Illustration for article titled iVal X Love/i: The AniTAY Review

John Milton once wrote, “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” Val X Love embodies Milton through how it exists outside all realms of criticism, backlash, and reproach. Val X Love argues freely according to conscience, openly acknowledging that it is above all liberties. It is a show about one man’s quest for acceptance, self-reconciliation, and love amidst world-ending plots and inescapable destiny.

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WARNING: The pictures included in this article are, how should I say this, ecchi af and definitely Not Safe For Work. Be forewarned, read this one at home, folks!

Natsuki says ignore the pantsu, this isn’t that kind of anime
Natsuki says ignore the pantsu, this isn’t that kind of anime
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The premise of Val X Love is that the main character, Takuma, and the nine girls who live with him (Odin’s nine daughters) must prove that love will save the world. The only problem is that Takuma’s face repels people because it reminds people of a demon, leading him to develop social anxiety. It is this social anxiety that forms the basis of the show’s core themes and messages, which I will delve into later.

No really, this isn’t that kind of anime!
No really, this isn’t that kind of anime!
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Val X Love knows its audience, it knows what people are coming to the show for, and it readily embraces it by turning those elements up to their extremes. It is a harem show, and like other recent darlings of the subgenre, knows precisely how to play to its audience and create something memorable. Now, the whole “this trash show is great because it knows its trash” argument is usually a futile affair, and I agree. What Val X Love does to disrupt that argument is masking itself as appearing like a “non-trash show” through great art and animation, directing that, yes, highlights tits and ass, but also displays a general competency that many subpar harem anime lack. I do think the argument “watch trash to appreciate the good stuff” holds some weight in general, and sure, watching Val X Love could fit that mold. But more than that, watching Val X Love will make you appreciate what it and shows like it bring to the table beyond mere titillation.

Let’s delve into that, shall we?

It... it isn’t... it isn’t that kind of anime. I... I think
It... it isn’t... it isn’t that kind of anime. I... I think
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As I mentioned earlier, Val X Love’s core themes lie with its main character, Takuma. Most, if not all, ecchi-battle -harem shows have doormat protagonists who go braindead at the first sign of any sort of female interaction. Takuma veers from this trend, however, by having justifiable and explained social anxiety stemming from his aforementioned “scary face” and how it affects his social anxiety. The man literally just wants to be alone, do his schoolwork, and do things on his own time. He doesn’t freak out because “omg a gurl is talking to me,” he gets understandably nervous because someone is treating him like a human and not a demon like everyone else does. Takuma’s character, I think, largely works to redefine Val X Love as an exploration of how one character re-emerges into a world he thought was entirely against him through the help of a divine force. Essentially, like Haruhi to Kyon, Chitanda to Oreki, or Taiga to Ryuugi, Val X Love is a story of re-emergence and rediscovering one’s place in the world. Masking that story under surface-level ecchi-harem-battle shenanigans invites analysis and deeper thinking for those so inclined, or not, for those who don’t care.

God this trash anime really likes tentacles I MEAN this isn’t what it looks like
God this trash anime really likes tentacles I MEAN this isn’t what it looks like
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Before I conclude, I have to address the pressing question: why recommend this show? Val X Love is recommendation-worthy because of what I said above, how the show works on multiple levels to appeal to a variety of viewers. Ecchi lovers, action fiends, fans of solid art and animation, obsessive analyzers, Val X Love works to cater to each of these demographics and more. It is both more than trash and trash at its most glorious. And that, my friends, is a special thing. Like the last two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Val X Love is simultaneously the pencil-sketch Shinji we all see as “extreme budget cuts lol” and the underlying subtext around it, the depth that emerges if you look hard enough.

This... fuck it, this is definitely that kind of anime. How did I sit through this. Who am I? How did I end up like this? What was it all for? Some anime tiddy and ass? Is this really what defines my life? What would Milton think? Am I Satan, fallen from Heaven into Hell? Am I doomed to wander the realms of ecchi anime for eternity? Are you real? Am I real? Is Val X Love real? It has broken me. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
This... fuck it, this is definitely that kind of anime. How did I sit through this. Who am I? How did I end up like this? What was it all for? Some anime tiddy and ass? Is this really what defines my life? What would Milton think? Am I Satan, fallen from Heaven into Hell? Am I doomed to wander the realms of ecchi anime for eternity? Are you real? Am I real? Is Val X Love real? It has broken me. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
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Friedrich Nietzche once wrote, “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms.” Val X Love proves that, no, God is most definitely alive. Not just through the fact that the show itself deals with God(s), but through how it invites discussion, debate, analysis, and, in the process, brings us all closer together. That’s a holy thing, that’s a godly thing. Like Takuma and Odin’s nine daughters, like the viewer’s crotch and their pants, like our brains and the galaxy once we start analyzing the show’s deeper elements, Val X Love is something special. In episode 3, a random passerby remarks about one of the nine daughters, “she’s got that meat in all the good places.” Reading this line meta-textually, this passerby is referring to the show itself. Meat in all the right places, and I invite you all to dig in.

meat meat meat meat meatmEaT mEAtMeaTMAeET maeTmAETMaETmaeEEEEEEtMaetmasetmatmastmasmtmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
meat meat meat meat meatmEaT mEAtMeaTMAeET maeTmAETMaETmaeEEEEEEtMaetmasetmatmastmasmtmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
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You’re reading AniTAY, the anime-focused portion of Kotaku’s community-run blog, Talk Amongst Yourselves. AniTAY is a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. To join in on the fun, check out our website, visit our official subreddit, follow us on Twitter, or give us a like on our Facebook page.

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