Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 01

Togashi Yuuta, over his eighth-grade fantasy obsession phase (which he calls “Eighth-Grade Syndrome or Chuunibyou), is hoping to start a new, normal life at his new high school, but immediately comes across Takanashi Rikka, a cute but eccentric girl who is still in the throes of Chuunibyou. What’s more, she heard him try to seal his alter-ego “Black Flame Master” and thinks it’s all very cool. He is forced to walk her new home, which happens to be the floor above where she lives, and then help move her stuff in. After dinner with his family, Rikka convinces him not to throw out his old life. He grudingly agrees.

Nazo no Kanojo X this is not, but we found the first episode a very charming and likable introduction to the unlikely couple of Yuuta and Rikka. For one thing, it focuses on these two and their interactions. It’s also nice to see teenagers interacting naturally and not blushing like tomatoes constantly. There’s a part of Yuuta who thinks Rikka is cute, but he’s embarrassed by all the nerdy nonsense she’s constantly spewing. For her part, Rikka is quick to befriend her “spiritual soulmate”, attempting to impress Yuuta by “opening” a train door with her mind, showing off her “Wicked Eye” (a contact) or winning him a free soda with a button-combo.

The two show great chemistry and promise, as Yuuta will no doubt try to juggle the new normal high school life – something he so desperately desires he enrolled at a different school from his middle school peers – with his unplanned relationship with this very odd girl. But he proves neither cruelly dismissive of Rikka nor totally opposed to playing along with her from time to time. As a KyoAni production, this series is suitably pretty and tight in its technical execution. We consider this a pleasant surprise and will stick with it.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: Incidental shots of a Daihatsu Conte and what looks like a Suzuki Wagon R Stingray (it’s very small) 

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Mawaru Penguindrum – 21 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 4 Dec 2011 – A tabloid reporter with a scoop confronts everyone with all of the truths he knows regarding the Takakuras. Ringo dismisses him, Himari follows Kanba to confirm he’s still in contact with the Kiga group, and meets with Masako, who confirms she’s his biological sister. Unable to let the terrorist money continue to flow, Shoma confronts Kanba, leading to a fight, which Kanba wins, and tells him to stay away. Shoma tells Himari to go live with her uncle, completing the family split. A Kiga member kills Tabuki and Yuri, and with Kanba’s word, also disposes of the meddlesome reporter.

We’re in full Serious Drama Mode, as all joking around has pretty much ceased, and this series is more than capable of pulling such seriousness off, despite all the hijinx that proceeded it. After Shoma and Himari learned the truth, it really didn’t take long for the improvised young family to disband altogether. Shoma cannot allow dirty money to keep paying for Himari’s treatment – which is becoming less and less effective to the point where she will die soon anyway. But Kanba made sacrifices for Himari long ago, and isn’t giong to let Shoma’s morality get in the way, so poof, their brotherhood charade would seem to be at an end.

That’s right, Kenzen is dead. There’s a decaying skeleton in the now-decrepit restaurant bearing a nametag with his name. On several occasions, we saw the restaurant in good repair, and Kanba conversing with his parents, and yet, from everyone else’s point of view, the place is run-down and…dead. Was it all in Kanba’s head? Considering there are supernatural forces at play – Sanetoshi himself calls himself a “ghost” – anything is possible at this point. Here Kanba is not only taking money, but ordering a hit – making him an accomplice to murder, all in Himari’s name. After everything that’s happened, can the endlessly effed-up Takakuras ever be a family again, or was it all just one long game of “House”?


Rating: 9 (Superior)

AnoHana – 08 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 6 Jun 2011 – Everyone feels their share of guilt over Menma’s death, from the surviving Peace Busters to her mother. It seemed, in the beginning, that all her friends had gotten over her and moved on except Jinta. But one by one, we learn that everyone has unresolved guilt and pain within them; Jinta, being haunted by Menma, brought them back together and brought those emotions back to the surface. So the question now is, what to do with them?

Anjou is distressed by how hard Jinta is working, or punishing himself, for Menma’s sake. She also confesses to him that she was glad and relieved when he said he didn’t like Menma way back then at the secret base, and never got over her guilt for feeling that. She lays it all out for Jinta, but all he can do is walk away; no matter what anyone says, he can’t forget about someone who he can still see, hear, and touch. You can’t help but feel bad for Anjou either, though.

When everyone visits Menma’s mother, she accuses them of only wanting to have fun, and curses them for being allowed to grow up and live out their lives while Menma can’t. She’s haunted by her daughter’s memory, but not her person, so she has even fewer answers – and hence more despair – than anyone else. It outlines the “competition” (for lack of a better word) between Menma’s friends’ pain and that of the woman who gave birth to her. She may see exuberance and life in Menma’s grown friends, but she doesn’t know what we know about what they feel beneath their exteriors.

When Jinta goes to apologize to Anjou, everyone else is there, and a sort of invervention occurs, with only Poppo on his side. Just as Yukiatsu is about to slug him, Menma makes her presence known to everyone for the first time by writing in her diary and dropping it. This is a huge development, though it may not assuage the skeptics among Jinta’s friends. But it’s clear one thing Menma wishes above all is for everyone to be friends and not fight.

One other character we’ve neglected until now is the force of Jinta’s dad: this guy lost his beautiful wife, but he carries on, in a way Jinta hasn’t figured out how to do. He’s also the best kind of dad; one who isn’t as concerned with his son following the rules as much as following his heart and his own path in life.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)