The romantic comedy genre in anime has been stagnant for a very long time. Although we’ve seen a few breakout hits recently with Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid and School Rumble, the rom-com genre has seen better days. In the summer of 2008, J.C. Staff, the prolific studio that brought us crazy comedy series Excel Saga and Hayate: The Combat Butler, hopes to reinvigorate the rom-com genre with the insanely popular manga series (and a title that is a pain in the ass to type), ToLOVEru. Did J.C. Staff succeed? (Spoiler Alert: No.)
As the name suggests, ToLOVEru’s premise is all about trouble — you see what they did there? The story revolves around Yuuki Rito (Watanabe Akeno), yet another normal Japanese high school boy and the trouble (or more like catastrofuck) that follows his otherwise mundane life. For most of his adolescent life, he has a crush on Sairenji Haruna (Yahagi Sayuri); he wants to confess his feelings for her, but whenever he musters enough courage to do so, practically everything including the kitchen sink gets in his way. Now in his second year in high school, Rito tries to confess his feelings for Haruna once more. However, on that fateful day, divine intervention struck again, when a UFO crashed between him and Haruna. If that wasn’t incredibly cliched enough, later that night, a despondent Rito was taking a comforting bath when suddenly a pair of bewbs appeared in front of him, and he accidentally grabbed them. The pair of knockers just happens to belong to the voluptuous Lala Satalin Deviluke (Haruka Tomatsu), or Lala for short. Unbeknownst to Rito, by fondling Lala’s naughty bits, he entered a marriage contract and must marry her on some predetermined time (essentially whenever Rito is unguarded).
ToLOVEru tries to be all of the rom-coms in anime history, but practically ripping them all off at once, from old school series like Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, Tenchi-Muyo! to newer series such as Girls Bravo, DearS and School Rumble. There’s just too many ingredients in this anime series, all you get from watching ToLOVEru is excruciating constipation, which is trouble in itself — you see what I did there?
The only saving grace in this series are the character designs and the opening theme song. The illustrator and character designer Yabuki Kentarou, who also designed the characters for Black Cat, created a nice and rather provocative cast of female characters for the series. The band THYME performed the opening theme song for ToLOVEru, “forever we can make it”, is the only legacy the series will be remembered for. While the opening theme song is the standard pop rock you’re accustomed to on the radio, it is both appropriate and catchy enough that attempts to hook the viewer to watch the series.
Like I’ve mentioned in the radio show, ToLOVEru is probably better off as a hentai series. The entire series is essentially a bunch of individual vignettes where the hapless Rito gets into various relationship and sexual misunderstandings that eventually goes nowhere, leaving this reviewer frustrated in every possible way. Though it contains a lot of sexual innuendos and themes, ToLOVEru is ultimately juvenile; this may as well be called “Date Movie, the Anime Version.” Unless you want more cliched, mindless and unentertaining rom-coms and you couldn’t buy hentai, do not watch ToLOVEru ever.