I have finished the 2nd season of To Love-Ru Darkness a few days ago. As I was watching the last episodes, I was honestly stunned. The finale felt incredibly heartwarming, entertaining, humorous, intense, and shocking. I could not help but shake the weird feeling that the experience I had been overall sensational. Why did I feel this strongly about it? It all roots in how I first got into To Love-Ru. There will not be any major spoilers.
First, I want to point out two key things that I personally adore as a huge anime fan. One, I love fan-service anime. I think that fan-service has great potential to be utilized well in the anime narratives focusing on the aspect. I have to thank the Monogatari series for showing that potential. Two, I love moe. I love shows with cute, attractive girls. They are usually one of the main reasons I tend to start watching an anime like Hidamari Sketch and Nichijou. If there are cute girls with designs I like, I tend to watch it.
To Love-Ru had both of these elements and got me to watch the show. What did I think of it? When I finished watching the first two seasons of To Love-Ru, I liked it overall. I loved the main character Princess Lala with her delightful personality and her crazy inventions that put the male protagonist Rito into many accidental situations. I loved the ridiculous, fan-servicey nature of To Love-Ru’s premise that created occasionally good comedy and entertainment. The silly premise of a harem combined with science fiction had a unique charm that I can appreciate.
But, I do have major gripes about the series despite the positives. To Love-Ru’s first two seasons has glaring problems like plot-holes, unnaturally randomized character development, little progression, and a mostly cliché cast with flat personalities. These negatives were so prominent in my watching that it bogged my enjoyment of the series to a moderate degree.
By the time I finished the first two seasons, To Love-Ru felt like a show that did not do much to stand out from other fan-service anime even with the crazy premise and charm. If I have that many issues with To Love-Ru, then why did I give To Love-Ru Darkness’ 2nd Season a 10/10? With this series being a harem and romantic comedy, to some, Darkness does not seem like an anime that would provide an amazing experience.
When I finally watched To Love-Ru Darkness, I was VERY surprised. I have heard a countless amount of praise for this sequel, hearing about how its one of the best fan-service anime ever created. They were right. Watching the prologue, I immediately noticed the change of tone from going mainly comedic to more intimate. The dialogue was actually interesting and had better contribution to the narrative. The fan-service feels more gratifying thanks to more enhanced build-up leading to it.
Most importantly, characters are given goals/motivations. The most prominent goal is given to Momo (one of the little sisters of Lala introduced later in TLR), who wants to build a harem for the chick magnet Rito so she can help him can become the king of the Devilukes. I found the way fan-service was utilized in To Love-Ru Darkness’ story to be very fascinating. I was hooked. I wanted to marathon all two seasons of the sequel series within two weeks.
This was a massive departure from the To Love-Ru I knew. I loved the direction the series was going. The issues I had were still present, but they were not as frequent and glaring as before. To Love-Ru Darkness managed to captivate me with its story and characters at a satisfying pace. The world and history of the Devilukeans were further explored. The female characters I disliked before were given more biographical background and further insight into their feelings for Rito. As a result, most of the female characters gradually became more likable and attractive to me as Darkness went on.
As I watched the last episodes of the 2nd season of To Love-Ru Darkness, I was astounded. There were MANY shocking developments/events that Rito and Lala go through that was incredibly satisfying to see happen. The ending gave me a sheer number of different emotions from scene-to-scene and made me attached to all of the characters. To me, the conclusion to Darkness’ second season honestly felt as emotionally impactful as the end of Death Note, the many One Piece arcs that dramatically change Luffy, and the entirety of Owarimonogatari Season 2.
That is hard to believe, right? I went from having a love and hate relationship with To Love-Ru to absolutely ADORING the series. Darkness delivered what I wanted from fan-service anime for a long time and nailed its biggest strengths so well. After giving myself time to think about I how I feel about Darkness, I boldly gave the 2nd season a 10/10 because it managed to strongly connect with me as an enthusiast of fan-service anime. All of the positives I have said about To Love-Ru Darkness leading up to this high rating is not based on perfection, but based on personal connection.
Although I have discovered many great anime with brilliant writing and storytelling like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Code Geass, and Fullmetal Alchemist as an avid anime fan over the years, none of them have stroke my personal tastes and satisfied me as greatly as To Love-Ru Darkness. The sequel was so good at everything that I forgave the faults it had when To Love-Ru had a rocky start as a comedy.
Now I am not saying you should go out and watch To Love-Ru. What I am saying from explaining my entire story is something more. If you ever finish an anime and the overall experience of it felt vastly incredible to YOU, you should rate that experience with a 10/10. Do not let the consensus sway you into rating an anime a higher or lower score. What others may generally say may not align with you.
Rate based on how you personally feel. Find and explain the aspects of an anime that you believe to be very good that others might not pick up on. Confidently accept your personal tastes and you will be able to explain your unique perspectives on different anime, even if your tastes/perspectives are ones that most of the anime community would find to be controversial.
I found To Love-Ru to be an amazing series overall in the end, despite this being a series focused on fan-service (a trope heavily opposed in some parts of the anime community). This is because I accepted my love for fan-service. It was the bold confidence I have in sharing what I like that made me write my in-depth story of To Love-Ru with you. I believe that is the way an anime fan can truly feel the happiest.