“Hatoko. Um, well…I know how it may seem, but I’m really grateful to you. I don’t know how many times I’ve been saved by the way you’ve always cheerfully listened to me. I was really happy that you understood me. So, um…I know I’ll probably continue to say lots of nonsensical things, but still…y-you and I…There is no path before me, and no retreat behind me! I am destined to advance on an endless road, over rivers of blood and mountains of corpses! However, even for me, it would be hard to travel that road of suffering alone. Therefore, I need companions. Let us walk together, Kushikawa Hatoko. I need you.”
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand! I don’t understand a single word you say, Ju-kun! I don’t understand what’s good about the things you call good! I don’t understand! I can’t understand! What’s so cool about “Bloody”? I don’t like blood. Bleeding just hurts! What’s so cool about “madness”? I don’t understand what’s good about being crazy! What do you mean by “sinful”? What’s so good about having sin? Is it cool being a criminal? And what’s with “chaos,” anyway? Chaos? What about it? What about “darkness”? You want it to be dark? Between justice and evil, why is evil better? Why do you prefer evil? Isn’t it evil because it’s wrong? What’s so cool about your right arm aching? “I love the feeling of being unable to control my power”? What’s that? That just makes you a fool! It’s much cooler when you have control! THAT’S worthy of respect! What’s so awesome about hiding your power all the time? That’s just slacking off! It’s much cooler to face things head-on, at full strength, without hiding anything! Why do you give everything nicknames and aliases? Having so many different names only makes them hard to keep up with! Don’t use English or Katakana for everything! I can’t remember those! Don’t write “elegy” and read it “requiem”! Don’t write “forbidden” and read it “taboo”! Don’t write “holy war” and read it “jihad”! Greek myth, the Bible, Norse myth, Japanese myth…Don’t start talking about them just because you did a little research! If you don’t properly explain it, I can’t understand what you mean! If you’re going to teach me, teach me right! Listening to explanations about mythological weapons is not fun! Gungnir, Longinus, Excalibur, Durandal, and Ama-no-Murakamo-no-Tsurugi all mean nothing to me! I don’t understand what’s cool about them! All your other terminology is confusing, too! Original Sin, Ten Commandments, Book of Genesis, Book of Revelations, Armageddon…What do you mean by “their names are cool”? It’s impossible for me to “feel it by their atmosphere”! Relativity, Schrodinger’s cat, universal gravitation…Don’t act like you understand them because you read a little on the net! I can’t understand them at all if you give half-baked explanations! Don’t quote Nietzsche or Goethe! When you start quoting people I don’t know, I can’t understand what you’re trying to say at all! Talk to me in your own words! I’m begging you, speak so I can understand you! What is “chuuni”? What does “chuuni” mean? I don’t understand, I don’t understand, I don’t understand, I don’t understand! I don’t understand! I don’t understand a single word you’ve ever said at all, Ju-kun!”
It’s Chu2Koi, but for real, baby. In a nutshell, that’s Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de, or InoBato for short, AKA When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace. We have a group of mostly girls and a guy, only here the guy is the Chuuni, Andou Jurai, who is messing around one day when he suddenly produces a real ball of magical flame from his palm, and nothing is the same.
But six months later, aside from a monthly “supernatural checkup” the club undergoes, everything is the same. Everything, except that now Himeki Chifuyu can conjure matter and teleport, Kishikwa Hatoko can control the elements, Kanzaki Tomoyo can manipulate time, and Takanashi Sayumi can restore things to a previous state. Ironically, the true Chuuni just has his little dark flame, which is pretty, but otherwise totally useless; apparently a sore subject.
The strength of this show, and something that elevates it from being merely another Chu2Koi or Haruhi knockoff, is that Studio Trigger is behind it, which means most of the time, it looks totally badass, but in a more boisterous aesthetic than the more quiet realism of KyoAni. It excels both at rendering the ordinary lives of the students, as well as the awesome magic they periodically break out, because, well, they can.
The show also moves briskly and confidently, from the way things were before (the only magic was in Jurai’s head) to the way things are (everyone using powers like it ain’t no thang) to their first interaction with someone outside the club, Student Council President Kudou Mirei (who has the Lancet ability), and by the end raises a key question moving forward: why did they receive these powers? What, if anything, are they supposed to do with them?
That mystery looms over the otherwise playful and fun proceedings, giving the show a measure of gravitas. But I’m not under any illusions that this is a moe showcase of epic proportions, with a diverse sampling of very meticulously-rendered, adorable characters. The show also benefits from Okamoto Nobuhiko’s spirited, sometimes manic voice anchoring the cast of ladies, which includes the warm Hayami Saori (Hatoko) and delicately strict Taneda Risa (Sayumi).
It’s bold, sharp-witted, pretty, and well-executed. Most of all, it’s just plain fun. You can glimpse that Trigger goodness and infectious joie de vivre that made Kill la Kill along with greats like Gurren Lagann...just way less insane and more moe. And along with the completely different Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete, I am proud to add it to my Fall 2014 watchlist.