Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 12 (Fin)

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Chu2Koi’s very enjoyable second season ends in understated fashion, with Rikka getting all bent out of shape at the prospect of “forming a higher contract” with the now-unleashed Dark Flame Dragon. Put your perverted thoughts away, it’s not that; she just wants to kiss Yuuta, on the lips this time.

We’ll get this out of the way (SPOILER ALERT to those who haven’t watched the episode): she is not successful in kissing Yuuta on the lips (the shot below is as close as they get). Ironically, she’s denied that action due to the product of her cat getting some: a phone call from Kuzuha announcing Chimera had kittens.

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In hindsight, those who orchestrated the under-bridge meetup where the fated kiss was to take place (the same bridge where they linked pinkies last season) probably should have made sure both Rikka and Yuuta’s frikkin’ phones were turned off, as they should know by now that roughly 78% of first kisses in anime are interrupted in this fashion. We will note that its sweet for Shinka, Satone, Kumin, and Sanae to work together to help Rikka with her problem once they learn what it is at the public bathhouse.

We’re sure many will boo the lack of a definite, lasting lip-on-lip smooch in this, the last episode of the second season, and possibly the last episode of any season (though we wouldn’t rule out other OVAs or films…or a third season.) We got kinda angry when Rikka recoiled not once but twice. In fact, we’d wager the show was counting on us getting our hopes up before telling us to back up for a second: this is Rikka and Yuuta we’re talking about. Overt physicality is not what they’re about, and never was.

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That’s just a natural part of any loving relationship that comes at different times for different people. We actually appreciate the show making it so very hard for Rikka to go through with the kiss. After all, once she passes that threshold, she’s going to inevitably think about what comes after, which will terrify her even more. Part of her uneasiness in this episode was returning to the feeling that even if Yuuta didn’t expect anything from, her, it was her duty to progress their contract. Add to that the fact she won Yuuta while Satone lost, so she’d better do something with him!

And lest we forget, were it not for the kitten call, they would have definitely kissed on the lips, as the sun set by the river. Before that, they exchanged very loving kisses on the cheek. They may be taking things slow by contemporary social standards, but they’ve actually made a ton of progress since last season’s pinky links. It’s a credit to the show that it makes their seemingly modest progress feel like a hard-won, significant achievement—not to mention driving home the point that they’re an exceedingly cute couple.

(Great)
Average Rating: 8.250
MyAnimeList Score: 7.71

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 11

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It takes him till the eleventh of twelve episodes, but Yuuta finally figures out that Satone is in love with him. Because he’s in love with Rikka (the only girl he’s ever been in love with), he has no idea how to proceed. This irks Shinka to no end, and she’s irked even more when he takes Satone’s assurances that she’s alright at face value.

Having no luck with Yuuta, Shinka breaks out her middle school uniform and Morisummer veil, in a nice callback to the last Lite episode, which reiterated the fact that Satone reveres Morisummer and would therefore be receptive to advice from her on a delicate matter. Basically, Satone has to fight a legendary battle to overcome her despair, with Yuuta, or rather the Dark Flame Dragon within him, as her target.

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On that note, Yuuta first learns about something else that’s been giong on all season: the answer to what Rikka has been up to of evenings. Having read a missive of his (which Satone also read years back) describing how to unlock and release the Dark Flame Dragon, Rikka has set out to do just that. Far from just a means of wasting some time, she considers the task crucial to becoming truly bound to Yuuta.

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For someone who lives with her very doting, scoldy, oftentimes father-like boyfriend, she did a fine job keeping her mission on the downlow until now. It’s thanks to Satone that Yuuta’s able to figure it out. Unlike them, he’s not nearly as in touch with his chunibyou as he once was, but it’s still there, just as it is for Shinka. He knew it would remain a part of his and Rikka’s life; he just didn’t think she’d go so far to realize a dream he’d pretty much forgotten about.

