It has some things going for it, but at this point, To Love Ru doesn't feel fresh or as funny as it should be.
Title: To Love Ru
Genre: Ecchi, Fantasy, Harem
Publisher: Shueisha (JP), Seven Seas (US)
Story/Artist: Saki Hasemi, Kentaro Yabuki
Serialized in: Weekly Shonen Jump
Translation: Alex Gaspard
Original Release Date: December 5, 2017
A review copy was provided by Seven Seas.
Finally, after making its debut 11 years ago in Weekly Shonen Jump, To-Love Ru is here. While Viz has published ecchi content before, Saki Hasemi and Kentaro Yabuki’s series was probably too much for their taste. It would stand to think this series would never be released here.
Seven Seas however, shocked everyone when they announced they licensed this one. I mean, it certainly stunned us. Now, it’s finally here for either long time readers to support the series or to attract a new audience.
After reading it, the answer will probably be long time readers.
To Love Ru is under Seven Seas’ new imprint, Ghost Ship, which aims to publish this type of mature content. They’re also pushing a series that began serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2006, and then ended in 2009. Well, until it was brought back as a sequel in Jump SQ. That version of To Love Ru is undoubtedly one that will make eyes roll at how porny the series is.
This version? It’s your standard harem, with somewhat creative touches. Standard typical male lead Yuuki Rito obsesses being with his crush Haruna, but can’t work up the courage to ask her out. While obsessing over his romance luck in his tub, a naked alien girl emerges from the water. Named Lala, she explains she ran away from home because she doesn’t want to deal with suitors anymore. She even goes as far as to declare she’s going to marry Yuuki to appease her father.
The problem? Her father is the king of an alien race, and now that Lala has fallen for Yuuki, he has given him a choice — either marry Lala, or face the destruction of Earth for turning her down.
Sure is one way to be responsible of the planet’s safety.
In a dumb way, this reminds me of My Date With The President’s Daughter. It’s similar in areas — both intend to be goofy comedies, you have two guys dating girls of important stature, and you can’t screw up. The big difference of course is one’s a Disney backed film, the other is a Jump title looking to make people horny. To Love Ru is very horny as it draws all the girls in uncompromising situations. From Lala constantly being naked to a scene where Haruna is unconscious and bound by tentacles, it makes no bones about what it wants to do, so it’s certainly NSFW.
The big issue is that these jokes and scenarios should be funny, and yet, they aren’t. The first thought is maybe this is too old for its own good. The other is eventually it will pick up the pace. With Seven Seas releasing To Love Ru as an omnibus however, most of Lala’s antics proved lame. Aside from her naked shenanigans is her prank shenanigans, where she builds gadgets that work so well that they work too well, and has some adverse side-effects — like making manga assistants quit because her gadget to have them draw fast drained all their desire during deadline hell. Or sucking up her enemies in a machine, only for said machine to explode if overloaded.
The current interest then regarding To Love Ru is Yuuki’s attempts to convince Haruna he’s not a perverted freak and Yabuki’s artwork. Yabuki was well known for Black Cat, and even to this day people still want a sequel to that manga. That had some great designs, and it continues in this. The characters look great, but from creating the gadgets to his detail regarding clothing, there’s nothing lazy about any of it. It’s really well done.
But I start wondering if To-Love Ru being released now is more a case of too late to really appreciate, because it feels stale. Alex Gaspard, who is translating the series, can only work with the material given, and, aside from being weirdly annoyed with the use of -chan at times, this is pretty solid. The lettering by Paweł Szczęszek looks clean and professional. But I think only those who have been invested in the franchise will be attracted to this title. For Seven Seas, that’s probably what they are hoping for.