now lingers about what embarrassing thing she thinks Shido saw. The effectiveness of her ability to imitate Shido promises trouble, which Shido only gets out of this time because the ladies around him are such obsessive freaks that they can even identify when his eye blinks are slightly off. Her plan to mess with Shido, as outlined at the end of the episode, is pure devilry, the one spark of inspiration in the episode. Basically, she's turned this into a challenge to see whether or not Shido knows his friends, Spirits, and teacher well enough to spot tiny discrepancies.

This challenging conflict is good, because the visuals certainly aren't going to carry this installment if the first episode is any indication. Though the director remains the same, this is the third different studio to animate this franchise, and J.C. Staff's effort is distinctly the weakest one yet. Characters seem slightly off-model compared to earlier seasons and not as crisply drawn and colored as what we've seen before. The music is still fine, but this is a worrisome sign.

Overall, the first episode will probably satisfy more firmly established fans, but I can't see it winning over fence-sitters like me.

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