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This Week in Anime
Are Love After World Domination's Desumi and Fudo the Perfect Couple?

by Nicholas Dupree & Jean-Karlo Lemus,

The key to a good romance of any kind is to make me want to see your couple together. To watch them grow closer, fumble through feelings, and change as they learn more about each other and themselves. For as silly as both Desumi and Fudo can be, they clear that bar with flying colors.

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @mouse_inhouse @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

AAAH! After ten thousand years, I'm free! It's time to write This Week In Anime!
Welcome back from the moon dumpster, Jean-Karlo! You're just in time to help me cover the surprisingly fast-arriving sequel to My Dress-Up Darling!

Super glad they let Gojo get in on the cosplaying this time around.
Folks around here know the one thing I love more than sprinkling in references to my fave VTuber is tokusatsu—and we've been pretty lucky lately because after the surprise chortle that was Miss Kuroitsu From the Monster Development Department, we have another toku-flavored comedy, and this time it's a romcom! Of course, it falls to me to be That Guy because I'm the only degenerate who's actually watched Super Sentai. So here's Love After World Domination!
Hey now, I may not have seen a ton of Super Sentai, but I've chalked up roughly a half dozen or so seasons of Power Rangers over the years, which makes me plenty qualified to talk about a show centered on living the dream of dating one of the cute female generals from the villain squad.
This is something of an old yarn for toku-shows, especially Super Sentai/Power Rangers; among the Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy cast, the actors for Lost Galaxy Green and villainess Trakeena got married after the show wrapped (congrats to Damon Henderson and Amy Miller-Rolle!). And it's likewise happened in Super Sentai, like in Carranger (the Japanese source behind Power Rangers: Turbo) where Red Racer and Beauty Zonnette fell into a forbidden romance. It's also inspired plenty of manga, like Superwomen in Love (available now from Seven Seas!). It's a tale as old as time, and it never really starts getting old. But hey, this is what happens when you cast a bombshell gravure model as your villainess: your steadfast hero/ine is gonna catch feelings.
There's an entire generation who awakened something when they first saw Astronema as kids, and now they're out here making romcom anime. And God bless them for it, because in a season absolutely lousy with romantic comedies, LAWD has managed to be a consistently delightful bit of syrupy sweetness while packing in some great toku-flavored in-jokes and details.

...it also doesn't hurt that it features some *ahem* other specific details.

I wanna say that that's a bit more skin than you'd see on actual Super Sentai, but Beauty Zonnette always looked about a few centimeters away from falling out of her corset so yeah. Grown-ups in spandex!

The story goes that a war wages on between two groups in Japan. On the heroic side you have the Freezing Taskforce Gelato 5, ice-cream flavored heroes complete with color-coded costumes and weapons. Opposing them are the Secret Society Gekkō, an evil organization bent on global domination.

Leader of the Gelato 5 is Fudo, the world's most stalwart Himbo and Wife-Guy-in-Training. One night, while on the job of stomping out evil, he saw their powerful new combatant: Reaper Princess! And immediately the little hamster in his brain got heart eyes.
While the Reaper Princess is a powerful combatant for Gekkō, rumored to drink boar blood and eat raw bears and known for swinging a mean flail, outside of her leather corset she's just Desumi, a young woman who loves pasta, Pilates, and her fat tabby cat, and worries about her horoscope. Fudo actually internet-stalks her a bit before working up the courage to ask her out... and she actually says "yes" because hey, gotta give a guy some credit when he goes on a limb like that.
Thus the stage is set for a true Romeo & Juliet romance. Two sides, alike in dignity and transformation sequences, at war while their greatest fighters secretly foster love on the battlefield. And by that I mean neither of these two dipsticks knows a damn thing about romance.
To wit: these two idiots start dating and they don't even exchange phone numbers until several weeks in. Holy crap, you two, get your stuff in order.
Look, it's hard to know how all this works ok? Like if you think it's nerve wracking deciding who pays for dinner or the movie tickets, imagine how you'd feel if you were raised by, respectively, a group of evil furries and the doctor from Mega Man.
It leads to stuff like Fudo and Desumi not seeing each other for several weeks all because Gekkō hasn't planned an attack for a while. So Fudo infiltrates the Gekkō base under the pretense of sabotaging one of their new secret weapons—in reality, he and Desumi just play Uno.

