So it’s no secret at this point that I have
a deep, seething hatred for To Love Ru, considering it’s my goto example when talking about
terrible anime. Hell, the very first frame of Part 1 where
I open up by talking about shitty harem comedies is a clip of To Love Ru, and I assure you,
that was no accident. To me, To Love Ru embodies everything wrong
with this genre, and my anger towards it is only grows the more I hear mentioned in the
same breath as SnO. Now, I’ll admit that they do share some
superficial qualities, both are harem comedies with a focus on over the top humor and perverted
situations for example, but that’s where the similarities end, because one of them
is incredible, while the other is absolute shit. Everything To Love Ru does wrong, SnO does
right, and everything SnO does right, To Love Ru does wrong. And that’s a petty bold claim to make considering
how popular To Love Ru is, so let’s prove it, shall we? I want to compare and contrast SnO and To
Love Ru, to put them into an arena, and to see who comes out on top. “But Syy, it’ll take forever to compare
everything about the two shows! YouTube is gonna run out of hard drive space
eventually!” And right you are, but lucky us, I’ve found
the absolute perfect point of comparison. Two episodes, one from either show, that are
nearly identical, but at the same time could not be any more different. That would be Episode 11 of SnO, and To Love
Ru’s first OVA. So, let’s take a look. Starting off with SnO, Episode 11 begins with
Tomoki sitting in his living room sipping tea, as he thinks “Ahhhh…. I’d love to go inside the girls bathhouse.” Bamn, that’s the plot of the episode. Tomoki tells everyone that they should go
to the bath, and was going to use one of Ikaros’s cards to sneak in, but Sohora cuts that plan
off at the head. However, Tomoki remembers that Suguta still
has a card, so he tries to convince him to help, in what is probably one of my favorite
scenes in the entire show. Tomoki goes to him and Suguta initially wants
nothing to do with it, so Tomoki says “But Suguta, what if the New World is hiding inside
the girls bathhouse? We would never know!” and he goes, “You’re
right! It could be!” and that’s all the convincing
he needs. So Suguta summons the Quantum Transformation
Device from Synapse to transform himself into Tomoko, his female alter-ego. So, after transforming into a girl, he spends
the afternoon shopping for girls clothes, and then proceeds to go to school the next
morning, and I think it’s hilarious that the only way he knows how to act as a girl
is to be the most stereotypical, cliched anime girl in history. Running to school with toast in his mouth,
bumping into a random dude and flashing him, making cookies for everyone in class, pretending
to be a ditz, and showing up in a maid uniform. And I think it’s even funnier that it totally
works, and he wins over every guy in the class in half a day. And then he does it. Tomoki makes it into the bath, and just watch
the reaction Tomoki has to Mikako letting him wash her back. [YESSSSSS] That’s. Fucking. Hysterical. Anyway, Tomoki goes on a rampage after that,
to the point that he even starts shooting lasers out of his eyes. [We’re all girls here!] Finally, he gets so worked up that the Quantum
Converter breaks, he transforms back, and gets his badly deserved punishment. At it’s heart, this is just a fanservice
episode, but it’s done SO WELL. The comedy is 100% on-point. Tomoki convincing Suguta to help him was great,
seeing Tomoki scheme and lie his ass off to get everyone to trust him was great, and that
one “YES” never fails to make me laugh. Also, you remember how I said that each episode
of SnO has a different Ed? Well the Ed for Episode 11 is one of my favorites,
showing off Tomoki doing a Rocky style training montage to become a better girl. There’s this one moment where Tomoki tries
to do a cute pose, and Suguta is like, “No no no, you’re doing it all wrong. Like THIS”. And Tomoki’s like, “Ohhhh.” This is also without question the most fanservice-heavy
the show ever gets. Any episode that manages to work in scenes
of Nymph both in lingerie, and naked is already a work of art, but they go one step further
by introducing us to Tomoko, who is SEXY AS FUCK. Seriously, I don’t care if it might technically
be gay, I’d fuck his/her/it’s brains out at the drop of a hat! So all of that’s impressive enough, but
they go above and beyond by managing to work like, 5 minutes of character development and
foreshadowing for the finale sprinkled throughout the episode, which in any other show would
be jarring and tonally-off, but because it’s SnO, here it all works together seamlessly. It’s just a fantastic episode. *sigh*…So, let’s talk about To Love Ru
and it’s nearly identical episode, and how it’s somehow 1000x worse. The episode opens with Rito’s friend (who
