Love Tyrant
Episode 7

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Love Tyrant ?

It's interesting how Love Tyrant's format has worked out. The series is still adamantly sticking with the ‘two distinct segments per episode’ setup, but the second segment has ended on a To Be Continued on multiple occasions now. I'm not sure if this is a consequence of the way chapters in the source manga are set up, or if this is just a ploy at pulling off multi-part story drama despite those parts only being eleven minutes long, but it's worth noting regardless.

At any rate, this episode once again goes with two separate stories in each half. The first one does maintain continuity, however, by following Guri's feelings after her confrontation with Akane near the end of the previous episode. She still wants to figure out what love is, and she still wants to be with Seiji to do so. After her plans for a festival night out with him get derailed, she instead bumps into a mysterious handsome stranger and has a pleasant date with him instead.

Despite the dubious context of the segment (which does dip slightly into creepy territory by the end), this is actually a pleasant little story. Seeing Guri open her mind to going out with someone besides Seiji, broadening her companionship horizons just to allow herself more experiences, is a nice change of pace. It's a somewhat welcome break from the harem-crowd shenanigans of the series thus far, and it offers a lot of insight into Guri's character, while being packed with enough lightheartedness and humor to keep the show moving at the same fun pace. It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as Love Tyrant has been at its best, but its brisk pace and smart timing keep it sensibly chuckle-worthy the whole way through. Rather than getting bogged down in exploring Guri's emotions as Love Tyrant did in earlier episodes, it just makes her feelings part of the background, delivering on them for the conclusion she comes to by the end. Guri realizing that she does love spending time with Seiji more than some other guy is a solid payoff.

Of course, at the end, we find out the mystery guy was a possessed puppet of Maoh, the show's resident not-Satan, to derail Guri into getting her to take over Hell for him. As she makes her declaration and leaves, there's a momentary concern that the manipulated man might dip into making nice-guy excuses for not getting any payoff from Guri, but that passes without incident, and Maoh's machinations end up being revealed only to Coraly. Despite a few weird hiccups, this bit provides a successful checkup on the progression of Love Tyrant's female lead.

Unfortunately, that level of polish is not present for the second half of this episode, which attempts to spin the same level of build-up for Akane (as well as her ancillary family members Yuzu and Shikimi), but it falls significantly flatter than Guri's light escapades. There's a moderately jarring in media res intro to Akane being taken into custody (and apparently abused) by her mother, and the rest of the episode spends time rallying the characters and dropping more hints about the true nature of the family.

This bit does kick off effectively, with Seiji being shot in the head and playing up the ‘angel immortality’ element the characters possess that hasn't otherwise been touched on much recently. The ensuing scuffle and appearance of Shikimi actually ratchet up the story's tension, keeping the audience's attention while providing welcome comic relief. Unfortunately, as Shikimi starts talking to goad Seiji and the others into action, and we also get a flashback to Akane's past and first meeting with Seiji, the pace flatlines. We already know this is what happens when Love Tyrant gets deeper into its plot elements than necessary, but even if there's plenty of exposition to dole out here, there's just so little activity and interest woven into this pressure that the audience sit up and pay attention. It may be too much to ask an audience who's just here for the dumb harem jokes; a few minutes of well-timed emotional development is one thing, but nearly ten minutes of plot setup for a show like this is overboard. It's really hard not to just mentally check out during Shikimi's ongoing spiel.

Akane's flashbacks, while part of the same arc-establishing drag, are at least more engaging. We're getting to the point where vague details about their family's situation (as alluded by her mother when we see Akane as a little girl) are getting tiresome and they just need to deliver on telling us what is going on with them, but at least it's presented in a thematically interesting way. Seeing how Akane met Seiji actually works rather well. It would have been easy for a show like this one to go with a standard “he was nice to her once” explanation for Akane's attachment to him, but they instead flip that on its head by having Akane be nice to Seiji and find it rewarding. It's a bright spot in a segment that's otherwise weighed down with so much superfluous detail.

Fortunately, with all of the establishing issues seemingly out of the way at the end of this episode, it looks like our group is ready to roll to Akane's rescue next week. The similar saving of Seiji from Shikimi a couple of episodes ago proved to me that Love Tyrant can do good things once it shifts into that gear, so with all the storytelling grunt work decently taken care of, I'm genuinely looking forward to what they do in the follow-up.

Rating: B

Love Tyrant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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