Love Lab

Title:Love Lab
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: AKASAKI Chinatsu
Widely admired and respected star student and Student Council President Natsuo 'the Princess' Maki, and the troublemaker Riko 'The Wild One' Kurahashi make an odd couple as the former recruits the latter to advise her on how to secure a boyfriend. The problem is, that Riko's pride will not let her admit that she, too, has never had one.

[TV series, 2013 ,13? episodes, 25 min; based on an ongoing 4-koma manga with 7 volumes since 2006.]
"恋愛" ("ren-ai") = "love, love-making, passion, emotion, affections"; "ラボ" ("rabu") is the sound pattern for "lab".
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 7 6 7 5 5 5 Ggultra2764 [series:2761#1552]
This is another one of those anime comedies adapted from a 4-koma gag manga series focused on a tomboy high school girl who gets forced into joining her school student council when the vice president of it seeks her for love advice when the tomboy brags about having gained experiences from prior relationships, while this is one big lie. Much of the comedy stems from the eccentricities and quirks of our main female cast, some of which involving their love woes such as Maki's use of a hug pillow to practice kissing and Riko recalling her own awkwardness with a past confession of love. Some light drama develops in later episodes when a scandal breaks out with one of the lead girls and Riko's lie is revealed to Maki. Still like many comedies of its type, Love Lab is an acquired taste as it relies heavily on the eccentricities of its cast to carry along its comedy and this style may not be for everyone. I'm mostly indifferent to Love Lab since I never found myself laughing at its gags or caring much for the characters due to how simple and archetypal they are, even with the dramatic bits tossed in for later episodes. I guess I would consider this one of those "love it or hate it" types of titles.

Last updated Sunday, August 03 2014. Created Sunday, August 03 2014.
Unevaluated Devil Doll [series:2761#752]
[aborted after one episode]

The scenario attracted me but one episode was enough to make me quit this show.

Maki is everything I dislike: Officially a perfect model student, but actually a chaotic, delusional girl exaggerating everything, almost like a case of dual personality. Riko certainly is more down to earth but put herself in a bad position right from the start by lying about her experience. This show is full of slapstick ruckus, humor is often supposed to arise from embarrassing scenes, the leads are frequently shown in SD mode. Not the best precondition for character development.

Only a few weeks ago I watched a show with a similar scenario but toned down a lot compared to this one, plus one male lead added to the mix, and this one I liked much better.

Last updated Friday, July 12 2013. Created Friday, July 12 2013.
Watch Stretch [series:2761#628]

(All episodes watched):

This show has some heart, soul and style to it. It's not brilliant, but it has some LOL jokes to it, which is more than a lot of comedy anime can say. Contrary to what you would expect, 'Princess' Maki is more wacky and 'Wild One' Riko is the straight character. This could have been yuri, and/or relied on fanservice, but no, to its credit it is genuinely, if modestly, funny instead. Any time that happens is a good sign. I left episode one hoping the show would stay pretty much on the course it had apparently set: girls who really do want a boyfriend but have little idea how to go about getting one, so they experiment and cooperate to figure the answer out. In doing so, they would presumably have to be developed into likeable, sympathetic characters.

As it turned out, progress towards recruiting boyfriends never got much of anywhere and the show was about friendship between the five girls instead. The main issue was Riko finding it increasingly difficult to keep her total lack of romantic experience from being exposed, especially since green-haired Sato is very skeptical of her. By all rights this should end in disaster for her, but I had a feeling that the plot of this show was sophisticated enough that some sort of both comical and believable twist would save her, or at least result in her deception being forgiven. Some of the tracks the lab members went off on didn't make a whole lot of sense to me to begin with, and I noticed that I had forgotten a good deal of what happened in some episodes by the time I watched the next one. Still, this show has some style to it and makes more of an effort at being witty than the usual anime comedy series--I just wish it told its story in a more easily understandable manner.

I guess I would say that Love Lab is balanced on the borderline between average, ordinary anime comedy and witty, better than usual one. It doesn't seem quite good enough to deserve a place in the latter category, yet it's not so bad that it ought to be relegated to the former one. Riko's straight man responses to the foolish things her club mates do has a glimmer of cleverness to it. While I got some honest laugh-out-louding from this show, the comedy by itself wasn't quite adequate to carry the show along and therefore the apparent lack of a long term plot was frustrating--would these girls ever make any progress towards getting a boyfriend, or would the final episode end pretty much like any other one did? I had been hoping at the start that maybe we would really get to know these girls and romance really would come about, but instead the show seemed to become increasingly inane and be satisfied to be a simple episodic comedy with so-so jokes and little plot. Perhaps it had stepped off the borderline into thoroughly average territory.

Episode nine was a little better than average, as it dealt with feelings rather than just dumb jokes. Green-haired Sato has always been cold and distant, but in this episode we learn that even she can laugh once in a while. Fortunately, in the final episode the plot, such as it was, wrapped up in an OK manner as Riko finally comes clean to Maki and a serious misunderstanding which had been building for some time is resolved. That bit of cathartic closure, along with the modest comedy, was enough to round things out and leave me with a satisfactory impression of the series as a whole. I guess when you can't be certain that a show is going to end well, because the signs you have been getting leave you without a lot of confidence that it will, the uncertainty forces the show to meet a higher standard before you conclude that it was good. I doubt if I will re-watch it, but Love Lab was good enough to be worth watching once.

My favorite line: "That was just an illusion" –Maki

Last updated Saturday, November 28 2015. Created Tuesday, July 09 2013.

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