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Date A Live III Anime Cover

Score: 7.20/10

Date A Live III [DUB]

Alt Title : Date A Live 3, Date A Live 3rd Season, DAL 3

JP Title : デート・ア・ライブⅢ

Year : 2019

Genre : Comedy, Harem, Mecha, Romance, School, Sci-Fi

Season : Winter 2019

Status : Complete

Rating : R - 17+ (violence & profanity)

Episodes : 12/12

Duration : 24 min. per ep.

Studios : J.C.Staff

Synopsis

Shidou Itsuka carries on with his quest for Ratatoskr in finding Spirits and trying to seal their powers, all while maintaining his relationships with the ones he had already sealed. Moreover, as new Spirits appear, he must undergo more complicated trials—all to put a stop to further disasters as he discovers more about the Spirits' origin. [Written by MAL Rewrite]

YES, finally after 5 years, we’re seeing the light of Date A Live once again…thank you Tachibana-sensei (the author of the series)!
NO, to production woes, the J.C.Staff that could do no wrong, proceeded to trash this series! Where are you ENGI???

I’ll admit, being a long-time DAL fan ever since its inception in 2013 has its benefits and drawbacks. For one, we get a fairly generic harem story and action that was somewhat interesting and intriguing for its time, its lineup of character Spirits and the MC harem “Master” that is Shido Itsuki, that left us wanting for more of them ever since Season 2’s end in 2014. But finally, and with a very long wait, the original LN writer Koushi Tachibana has green-lit Season 3 for long-time fans like us to once again, MILK on the success that is the past 2 seasons. AND…you all saw how that fared out in 3 months. And that’s a massive disappointment.

*Spoilers be warned*

Let’s start with the story, which continues the events from past DAL series into Volumes 8 to 12 of the Light Novel: The 7th and 8th Spirits Natsumi and the resurrected Tobiichi Origami in her Spirit form, along with the (rushed and story-squished) Itsuka Disaster arc. For the majority of the series, we go through the life and happenings of the transformation queen that is Natsumi, being able to shapeshift into people with almost perfect results. And this time, Shido is left with a very daunting task of finding out Natsumi’s real intentions while covering her true chibi-kid form (which makes her embarrassed and is a real pain-in-the-butt), at the expense of using Tohka and Co. and exterminating them should Shido fail to solve her puzzle. Everything totally felt like how the main series was intended to be, and that’s always very welcome.

Next, new revelations about the friend-cum-enemy Tobiichi Origami, whom for the longest time that we’ve been searching her long-awaited answers since the start of Season 1: The reasoning behind her hatred for Spirits. And this arc being animated is a true taste of the “how many questions” we all have at the end of both seasons, finally giving us the action-solutions and resolution to Origami’s antagonistic purposes, with her history being rewritten at long last, for the better. Last but not least, the Itsuka Disaster arc, where in true DAL fashion, Shido does not become the initiator, but becomes the instigated for the girls to date him! Of course, trouble ensues but as always the girls will do anything to save his life *kisses*.

Once again, open hearts, open minds: The story is a love/hate relationship with those of us who grew up with this series, so whether you love or hate it, I respect all opinions.

The characters, or should I mention, the NEW ones brought forth to this season: Natsumi, Origami’s new Spirit form and of course the mysterious Spirit that is Phantom. Natsumi, aside from her Halloween costume, she is a force to be reckoned with, with her shapeshifting disguises into people similar being the standout that really causes a whole lot of issues. Once she is brought down to her tsundere loli form, she is pretty much like Yoshino in terms of care and sensitivity. With Origami’s position this time, she is finally vindicated of her past that has her holding back for very long, siding with DEM Industries all the while until this issue is resolved. Good for you Origami! And Phantom’s presence which we didn’t see a lot of, that is sadly left for another time to pursue more information about her (in the future…?). Of course, Tohka and Co. still acts like their usual selves.

The elephant in the room, you’ve guessed it, is the art and animation, which by all accounts, factoring in both Season 1 and 2, is the worst looking of them all. With the relevant production studio changes (AIC Plus+ for Season 1, the recently-bankrupt Production IMS for Season 2), it’s no surprise that this is an (industry-wide) issue, but honestly I didn’t find the average art-animation combi to be off-putting, at least not by a mile. With J.C.Staff however, even before the anime aired, the PV and posters were the red flags that long-time fans were trashing it, saying: “This isn’t the DAL that I remember!” And…it doesn;t get any better than this. Character models have that superifical J.C.Staff generic model, instead of the ever-so-memorable DAL aesthetics. Art and animation is decent, but action scenes were rife with mediocrity all around, with many people were complaining that this series took a turn for the worse with overall animation, and my opinions are no different. Sure, ENGI came back to help out with the production woes that J.C.Staff faced (that’s evident on the episodes he worked on if you checked the ED credits), but overall, it definitely left a very sour taste in my mouth.

