English Dub Review: Date A Live “Tengu City, Five Years Ago”

Throwback… Friday?

Overview (Spoilers Below!)

Five years in the past, Shido tries to take a shortcut through his neighborhood, but he’s caught by a neighbor who has no idea who he is. In order to avoid suspicion, Shido uses Natsumi’s magic to transform into a younger version of himself. Shido rushes to find Origami, but he’s too late to stop the catalyst for her despair: the older Origami realizes that she killed her own parents.

Shido hugs the young Origami, assuring her that she can always dump her sorrows on him. But Origami says that she would like to give her happiness to him too, leaving her only with rage as she seeks revenge on the Spirit that killed her parents. Kurumi tells Shido that in a few minutes, he will return to the present; the present Shido has a proposition.

In order to go back in time again, Shido approaches the young Kurumi. Although she’s initially suspicious of this strange teenager who knows her name, he allows her to touch his hand, putting her in connection with the modern-day Kurumi. Because she received the order from herself, Kurumi agrees to shoot Shido with Yud Bet.

Shido arrives in the past again, this time heading to the park in search of the moment Kotori became a Spirit. After Phantom hands her the Crystal, Shido calls out to Phantom, chasing her down Tengu City’s streets. Shido is shocked that Phantom recognizes him and knows he’s using Yud Bet. She takes on the appearance of a teenage girl, claiming that it’s not her real appearance, which she can’t reveal to Shido yet. Although he asks her to hide from Origami, Phantom uses magic to freeze him in place, promising to reunite with him again someday. When she leaves to take care of the things she has to do, Shido comes back to himself.

Running towards the modern Origami, Shido calls out to her to no avail. He realizes that she’s already set off the blast that will kill her parents, so instead of stopping her, Shido pushes her parents out of the way, saving them. In the present, Shido wakes up in bed, wondering if he was successful.

Our Take

After Natsumi turned all of Shido’s Spirits into young kids, it’s only fitting that we now get to see Shido—and Kurumi, the one Spirit who didn’t get turned into a child—as eleven-year-olds. Baby Shido is so cute, and I love that baby Kurumi has a completely different, but still equally badass, gothic lolita ensemble going on.

There’s a lot to like about this episode—it has a really promising concept—but when it comes down to it, the actual execution could be a little more creative. I mean, we’re essentially just watching the same events unfold over and over again: Origami shooting up Phantom, her parents being obliterated. And it’s the same events we saw the last episode, too (plus, even earlier episodes featured the Origami’s-parents-dying flashback several times). When this episode began, I envisioned a plot where Shido would have to keep going back in time, again and again, adding more and more details to his plan to avoid newfound complications. But in the end, the whole process was anticlimactically easy for him. As soon as he figured out what had broken Origami’s spirit (no pun intended), he was able to save her parents on the first try.

And to be honest, this episode brings up a whole host of weird ethical questions. I get why Shido would want to save Origami’s parents, like, for plot reasons, but could Kurumi use Yud Bet to just… save anyone from dying? It’s a little weird that they save Origami’s parents but don’t try to go back and time and change anything else. The limitations of time travel don’t quite make sense—Shido says that he can’t talk to Kotori because he shouldn’t change events any more than is necessary, but why is it “necessary” to save Origami’s parents but not “necessary” to stop Kotori from becoming a Spirit? What are the rules here? Plus, how did Shido survive being decimated in Origami’s explosion? At first, I thought he just straight-up died.

That being said, this episode is plenty entertaining. Baby Shido and Kurumi are super cute, and it’s intriguing to see what she was like as a child. The scene with Shido’s old neighbor is pretty funny. The Phantom mystery deepens here, and the suspense is racked up super high—I was frankly disappointed to see that the episode ended and we didn’t get to learn whether Shido’s actions worked, or how Origami would be changed by her parents’ survival. It made me desperately want to come back next week and watch, which is really what any good episode is supposed to do, anyway.

Bodie Shanis

Bodie is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can often find him in odd costumes, either because he's at an anime convention or performing in a musical. He's currently working on his first novel.

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