Golden Time – 21

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Well that’s great…that’s just fuckin’ great, man! Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? We’re in some real pretty shit now man…Game over man, GAME OVER!  In the end, it’s not that Koko never sees the ring Banri has been trying to find the right time to give her: she outright rejects it and coldly says Sayonara. Holy shit. This is the same person who said she’d stick by him through thick and thin, who told him with her help he could conquer the world. What the hell happened?

Well, quite a lot, actually! After lying to her about nothing being wrong promising not to run away, and organizing a lavish kobe beef dinner in which to break the truth to Mitsuo, Chinami, and 2D-kun, stuff happens, and Banri indeed runs away. Koko leaves him an emotionless text—a devastating gesture in its own right—and after getting a boost of confidence from his male friends, the next time he sees her, it looks like she’s done with him.

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What can we say? While we don’t know the whole story yet, it looks pretty damn bad. It’s one thing to be pessimistic about a relationship, but another to watch it shatter before one’s eyes. It was heartbreaking, but sometimes you don’t know the last straw when you see it, and Banri running away again—and begging Chinami not to tell Koko—might’ve been just that. It’s an awful situation all around: Banri can’t control his sudden bursts of amnesia and panic, and just when he thinks he’s stronger, it beats him down at the worst possible times.

These new developments would be enough for a superior episode, but Golden Time piles on the goodness by finally having Chinami communicate what’s been eating her lately; once she found out Mitsuo loved someone she realized she loved him, but felt it was too late. She cut her hair, which she thought was a mistake, and lashed out at Banri. While her situation isn’t nearly as dire or existential as Banri’s, it’s still awful, and powerfully expressed. Kudos to Kido Ibuki toning down the Miss Ultrasonic and delivering a serious, vulnerable performance.

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Even though he didn’t get everyone together at once, or tell them exactly what he wanted, we feel that everyone kinda got the gist. It’s gratifying to see his mates enthusiastically rally behind him, but the poor lads haven’t a clue just how royally screwed Banri is; nor does he, since they cheer him up only for Koko can knock him back down when he sees her. Golden Time is decidedly not in the punch-pulling business.

In reference to the festival club getting ostracized for messing up, Koshino echo’s Linda’s assertion that “It’s too soon to give up. Let’s start by doing whatever we can!” Such words ring just as true for Mitsuo and Linda, or Chinami and Mitsuo. But Banri doing whatever he can might not be enough to save his relationship with Koko. His accident and the resulting difficulties may have torpedoed it, just as it put the Kibosh on him and Linda.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Oka is full of so much sad win in this episode, including wanting Banri to film her in her emotional state.
  • The camera did seem to get footage of Banri’s freakout. In-ter-es-ting.
  • We felt so bad when Nana slugged Banri. Her ideas about what should be done to people who’ve lost their senses. Well, she had to do something wrong eventually, and in her defense, she didn’t know what the hell was going on. Obviously, had she known about Banri’s past head trauma, she would have gone below the belt.
  • Curiously, in the preview Banri and Koko seem to be talking to and even smiling at each other, which begs the question: how the heck does it go from where we are now to that in one episode? This is why we hate previews.
  • It seems slight, but there’s a chance Koko is only pretending she doesn’t care about Banri, trying to preemptively make him disappear on her own terms. Dunno, we’ve gotta think about that…
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Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 09

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Constantly coming up with magical shit to say must be tiring stuff, even when you’re not in love. Rikka “losing her powers” is a euphemism for increasing difficulty with losing herself in that world. As her feelings for Yuuta continue to swell, they’re muscling out the Chuunibyou. After all, she can imagine all the crazy weapons and battles and experiences_ she wants, it’s still all happening in her head, merely an embellished version of real life. What chance do such ephemeral delusions have against the real life she’s living with Yuuta?

That’s the question posed this week, and the answer seems to be, not much chance at all, if Rikka merely gives up. It’s understood to be a bad thing, if Rikka finds her eyepatch uncomfortable and ceases to be imaginative enough to keep up with, say the samurai-loving daughter of Tooka’s boss (whom she initially, hilariously introduces as her own). To a casual, or rather infrequent observer like Tooka, it may look like nothing has changed between Yuuta and Rikka since she left, which is, as she says, simultaneously relieving and disappointing.

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That’s kind of how we felt this whole episode, too. It passed up a lot of opportunities for real change in the show, which was a little disappointing, but nor did it rush into cheap durama for durama’s sake, for which we were relieved. No doubt there was potential in an arc in which Rikka fully abandoned her delusions and committed to a normal relationship of her own volition (lord knows Yuuta isn’t pushing). But that would defeat the whole purpose of this romance: it isn’t normal. It’s strange, and complex, and unique.

It’s also damned hard to maintain a balance between love and chuunibyou, since they’re both sides of the same coin (and there’s a lot of coins in this episode!): love is it’s own fantasy, just as invigorating and terrifying and powerful, if not moreso, than anything Rikka can pull out of her imagination. But Rikka is determined not to let it take her powers. She and Yuuta have resolved to have their cake and eat it too. Yuuta believes in and loves both sides of her, as she does his, so losing one side just wouldn’t do.

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That brings us to Satone, whose feelings for Yuuta reemerge just as Rikka’s powers are restore (and Satone repeats her support for them). In a beautifully-rendered sequence on the train, as Yuuta falls asleep and leans his head on her, the same imagination that gives Sophia the Magical Devil Girl so much offensive power are twisted into vivid fantasies of a love-that-never-was, because she never confessed to Yuuta back then.

Satone has had her annoying moments, but we have to say we like what the show’s doing with her. She actually made a concerted effort to give the couple her blessing and move on with her life, but that dull pain in her chest won’t go away, nor will the regret and longing. Will she try to hide/repress these revitalized feelings? Will she distance herself from Yuuta (hard to do as they’re neighbors)? This reforged love triangle has potential.

7_very_goodRating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Oh yeah, this was a beach episode, and all of the characters were in swimsuits most of the time, but it was very natural and low-key.
  • Nibutani makes lovely first impressions, and has a knack for marketing.
  • What are the odds of Tooka just happening to come by a seaside noodle stand owned by her little sister and boyfriend’s friend’s aunt and uncle? We like Tooka, she’s deadpan as usual, but we didn’t really see her presence in this episode as all that crucial, other than so Yuuta can tell her progress is being made, even if it may not look it.
  • Speaking of not looking it: it really didn’t look it this week! Yuuta and Rikka barely speak and only touch fingers once. When they do talk, Yuuta acts all fatherly and scoldy.
  • More to the point: why the heck would Yuuta and Rikka not sit next to each other on the train? Did they develop and allergy to each other’s dander or something?