Music-wise, I’m very glad and happy that the all-female group “sweet ARMS” is back once again to deliver another stellar song, titled “I Swear” (by the moon and the stars and the sky…oops sorry, wrong song!). Probably out of the 3 OP songs in the series, this may just be my favourite “sweet ARMS” song yet, with Season 1’s “Date A Live” in 2nd place. Such a heartwarming and cute, small action-pumping song. New and upcoming female artist Eri Yamazaki shows her new song for the ED, and it’s also quite good (as expected from Shichisei no Subaru’s ED song). OST wise, it’s largely the same assortment of tracks from previous series to stoke nostalgia, and it works for the better.

Production woes aside, as predictable and obvious as much as past seasons are, this is still a somewhat worthy (but worse) sequel entry to the series, with the story still holding up just as decent with many hiccups in the storytelling. But, apologies to long-time DAL fans both old and new, this isn’t recommended unless it’s for the story alone. Pass this up.

Now if only there was ever a chance of a Season 4 (which is highly unlikely), we the audience highly implore the future production staff: “Please get the series QC-checked first before showing it to us!”

Why is it so damn hard to make a proper harem sequel these days? Date a Live needs no introduction as the franchise had established its principle cast from the previous seasons. All we need really is some well-crafted storytelling with clever humor and this could have been a redemption of the catastrophe known as Date a Live season 2. I’ll be a straightforward here. I only advise watching Date a Live Season III if you are absolutely curious about the continuation of this franchise. Regardless if you’ve read the light novel or an anime only viewer, this show requires knowledge from the previous season for a watchable experience. With that being said, there’s little to really praise about the show together when you see what they’ve set on the table. Even before this aired, some red flags are raised regarding the technical elements of the show. The production quality from the previews seems to have taken a nose dive to hell. While the first episode made improvements compared to the online pre-air, the visual quality overall is at best be described as subpar. At worst, the third season would be a fine example of a plastic broken art piece. However, I am willing to look over this since Date a Live has never been known for its art style. It’s the standard generic harem with a cast of characters who all fall for the main protagonist eventually. The catch is that the show’s premise adheres to such genre with its dating elements. Date a Live III returns with the familiar formula of main protagonist Shido Itsuka as he helps to seal Spirits into his body with a kiss. The new season introduces Natsumi, the seventh spirit who actually has two forms – a child and young adult. The first few episodes has her play mind games against Shido and his friends. Similar to previous seasons, she puts Shido’s life on a rollercoaster of drama. However, I felt like the first arc became more and more idiotic with each passing episode. Let’s start with Natsumi herself. She is an attention seeker and seems to throw fits like a child would when things don’t go her way. In her adult form, she’s prone to jealousy with pride and a bit of ego. To put it simply, she’s an irritating character to deal with. It doesn’t take long for Shido to realize this either with the childish games she puts them through. By the time this arc ended, I felt nothing for Natsumi and she became yet another harem member in Shido’s collection. Except in her case, she's an annoying little bitch. Then, the second half of the show aired. Unlike Natsumi’s arc, the second arc adapts a more serious and emotional tone. The show takes a dive into Origami’s past while also reintroducing a popular character from the previous seasons. Oh yes, remember Origami? She’s the girl that has been trying to seduce Shido at every chance she gets. However, we see a side of Origami that people may not be used to. From this season, she shows a corrupted side of her character. She forsakes her friends while even attacking Shido as an enemy. There’s actually a more complex reason why she wants to change her past but the execution fails to live up to my expectations. Sure, there’s emotional content but the show never managed to convince me to like Origami as a character. Regardless what timeline she is in, Origami exposes the weakness of the main cast as a character who relies on others too much. In particular, Shido is someone she confides her emotions in although I never felt the two had a strong connection. Even compared to relationships with others like Tohka, she always felt like a background character. That being said, I don’t really want to devalue all the characters. The main cast returns with their mainstream personalities. While there’s not much character development, it’s still fun to watch their goofy interactions with Shido. It’s a harem after all and every girl wants their chance to be with him. The amount of witty dialogues and humor remains in the show that occasionally can draw out a few laughs. But be aware, you may quickly find most of it to be a snoozefest. If the third season really wanted to redeem itself, it could have taken risks to try something different. Instead, it still relied on its usual gimmicks while focusing on a character that I never put faith into. Here’s a season that I can’t recommend and it’s a real shame. Because really, I wanted Date a Live to be something more special. Instead, it came out as a garbage harem that can be best described as atrocious.

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