Also, there are shenanigans aplenty like Desumi having to sit on Fudo to hide him from the enemy combatants (who uses "Eee!" to communicate – I cannot stress how vital that is for a proper combatant grunt in tokusatsu). Or hiding in Desumi's lingerie locker.

Like I said, this is the sequel to My Dress-Up Darling with everyone just getting really into character. You wouldn't imagine how much work Culverin Bear put into that fursuit.
I wanna point out something that bugs me: Culverin Bear and the other monster generals have moving mouths! This is bad and wrong! Last year's Miss Kuroitsu had all the weird monsters speak without moving their mouths, because realistically the suits for those monsters in actual tokusatsu have limited facial expressions. Most you can get is, like, a lower lip twitching for closeups. We know this is supposed to be a cyborg bear-man, but this is tokusatsu—respect the rules. We're here to see grownups in spandex fight people in unwieldly animal masks! Our inner child knows "bear-man," only the superficial adult says "guy in suit!" It's the imagination that matters!
Well clearly Gekkō just has way better tech than Kuroitsu's boss ever did. They even made Desumi's reaper mask expressive!

Maybe the rest of the bad guy teams should just get on their level.
For sure, one thing LAWD has over Miss Kuroitsu you'll notice if you don't get distracted by Desumi's cake: way better animation. Miss Kuroitsu was extremely workmanlike, to its detriment. There's a lot of fun flourish for Love After World Domination. It's not exactly Mononoke or anything, but there is a ton of charm and character pumped into these characters. Desumi's skull mask having fun face game is only part of it. There is also a ton of fun toku-fanservice for folks like me who have been around the block: the narrator for the show is Fumihiko Tachiki, best known as Gendo Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion, but he's also done a ton of narration work for Kamen Rider shows in the past. The voice of Gelato 5's morphers is Subaru Kimura, who on top of voicing the Seiza Blasters from Kyūranger is also the voice actor for the demon Vice in Kamen Rider Re/Vice. Culverin Bear is voiced by Hiroki Yasumoto, who similarly has a ton of toku-casting in his past, and Hellko is voiced by M.A.O, best known as GokaiYellow/Luka Milfy from Gokaiger (and was also the voice actress for Lady Akashic in Miss Kuroitsu). There's a lot of fun stuff!
Meanwhile I'm just over here giggling at the ice cream attack names because I am still a child when it comes to color-coded explosions.

Though I will fight Gelato Green over insisting his is the flavor of "peace" when there is nothing more likely to cause a war than bringing a tub of pistachio to a party.
I will say that outside of the toku-fanservice, much of the humor in Love After World Domination is from Desumi and Fudo not knowing how dating works. Like Desumi trying to call Fudo... and getting his mom because Fudo doesn't have a smartphone, which he's too much of a musclehead to know how to use.

Or Fudo taking the (incredibly soused) Yellow Ranger's advice and planning their first date around getting swole. Because this boy only has room in his brain for two concepts: Desumi, and hitting the gym. In that order.