I’m not even sure has a name) watching all the girls run during track, and talking about
how much he loves boobs, because he’s a side character and has no personality besides
that. Rito of course, is eternally uninterested
and sexless. Lala, being an alien unfamiliar with Earth
culture, notices this, and runs around school asking all the girls what they think about
boobs, finding out that everyone has different preferences. She then builds a device to make the boobs
of any girl however big or small they want, and it’s shaped like a penis, which is probably
the only good joke in the episode. Rito then accidentally breaks it, and the
explosion transforms him into a girl. This makes Rito unhappy, so then they spend
the next few minutes trying to transform him back. That doesn’t work, so they contrive a reason
to have a bath scene, and despite To Love Ru being primarily a fanservice show and showing
nipples, is decidedly less sexy than anything in SnO. Then they have a scene where the girls attempt
to make Rito try on a bunch of girly clothes. This freaks him out, so he runs out of the
house. While out in public, every guy in the city
starts to fall in love with him… for literally no reason. He’s just random girl walking around, but
every guy in town is trying to marry him. So while running away, he gets kissed once,
and passes out. Then the rich ojousama girl comes along, and
takes him to her house. Rito wakes up, and all the other girls drag
him into a bath house, where he gets freaked out. Then Lala busts in, and transforms Rito back
to normal, and he gets beat up. End of episode. So like I said, this OVA has SO MANY of the
same plot beats as SnO that you’d think they were cheating off the same homework. Both episodes revolve around the main character
gender bending, acting girly, trying on girly clothes, wooing all the guys, and going into
a bath house, only to get transformed back and beaten up for it. But despite how freakishly similar the two
episodes are, To Love Ru’s is considerably worse. First of all, it was a comedy episode that
barely made me laugh. That of course is a particularly subjective
complaint, but I think the source of that is because SnO has this energy running through
it that To Love Ru lacks. Everything in this episode is just so slowwwwww. There’s 5 minutes of Lala just talking to
girls about boobs, then there’s a 2 minute scene where they try to transform Rito back
which ends in failure and was meaningless, and there’s this recurring gag that comes
up 3 times where they cut back to the ghost girl and the joke is that she’s a shitty
artist, I guess? It feels like this episode could’ve been
a 10 minute short, but they had to double the length of to get it to fit standard running
time, so all the comedy just feels like padding rather than an honest effort to make you laugh. There’s also no character development or
plot of any kind happening in the background of To Love Ru’s episode, which again in
fairness, isn’t a requirement for me. If a show wants to have a dumb fanservice
episode that doesn’t relate back to the plot, I don’t care, but I do think it’s
worth mentioning that SnO was able to make a better fanservice episode while also leaving
time for advancement of the story. But here’s the big problem with To Love
Ru’s OVA… and To Love Ru as a whole… and the vast majority of other harem shows
actually, which you might have picked up on just from my plot description. None of what happened in this episode was
Rito’s choice. Rito accidentally becomes a girl, which makes
him unhappy. He gets dragged into the bath. Lala and MIkan force him to try on girls clothes. All the guys chase him around town. The Oujosama brings him to her house, and
drags him in the bath. None of it was done willingly. Honestly, if you watch To Love Ru with the
headcanon of it actually being a story about a gay guy who continually gets setup to fail
by God, and then gets beaten up for it, it’s actually kind of depressing. By sharp contrast, Tomoki DECIDES to break
into the women’s bath house, and schemes how to do it. He convinces Suguta to help him. He transforms into a girl in order to accomplish
his goal. He tries on girls clothes because he wants
to. He goes to school and deliberately acts girly. He goes into the bath to see boobs. In To Love Ru, the plot has to constantly
conspire around placing Rito into situations he doesn’t want to be in, whereas in SnO,
everything that happens is because of Tomoki’s choices. In To Love Ru, Rito goes “Ehh?” whereas Tomoki goes “YESSSS!”. That may not seem like a big deal, but it
really does make all the difference. For example, that’s why seeing Tomoki get
beaten up feels so deserved. He was an asshole, and he got what was coming
