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)