Though the sweet conclusion to that joke is Desumi was actually totally into it, despite what all RomCommon sense would tell you. And that's kind of the heart that makes this whole thing work. These idiots were made for each other.
This is also a good time to point out who rounds out the ranks of Gelato 5, because they do tend to have quite a bit to do with matters. And I think Gelato Yellow is a good place to start! An older "onee-san"-type who likes her liquor, Misaki watches over the other members of Gelato 5 while giving them all really bad advice. I figured she'd be a romantic competitor for Desumi, but interestingly that never happened. Possibly because she's drinking age and Fudo and Desumi are 17.
There's only room for one problematic age gap romance in this show, and it certainly can't be on the good guys' side. Misaki's only interest in Fudo's love life is spilling tea all around town, and she's willing to get buzzed at an amusement park if it means getting some hot gossip.
Haru up there with Misaki did turn out to be a romantic competitor. As Gelato Pink, she's the newest (and youngest) member of the team. She's also got a crush on Fudo, which did lead to some conflict between her and Desumi.
You know she means business because she styles her hair ribbons to look like hearts. Watch out, Reaper Princess.

No, literally, watch out. Y'all are the worst secret rendezvous-ers ever, I swear.
There's a very heartwarming episode where Haru confronts Desumi over their mutual feelings for Fudo, but Haru relents in a very heart-wrenching scene. From there on she serves as a secret-keeper for the two, helping them have their dalliances while Gekkō and Gelato 5 fight. Also, Desumi makes a new friend in Haru, which a girl always needs. I'd have liked more scenes of Desumi and Haru hanging out and doing girl stuff, honestly.
It's a genuinely sweet moment, and my favorite part is that while Haru joined the force because she likes Fudo, her real inspiration for becoming a fighter was Desumi herself!

Perhaps the sweetest utterance of "git gud" ever.
It's a good way to lean in on the kind of Darwinist philosophy members of a society like Gekkō would have, but also, it's just cute seeing girls be friends with each other instead of being at each other's throats for the same potato.
Hey now, Fudo is a very well-seasoned and cooked potato, at the very least. Hell, he might honestly be the best boyfriend material of anyone in this romcom-heavy season.

The weenie from Shikimori could never. If nothing else he's a far better catch than either of the other dudes on Gelato Force. Especially this fuckboi.
That there is Hayato, Gelato Blue. And he has zero game. He peppers his dialogue with random English and I think the most cheek-pounding he gets is when women slap him in his smarmy face.
He hasn't really mattered much, and thank Zordon for it because he's easily the least interesting or entertaining character in this cast. I forget he's here most of the time.
He doesn't really do anything or get involved with much because he's chasing girls. But Daigo? Yeah, he's no fuckboy. He's just traumatized.
Look man, it's not that big a deal. Everybody loses a fight or two to a 7-year-old girl. It happens. You just have to move on.

As it turns out, Daigo trained Desumi as a child, and she's always been freakishly strong. He never had the spine to admit she outclassed him, so when she clobbered the owner of their dojo (who promptly retired from shame), Daigo kept training Desumi. Credit to his fragile, fragile ego (and Desumi approaching Fudo's level of knuckle-headedness from the other side), Desumi is convinced he's going easy on her.

Daigo doesn't know Desumi is Reaper Princess, he just knows that she and Fudo make for a terrifying, terrifying couple.
2 My favorite part is that, upon learning about just how many people Desumi has singlehandedly hospitalized, Fudo's only reaction is to fall more in love with her.

See that's how you know he's a man of culture. Fudo loves a woman who can kick his and everyone else's ass.
Meanwhile, Desumi has her friends at Gekkō: Beast Princess and Steel Princess. They're generals, like her (and apparently they're all high schoolers too, which makes Beast Princess's outfit and Desumi's lingerie iffy in retrospect), but Desumi is just so freakishly strong that she far outpaces them in performance in every monthly report.
Gotta respect the little skull on Steel Princess' glasses. That's just good branding on Gekkō's part. Also props to Steel following her dreams, even if the reveal that she's still in high school has me pretty suspect of Culverin Bear's age.

I can accept falling in love with an evil furry Blastoise, but I draw the line at age gaps.
See, I was thinking Steel Princess would turn out to have a thing for Beast Princess, but then she goes up to the bear and I have to cope that we have another "hamster eating a banana" situation on our hands. There is some girl's love teasing in here, but it comes from another source: Hojo, a classmate of the three princesses and—get this—a gyaru.
More like GAYru. Heh heh.