It’s nice to see Yuuta get worried about Rikka and embrace her tightly when he finds her; it would seem he needs to take care of her as much as she needs to be taken care of, lest she stay out in the rain all night and catch a cold that will never end. At the same time, Rikka remains as good a fit for Yuuta as ever, allowing him to straddle the worlds of fantasy and reality, for stepping all the way into the latter just wouldn’t be as fun.

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As for Satone, it’s gotta be tough watching Yuuta perform the ritual to release the dragon with another girl, she does get her battle when it emerges from the blue moon, in a stirring, gorgeous scene. Afterwards, Rikka has an even worse cold but is satisfied she’s sufficienly bound to Yuuta, while Satone seems to be fine, and may indeed be much better than she was behind the facade. Hopefully Yuuta’s learned a little more about women (those with chunibyou, at least, which are the best kind!) and the consequences of leaving his old notebooks lying around to be discovered.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren Lite – 01-06 Bento

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As with the first season, Ren’s “Lite” mini-episodes air separately on KyoAni’s YouTube channel, rather than taking up 2-3 minutes of the regular episodes. And like the first set, these six mini-episodes explore other regions of the Chu2Koi universe.

01: When Shinka enters the club room to clean up, she has trouble separating Kumin from the kotatsu, only to find Rikka and Sanae are under there too. We have to side with Shinka; it probably stinks under there, and needs cleaning.

02: When her left eye gets infected, Rikka tries to get by wearing two eyepatches. Yuuta is rightfully dubious, and later helps her apply eye drops, resulting in dialogue misconstrued as amorous by Shinka and Kumin.

03: Flashback to Rikka in middle school, trying to learn ESP clairvoyance, and foresight. Because it is middle school, her strange behavior isn’t as looked down upon. Of course, we know she’ll continue to refine her skills well into high school.

04: Back in the present, it’s a stormy day and the club is playing a particularly tense game of Old Maid; tense because the loser has to go out in the rain to buy everyone else snacks. Sanae and Shinka duke it out, but both lose when they tear a card.

05: Another flashback, this time with Yuuta back when he was full-on Dark Flame Master. For the record, we really enjoy watching him act out so sincerely; as opposed to his more forced manner in the present. Kuzuha’s friend thinks he’s cool, and for a moment, so does she, until he does something klutzy.

06: Flashback #3, this time with Shinka as Mori Summer, and again, it’s nice to see her being earnest and unashamed with her Chuunibyouness. She also has an answer for all of her skeptical friend’s questions relating to angel summoning. Turns out Satone is recounting this to Kumin in the present, much to Shinka’s embarrassment.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 10

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Whatever Chuunibyou euphemisms she needs to use to describe her condition, the simple fact is that Satone has fallen for Yuuta…again…and has fallen hard. She’s determined to keep the promise she made to herself the first time it happened: to devote herself to remaining the magical devil girl forever. The persona (and mental state) that is Sophia Ring etc. is nicely represented by a simple (and very KyoAni) symbol: the little heart sticker on her cheek.

Whether due to the sweat and increased heart rate from her rekindled infatuation or the summer heat, that sticker has been coming loose and falling off. She tries to stick it back on, but it just falls off again. Her “condition” is being fueled by memories of close moments she had with Yuuta, and they’re proving more powerful than she can handle. It’s quite a transformation from the Satone we were first introduced to.

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It’s also a welcome one. With Shinka and Sanae’s love-hate relationship chugging along Yuuta, Rikka’s powers back, and she and Yuuta in their own lovey-dovey little world, it was only logical for the drama to start brewing around Satone, especially after her epiphany on the train. Having recently watched the film that recaps the first season, there’s a definite symmetry to Satone and Rikka’s arcs—only Satone’s isn’t poised to end happily; after all, there’s only one Yuuta. The pain and anguish Satone goes through this week is familiar, but still powerful.

