To LOVE-Ru Darkness Volume One – 20 Question Manga Review

What’s the manga? To LOVE-Ru Darkness, Volume One.

Uh-huh, and what’s that mean? Stop asking me what titles mean, sometimes things don’t need to mean anything!

It says here on Reddit that the title is a pun? Please, get off Reddit. Also fine yes it’s a pun, it’s “To-Ra-Bu-Ru” which if you’re speaking Japanese kinda sounds like “Trouble” but also sounds like “To Love You”—remember the Japanese have trouble with their L-sounds. Also they like to add extra vowels to English words to fit their alphabet.

First world problems?

‘Kay. So “love”, huh? Is it a romance manga? I mean maybe… if you’re idea of romance is a 3+ person harem involving alien girls who look exactly like normal (anime) girls and who frequently disrobe in front of the protagonist for seemingly no discernible reason.

Oh, so it’s one of those kinds of manga, yeah? I’m not sure quite what you’re insinuating but it is a fan-service heavy harem manga, yes.

It’s happened to everyone, right?!

*sigh* why are we reviewing this? What’s there to say about this that hasn’t been said a hundred times before in similar reviews of this kind of content? Not exactly reinventing the wheel here! Did I mention this manga is actually a sequel of a series that ran 18 previous volumes and that not only have I read precisely ~zero~ of the previous manga series’ I’d also seen only TWO episodes of the anime adaptation when I read this.

That’s uh… that’s… why did you do that?! That seems just insane?! I can tell you the “why” of the matter later, the more interesting point to me is how I kept up with a plot I’d barely touched upon all these many books later.

Not the jealous type though.

I know you’re trying to bait me so fine…  GOLLY, HOW ON EARTH DID YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON? It’s literally the same as it was in those first two episodes just with added girls and a bit of backstory. There, I saved you from reading 18 volumes or 30+ episode of the anime adaptation of To LOVE-Ru.

Can you be sure though? Oh I’m sure there’s some To LOVE-Ru aficionado out there tearing his hair out at my sacrilegious statements but really I didn’t feel like I missed anything at all by skipping from the very first episodes of the original to the very first pages of this “sequel”.

Childhood friends ftw.

I suppose it could be argued that a good sequel allows a viewer (or in this case reader) to go in and still follow the story without the need for copious recaps. Yeah, maybe—if this was a 2 hour movie—but an 18 volume manga series? I can’t imagine reading all that and feeling fulfilled by the experience, especially when it seems like so little has changed since the beginning. With the exception of the forging of some relationships of course.

So we’ve just badmouthed the previous series for half the blog without so much as discussing the content itself! What’s it about? Rito is a very ordinary high-school boy who suddenly finds himself as the top candidate to be the King of planet Deviluke (and by extension King of the universe) and with his newly bequeathed position comes a beautiful fiance by the name of Lala, not to mention a bunch of other girls who are keen to win his affections.

She can reform me anytime…

Of course it does. So what actually happens in Volume 1 of this sequel series, can we have a fair and balanced review perhaps? Well this volume starts by vaguely recounting the events of the previous chapter, namely that Rito confessed his feelings to his long-time childhood crush Haruna, only to immediately backpedal because he’s an idiot and this series has to keep going.

What happened to ‘fair and balanced’? I never agreed to that. But fine. So basically there’s three main girls in Rito’s life, the aforementioned childhood crush Haruna, his alien fiance Lala and Lala’s little sister Momo. Rito—being a typical male and hormonal teenager can’t decide if he wants to be with Haurna or Lala. But here’s where things get ~interesting~, Momo’s fallen for Rito and fallen hard. So knowing full well she’s third pick at best at being his best girl she decides rather than directly compete with these girls for his sole attention to build a harem around him in the hopes she’ll get just a little bit of Rito’s affection.

Sounds like a plan?

That’s… that’s awful! I mean, yeah… if you’re approaching this with the idea that any of this is even supposed to be taken vaguely seriously. But it’s not, it’s a sitcom plot, albeit a sitcom with the nudity cranked up to HBO standards.

I shudder to ask you to elaborate but do elaborate, please. It’s impeccably drawn soft core pornography, so much so that it got the attention of the Japanese government for being too explicit. Though they ultimately decided, while revealing didn’t ~actually~ break any laws…

Priorities, amirite?

Right… so this is basically just a girl trying to tempt a guy into having more women in his life so she gets to be a small part of his love life? Well when you put it like that it sounds bad. But it’s really not.

You keep protesting but I’ve yet to see as much as a hint that this series is anything other than pandering to an absurd male fantasy. Rito may be a pretty dull protagonist but he’s still acutely aware of his actions, and he may not understand why he’s suddenly so desirable to so many attractive women but he at least knows not to take advantage of them or treat them wrong.

Smells like the ocean.

Why are you defending this guy? Why are you defending this series? I feel like all you do is bring up more and more issues with it only to brush them aside for facile reasons. If the genders were reversed and we were dealing with a kind of air-headed but well-meaning female protagonist surrounded by sexy shirtless men who dote on her unquestioningly we wouldn’t nearly be as critical of the series? Or maybe I’m just speaking now to the female portion of my readers who’ve sat rolling their eyes at my approval of this manga. I’m not going to pretend like this is some high-art or even top-notch quality entertainment, this is soft core pornography with vaguely interesting characters.

A truly ringing endorsement if ever I’ve seen one *rolls eyes* You mock but for some people this is all they need out of their manga.

An anaconda or an earth-worm?

Ugh. Okay, whatever. “Benefit of the doubt” and all that. So final score and recommendation? Reading To LOVE-Ru Darkness felt like being a high-schooler again and discovering Internet pornography for the first time. No, it’s nowhere near as explicit as all that, but what it is is teenage escapism, it’s (mostly) harmless nonsense. Yes it instills some sense of depth but really it’s just an excuse to look at attractive, willing girls in various states of undress. There’s plenty of harem-centric anime and manga that have a story to tell or characters to develop or allegory to… allegor? But this series seems content to tell a superficial story but tell it well. Throw in some likeable characters, humorous scenarios and sexy shenanigans and what you have is a rollicking good time for anyone willing to submit to its shallow charms.


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3 comments

  1. I wish there was a reverse harem with that kind of lewd content. It’s all fluff and romance in reverse harems these days. Gimme the naughty panty flashes with them boys too. (boys flashing their undies should definitely be the new thing in the rev harem world. Who do I talk to to make that happen?)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be something. Imagine the outrage. Men making naughty advances towards a woman. Would probably be sexual harassment. How sexist of the author. I don’t get why everything has to be fluffy and cute all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

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