Back during 2013, I took on Date A Live, a show that I just couldn't agree with myself on. It was fun, but absolutely brain dead in many ways, focusing more on harem comedy and less on story. The second series? I named it one of the biggest surprises I had this spring of anime.
Date A Live 2 is the direct sequel series to the magical girl harem series Date A Live. I have no problem with saying that, in truth, I didn't like the first season very much. Like fellow Ani-TAYvian Aestevalis and many others, I enjoyed poking fun at the absurdity, the whimsically stupid plot progression, and the utter crazy that basically the entire show had. Sure, I was watching it and I made it to the end, but I watched it for the crazy.
I went into Date A Live 2 expecting more of the same and I did get it in the first episode:
Yep, three minutes into Date A Live 2 and it's exactly what I expected. My IQ is dropping steadily in all the right ways.
— Dexomega (@Dexomega) April 11, 2014
After that though, the show took some interesting turns indeed...
There's no shortage of cheap laughs and harem jokes in this season of Date A Live. Much like the previous one, this season is completely, unabashedly a trope-ridden harem-fest. It's got a whole bunch of magical girls (with every big trope represented) that all are in love with the protagonist, Shido, because something something something they went on a date something something something.
Exactly as expected, this results in harem antics. Lots of harem antics. Add in the fact that they're magical girls that can curbstomp everything in sight and there's endless, endless fun to be had at Shido's expense. It can get pretty funny sometimes, enough to get a chuckle out of me. The bishounen arc that we went through had some definite gold in it...
...at Shido's expense of course.
Also, nice theme song. Good follow up.
Let me be upfront here: This show got good.
The first thing they got right was definitely adding new characters to the lineup and skipping the rather tiring "date" plot that sprung up too much in the first season. Instead, it was replaced with arcs that explored the characters and their problems. It explored who they were and why they used their powers.
This stands in opposition to the first season's "let's have a date plot and milk it dry of all the bad self-referential comedy we can". It got serious, and it was better for it.
In this vein, the whole season had stronger dialogue, stronger arcs, and stronger characters while, at the same time, there's less blatant pandering, less crazy, and less comedy than the first season.
Overall, this was a definite step in the right direction for the franchise as a whole. When this show gets serious, it's surprisingly fun to watch and it kept me watching every week.
I can sum this up in one sentence: Screwed by the Network.
Date A Live has never been, how would you say, a popular anime or light novel series. As such, we were really, really lucky to get a second season. That said, a second season brought on a couple of changes that people won't be able to forgive like I was. The first season was expensive to make, so it looked pretty damn great in hindsight. The characters were well drawn and well designed while the backgrounds were pretty and the flow of the scenes was excellent. AIC Plus did a great job with the animation.
The second season was handed off to a studio called Production IMS, a relatively new studio. This, of course, signaled a clear change to the show:
This season of Date A Live has inferior animation in many ways. None of the characters look nearly as vivid or crisp as they did before, and several episodes exhibit clear cost-cutting measures like reduced in-between shots being ordered, few key animation slides, and long cuts to corridors with no movement. It's not as pretty as the first season.
In addition, the season was cut from 13 episodes to 10 episodes during production. It shows.
These budget cuts do cause glaring problems for the show at the end of the day. It still can look good when you can tell they concentrated the budget, but it's not as good looking overall. The shortened episode count didn't do us any favors either.
Honestly, Date A Live 2 was one of my favorite shows this season and one of my favorite harem shows in years, though there is some contention on this point.
If you want the exact same show that you got with Date A Live, Date A Live 2 will disappoint you a bit. The harem antics and pretty animation are visibly turned down in comparison. It's definitely still there though, so don't be overestimating what I'm saying here. It's still a harem and there's absolutely still fanservice to be had. It's still not very serious.
Some fans liked it a whole lot (like me), whereas others thought it was terrible. I, of course, don't think you can consider it bad at all. It was the one show this season that I watched every week on Friday without fail. In my opinion, this was a sequel done right. It was more focused, more serious, and it all seemed to flow better.
This is still not a show for everyone though, keep that in mind.
This is part of Anime Marathon 2014, a continuation of Anime Marathon 2013 by popular demand. I'm on a mission to review every anime I can for the TAY community and anyone else that wants to read. I can never guarantee when these reviews will be posted, but I'll do my best to keep it consistent.