We all know that one anime that seems blessed to receive an endless string of new seasons, OAVs and movie releases, while the shows we want to see more of languish with only a single 12-episode season. And when the anime in question isn’t getting a new season, it’s getting amazing figures announced every week, while our favorite anime is lucky to get a single Nendoroid. Today let’s explore why Date A Live has become such a juggernaut in the anime industry, with its currently airing fourth season and more gorgeous anime figures than you could ever hope to collect in one lifetime.
The Story of Date A Live
The best ideas are simple, I guess, and the formula that Date A Live follows is not complex. Protagonist Itsuka Shido has the unique ability to seal powerful female Spirits who appear in our world and have the potential to cause massive destruction through interdimensional “spacequakes” unless Shido can make the girls fall in love with him. How does he do this? By going on dates with them, while receiving advice on how to win each girl’s heart by the members of his support organization, who advise him on what choices to make during each date in his earpiece. In between the actual dates, Shido interacts with the members of his harem in cute ways that result in comedy and/or sexy fanservice.
The girls are all cute, but like Infinite Stratos, seem like they could have been created by a harem-generating algorithm. You’ve got the cute twintail sister Kotori. Tohka, a boke who likes eating. Twins Kaguya and Yuzuru. Perverted kuudere Origami. And best girl, Kurumi.
Why is Date A Live So Popular?
So why was Date A Live anointed to receive an endless new series, movies and figures, while other shows aren’t? Let’s try to figure out its secret.
It Has Dedicated Investors and Fans. According to industry insiders, it costs US$2 million to fund a 13-season season of anime, which is a lot of okane. Thanks to solid backing by Kadokawa and a base of loyal Japanese fans who happily buy 8000 copies of each of the limited Blu-rays, more seasons will get made as long as this happy situation continues.
It Won the Support of Figure Collectors. Certain anime series are fortunate to catch the eye of the most dedicated figure collectors, which creates a virtuous circle, as booming figure sales leads to more figures being commissioned. A few anime series — Please Teacher, Ikki Tousen, Zero no Tsukaima, No Game No Life — have been blessed with this unique situation, with figures that really resonated with collectors. Date A Live is another series with figures that are so gorgeous and popular, they’re probably funding all these new seasons of the anime.
It’s a Stable and Relaxing Story. Revisiting Date A Live after skipping a few seasons, yet being able to jump right back in with all the familiar characters, was quite nice. It’s all very stress-free. There’s no deep over-arching story, no threat that Walpurgis Night is going to cause the world to end or that a romantic triangle is going to finally be resolved, meaning that characters we’re invested in might get their hearts broken. It’s almost like the anime is aimed at middle-schoolers who are
half one-third my age or something…
The Fanservice is Fun. I love me some sexy visual fanservice, and Date A Live always has some enjoyable eye candy, without getting too carried away.
It’s All About Kurumi. Okay, that’s it. I solved the secret about why this show is so popular. Who can say no to a sexy yandere Gothic Lolita waifu with the power to control time and a fetish for antique guns?
I Love Games About Visual Novels
At its core Date A Live is a harem anime about a boy who has to date various girls while making choices of the kind seen in visual novels. These choices are called bunkiten or branch points, and if you’ve played enough of them (or published enough of them, in my case), you start to perceive the world through these decision points. When I go to make some important choice, I can almost see the various options floating in front of me, waiting for me to click one.
While everyone is familiar with these kinds of game mechanics now, back when we first started publishing Japanese dating-sim games, there was a decade or so when I had to explain what the games were like to fans at conventions, who had no idea what a visual novel or was or what gameplay would be like. Thanks to anime like Genshiken, The World God Only Knows and this series, now everyone knows how a dating-sim style game works, even if they’ve never played one.
Thanks for reading this post on the new Date A Live fourth season. Why do you like the show, if you’re a fan? Tell us below, or reply to us on Twitter!
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