Author: Saki Hasemi
Illustrator: Kentaro Yabuki
Middle-school student Rito Yuuki is having love troubles–he thinks he’s in love with the adorable Haruna Sairenji, but he’s too shy and awkward to do a thing about it. The truth is, his troubles are just beginning! One evening as Rito is in the bath, feeling sorry for himself, a pretty girl rockets out of nowhere into the tub with him–a girl with a tail and not wearing anything! Turns out, this girl is Lala, princess of Deviluke, and an alien. Lala is on the run from all the “fiancés” who want to marry her because of her position, and she’s decided to declare her affection for Rito, make him her defender, and move in with him and his adorable sister Mikan. Poor Rito–even if he survives dealing with all the scary aliens who want to get to Lala through him, how will he explain the situation to Sairenji?!
I initially picked up To LOVE-Ru because it’s a fairly established and recognized series about which I was curious. Having read it, I have mixed impressions. First of all, I think comparisons with Urusei Yatsura are inevitable as both stories are essentially boy-meets-alien love stories. And there are definitely similarities, like the way poor Rito keeps getting dragged into situations because of people Lala knows or questionable alien tech she brings into the house. But the fact is that Ataru Moroboshi and Rito Yuuki are really different people, which definitely flavors the story differently. To LOVE-Ru ends up being sweet, cute, funny, episodic . . . and really ecchi/harem. It’s probably the most ecchi thing I’ve ever read. Which is honestly just weird, because Rito’s, like, the most innocent, non-ecchi person ever. He just keeps getting thrown in situations beyond his control–a fact that is underlined by the inclusion of a couple truly ecchi people who serve as foils for Rito’s noble but unfortunate self. I’m honestly kind of surprised that I stuck the story out for all 162 chapters because the ecchiness bugged me quite a bit, but I found the cuteness, humor, and relative innocence of the underlying story and the interesting range of characters sufficient to keep me interested in spite of that distaste. Having said that, I’m not sure that most people would concur; if you enjoy ecchi harem manga, To LOVE-Ru is probably a great choice for you, but otherwise, it’s probably best avoided. Your call.
Note: I think the word play in the title is fun; it’s a pun on the Japanese pronunciation of the English “love” (rabu) and “trouble” (toraburu). Fitting for all Rito-kun’s love troubles, ne?