The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
Love After World Domination
How would you rate episode 1 of
Love After World Domination ?
Community score: 4.2
What is this?
Fudo Aikawa and Desumi Magahara are in love. There's only one small problem: they are mortal enemies. Fudo is the red ranger and leader of the fighting force Gelato 5, while Desumi is the reaper princess of the evil organization Gekko. To make matters worse, neither of them have ever been in a relationship before. They have to keep their budding romance a secret, while figuring out how to be in a relationship and juggle their real life responsibilities along the way.
How was the first episode?
Look, what do you want from me? Love After World Domination is an extremely cute and surprisingly well-produced romantic comedy featuring two catastrophically dorky young lovers that are fighting their way through the awkwardness of their own inexperience because they like each other so gosh darned much, and it's a loving homage/spoof of Super Sentai. This show was literally made specifically for me. I am not a strong man. There was never any chance that I would be able to resist the charms of this one.
I could just make this review a straightforward list of the things I loved about this premiere. The sentai team is themed after gelato flavors, which is hilarious; the fight scenes are actually pretty fun and cool-looking; one of the evil minions is a giant bear; Fudo the Red Gelato is King Himbo of Good Boy Mountain; Desumi's little skull mask is cute as heck, and she also has a chonky cat that she loves, which makes her perfect girlfriend material.
Honestly, I only have one real complaint with Love After World Domination, and it isn't even entirely fair to the show's own qualities. It just had the unfortunate luck of coming after Kaguya-sama: Love is War Ultra Romantic on today's schedule, and 99% of every other rom-com anime out there would pale in comparison to that show. Love After World Domination is plenty cute, and plenty funny, but it is standing in the shadow of one of the GOATs that is operating at the peak of its powers, which is bound to make it seem maybe a touch modest in comparison.
I suppose that this is also one of those productions that could easily suffer from diminishing returns, especially if the animation starts to suffer and the show has to rely on the same round of jokes about dating etiquette and Super Sentai tropes. Then again, real Super Sentai series have gotten by on recycling tried and true cliches on a limited budget for, like, 50 years straight, so I doubt LAWD will have too difficult a time at keeping things fresh. Either way, I had a rollicking good time with this premiere, and I'm going to add it to this season's growing list of must-watch comedies.
Love After World Domination is one of those premieres that I enjoyed for the most part but worry about the longevity of the concept. As it stands, the first episode really only has two core jokes—if they can even be called that. The first is the ultra-cute love story between Fudo and Desumi. While they are battlefield enemies engaging in a scandalous relationship, the crux of the humor comes from the fact that neither of them know a thing about romance. They clearly like each other, but are basically resorting to Google to figure out how this “dating” thing works. It's cute, innocent fun with a sprinkle of social commentary (like when it pokes fun at the creepiness of cyber-stalking your crush and how it changes the traditional dating process).
The other core joke of the show is its parody of the Japanese superhero genre, tokusatsu. This is also where the show falters a bit. While its five gelato-flavored heroes and their appropriately themed attacks seem like an attempt to make fun of the general concept of tokusatsu, it's not really out of the realm of believability for an actual toku show to be themed like this. I mean, Kamen Rider Gaim, penned by Madoka Magica creator Gen Urobuchi, was fruit-themed, after all. Moreover, there is no subversion of Japanese superhero tropes here. Everyone is 100% serious about what is going on—from the villains who stand back and make speeches even as the rangers go to town on the low level mooks, to the rangers who are earnest and friendly even when off duty. Because of this, the show feels painfully predictable and almost boring whenever its not solidly focused on the relationship between Fudo and Desumi.
So even though I have a soft spot for both Power Rangers and hero/villain romances, I'm not really as into this anime as I feel I should be. Even within this premiere alone, it feels like the concept is already running out of steam. I don't see myself coming back for more next week, though I may check out a bit of the manga and see if that is able to change my mind.