Oh, Yuuta: so busy participating in his own subtle, unique, brand of romance with Rikka, doesn’t see Satone’s “battle” coming. They end up together again while Yuuta is searching for Rikka (natch) and have to seek shelter under a shrine when the heavens open up. That’s when Satone begins a totally different battle – one against herself. Despite featuring no fantastical special effects, it’s easily the best battle we’ve seen her in. She insists that Yuuta tell her everything he can to give her brain enough logical ammo to convince her heart to give up on this whole Yuuta business.

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Yuuta has no idea what’s going on, but when he gets a text from Rikka (natch) that sends him away, he unknowingly repeats a gesture he made to Satone in the past (throwing his cape over her in the rain), only this time, he’s throwing it over himself as he leaves. Satone thinks she’s gotten through the battle, but he returns with an umbrella he found for her. Just like that, the tears flow, the heart sticker washes away, and victory for Sophia may be out of reach for good.

We imagine the triangle that has thus coalesced shall be the focus of the two remaining episodes. Yuuta can’t possibly not know what her deal is; that would constitute an unacceptable level of denseness. We’re also hoping next week doesn’t simply pick up where we left off and let Satone get away with laughing it off. We’re going to operate under the assumption that Yuuta knows her true feelings for him now. It will be interesting to see what he does with that knowledge, and how it will affect things with Rikka (who still doesn’t know squat).

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

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?

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 08

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Sometimes the friendships that are the most fun to watch are the ones whose participants never overtly acknowledge they’re friends at all, and go about trying to prove they don’t like each other at all when in reality they’d be sad without one another. The unspoken friendship in Chuunibyou is obviously that of Shinka and Sanae, bourne out of the latter’s reverence for the former, but made bitter and rancorous by the former’s efforts to erase that embarrassing part of her life and move on as a normal mortal.

Her normal, flawless, overachieving high school life aside, Sanae is still tightly in the grips of Chuunibyou, and has always fostered disappointment at Shinka’s retreat from that world. She labels her as a fake, because the real Mori Summer wouldn’t be ashamed of who she is and hide that identity from everyone else. So when an impostor claiming to be the Real Mori Summer approaches Sanae, she readily embraces her. Where the episode is ultimately ambiguous is whether did Sanae do this only to make Shinka jealous.

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Whatever Sanae’s motives, the Fake Real Summer (voiced by Koshimizu Ami, no stranger to fantasy roles) makes it abundantly clear to both us and the gang: she wants Sanae. Assuming Sanae is just trying to make Shinka mad and compel her to some kind of action beyond ignoring her, she eventually learns she’s in over her head, and even if the impostor wasn’t creepy and predatory, to be blunt, Sanae doesn’t swing that way. Then Shinka comes to the rescue, as Sanae had probably hoped for. The resulting Chuunibyou battle between Shinka and the impostor is a nice piece of action, with the imposters’ attacks turning darker and more sinister as she gets angrier, overpowering Shinka in imagination and thus strength in such a battle.

Sanae has seen enough of the impostor at this point to know she’s not the real Mori Summer either, and if she has to choose between two fakes, she’s choosing Shinka. The impostor’s powers are no match for the Mjolnir Hammer, but more importantly, her wierd crush on Sanae is no match for the genuinely deep (if unspoken) bond between Sanae and Shinka. We thought we’d be a little annoyed when they went back to their usual bickering and denials of mutual affection, but it was actually oddly comforting to watch, as it was for Yuuta, Rikka, and Kumin.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Nice use of Sophia Ring SP Saturn VII as a combat coach for Shinka; she is pretty rusty, after all.
  • We’d be surprised if the animators had never heard of Inoue Naohisa, because the Mori Summers’ battlefield resembles his work. Incidently, one of his paintings also inspired scenes in Whisper of the Heart.
  • While walking home with Yuuta, Rikka realizes they’re not holding hands, and rights the wrong. Nice!
  • Kumin continues to subject everyone to her incredibly hokey wordplay humor, but she gets a pass after winning a battle that saved the club.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 07

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Let’s get down to magical brass tacks: Yuuta kinda screwed up here. Yes, helping Satone when she lost all her money and phone was the right thing to do, and it’s clear he can always be counted on to help his friends in time of need. BUT, when the girl he’s helping is a girl he has a history with, which intimidates his girlfriend, that’s a rather different story. This was a crucial day he and Rikka were supposed to spend together alone, strengthening their bond of love, and Satone’s arrival couldn’t have been timed worse.

