Light Novel Review: Date A Live – Tokha Dead End [Volume 1]

Thirty years ago, a “spatial quake” devastating the continent of Eurasia. These phenomenons were caused by the appearance of supernatural beings called “Spirits”. Over the next couple of years, preparations have been made to counteract these spatial quakes that happen randomly. Unfortunately for Shidou Itsuka, a special promise from his sister leads him to search for her during a spatial quake. But instead of his sister, Shidou encounters a mysterious girl at the center of the wreckage.

There are two ways to defeat these Spirits.

Destroy them by overwhelming force, or date them and make them fall in love.

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Save the world by making the girl fall in love with you. It’s an amusing premise, waiting to pull off some comedic and fan-service bits between the male lead and the female characters. And with the light novel spending a good focus on the dating aspect, the light novel likes to place emphasis to these scenes. But beneath all of the romantic comedy jokes, when the story starts to show its serious side, Date A Live brings out some powerful emotional moments to match the sheer gravity of the situation.

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Date A Live is a romantic comedy harem light novel series created by Kōshi Tachibana and illustrated by Tsunako. The story begins with our male protagonist, Shidou Itsuka, promising his adopted little sister, Kotori, to go to a diner with her after school. Unfortunately during school, an alarm sounds out, indicates the appearance of a spatial quake. Due to his intention that Kotori would have gone to the diner regardless of the danger, Shidou rushes off to find her. But at ground zero of the spatial quake, Shidou encounters a mysterious and powerful girl.

Spatial quakes are unknown phenomenon that results in a large-scale destruction of the area. No one knows when these spatial quakes will happen, but what they do know is that these beings called “Spirits” cause them with their appearance. In order to stop the spatial quakes, two groups take different measures to deal with it; the AST (Anti-Spirit Team) uses force to kill them, and the <Ratatoskr>, where they try seal their powers through love.

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There is quite a lot of information that is given to the reader in terms of history and facts, but after that, we are released into a rather simple series of events. Shidou meets the girl, asks her out on a date, and the date is initiated the next day. Shidou cooperates with the crew of <Ratatoskr> to ask the Spirit out on a date. From here, he ventures through the various comedic scenes with the alternate personality of his little sister, the quirky crew of the <Ratatoskr>, his own classmate Origami, or other characters. Truthfully, this comedy all comes down to whether or not the reader likes reading these scenes. But aside from that, most of the events are dialogue based with Shidou talking with the Spirit.

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Shidou Itsuka is a normal high schooler who after encountering the Spirit, gets dragged into the mission to quell the Spirit. He acts as the straight man in comedy bits, reacting to the outrageous events that take place but when the situation calls for it, he’ll do what he thinks is right. Kotori repeatedly states over the course of the light novel that he is the right man for the job, and her depiction of him is right. Shidou won’t accept the way the world treats Spirits, having to be eliminated just by involuntarily causing spatial quakes. He becomes her savior, giving her a reason for her existence, and even her name, Tohka.

“—What’s…”

“…Your name?”

His voice, carrying the question from the bottom of his heart, shook the air.

Tohka is the main heroine for this volume. Upon having conversations with Shidou, she slowly opens up to him about her problems and by the end of the date, she turns into a likable character. Tohka doesn’t just open up to Shidou but to the world as shown through their date. She also tells us more information about the Spirits from their perspective and that gives Shidou all the more reason to act to save them.

However.

“—I have no such thing”

With a sad look, the girl replied.

The last character of importance is Origami Tobiichi as she is a main force in the Anti Spirit Team (AST). Aside from her rather stright-forward and somewhat aggressive attempts to get to know Shidou better, she holds a very deep hatred for the Spirits. Her hatred for Spirits is linked by her past history and her desire to fight. She’s left open-ended at the end of the volume, but she suffers conflicting emotions from the climax at the end of the story.

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We are also hinted at Kotori’s importance to the events that took place five years ago but she remains quiet, holding many secrets about Spirits, her brother and her own involvement.

The illustrations were drawn by Tsunako who is also the lead character designer for the Hyperdimension Neptunia video game series. The character designs in the color illustrations look very soft and smooth. Additionally, when the situation calls for it, the artstyle switches to more chibi designs for our characters. Aside from the characters artwork, the battle illustrations however do look rough when paired with the large amount of black in the pictures.

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The first volume of Date A Live is an amusing series, turning a simple date into a large scale mission that decides whether to treat Spirits as harbingers of destruction or misunderstood beings. With its incorporation of comedy bits, battle scenes, and character interaction, Date A Live is a welcome addition to harem romantic comedy light novel genre.

Rating: Recommended – Average


Author: Kōshi Tachibana

Illustrator: Tsunako

Fan Translated by the Date A Live Translators

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