Who Would Like this Series/Volume?
In case you lived under a rock and have no idea what DATE A LIVE is, it’s a rom-com with a bit of action and miniscule drama. The kind of drama where you know it’s gonna be fine in the end anyway.
For: People who’re looking for another rom-com with a slight dose of action.
The novel really screams “I’m targeted at a younger audience” in every nook and corner. Considering it’s made for Japanese (surprise), it’s very gaijin-friendly with furigana (the stuff that tells you how to read the word in hiragana) all over the place and a vocabulary that’s nothing more than light novel standard. I’d say it’s suited for beginners/advanced people – of course you will have to look up stuff, but comprehensive stories won’t get much easier than this.
There’s a translation on Baka-Tsuki unless the DMCA hammer of justice fell upon it. Unless it got a huge overhaul while I wasn’t looking, don’t expect too much from it.
Translation: Anime, light novel, manga; your pick.
Since a certain incident, the world suffers from so-called “Space Quakes” in a somewhat frequent manner. Those Space Quakes leave behind nothing than destruction, and so humanity has started building shelters to safeguard the people from its harmful ways (not from humanity’s, from the Space Quakes’). One day, Shido (applaud me for remembering names this time), a regular high school student (d’oh), ignores a Space Quake alarm to find and protect his little sister, Kotori (hah), who seems to not be within a shelter either as the two of them made a promise to meet in front of their regular family restaurant right at the time the sirens rang. When Shido hears an explosion and heads for the crater caused by it, he sees a mysterious girl standing in it who immediately draws her blade thinking Shido’s just another person out to kill her. But why would he want to harm this cute, tsundere, best-yet-totally-underestimated girl?
NOTE: This volumes/series has an anime and/or complete translation somewhere. Hence, the contents section will be reduced to the bare minimum as you can get the experience more or less by yourself.
This will probably turn out awfully short, I’ve just too little to criticize.
How’s the plot? Personally, I find the AST and Kotori’s crew to be a bit colorless at least right now. They don’t really have any face nor substance. What do people do to become a member of the AST? Why’s it only girls? Why even high school girls? By what requirements did Kotori cast her crew? Why a freaking airship when they only seem to roam about the city? How the hell do they get up there? If it’s teleportation, why do they hold such a technology, yet shoot rockets at spirits? How does that weird robot-suit-thingy boost its user? Did Kotori try to talk it out with the AST before just going against them? Anyway, I like the whole “save the unloved cutie”-setting, that’s right down my alley, protective instincts ‘n stuff. I had already forgotten that Shido can a) revive and b) absorb the Spirits’ power, so that made the whole thing even better for me as I’d been thinking he had to kiss her just so that she falls for him (isn’t that the wrong order of things?) and is like “such a beautiful world.” The park scene with Shido getting shot and Tohka rampaging was also well done, I just wished there had been a bit more stress on Origami, who basically shot him. She didn’t get ignored or so, but her reaction and the bit dedicated to her didn’t feel very satisfying. Frankly, I wished Tohka would’ve just cut her head off, there was no reason for me to sympathize with her, considering she’s supposedly a heroine, the author should’ve given one or two. But if I’m honest, the whole plot/setting isn’t really innovative. Nor is it thought out well. Nonetheless, the book doesn’t fail. Why so?
How are the characters? Shido’s just another ever-sighing tsukkomi without any redeeming features. He tries to save the girls, that’s what he’s there for, that’s what he does. He’s basically the empty shell you’re supposed to occupy to dive into the story. Tohka’s well-written and plays her “misunderstood, lonely existence”-role great. She’s tsundere, so if you like tsunderes, there’s a good chance you’ll like her. It’s also feasible that spirits don’t know much about our world (how could they?), another strong point. I’ve little to complain, she doesn’t feel forced, it’s fine. Origami doesn’t really do much and didn’t get much depth either. She’s basically just an acting soldier who seems to have met Shido in the past and lost her parents by the hand of a spirit. The volume’s dedicated to Tohka, she doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, I won’t ask for more yet. Kotori… Honestly, I would’ve liked her more if she’d been the way-too-cliché, cute little sister from the beginning of the novel, simply ’cause by now the “loli’s actually all tough”-kinda character’s the overused one. The author overdoes it with her protagonist slander, she badmouths him too much for too little reason which just makes her seem frustrated – he’s been treating her caringly all the time and she probably loves him in whatever way, it makes no sense. Also, why’s she acting all cute to begin with? Yeah, because it’s more interesting this way, I know, but the author’s ought to give a reason. I at least want one. Tomomachi (his friend in class, I even remembered that one!) has exactly one unique feature: he’s into the protagonist’s sister. Good for him. Reine (the insomniac doc, hah) is nice as a support character but has almost no depth yet either.
How’s the pace? This volume has its lengths, meaning that at times it tries to drag out specific events it already foreshadowed, making you ache to just skim those parts and jump right to the juicy ones, but for the most part the pacing’s just fine. There’s little fillers like when they play that dating sim thingy, I expected far worse when they announced, “You can meet her again with the next Space Quake – which won’t happen in the next 11 days or so.”
What else? The characters are on the bright side, the setting’s okay-ish, world building’s so-so, pace is alright, what makes it worthwhile? For one, the author has a great writing style (as far as I as a gaijin am concerned), it just feels right and flows nicely. From that results a considerable well impact which would’ve been even better if I hadn’t already seen the anime (d’oh) – alas, I simply knew what would happen. The characters are well-written, even if they’re not all too unique. Nothing feels forced, neither the puns nor the general dialogue. It’s not unnecessarily complicated, it doesn’t have much ballast that just keeps you from pacing through it. Basically, this is the same phenomenon as in Shomin Sample.” Nothing’s really special about it, but the author just knew what he was doing and how to do it well – though, with all due respect, Shomin Sample did it even better in the beginning. As I’ve just read Noukome” volume 1, that’s where it’s the other way around, everything’s all unique and has nice ideas, but the writing and execution makes me wanna cry.
The bottom line of this all: even if you disliked the anime for some reason and couldn’t really take to it, give the light novel a try, it’s dirt cheap during kindle sales, so it won’t hurt – and yeah, read it in Japanese, preferably, it’s not that hard. Since it has its weaknesses, it’ll get 7 points from me, clapclap. Oh, before I forget it: did you ever wonder, what “DATE A LIVE” could mean? Here’s my two cents: date as in “to have a date,” of course. “A” as in person A, B, C. And live as in “operation’s live/underway now.” Date A Live. Mind blown? No? Pfff.