We were well and truly annoyed at Chu2Koi for so neatly tossing that pink-haired wrench into its own works. While it isn’t particularly far-fetched that Satone’s school would be visiting Kagoshima on the same day as Yuuta and Rikka’s, the odds of her just happening to bump into the two in her vulnerable state struck us as far too convenient; enough to question early on whether she followed them there intentionally. But with Yuuta’s promise not to get close to other girls ringing loudly in her ears as Yuuta gets close to Satone, Rikka’s patience runs out quickly, to the point she accuses him of breaking their contract and storms off. Trouble in paradise.

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But we never forgot that Satone seemed willing to walk away and not bother the couple when she first found them; and when she’s alone with Yuuta, she apologizes. They part ways, and then she sets into motion what Rikka believes to be a showdown by the waterfront. But rather than engage in a Chuunibyou battle as one might expect, Satone drops the delusions and gives it to Rikka straight. The truth is, she used to be in love with Yuuta; but with emphasis on the “used”. She didn’t like how “powerless” she became while obsessing over him, so she decided to stop doing so. She never told Yuuta her feelings, so things could remain as they were.

The confirmation that Satone has no intention of being her competition is surely relieving to Rikka, but she’s not all that upset over what Yuuta did after all. In fact, the kindness he exhibited is a main reason she fell for him in the first place. To Yuuta’s credit, he offers up a full apology (after being chastened by many other girls) and surprises Rikka with a new umbrella and pendant for her birthday, which she didn’t even know he knew. She thanks him with a decidedly un-Chuunibyou, confident “I love you.” While they may not have spent as much time together as they’d planned; it’s ultimately a case of quality over quantity. And while Satone may have felt weakened by her love for Yuuta, Rikka clearly draws strength from it.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The B-plot involves a phone conversation between Shinka (who thinks Sanae built the Mori Summer website) and Sanae (who actually didn’t, but is impressed by said site, and finds something shocking on it we’re not privy to). We’ve grown fonder of their love-hate relationship, but frankly would have preferred more Yuuta-Rikka time.
  • Kagoshima seems like a nice place to visit. Dig the volcano.
  • A “Do Not Rush At Feral Monkeys” TV disclaimer was conspicuously missing from this episode. Seriously, some punk kids might try that and get themselves bitten!
  • Good to know that the other girls in Yuuta’s life were just as outraged as us that he’d essentially ditch Rikka to help Satone. It means the show knows he erred as well, despite his good intentions.
  • We don’t use this term lightly, but Rikka’s “I love you” was totes adorbs.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 06

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The world of Chu2Koi is so rich and lovely and full of compelling personalities that episodes that center on the secondary characters are a pleasure rather than a drag. But when Yuuta and Rikka are the focus, the show really comes into its own, and reaches a higher level. This week they are the focus, both of the episode and of all of their classmates, with whom they’re on what looks like a fantastic school trip. It’s a trip during which—preferably on the third day—Yuuta hopes something will happen; we know not what, specifically.

But while it’s not his intention to put Rikka on the spot, the other students do just that, remarking on their status every chance they get and offering to snap photos of the happy couple’s time together. It puts both of them off, but Rikka in particular, who eventually snaps under the pressure, delivering an awesome slide-kick to Shinka before running off, trying to escape all the prying eyes. It should be stated that Shinka herself is also questioned by her peers about whether she has a boyfriend, and if not, why not; a subject she too prefers not to discuss.