to him, and it was all funny. But I don’t laugh when Rito gets beaten
up, because he didn’t do anything to deserve it. The most he did wrong this entire episode,
was not opening his fucking mouth and explaining what was going on to anyone, despite being
given ample opportunities to do so, which I don’t feel is crime enough to deserve
being shot at. But this problem of Rito not making any choices
is just symptomatic of the much bigger, inoperable tumor that’s grown over the harem genre. So let’s reverse engineer this. What makes Tomoki a more interesting and entertaining
character than Rito? Well, as we said, the fact that he makes his
own choices. Tomoki is in control of his own story. Okay, so why doesn’t Rito make his own choices? Because if his current character made choices,
To Love Ru wouldn’t be an ecchi show. It would be a show about a guy who sits in
his room all day, because we’re continually shown again and again that Rito would never
willingly do any of the things he’s forced into. Okay, so the problem then is obviously Rito
being written to not care about girls? So, why not just rewrite that part then? Well the issue with that, is if Rito was written
like an actual teenager, the show would turn into a hentai pretty much instantly, because
there are plenty of characters who constantly proposition him for sex. Here: you know that cliched scene where the
guy falls on the girls tits and then she leans her head back and goes “be gentle.”? Well just as an example, let’s imagine that
happening with every main female character in the show, and think about which ones would
then go on to willingly have sex with Rito. Lala: She’d say yes. Haruna: Probably would be flustered, but yeah
I could see it happening pretty easily. Mikan: No, but only because she’s his sister. But whatever, that makes one. Kotegawa, Yes. Hell, it’s already almost happened several
times. Run: Yes. Momo: Yes. Nana: No, but only because she’s a tsundere. Yami: According to the manga? Yes, although it might take her a bit to come
around to the idea. So of the cast of 8 main female characters,
only two of them would definitively say no if Rito was actively seeking sexual gratification
from them, and really only because it would require breaking out of their cliches. So Rito is written this way, not because it
makes sense for the character, but because To Love Ru has to be PG 13, and if he acted
like an actual teenager, as Tomoki does, it would turn X rated pretty much instantly.. And this finally leads us to the question
that’s at the heart of the matter. How does SnO do it? How does SnO have a main character who is
relatable and acts like an actual teenager would, while not devolving into porn? The simple answer? SnO writes its characters to be characters,
whereas To Love Ru writes it’s characters to be wish fulfillment. That test we just did to see which To Love
Ru characters would have sex with Rito? Let’s run through that with SnO’s female
cast and Tomoki. Ikaros: At the very beginning of the show? Yes as we discussed in Part 4, but later in
the show? Maybe? I admit, I’m not sure. But she’s the main love interest so I wouldn’t
care regardless. Sohora: No, she’d kill him. Nymph: No, she’d kill him. Astraea: No, she’d kill him. Mikako: No, she would kill THE CRAP out of
him. Chaos: She’d say, “What’s sex?” So no. The Harpies: No, they’d kill him. Hiyori: You see I might’ve said yes to her,
but that scene actually happened in the manga and it turns out the answer is still no! So aside from the main love interest, none
of the characters would just jump into Tomoki’s bed if he asked. So what’s the difference between the cast
of SnO and the cast of To Love Ru? Again, To Love Ru writes it’s characters
primarily as wish fulfillment. Of course all the girls in that show would
jump on the main characters bone at the slightest provocation, because, well don’t you wish
girls would do that, teenage boys? So we’ll write our characters like that
so we can fulfill more of the audience’s fantasies, thereby selling more blu rays. But in SnO, as in real life, you don’t just
have 8 girls who would jump in bed with you if you asked. That’s generally not how life works, and
SnO reflects that. SnO’s female cast are actual characters,
with their own struggles and goals, whereas To Love Ru views it’s female cast as a waking
pair of tits to fulfill the audience’s fantasies, as is perfectly exemplified by this Op showing
us a shot of the characters bouncing tits, before zooming out to show the person they’re
actually attached to. That’s why every character in To Love Ru
has had all personality sandblasted off of them, and been reduced to the most boring
standard cliches with as much mass-market appeal as possible. There’s the [inset sci-fi/fantasy stereotype]
