Original Run: April 8, 2022 - June 24, 2022 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Action, Comedy, Harem, Romance Based on the Series Created By; Koushi Tachibana and Tsunako
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Date A Live IV. Reader discretion is advised.***
To date, Shido Itsuka (voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki) has sealed and befriended more Spirits than anyone on Earth. What first started with the armor-clad Tohka Yatogami (voiced by Marina Inoue) has reached:
- The soft-spoken Yoshino (voiced by Iori Nomizu)
- The tough but ditzy Origami Tobiichi (voiced by Misuzu Togashi)
- The battle twins Yuzuru and Kaguya Yamai (voiced respectively by Sarah Emi Bridcutt and Maaya Uchida)
- The beloved idol Miku Izayoi (voiced by Minori Chihara)
- The witch Natsumi Kyouno (voiced by Ayumi Mano)
- And Shido’s foster sister and commander of Ratatoskyr, Kotori Itsuka (voiced by Ayana Taketatsu)
But as Shido’s allies grow in number, so too do his enemies. Those who wish to eliminate the Spirits are on the verge of obtaining a powerful weapon.
If he is not careful, all that Shido has built could come crashing down.
Looking through my previous reviews covering the first three seasons of the Date A Live franchise, I noticed a common theme. On the whole, no entry in this series has been what might call good. Speaking of story structure and premise, there hasn’t been much to get particularly excited about.
However, Date A Live has had a knack of introduces individual elements that – on their own – are quite memorable. Indeed, this show has developed an iconic look; thus, it is impossible to mistake it for anything else. As a result, seasons one, two, and three, though problematic, were always entertaining and fun.
I cannot say the same for season four.
Date A Live IV attempted the strategy that has served it well up to this point. The problem is you can only do the same thing so many times before reaching a critical mass. By the end of this season, Shido Itsuki found himself surrounded by ten – TEN – “different” female suitors. That was an issue, but it is an issue we will have to save for later in the review.
To give this season the credit it is due, newcomers Nia Honjou and Mukuro Hoshimiya (voiced respectively by Hitomi Nabatame and Akari Kageyama) weren’t what was wrong with Date A Live IV. When the story focused solely on them, things were too bad. That is if you don’t count the entire dating sim angle (which I have never been on board with) and Shido’s irritating pretentiousness when speaking with Mukuro.
Okay, so I suppose that just leaves Nia’s arc, and that wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t brilliant either, but I didn’t find myself falling asleep as I did with the rest of the season. So, that’s a plus.
I am struggling to find things I enjoyed about this season. Sadly, I could not look past all the faults that have plagued this series as I have done for the first three seasons. It was far too overwhelming this time.
Despite that, I will watch season five (which saw its announcement at the end of episode twelve) when it comes out. Sure, part of that sentiment is due to me having already made it this far, and it would be weird to stop now. Another reason is thanks to Date A Live IV doing the same goddamn thing it has done on several occasions:
Put all its actual substance at the very end of the season and leave everything on a cliffhanger.
The last story arc of season four was worth watching. And take a guess – take a wild freaking guess – why that was. Let me give you a hint; who has been the one constant that has never yet failed to make this series fun? In my three previous Date A Live reviews, who’s been the one person I’ve made sure to praise?
For Date A Live IV, Kurumi Tokisaki (voiced by Asami Sanada) plugged the hole in a sinking ship.
Frankly, it surprised me how much Kurumi stood out this season. Especially given how she has stood out in every season. This time, though, it was clear that Kurumi, unlike everyone else, was doing something. She was making moves, coming up with plans, and following through with her goals. Whereas Shido and his group were either facing a strength-based-on-what-is-necessary-for-the-plot villain or going on pointless side missions.
Kurumi absolutely carried the last bit of this season. She gave us stuff to feel tense over, she built intrigue, and, of course, she was her usual fascinating self. Not only was she ensuring Date A Live IV was a complete waste of time, but our entire hero team would be dead. Kurumi did more than everyone else combined. And while she might have made a few appearances throughout the season, Kurumi didn’t fully get involved until the last few episodes.
Once again, Kurumi proved how indispensable she is to this series. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save this season.
If you’ve seen this season, please, in the comments, tell me what significant thing did Yoshino, Miku, Natsumi, Yuzuru, or Kaguya do? Following their respective arcs this season, what value did Nia and Mukuro add to the show? Hell, Tohka, the catalyst for this entire series, was she ultimately important to Date A Live IV?
There are too many characters. There are far too many characters. And sure enough, Date A Live IV had to do that thing all shows with overinflated casts do. Scenes need to drag on longer than necessary so that everyone has the chance to say one throwaway line. When a series gets to that point, it is almost impossible to care about anyone since it is difficult for someone to stand out.
Date A Live has reached the point that any new Spirit is just another excuse to put another cute anime girl in revealing costumes. Which, okay, fine, if you’re going to do that, then do it. Except, Date A Live IV was weirdly tame with even its fanservice. From just an eye-candy point of view, this season fell up short.
And speaking of eye candy, this season’s animation was either bland and lifeless or bubbly CGI. This was not a good-looking installment. As a result, fight sequences were dull, attacks lacked any power, and since there are only so many color combinations, everything began to look the same. Heck, the Spirits started becoming visually uninteresting when Yuzuru and Kaguya joined. Therefore Nia and Mukuro were nowhere close to anything special.
Then there was the “story.” You can’t see it with the written word, but every time I think of Date A Live’s “story,” I roll my eyes. Sure, this series has a plot, and I suppose I would say it has my attention. However, season four spend most of its run not worrying about it. As I said earlier, the last few, Kurumi-focused episodes had any tangible forward progression.
Everything else was incredibly forgettable.
Looking back, it is no surprise why the Date A Live anime has had such a fate. In four seasons, this franchise has had four different animation studios. Thus, this series hasn’t had an opportunity to see any consistency.
Let’s assume that of the four installments, Date A Live IV and its studio, GEEK TOYS, were the first to adapt the source material appropriately. On the one hand, that’s admirable. On the other hand, it’s far too late. Whether this season was fateful or not, it didn’t do nearly enough to distinguish itself from its predecessors.
Date A Live IV reached this series’ capacity. Consequently, unless it will be nothing but plot progression or – even better – conclusion, Date A Live V is in big trouble.
I am willing to give season five a fair chance. Perhaps it will round out the series or, at least, correct course. Regardless of either, this was a low point for the series.
The usual entertainment value that saved the previous three installments failed to happen this time around. Although this installment somehow managed to leave some intrigue for the future, it took way too long to get there, and it’s unclear if it was worth the wait.
It does feel premature to call this franchise done, but Date A Live IV has failed to earn a recommendation on its own.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Date A Live IV? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
If you liked what you’ve read, follow Anime Hajime on our social media to never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
If you wish to add your voice to Anime Hajime, why not consider writing for us? Check out our Write For Anime Hajime page if you want to contribute. We welcome your style.
For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.