It's been a season of surprising strength so far with shows like Brynhildr in the Darkness, If Her Flag Breaks, and Nanana's Buried Treasure, but the one show that surprised me has been Date A Live 2. It's a sequel to the show that I once panned as "average", but now I peg it as one of my top five of this season. What gives? I ask myself that.
The first season of Date A Live was handled by AIC Plus and it was average. It really was. While the source material wasn't exactly serious by any means, the whole show came off as a gigantic excuse plot. The main character has the power to seal the powers of "spirits", who cause spatial detonations (it's basically a giant bomb going off) when they cross into our world from their's. How does he seal their magical girl powers?
He has to go on a date with them, get them to fall in love with him, and then they have to kiss. Yeah, it's about as serious as it sounds in season one. It's romantic-comedy/harem hijinks 101 and it wasn't serious at all. Even the most serious moments in the first season (that drove the overall plot) came off as funny. It wasn't anything that special and almost everyone that watched the first season poked fun at it, including myself and fellow Ani-TAYvian Aestevalis.
We laughed off the fact that it was mindnumbingly comical and "so-bad-it's-good" and only looked into the second season for more of the same.
Then, the second season came and the primary studio handling it was now Production IMS (a new studio whose only major credit is last season's good Inari, Konkon). As the season progressed, I didn't even realize that I had started watching Date A Live 2 every Friday (when it gets simulcast) as soon as I got off work. That's literally something that I've done for no other show this season because there normally isn't time. I always get around to the new episodes for everything within a week, but Date A Live 2 manages to secure a spot every Friday without fail.
I noticed this in the final days of getting the "Twelve Anime of Spring 2014 Worth Watching" article ready to go with everyone, so it was too late to try and push it through.
When I contemplated why Date A Live 2 became one of my favorite shows this season, I noticed it's just better. It's better than Date A Live, better than other harem shows that we've seen in the past couple of years, and better than anyone was expecting after such an average first season.
It's better because the show started taking itself more seriously. Before I got on to write this article, I conferred with Aestevalis to confirm that I wasn't going nuts and he said it best:
[9:32:21 PM] Aestevalis: Yeah, and the funny thing is that it still doesn't take itself serious most of the times
[9:32:30 PM] Aestevalis: but when it does, it's doing quite well
While it's still comical a majority of the time, the show has suddenly started to take some of its major scenes seriously. The fanservice has dropped a noticeable amount and the characters have suddenly become less "for the comedy" and more "for the drama". The result is a surprisingly competent harem show keeps me coming back for more, every week.
I laugh like I did in the first season, but I'm staying for a lot more than that this season. It has a plot that slowly is moving forward, characters that have managed to overcome their simple archetypes and tropes to an extent, and a bafflingly good grasp on pacing.
That's why it's blasted ahead to become one of my top five anime this season. It's good fun, but it's managed to overcome the problem that I had I had with the first season: it wasn't serious. This season of Date A Live is definitely one of the best this anime season and I see it continuing to be just as good. If you're in the market for any sort of romantic comedy/harem show, then you've got to join us in watching Date A Live.
You can find all my posts on Dex's Corner.