ALIEN, the childhood friend, the little sister, the tsundere with big boobs, the idol, the
tsundere with small boobs, the OTHER tsundere with small boobs. Honestly the only character I can’t box
into an archetype is Momo, and only because her whole reason for existing is to force
Rito into situations he doesn’t want to be in. For example, why would Rito ever want to be
transformed into underwear? Well, he wouldn’t, but some of our audiences
has fantasies about that, so we’ll make Momo do it to him. (Minor tangent: this is ALSO something Tomoki
ends up doing because HE wanted to.) So Momo’s more of a crutch for lazy writers
than a character, but I think that just furthers my point. And this problem of writing characters as
wish-fulfilment first is endemic in the ecchi genre, and that’s one of the reasons SnO
towers above its peers. It writes its characters as actual humans,
even the fucking robots, which makes them more relatable, which in turn, makes the comedy
that comes from them, and happens to them, even funnier. It also makes them more likeable, and more
memorable. That’s one of the many reasons SnO persists
in my mind to this day, where so many other shitter ecchi anime have long since been forgotten. That’s why I’ve named Nymph as my waifu
for 7 years now. Not because she was written to fill out a
checklist of fetishes that I happen to have, but because I got invested in her as a character. I hated her at first when she showed up and
acted like a bitch, but then you find out why and she becomes sympathetic. And you see all this emotional trauma she
has to go through, and sometimes it looks like things in life are getting better for
her and she’s working through her issues, but then something from Synapse shows up to
drag her back down into depression, I have never wanted to go up and hug a fictional
character more in my life. THAT’S how you know you wrote a good character. But the problem with writing good characters
is that it’s hard, and what’s even more depressing is that it’s usually unprofitable. To Love Ru, despite being a considerably worse
show, has had a billion times more success just because of its broad mass-market appeal. The manga is around 250 chapters long, and
the anime has 4 seasons, totalling in 78 episodes of anime. Meanwhile, SnO got 25 episodes and two shitty
movies. The sad fact of the world we live in is that
a lot of people don’t care if the pair of tits with a different colored wig on top has
an in-depth personality or is complex and interesting. Some people just care about what fits their
preconceived notions of what they’ll like. Now, believe it or not, all of this is not
to say To Love Ru is 100%, an unredeemable piece of shit. Season 1 was the closest the show ever got
to being good. Back then it had much more of an emphasis
on wacky comedy than fanservice, and combine that with a few funny ideas, a couple of those
episodes almost threaten to be kind of sort of okay! But starting in Season 2 and continuing from
then onwards, each episode is divided into 3 little vignette sections, each of which
is only concerned with getting X girl into Y perverted situation. It feels like the show sold what little remnants
of a soul it had left, in return for becoming incredibly popular, and so morphed into a
series of the most boring standard fanservice scenes in all of anime. And that’s sorta what I view it as: an anime
that’s every aspect is the way that it is because that’s what would make them the
most money. The absolute lowest common denominator show,
completely devoid of artistic passion or creative drive, and whose sole purpose is to sell as
many Blu Rays and figurines as possible via the medium of boobs. And I’ll freely admit, I’m part of the
problem. Despite thinking all that, I still watched
the entire show, and read all of the manga, as it came out, because… sometimes I like
shitty fap material. Sometimes I don’t wanna be challenged intellectually. Sometimes I just wanna relax and gratify my
more basic urges, and To Love Ru is the embodiment of that mindset. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong
with being shitty porn, and I’m certainly not saying that all fanservice shows need
10/10s, or even that most of them do. It’d be nice, sure, but I can see the appeal
of something as uncomplicated and as easily digestible as To Love Ru. But it does make me mad when I see shows that
are so much worse than SnO getting preferential treatment in the eyes of the market. When I think about how To Love Ru will go
on forever, but SnO’s anime adaptation got dropped on it’s head halfway through because
it wasn’t profitable enough to continue. To Love Ru is a cash cow, and SnO isn’t. It’s as simple as that. It’s not a high quality cash cow, but the
sad truth is that it makes so much money that… it doesn’t have to be. Continued in part 6.