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)

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Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 08

Rikka and Touka “do battle” in the lot where their house once stood, but Touka can’t get through to Rikka, who flees. Yuuta chases after her, and he finally finds her on the night train back home. She forgot her key and his family is all away, so the two spend the night at his place. Meanwhile Isshiki goes on a walk with Kumin, but he misinterprets her intentions. While in (separate) bed(s) trying to sleep, both Yuuta and Rikka are kept up by the possibility they may have a deeper bond than they thought…

Throughout the last couple episodes, Yuuta has felt compelled to come to Rikka’s aid and stay by her side, no matter how out of breath he gets. Part of him is doing this because he identifies with her Chuunibyou, having gotten it after feeling “left out” with his friends. Part of him wants to cure her. And then another part is totally into her, whether she’s acting like a kid or not. He and she are, as Isshiki said, high schoolers. Acting like the adults they’re becoming isn’t just about accepting the reality of lost homes and departed dads – it also means girlfriends and romance. While Yuuta finds himself in a most fortuitous situation – alone with Rikka in his house all night – he’s confused by how to proceed, and it seems would rather not want anything to…happen.

Not that it would; most of the time Rikka mistakes her racing heart for her instincts telling her the “goddess” or other “overseers” may be near. Yuuta remarks to himself she may not even be that conscious of the whole concept of love. But the fact of the matter is, the two have bubbling chemistry, and are very comfortable being around each other. So will Rikka ultimately come to escape her Chuunibyou through her strengthening bond with Yuuta? Or will Yuuta continue to “regress” back into Chuunibyou under her charm and influence? Or will this just be another case of nothing happening between two people who would seem to be a good match? What is that, some kind of KyoAni hallmark?


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Isshiki’s little side-story involving Kumin was actually quite entertaining. We even felt for the guy when she left him a polite note telling him she’s going home ahead of him while he’s on the phone with Yuuta pleading for advice on how to…proceed.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 06

Yuuta laments that it’s July and Rikka still hasn’t spoken to anyone who isn’t in their club, but his attention moves elsewhere when Isshiki reports to him with an anonymous love letter and a plea for help. They take their conversation to the clubroom, where Isshiki sees things Shinka warns him never to disclose to anyone, or else. Isshiki leaves his notebook with the cutie poll at the train station, and it ends up in Shinka’s hands. Isshiki fesses up and takes full responsibility, and Yuuta shaves his head. As his family considers moving to Jakarta where his dad works, Yuuta is visited by Touka, asking him to spend summer vacation with her and Rikka.

This episode focused primarily on the “Token Annoying Male Classmate” AKA Makoto Isshiki. Were we given the choice, we would probably decline most of one twelfth of a series be dedicated thus. While it contained quite a bit of him yelling, it wasn’t that bad. But we can’t stress enough: we don’t watch this series for Isshiki, nor is the series about him. He doesn’t even struggle with Chuunibyou. He’s just an ordinary, horny, dull guy. The entertainment in this episode, then, is how the rest of the cast – the cast we’re invested in – react to his continued presence in the episode. The results are what make this episode, as previously stated not that bad.

Isshiki sees the other side of Shinka, watching her ongoing feud with Dekomori. For much of the episode, we thought Shinka wrote the love letter, but it made less sense as things progressed. Kumin and Rikka’s obsession with his shiny, Buddha-like chrome-dome is pretty amusing. And Instead of meeting a potential girlfriend under the Gingko tree, Isshiki is mobbed by his fellow male classmates, who all appreciate him covering for them in Cutiepollgate. But our favorite scene had nothing to do with Isshiki. It was Rikka taking Yuuta’s hand and holding it as a train passed. For a brief moment, Yuuta was thrust into the world of magic he had abjured, and found it…seductive. It should be an interesting summer.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)