What can be said about Momo Velia Deviluke from To Love Ru Darkness? The pink haired sister of both Nana and Lala is a lot of things; mischievous, sly, wears a moe attitude but is actually quite sinister, a serious pervert and has some radical notions about making a harem for Rito. You’d think that all these traits are negatives and that this character would be annoying, but in a genre that’s populated by cookie-cutter stereotypes I think she stands out from the crowd.
Of course Momo can be categorized within the harem genre as being the sinister kawaii type girl who has either a dark secret or something up her sleeve, but I feel like Mea pulls that off better than her and Momo’s intentions are more wholesome. Momo’s emotions and motives are pretty clear to the viewer and it’s no secret to the rest of the cast that she’s got a crush on Rito. It’s a big part of why she’s so adamant about making a harem for Rito, so that he can accept all the girls including herself as his lovers. What’s admirable about Momo is how she breaks genre convention by not only putting herself into perverted situations concerning Rito she also is the first to defend him when some perverted accident happens, which happens a lot in harem animes. It’s a nice change of pace to see a character with common sense that actually defends the guy character instead of the usual ‘baka’ and slap reaction that exists in most harem or ecchi animes. One of the defining parts of the character Hiyori from the Heaven’s Lost Property movie was how she was the only one to come to the aid of Tomoki after he got punished for his perverted antics. Hell, even Mikako said that she’d more or less stepped the game up by doing that. It’s refreshing to see this, not only cause it shows that there’s some girls that break genre conventions but also shows that there’s more variety than the usual harem lot.
To use Heaven’s Lost Property as an example again, too often we see harem character types like Sohara; the typical tsundere childhood friend character that either acts entitled that the main character should love them above all else, or whines 24/7 about how perverted the main character is yet puts up with him anyway. Or both. Yet more often than not this type of character usually is selfish and only cares about how she feels or what she wants from the main character, condemning all his actions to be perverted and childish and refusing to understand how a guy’s mind operates. In the case of Sohara from HLP, it’s VERY hypocritical primarily because that character often has impure thoughts of their own and usually wants the main character to do dirty stuff to them, yet will never admit and will administer the usual baka and slap routine. These type of characters are usually fine and I’ve grown so accustomed to them that it doesn’t bother me too much, but I’ll openly admit that it’s never fair and not always funny. That’s why it’s nice to see girl characters like the ones from Highschool DxD which aren’t so hypocritical about their sexuality that they hide it behind the whole baka and slap routine but will still admit that the main character is a perv, but they’ll do it jokingly. I like this because it shows that not all women are hypocritical or act contrary to how they feel and there are women that are more in tune with how the feel and what they want, just like women in real life.
What made Momo so engaging throughout the 3rd season of To Love Ru was how she managed to provide support not only in battles but also through the gags. There was never a moment where I felt she was out of line or out of character, and when her character did develop I was really touched to see that her personality is quite balanced instead of one-track minded. She managed to create various antics as well as be the butt of the joke herself, she did perverted things as well as had perverted things done to her, and she never acted like Rito was ever in the wrong, mainly because he almost never was. It always annoys me when there’s animes like Sgt. Frog where the main female character is immune to the jokes and antics and always manages to win or be right (although Momoka on the other hand is hilarious); it kills the comedy cause it continues this idea that girls can never be wrong or more specifically that certain character types are immune to gags. I always tend to find this more annoying than funny, and I appreciate it far more when there’s animes like the legendary Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou where there’s predominantly guys doing silly stuff but a lot of girls get in on the gags as well. Momo is such a character that wasn’t protected by this absurd notion that the girl should never be wrong or compromised and she always ended up getting caught scheming or her plans backfired. Some of the best comedies like Pani Poni Dash feature a plethora of girl characters that aren’t given this free pass to be hypocrites and immune to jokes, as it should be, and they manage to be hilarious because the characters are entertaining. I’d take the cast of an anime like B Gata H Kei where the majority of the girls aren’t some prissy ‘I’d never do anything perverted or have perverted thoughts cause that’s what guys do’ over an anime where the girls act like that. It was funny for a while, especially back when Love Hina was a thing but now we’ve gotta have more variety than that.
In summary, what Momo represented to me was a growing diversity in girl character types in harem animes. Gone are the days where a simple baka and slap could make a girl endearing, sometimes you need to have girls that are equally perverted or in tune with their sexuality to resonate better with the audience. I’m not saying any one cliche is better than the other but it’s nice to dispel this idea that only guys are perverts and girls are perfect innocent beings by having progressive animes like Watamote that take us into the mind of a high school girl or animes that have a fujoshi otaku girl (fujoshi is a fanbase of girls who are into ‘BL’: Boys love or yaoi basically), like Hana from Ben-To. So while Momo was a hilarious character in her own right, I respected her as a girl character more for breaking genre stereotypes and showing that not all anime girl characters are hypocritical in harem animes.