Chu2Koi Ren may well be another beautifully animated KyoAni guilty pleasure, packed with pretty characters, goofy situations, wry quips, and the occasional magical battles, but that doesn’t diminish our view that the most impressive and complete first episode of the new Winter season, not the least of which because it so brilliantly executes all of those things with equal efficacy in a way few other series can manage.
To be fair, Chu2Koi Ren has a sizable head start on the rest of the season: it’s a direct sequel backed by an entire season of emotional investment; we’re still being introduced to the other Winter shows and trying to remember names. Indeed, we can’t really say how much we’d enjoy this episode if we hadn’t seen its first season. All we know is, we did, a lot. From the clever split screen that reveals that Yuta and Rikka are living together when their mornings merge, we felt like we were curling up with an old friend.
That’s the appeal of Chu2Koi for us, as well as Kyoukai no Kanata, Hyouka, Suzumiya, etc.: while they may all contain their fare share of perils moral, physical, emotional, and philosophical, there’s an underlying sense of optimism and reassurance that all will be well. It’s the anime equivalent of comfort food, only flashier. Don’t get us wrong: many a favorite show of ours has tortured its characters from start to finish, but can also be gratifying to see a show pamper, even spoil them, along with us. It might even be tougher to make an interesting show that way, but Chu2Koi Ren makes it look easy.
Our primary hope at last season’s end was for Yuta and Rikka’s relationship to endure and progress; it has and it looks like it will. We also wanted the brief but powerful “imagination” battles to carry over; they have. The visuals dazzle, the dialogue crackles, and there’s abundant comedy woven throughout. Every movement major or minor is fussed over, while and the previous season’s worth of experience working together is apparent in the voice actors, who bounce off each other with gusto. Chu2Koi Ren hasn’t missed a beat, reminding us why we fell for its predecessor, leaving us eager for more.
Rating: 9 (Superior)