Summer vacation arrives, and Shinka, Kumin, Sanae, Isshiki, and Yuuta travel with Rikka to her grandparents’ house by the beach. Yuuta notices Rikka is quieter than usual, and when they arrive at the house, she retreats to her room. Later Tooka tells him Rikka hasn’t been able to accept that their father is dead. Tooka wants him to help Rikka grow up and accept, but Yuuta takes Rikka’s side instead, and they bike to the house where she used to live with her father, mother, and Tooka, now just an empty lot for sale.
If you’d told us some of the most poignant drama and most important character development of the series thus far would come in the beach episode, we’d have had our doubts. But unlike a (sub)standard obligatory beach outing, the fanservice isn’t the raison d’être of the episode; merely garnish (there aren’t even bikinis until ten minutes in). Instead the beach is just where Rikka and Tooka’s grandparents happen to live, and where Rikka doesn’t want to but probably should face some painful truths, namely: her father is dead, her mother is gone, and it’s time to grow up. It’s implied he was ill, but his wish to go suddenly without warning Rikka, along with all the domestic fallout thereafter, is a big reason why she turned to Chuunibyou.
We always knew Rikka’s living situation wasn’t ideal, but now we have firm and highly reasonable rationale for her obsession with fantasy. Fantasy is an escape; magic can distract from not only the mundane, but the painful. Feeling for Rikka, Yuuta can’t rip the band-aid off the way Tooka wants. He knows Rikka shouldn’t go on like this – it’s not even a matter of liking the things she likes or saying weird things, its the fact she’s also hiding from real life. Yuuta and Rikka’s scenes this week are, as usual, the best. He helps her escape to her old house, not wanting to destroy his clout as Dark Flame Master. But Tooka is clearly running out of patience. She wants progress and she wants it soon.
Rating: 8 (Great)
With half the SR Squad eliminated by Kasper’s team, Koko heads to Umihotaru with hers to seek out the other half. The designated meeting spot is a trap, and Jonah is ambushed. Koko and the others drive off, and when Tojo retrieves Jonah, he follows in a stolen car. A multi-car tunnel shootout ensues, ending when the vehicles exit the tunnel and Lehm, Wiley and Valmet mop up the SR Squad pursuers from a helicopter. After having their activities covered up, Koko and Jonah go to the Bahamas with Tojo, where he’s tracked down Colonel Hinoki – and the family he thought was a lie.
So, have we come out of this two-parter with a greater understanding of and appreciation for Akihito Tojo? Well, that would have been inevitable in any episode in which his past was brought up. We’ve only known him to be a calm, level-headed, generally decent sort of fellow who seemed more comfortable handling paperwork and diplomacy than guns and knives. Now we know he once had a similar role with Colonel Hinoki’s SR Squad, but became disillusioned. Little did he know Mr. Hino himself gradually got sick of the SR Squad too. When an opportunity arose to have it wiped out in the bloodbath his subordinates thirsted for, he took it. The other squad members took turns calling Tojo a traitor, but he didn’t really betray anyone per se. He stopped seeing SR as a place where he fit, and no one in SR other than Hinoki really ever liked him anyway, so why stay?
The organization got deeper into arms dealing and also grew more militant and chaotic. In hindsight, Tojo left a sinking ship, and left his mentor behind thinking their views had diverged. But it turns out everything Tojo assumed or expected about Hinoki – be it his actions or his motives – turned out to be the opposite of reality – his fake Thai wife is real, and he has an adorable daughter too. And at the end of the battles, Hinoki makes sure Tojo understands there’s something to be said for being the last survivor of the SR Squad, suggesting Tojo’s spy instincts and talent for survival are better than Tojo himself realizes.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Nanami arranges for her classmate Nekota Ami to thank Kurama one-on-one for saving her from the demon, but Tomoe warns her about trying to tie the fates of a human and a demon together. Nanami’s classmate Yumi asks if she can walk home with Tomoe after school; Nanami agrees but instantly regrets it and hides on the roof, where Tomoe, who rejected Yumi, finds her. Nanami tries to go on an impromptu date with Tomoe, visiting an aquarium and the roof of a skyscraper, where he asks her if she’s falling in love with him. She admits it, and when she asks him if he never considered returning the feelings, he nearly drops her off the building in surprise, saving her at the very last minute.
Nanami’s classmate (lotta classmates this week!) Ke-chan tells her a guy thinks she’s cute, a guy will naturally come to her. That may be true, but Tomoe is not a “guy”; he’s not even human, he just looks human. Human enough for a teenage girl to fall in love with him. This is a possibility he must have known about, but it seems to take drilling into his head by Kurama to bring consideration of it to the surface. Whether in denial or genuinely ignorant of how his words and actions affect Nanami, he is confident Nanami would never fall in love with her familiar. His unbending devotion to serve and protect his master has no inherent romantic intent, but try telling Nanami that.
Nanami can’t contain herself any longer (with jealousy acting as a catalyst of letting another girl potentially take Tomoe away) and starts getting “peppy”, Tomoe must heed Kurama’s words. The result of which is, everything comes out in the open. Nanami is no longer telling herself she’s falling for Tomoe, she’s yelling it, screaming it from the building-tops to Tomoe himself. His attempts to dismiss it fail, and the moment Nanami tries to get a response, he is so flabbergasted he almost accidentally kills her, in a gesture she initially misconstrues as rejection, until he begs her to let him save her. In that moment, falling from a building, Tomoe clearly realized that having a master who is in love with you is better than having no master at all.
Rating: 9 (Superior)