But seriously, Hojo's introduction may just be my favorite part of the show so far. Like the whole setup of her blackmailing Fudo makes you think she's storming in to steal him or start a love triangle, and it turns out she's batting for the other team.
Not only is Fudo impossible to dominate (because he only really cares about Desumi's wellbeing), Hojo doesn't really have it in her to dominate anyone. She's apparently too subby. So the whole thing just dies on the vine before it begins. Hojo really does crush hard on Desumi (it's the old "everyone thinks the gyaru is easy, Desumi really likes her nails), and apparently she gets to creep on Desumi at Gekkō...as Heat Princess. Unbeknownst to absolutely everyone. Heat Princess even appears earlier in the show, in an excellent bit of foreshadowing.
My favorite bit is that Fudo isn't the least bit upset or uncomfortable about this. Quite the opposite:

"Wow, you also love my girlfriend? That's awesome! Let's be best friends!" Truly he has reached the ultimate form of Wife Guy.
Both of these dunderheads are guaranteed to have Desumi dakis, calling it now. They have matching shirts for the Reaper Princess fan club.
It's just pleasant to not only have a gay character as a love rival who isn't treated as a doomed long shot AND we have the makings of a love quadrangle with Hojo and Haru in the mix where nobody's a petty or jealous asshole. There's just no room in Fudo's heart for possessiveness when it's 100% filled up with this:
What drama shows up seems to have more to do with Desumi's allegiance to Gekkō than anything else. As it turns out, Desumi comes from a family of Gekkō combatmen, with her father and mother both being retired Gekkō footsoldiers and her little siblings being raised to join the organization once they're of age. Desumi was signed up by her parents, and only now is she really thinking if it's what she wants. The thing keeping her from leaving Gekkō and joining Gelato 5 is that Gelato 5 has rules against dating in the workplace. She's happy with Gekkō, to an extent, but she isn't sure if it's what she wants to do for the rest of her life.
It's honestly more thought than I ever expected this aspect of the show to get, and Desumi's relationship to her work provides some of the sweetest moments in the whole series. Like when she's offered a "promotion" that would involve getting monsterfied, and nearly accepts it just because everyone expects her too.

Part of it was that her boss wanted to combine her with a gorilla, because "primates." I'd personally hand in a letter of resignation if I was slated to be fused with a gorilla.
To Fudo's credit, that's not a deal breaker. He may be hot for Desumi's bod, but he's ride or die regardless of what kind of teleporter accident she wound up as.

But seriously, it's a touching moment where Fudo is not only a supportive partner, but encourages Desumi to be honest and unashamed about what she wants for herself. It's the kind of stuff I love to see in romcoms as relationships develop, and it's the backbone that makes LAWD work.
This is what really makes Love After World Domination work for me. The toku flavoring is nice, but the romantic writing is legit. Miss Kuroitsu was also fun but the dry animation was a bit of a turnoff. Love After World Domination has a wildly amazing cast with bright, charming personalities and fantastic characterful animation. Also, the toku-references are fun for a dweebus like me, and it's used to great effect: it's not just window dressing, it's used as a platform for really good character moments.
The key to a good romance of any kind is to make me want to see your couple together. To watch them grow closer, fumble through feelings, and change as they learn more about each other and themselves. For as silly as both Desumi and Fudo can be, they clear that bar with flying colors.
It shouldn't be as hard as it is to find a couple you want to root for. Thankfully, that's not an issue with Desumi and Fudo. The show is only eight episodes in, it'll be interesting to see how it wraps up this season. And if you want more, the manga is available in the U.S. from Kodansha! It's definitely worth a read!
Best of luck to both these goofuses. And just remember Fudo, your girl may be monstrously strong but don't play too rough with that puss-

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