Val × Love – Anime Preview
Synopsis: High school student Akutsu Takuma has resigned himself to a lonely life since his scary face frightens people off. Fortunately, nine Valkyries powered by intimacy don’t care about his looks and need his help when they are sent to protect Earth. (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Val x Love is here to be the Fall’s token ecchi sleaze. Within the first 30 seconds we’re offered Val’s harem of girls completely naked and bound in its opening credits. If that wasn’t enough, girls grab each other’s breasts right in the middle of class in this world apparently while the boys stare on with glee. Oh, and don’t worry, we get the cliché ‘innocent male protagonist walking into a room full of girls half-dressed and changing their clothes.’ What? Still not enough cliché? How about an eraser that skillfully falls right under a seated girl’s crotch and instead of asking her if she can pass it over, our protagonist decides to dive for it himself? How much farther can this go you ask? Well, according to Val X Love, love equals sexual intimacy, so in order to power up and defeat mighty demons, our harem ladies need to strip down and have our hero, Akutsu Takuma, massage their breasts, grope thighs, what have you. What really sends it off the rails though is not simply how Val X Love makes it clear that powering up for our warrior girls involves sexual contact, but rather that a young loli girl is included in Takuma’s harem, making the show’s potential future content all the more concerning.
Tom: Val x Love is the kind of ecchi anime that doesn’t stop to think about what it’s unintentionally saying with its ‘whatever sticks to the wall’ approach to fan service. Maybe all these missteps and poorly thought out concepts would be something to ‘overlook’ if Val x Love at least offered something else of quality. But Val x Love feels a lot like ‘fanservice first, plot second’ as the show’s introduction puts explanations on the back burner.We jump from Akutsu Takuma’s everyday life, where his scary visage has painted him as a bully rather than the timid soul he truly is, into the harem side of the series as we learn Takuma actually lives with all the hotties from his school as well as a few other girls. Finally, in one last twist Takuma isn’t merely some average boy but he’s actually the central pin in the world’s defense against evil and the only way the eight girls and loli can power up and defeat the demons that threatened mankind. It’s not so much that these ideas contradict each other, but not one of these three separate aspects actually feels all that connected to the other. Each section is so haphazardly navigated, so poorly utilized and interwoven to the next, that there’s no emotional connection to Takuma’s sob story, or an ounce of care for how eight girls and a loli are ruining his much sought after loner life style, or the demons plaguing Japan. Because nothing feels compelling what comes out on top, out of everything, is that hard press towards perversion.
Linny: Val x Love really does have so little to offer besides cheap fan service. Further dampening Takuma’s ‘tragic’ tale is the show’s insistence of a comedic tinge to every scene. This comedy is largely predicated on our hero’s scary physical appearance versus his true timid nature, which plays out unnecessarily over the top at every chance it gets. The whole backstory about how his demon like face has affected him comes off ham fisted and makes for a poor attempt at eliciting sympathy. The rest of the story telling is so contrived and painful to sit through; such as how the episode forces Takuma and Natsuki, the most popular girl in school, to hold hands, simply because the motherly harem member said they had to…to go buy toilet paper of all things, which in turn, as it turns out, is how Natsuki gains levels without having to do more improper stuff… which she ends up doing anyway. It’s basically an impossible show to recommend to anyone this season because it has almost nothing worthwhile. I’d argue even ecchi fans could do better thanks to the inclusion of the youngest harem member Kururi (who is 7 according to AniDB, good grief Charlie Brown…) is likely to put off a fair number of viewers and for good reason. Do yourself a favour and keep this off your checklist. Even if you were looking for an ecchi, it’s better to dive into past releases you might have missed because of the potential for uncomfortable content in VAl x Love. And while there’s no sign of inapproapriate interaction between Akutsu and Kururi (the loli) in this first episode itself, because of the power up angle of the show, it would be fair for anyone to have concerns.
Tom: I don’t want to harp too much on Kururi, the seven-year old loli, seeing as neither of us actually know where this series ultimately ends up going with her. That said, with the mechanics for how the girl’s power up, I am concerned about what it means to have a seven-year-old girl as part of the lead’s ‘harem.’ Overall though, I agree with Linny, Val x Love is an easy pass unless you’ve been dying, and I do mean dying, for more ecchi. There are so many other titles that are way better at this, and I’d honestly say you’re better off dipping into your backlog, or rewatching a favorite than sitting through Val x Love.
Val x Love is available for streaming via HIDIVE.