Date A Live used to be one of those series I actually enjoyed, I’ve said it multiple times in the past where it’s “that” series for me where I looked past its shortcomings and kept up with its releases. At this time there are 20 volumes of the light novel out and I’ve only really read up until volume 16 before all of the translations went up on some Facebook group with a bunch of people who can barely speak english, which is strange to think about when you take a minute and read it over. Nonetheless, I stopped at the point where all of the spirits were revealed and the true “antagonist” or rather perpretrator of the series is revealed, to nobody’s surprise” and haven’t really kept up with it since. It’s around the time Kurumi finally gets sealed and the end-game began.
But that doesn’t have to do too much with this post since we’re only going to be talking about the volumes Season 3 covered, specifically volumes 8-12 and part of me strongly feels that we won’t get a Season 4, let that clue you in on what may or not be a quick overview of the rest of this post. Then again, that’s what everyone thought about Season 3’s existence after the mishap of Season 2. It’s definitely been a while since that hasn’t it? Back then my defense for Season 2 was that the volumes covered weren’t the best and the prioritization of the twin’s arc was to the detriment of the more serious and action oriented Miku/Tohka arc. Season 3 suffers right from the get-go to my opinion but I was surprised here and there.
So right off the bat, Season 3 is blessed with the standard of 12 episodes instead of the 10 episode run Season 2 had. Instead of wasting the first episode with some horrendously out-of-character anime original content, we only get Episode 1’s introductory minutes to be exactly that instead of a whole episode and the series gets back on track to adapting novel material. In that regard, there wasn’t really much to complain about since it does cover most of the plot-points to a decent degree, business as usual there since any adaptation tends to skip out on certain scenes. The usual light novel adaptation issues that nobody should be surprised about at this point, especially knowing that Date A Live, despite its relative popularity in the light novel scene, isn’t “the big” series of a given season, except maybe the 1st season which had a ton of promotional stuff and 3 different versions of its boxed BD sets to boot all with extra scenes.
J.C Staff seems to be getting some flak recently about adapting a bunch of series’ second or third seasons with lower quality visuals and of course, for not such a high-profile series like DAL, the visuals were not always looking too great. This is particularly detrimental to a series where the main visual spectacle are the girls and action and neither really looked all that great, especially the fights in the latter half of the series, which seems to be an unfortunate truth for this series. The first half of the series covering volumes 8 and 9 focused on Natsumi, with way less action than the following arc featuring Origami’s transformation into a Spirit in volumes 10 and 11. It’s a similar format to Season 2 where the twin’s arc was for fanservice and hijinx while Miku’s arc and Tohka’s inversion warranted more action. Origami’s arc, while having the episodes to be adapted semi-competently in terms of pacing, its action sequences were completely unremarkable. All these years and I’m at a crossroads between deciding what looks worse, terrible looking fanservice or terrible looking action. I think I asked myself which distinction was more important and came to the conclusion that for a fanservice series, they’d definitely prioritize the former which is understandable but still pretty disappointing considering how well the fight scenes were done in season 1. Honestly, the review for season 3 can be summed up as being similar to season 2, only that the source material for the latter half being significantly better, yet it’s made all the more disappointing with how silly it looks despite it being one of the toughest and more emotionally driven fights in the series. Origami’s infamous scream also didn’t resonate with me as hard as it did in the light novel, some dramatic pauses goes a long away before a soul-destroying scream goes on.
There does exist one silver lining between all of this however. Certain episodes were handled by a different production team, an in-house production team in Kadokawa called Engi that handled a number of episodes that looked a lot closer to the visual quality the series had back in season 1. Particularly notable was episode 2, where a number of actual dates happen with the girls and the visuals were all easy on the eyes instead of looking silly and “overly angular” some of the other episode’s shots have the girls in. It genuinely surprised me when I saw it since I was so prepared for disappointment and hoped for the rest of the series to look like this but alas, it was too much to expect but the series isn’t completely irredeemable, even if it might be tough to look at most of the time than not. As with any light novel adaptations, go read it if you really wanted to enjoy it since the source material is always the best way to enjoy these things and adaptations especially something that doesn’t become a season’s big hit never tend to receive high-quality adaptations.