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All the proximity to people with their own sense of what’s normal in a relationship based on their own upbringing and experiences (or lack of same). In fact, while no one comes out and says it, it’s not apparent any of the kids on the trip are dating anyone, except Yuuta and Rikka. If they are indeed the exception, it only heightens the pressure to perform as a shining example of what romance can be. Again, neither of them are interested in being an example, or in being observed at all.

No, that “something” Yuuta had hoped would happen happened not because of anything he planned, but because Rikka took the initiative, though she was possibly prodded on by Shinka. We were struck by how fast it happened: the girls are sleeping in their room; the guys are telling ghost stories in theirs, but before you know it, BAM, Rikka is under Yuuta’s covers (to prevent being caught by a teacher). The romantic tension really radiates through the screen as they realize they’re finally alone; they’re closer than they’ve ever been, but not at all uncomfortable.

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The kiss they attempt there is maddeningly (and expectedly) interrupted (at which point we were ready to throw something solid at the TV), but in the end, when it mattered, Chu2Koi didn’t let us down. As Yuuta guides Rikka back to her room, they end up discussing the mutual embarrassment they’ve been feeling, which had nothing to do with there being something wrong with the other person. They start to return to bed, but Rikka rushes up from behind and plants a passionate kiss right on his cheek before meekly shuffling off.

Yuuta was worried (and confided in Shinka as much) that Rikka’s Chuunibyou and romance were simply incomparable, but he was mistaken. Rikka wants what he wants, but it’s just a matter of defeating the “magic barriers” that keep them apart; making the Chuunibyou work for her. With their first kiss trepidation overcome, they both start to feel their love blooming. We felt it too.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 05

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When their clubroom and hence the very existence of their club is threatened by student council looking to root out clubs that aren’t really about anything and don’t do anything (a laudable goal, in our opinion), it’s Kumin that comes to the rescue by asserting that it is a napping club, which is apparently a legitimate thing. That means the gang has to take part in a competition with a real (and very seasoned) “Siesta Club” Rikka vows to disband the club if they lose: a seemingly random decision that artificially raises the stakes (they probably could have kept the clubroom with further negotiations and a good word from their advisor).

The point of Rikka placing a hefty wager on their victory seems to be why Kumin loves the club so much: whatever Rikka does, she goes all out, partly due to her Chuunibyou, which turns trivial matters into life-and-death struggles. Something the show isn’t going all out with is the progression of Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship, showing they meant what they said when the two decided to go at their own pace, which is to say no pace. A heavily Shinka-and-Sanae-focused episode is thus followed up by what’s essentially a Kumin one, something we should have expected to come along at some point, as she’s listed as a main character (So is Isshiki, for that matter, which …troubles us).

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Yuuta and Rikka’s story is pushed to the side to make way for the napping club plot, but we do get some glimpses of Rikka’s growing concern with the way Satone so effortlessly snuggles up against Yuuta when she’s not looking. This takes place during a sleepover during which everyone is meant to stay up all night to prepare for the nap-off, but everyone has so much fun they go out one by one and emerge impeccably, disastrously well-rested. Against their rivals—who appear intimidatingly languid—the chances for victory looks bleak. Enter Tsuyuri Kumin.

The show makes the inspired but very appropriate decision to make the napoff a Chuunibyou battle within the dream world, which their rival club claims as their solemn domain. What follows is a series of duels in which the loser wakes up and is thus out of the nap-off. Kumin wins the day by staying asleep the longest (even transforming into a goddess: perhaps a female Hypnos or Morpheus), impressing the competition, who questions why she wastes her talent in a convoluted “combo” club. Kumin, a simple character, answers simply: Rikka and the other’s passion and livliness inspire her, and the clubroom is just a nice place to nap.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

 

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 04

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We’ve always automatically assumed Dekomori Sanae was our least favorite member of the (whatever it’s called) club in Chu2Koi, but it’s episodes like this that remind us that she comes out ahead of Tsuyuri Kumin, who has an even more irritating voice and does little but wisecrack and sleep. Meanwhile Sanae is a far more complete character with conflicts and useful skills. She’s actually an extremely capable, resourceful, charismatic young lady. She also happens to worship Mori Summer like a god.

