Based off a popular Japanese light novel series, Date A Live’s core premise can come across as outright fantastic or even ridiculous: To help ensure the continued survival of our planet, the central male protagonist has to earn the affections of a group of super-powered girls. Yes, you read that correctly. For those readers who are raising their eyebrows incredulously I can understand their reaction. That being said, anyone who would automatically dismiss this anime based on my earlier statements would be missing out on something truly inspired and enjoyable.
Shido Itsuka is the central male protagonist of Date A Live. He is an unassuming student at Raizen High School. He lives an ordinary life – well, as ordinary as life can be when you have to deal with spontaneous destructive phenomena known as spatial quakes on an irregular basis. These spatial quakes can cause tremendous destruction and loss of life, so it is genuinely a good idea to duck and cover when the alarms sound. Shido, of course, decides to ignore those alarms and the safety of shelter in order to find his younger foster sister whom he fears is out alone and unprotected in the city. Well, he soon finds himself at the center of said spatial quake and comes to discover its source: a girl. Shortly before losing consciousness, Shido witnesses this otherworldly female stranger being pursued by a squadron of female soldiers with exotic weaponry.
Awakening aboard the advanced airship known as the Fraxinus, Shido gets hit with one revelation after the other. As it so happens, his sister is not only aboard the floating vessel but she is its commander. She is part of an organization known as Ratatoskr whose mission is to prevent spatial quakes which are caused by extradimensional beings designated as Spirits. Their mission is similar to that of the squadron Shido observed moments ago known as the AST, or Anti-Spirit Team. However, while the AST seeks to prevent spatial quakes by eliminating the Spirits through overwhelming military force, Ratatoskr wishes to employ far more unorthodox tactics. They want someone to date the Spirits and show them that the world is a wonderful place. That someone happens to be our protagonist, Shido Itsuka. Given that he possesses the ability to seal a Spirit’s powers with a kiss, he really is the only person qualified (cue laughter).
In all honesty, though, from the moment I watched the first episode of Date A Live, I became an instant fan. The series is adept at balancing action, drama, romance and fan-service. It has a strong, likable protagonist whom the audience can relate to and cheer for. Shido’s desire to save someone never comes across as forced but always genuine. The Spirits featured are treated as distinct individuals with sharp designs and captivating personalities. I particularly enjoy how their outfits and weapons – otherwise known as Astral Dresses/Spirit Armor and Angels respectively – are derived from the Sephirot of Kabbalah. Most importantly, though, each encounter Shido has with a Spirit is treated as its own unique experience. No encounter is ever treated as the same nor should it be. Rather, each encounter presents its own possibilities and complications. Each successful connection Shido establishes with a Spirit is hard-earned – rooted not just in his compassionate nature but a willingness to put himself on the line for someone in crisis.
My only criticism with Date A Live is its brevity. The anime adaptation consists of twenty-four episodes in total. Of that number, the first season is composed of thirteen episodes whereas the second season is composed of eleven episodes. An original film entitled Date A Live: Mayuri Judgment was released in Japan a few years ago but has yet to make its way into the United States. Hopefully, that changes soon. Don’t get me wrong. Twenty-four episodes and a film is quite impressive for an anime adaptation of an ongoing light novel series. It’s just that by the time you reach the end of the second season you are desperately wanting more. The audience not only discovers that Shido Itsuka can utilize the abilities of those Spirits whose powers he has sealed but they are introduced to Ratatoskr’s villanous counterpart – DEM, or Deus Ex Machina Industries.
Yet, the fact that the viewer is left with more questions along with answers at the close of the last episode is not all that surprising. As mentioned earlier, the anime is based on an ongoing light novel series by author Koushi Tachibana and illustrator Tsunako. The anime essentially covers the first seven volumes of the series. As of this writing, the sixteenth volume is due to be released shortly. The fact that the novels have not received an English release in the United States makes continuing with the plot of Date A Live difficult. It’s unfortunate because the story only continues to get better. Nevertheless, I am still grateful for what I was able to take away from the Date A Live anime.
When it comes right down to it the story of Date A Live is much more than what I made it appear to be at the start of this article. It would be very easy for a show with such a premise to fail to leave a lasting impact on the viewer. The fact that both seasons do is thanks in no small part to the strength of its original source material. A firm understanding of human emotion permeates the narrative of Date A Live and is perhaps why it is able to create a tone that blends seriousness with humor so successfully. In closing, I encourage everyone to give the Date A Live anime a chance. I have no doubt that it will win over your heart.
Justin Corriveault is one of The Geekiverse’s newest writers. For all things Date A Live, keep it locked right here.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to keep up with The Geekiverse across social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram and share with a friend. View live video game streaming on our Twitch Channel. Watch The Geekiverse Show on YouTube and listen to The Geekiverse Podcast Station on iTunes or Soundcloud today!