Date A Live Volume 18 Mio Game Over. Oh boy, this one was a dense volume.
Despite being or perhaps because of being the main translator for Volume 17, I found myself very displeased with the events of that volume. For me, it ranks probably just below volume 12 in terms of least liked volumes. Simply put, there was a looooot of plot convenience or outright dumb moves made by the characters in that volume. Kurumi leaving Mio to die while being trapped in her shadow when she specifically knows that she can’t surveillance that area would even make a James Bond villain blush. Furthermore, the volume 16 made a huge spiel that Shidou could understand Kurumi’s feelings due to sharing her senses through the Tenth Bullet. But if he did get a first glance look at Kurumi’s past, he should have at least seen Mio’s face. The fact that he didn’t put two and two together from that alone for the Reine=Mio connection was bizarre enough. Likely, the only reason he didn’t was to force more tension in the narrative for the last scene of volume 17. Furthermore, the NTR scenes with the Nibelcol were more cringe worthy than probably intended. And since that scene was probably already deliberately parodying a generic flirtatious LN protagonist……that’s saying a lot.
Needless to say, as a climax, volume 18 did provide a lot of highlights. In particular, it provides a lot of detail explaining Westcott and Ellen’s motivations. We are finally given a proper explanation for why Ellen constantly boasts herself to be the strongest. As many would suspect, it was based on a superiority inferiority complex. Deep down she always knew Woodman was stronger than her. Since he became DEM’s enemy, if she didn’t psyche herself up she would already instantly lose against him since Realizers are powered by willpower. The dialogue before their fight and her last words to Elliot were also pretty heart wrenching as well. Move aside Karen, your sister is clearly the superior ship.
Westcott also got a huge ton of exposition of backstory in Chapter 3 explaining the details of his psychosis. Simply put, what’s different about Westcott is that his sense of ethics is fucked up. But the man himself even acknowledged that about himself even at a young age. The primarily thing wrong with Westcott is his morbid obsession with death. While most people connect death with loss and sorrow, he finds himself a strange pleasure when seeing it. As a kid, he was smart enough to hide this obsession due to not wanting to be ostracized in his village. However, when his village burned down, he this the chain holding himself back. In a sense, the death of his hometown, served to erase the fears of isolation that kept him in check. It is an interesting backstory and serves to differentiate the man from a generic doomsday villain. Sadly, unlike his contemporaries, Woodman didn’t get that much characterization. His reasons for betraying DEM are so far nothing more than: “is it okay to sacrifice that girl for revenge?” That’s fine and all, but I would have at least like to know how he made the transition from that to a more border approach of saving every Spirit.
Now for the main antagonist of his volume. Mio, Mio, Mio….she quite divisive in the fandom now, but I suppose killing nearly the entire cast would do that to a character. First thing though, Tsunako nailed it on the design of her Astral Dress. Even though the theme was supposedly “Maternity Dress”, the beautiful design certainly does make her look like a Goddess. Now, onto her characterization. Honestly, I can kind of see why she jumped the slippery slope to killing every other Spirit. In the previous volume, Kurumi and Shidou were literally having a discussion on how to take her down for good. Given that she’s done pretty much everything for Shidou’s sake; it’s at least bit understandable how she would now view the Spirits as a threat to her goal. Then again, you can also make the argument that she was planning on killing them all along, but we’ll see how volume 19 handles that part. The fragmentary chapters were pretty much on par with the mood whiplash you would now expect from Date A Live. It was very jarring to immediately transition Mio from a lovestruck teenager to a dissonant killer of waifus. But I think it adds to her motivation as a character. The fragmentary chapters highlight her end goal: the past she wants to reclaim and never lose again. Her powers have also been very clever in terms of design despite being completely story-breaking on scale. It’s nice that they were already foreshadowed by both Rinne Utopia and Mayuri Judgement. For the rest of the narrative, I’ll probably list them in bullet form since they are pretty brief.
- Shidou using Vav was a nice touch and a believable escape to the Game Over setting of the narrative (plot).
- The Ellen vs Woodman fight.
- The finale of the Shidou vs. Westcott fight. Apparently, Westcott’s downfall was not learning how to speak Weaboo from Beelzebub lol
- The super slingshot combination attack of Tohka and Origami against Mio.
- Mio erasing Shidou’s attacks from 7 different angels.
- The reveal that Kannazuki is probably a registered sex offender of the lolicon variety.
- Shidou not using the <Michael> or <Metatron> to teleport himself back to battlefield. Instead, Raphael was used as transportation to set up the Westcott fight. That’s fine and all, but the excuse of him not teleporting due to being inexperienced with Michael falls flat since he’s been spamming this angel more than his other angels before even sealing Mukuro.
- Mukuro, Origami, Miku, Natsumi getting taken out without anything to say other than a scream.
- The reveal of Tohka being a pure Spirit. While that if fine and all, I thought that would mean her disappearing like Rinne or Mayuri from sealing if she was only made up of Reiryoku.
- Only Tohka and Kotori react to Reine’s betrayal. While that is used to speed up the narrative, it really kind of pushes everyone else to the sideline. Especially since everyone else is still on Mio’s hit list.
- The Artemisia side plot for stopping the Bandersnatch amounts to nothing in the end due to Mio’s angel.
Overall, despite its highs and lows, volume 18 was a huge improvement from 17 and I’m highly anticipating the release of volume 19 soon. Overall grade B