When Satone of all people confirms that Nibutani Shinka is in fact the real Mori Summer (having met her in person before), Sanae’s enmity towards her evaporates instantly. After so many brutal battles, watching her not only put less stress on her desus but act civilly and submissively towards her former nemesis is a refreshing change in behavior. She also confirms what a competent right-hand woman she can be in politics as Shinka seeks the student council presidency. Sanae’s newfound deference to her couldn’t have been better timed.

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So where did it all go wrong? Likely conditioned by so many past ambushes, it’s likely Shinka had a bit of whiplash when she suddenly found herself in the regular presence of a normal, friendly Sanae. But Sanae wasn’t really acting “normal”, she was just being nice to her as opposed to hostile. The Chuunibyou was still there, under the surface, and Shinka grew less strict about being called Mori Summer, then, as a reward for all of Sanae’s hard work (and beautifully-made cookies!), she whipped out the Mori Summer garb one more time. And that was the final nail in the coffin for Shinka’s candidacy.

Being in the presence of her exalted master sparked Sanae’s zealotry. She couldn’t help but modify her speech to honor Mori Summer, and using the one photo Shinka let her take. Mind you, Sanae wasn’t being vindictive (though for a moment we thought she was, but she’s not that mean). No, she’s just really into Mori Summer, and in her Chuuni-tweaked state, thought announcing it to the whole school was a good idea. Shinka freaked, which tipped off Sanae that maybe she was a fake after all, and just like that we’re back to the status quo ante, which is a bit of a shame, because we actually didn’t mind Shinka and Sanae getting along.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Shinka’s impression of Yuuta as Dark Flame Master is pretty good.
  • Yuuta utterly fails to properly distract Sanae so Shinka can talk to Sanae’s class without incident. Sanae hides in the lectern where she speaks, leading to some hilarious changes in Shinka’s voice patterns.
  • Shinka kinda stole Sanae away from Rikka this week, but we liked how Yuuta stepped in to participate in the blue moon ritual thing.
  • Sanae is apparently popular in her year, which suggests she suppresses her chuunibyou most of the time while around her peers. It’s another testament to her intelligence that she can live comfortably in both worlds, which ironically makes her more like Shinka than Rikka or Satone.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 03

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The series’ promo art featured Rikka touching noses with a theretofore unseen pink-haired girl, something we weren’t sure what to make of. With sequels come new characters, which are a reliable way of keeping things fresh and interesting. But they can also disrupt the ideal chemical balance of a show, by clashing unpleasantly with or sapping screen time from the established characters. That pink-haired girl—Shichimiya Satone—faced an uphill battle in a series that already juggling a lot of characters.

At first blush, we can report that she comported herself quite well. Far from feeling tacked-on, Satone does precisely what a good new character should: shake things up without spilling any of those things on the floor. She feels necessary; offering us a new glimpse of Yuuta’s past. All we knew was that Yuuta’s chuunibyou inspired Rikka; we don’t know what caused it until now. While we can’t remember him saying anything about a close friend back then, it turns out he had one, and it was a girl. Not just any girl: a magical devil girl with the alias Sophia Ring SP Saturn VII.

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We like how easily Satone and Rikka engage in mystical battle—bouncing off each other as if they were sisters. The battle also drew attention to its practical elements: you basically exchange elaborate attacks and defenses, and the one who can’t keep up with all the ridiculous things being spouted is the loser. In this regard it makes sense that Rikka is “on the ropes” when Yuuta breaks them up; Sophia been at this a lot longer. And since she taught Yuuta everything he knew (or at least got him started on that path), that kinda makes her Rikka’s master’s master—at least in the arena of delusion.