Move over, Romeo and Juliet. Fudo and Desumi are here to show you how real star-crossed lovers do it: by not just having feuding families, but being on completely opposite sides of a major fight. Or at least a ridiculous fight? Even if the superheroes weren't the Gelato 5 – complete with flavor-themed colors – and the villains seeking to take over the world didn't employ a giant talking bear named Culverin Bear, there's not much about the two warring sides for us to take seriously. Even the people populating the story's world don't – when Gekko attacks a public park, the screams for help from the general public are…let's go with “underwhelming.” Simply put, this is equal parts super sentai sendup and gooey romcom, and it looks like those two things are going to mesh just as well here as they do in the source manga.
The central romance is between Desumi, AKA Reaper Princess, and Fudo, Red Gelato (strawberry flavor). Fudo falls in love at first sight, which is impressive since his “first sight” is of Desumi in her battle “gear,” which consists of fancy lingerie and a face-hiding mask. (So maybe not impressive.) But there's a real sense that it's not so much that he fell in love with what he saw as he did with her fighting skills and her parting words, which are about his battle prowess. Since there's a definite sense that the rest of the Gelato 5 think he's just some muscle head, Desumi's remarks may be the nicest thing anyone's said to him about all that training he's done. Likewise, Fudo's heartfelt confession to her is clearly her first brush with romance and she's flattered and more than a little charmed by his earnestness.
It's a cute mix of tropes made even more fun by their efforts at hiding the fact that they're dating from both Gelato 5 and Gekko, although technically Fudo did get permission from Professor Gelato to ask Desumi out. Not that the good professor knew who Fudo was crushing on when he urged him to go forth and speak his feelings, something Fudo may be realizing in hindsight. Or he may not; Fudo's perhaps not the sharpest tool in the proverbial shed. When you combine that with Desumi's incredible naivete in matters romantic (holding hands practically sends her into a fainting fit), it's the recipe for peach-pink love – at least as far as Pink Gelato's definition of the color goes.
While there are some awkward things about the character designs – specifically the way people fit into their clothes, or don't, as the case may be – this looks better than I was expecting and the animation is up to some flashy fights and over-the-top transformation scenes. As a fan of the manga, I'm happy with how this looks in its first episode, and I'm looking forward to seeing more.
Finally, some good god damn food. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed Aharen-san wa Hakarenai perfectly fine, and I'm looking forward to some other romcoms that have yet to debut. But I have been craving another goofy-ass show about a pair of idiots blushing their way into the next dimension, and this show has given me all I could ever ask for.
There's really not a whole lot else to dig into here, though. I could try to talk about how hard the show goes on its Super Sentai parody, complete with a full five-person transformation sequence where our gelato-themed Power Rangers sound off increasingly goofy battle cries. But I'm far from an expert on this stuff so all I can say is that I refuse to believe pistachio is “the flavor of peace” no matter how hard Gelato Green insists. And outside of some sharp gags and moments of parody, this entire premiere is just watching our adorable, awkward leads together – either when they're already dating or when Fudo first made his confession. That means most of this episode is just iterations on a single joke that, while funny and well-delivered, also means you have to really like that joke to get onboard with it.
The production does help a lot in keeping that joke fresh, though. Unlike the similarly toku-themed Miss Kuroitsu From the Monster Development Department, this show actually has the production values to show off some cool fight choreography to go along with its jokes, and it especially has room to make our dorky central couple expressive and appealing to watch. This is just some A+ romcom blushing, and it makes the two of them tip-toeing through the “steps” of dating fun to watch all on its own. There's even room to add some actual detail to their fanservice, like making sure Desumi has her garters on right to avoid a bathroom death trap. In a year that's already featured World’s End Harem and its horny JPEG artifacts, having cheesecake that actually knows how to properly present itself shouldn't be taken for granted, so if this show's gonna be a little horny I'm glad they actually know what they're doing.
I'm not going to tell you this show is deep or thought-provoking or even particularly romantic, but what I will say is I had a big dumb grin on my face the entire episode. I love these losers and I want to see them go on a hundred secret dates where they suddenly have to turn a kiss into a clashing headbutt to avoid suspicion. I want to see them send flirty texts in code that make it look like threatening letters. This show was made for me, and I plan to embrace it with both arms.
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