Summer vacation arrives, and Shinka, Kumin, Sanae, Isshiki, and Yuuta travel with Rikka to her grandparents’ house by the beach. Yuuta notices Rikka is quieter than usual, and when they arrive at the house, she retreats to her room. Later Tooka tells him Rikka hasn’t been able to accept that their father is dead. Tooka wants him to help Rikka grow up and accept, but Yuuta takes Rikka’s side instead, and they bike to the house where she used to live with her father, mother, and Tooka, now just an empty lot for sale.
If you’d told us some of the most poignant drama and most important character development of the series thus far would come in the beach episode, we’d have had our doubts. But unlike a (sub)standard obligatory beach outing, the fanservice isn’t the raison d’être of the episode; merely garnish (there aren’t even bikinis until ten minutes in). Instead the beach is just where Rikka and Tooka’s grandparents happen to live, and where Rikka doesn’t want to but probably should face some painful truths, namely: her father is dead, her mother is gone, and it’s time to grow up. It’s implied he was ill, but his wish to go suddenly without warning Rikka, along with all the domestic fallout thereafter, is a big reason why she turned to Chuunibyou.
We always knew Rikka’s living situation wasn’t ideal, but now we have firm and highly reasonable rationale for her obsession with fantasy. Fantasy is an escape; magic can distract from not only the mundane, but the painful. Feeling for Rikka, Yuuta can’t rip the band-aid off the way Tooka wants. He knows Rikka shouldn’t go on like this – it’s not even a matter of liking the things she likes or saying weird things, its the fact she’s also hiding from real life. Yuuta and Rikka’s scenes this week are, as usual, the best. He helps her escape to her old house, not wanting to destroy his clout as Dark Flame Master. But Tooka is clearly running out of patience. She wants progress and she wants it soon.
Rating: 8 (Great)
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)