Bringing back a girl from Yuuta’s past inexorably reopens that past for Yuuta, and when Satone unexpectedly gives him an Eskimo kiss—a gesture far more intimate than anything he’s done with Rikka (excluding the weird spanking last week)—that’s when the promo art makes sense. This was something they used to do all the time as younger kids. She wasn’t just some girl who bothered him in school; quite the opposite; he thought she was cool. He obviously doesn’t think that now, but nor does he seem particularly worried about her still having Chuunibyou; she’s just being herself.

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But whatever she owes to her, Rikka considers Satone an invader serious threat in both of the worlds she inhabits. And we feel she has legitimate cause to be concerned, even after Satone offers an olive branch and vows to root for Rikka. That’s because Satone then touches noses with Yuuta and promptly runs off, as if her presence there was painful. Yuuta’s last scene with Satone on the balcony is nice, because it establishes his guilt about suddenly up and leaving her behind when he transferred. That guilt is all the opening Satone needs. That, and she’s very cute.

We wouldn’t be surprised if her gesture of goodwill to Rikka was really a challenge in disguise: “May the Best Girl Win.” But we can’t dismiss her as a cynical wrench being thrown in the works of Yuuta and Rikka. She has just as legitimate claim to Yuuta’s heart as Rikka, and even if Yuuta doesn’t love her yet, that could change. Yuuta and Rikka’s could possibly even benefit from such a test. After all, it’s only been a day since she met Satone, and at its end, Rikka is already touching noses with Yuuta.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 02

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First of all, we wanted to acknowledge how nicely Shinka’s development has come along. Once a love interest ot Yuuta and rival to Rikka, now she’s just their friend, and is fully on board with the love pact they enacted. But she’s concerned, as are we, with the happy couple’s progress thus far. By spying on them she learned that they don’t act all that different when they’re alone together, and Yuuta treats Rikka more like a sister or granddaughter than his lover…and he admits to Shinka that in six months, he and Rikka haven’t even held hands. He fails to mention he has bent her over his knee and spanked her, which…dunno what that was all about!

Because she’s concerned, Shinka does what anyone would do for a concerned friend: provide guidance—or at least point him in its direction, which is the direction of Kannagi Kazari, a girl’s girl. Kazari advises Yuuta to take the initiative, and makes sure he does by texting Rikka a date request on his phone. The immediacy of Rikka’s reply in the affirmative shows Yuuta that Kazari knows what she’s on about. The date that follows is an important milestone in Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship, but not because it meant they’d be increasing their level of physical contact.

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Yes, they do end up holding hands for the first time, in an exceedingly tender, adorable little scene with the aquarium tank as a backdrop. The camera really had a way with hands this week. Also, we like how once they finally do it, their hands stay clinched for much of the date. But the true value of Shinka’s referral and Kannagi’s advice and gambit were that they allowed Yuuta and Rikka to get on the same page with what exactly this love pact thing really is. When Rikka is out of her shell, she speaks with fierce honesty about her confusion about what to do and when.

That being said, she also speaks about how the fact that she has Yuuta, and gets to go home and keep living with him, makes her so happy that it’s hard to fathom it getting happier. Yuuta has been pretty happy too, which is why it took a third party to even get a discussion started about the pace of their romance.

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But he’s now realizing he had nothing to fear in doing so. Long story short: Yuuta and Rikka love each other deeply, and they’re going to take things nice and slow and not worry about what other people think. It’s the logical choice, considering their mutual inexperience. It’s also similar to the strategy Mei and Yamato in the excellent Sukitte Ii na yo.

Even so, there’s a new girl living above Yuuta’s apartment. This girl is also a Chuuni and meets Rikka same magical, somewhat dangerous way Rikka and Yuuta met. Will she fill Shinka’s old space in the love triangle? Which one is she after? Rough seas ahead for our lovebirds.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 01

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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.

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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.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)