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.
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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! – 12 (Fin)

Yuuta is distraught  as he’s heard no word from Rikka since she left with her mother. Dekomori has reverted to a normal eighth grader, while Kumin appears to have “inherited” Rikka’s Wicked Eye. When Yuuta’s sister tells him the movers came for the rest of Rikka’s stuff, he races to her house by bike, heeding a letter he wrote to himself two years ago as Dark Flame Master, imploring him to remember he is “special”. He learns that his past exploits triggered Rikka’s Chuunibyou, which she used as a coping device. He “rescues” her from her mundane existence at her grandfather’s house, flees the police with the help of their friends, and shows Rikka the “Ethereal Horizon” so she can say goodbye to her father.

Well now…we’re quite happy with this, the first ending of the fall. It was a good ending, with the message that we all have our little “syndromes” at varying times in our lives to deal with whatever life throws at us. Rikka and Yuuta are no different from anyone else in this regard, except that Yuuta’s Chuunibyou led Rikka to explore her own imagination, and find solace there from the harshness of reality. In flashbacks we see that she was essentially numbed by her father’s death, as she always held out hope he would recover and had no indication he wouldn’t. The world of fantasy she enters doesn’t hamper her growth. It makes it bearable. Yuuta finally makes the right choice, deciding to listen to his past self and heroically races to save Rikka from the prison of normalcy he himself helped build around her.

Ironically, in order to face reality, Rikka had to return to fantasy, and Yuuta helped guide her there, just as he inadvertently guided her into the world of Chuunibyou years before. Certainly, fantasy mustn’t occupy every waking moment of one’s life, but nor can it be totally repressed, going against one’s instincts. Ever since Rikka removed her eye patch, both she and Yuuta both felt something wasn’t right, because something wasn’t. We can never totally reject the extraordinary from our lives, because the fact of the matter is, when you take a moment to look at it, every aspect of life is extraordinary. So, we bid adieu to Yuuta, Rikka, Sanae, Kumin, and Shinka, all of them having realized that in their lives a personal balance must be struck between the ordinary and the fantastical.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

UPDATE: Looks like there will be a second season of Chu2Koi. We look forward to it, and hope it further fleshes out a Yuuta/Rikka relationship.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 10

After their embrace, Rikka consults with Dekomori while Yuuta talks with Isshiki on how to proceed. Both are supportive. While walking home, after a couple failed attempts, Rikka successfully confess to one another and enter into a “lovers’ contract”. On coming home Touka takes Yuuta to a cafe, where she tells him she’s moving to Italy to train to be a chef, and their mother will be moving in with Rikka. The next day at school, Rikka’s mom appears with a lunch for her. Yuuta tells her to take off her eyepatch, but a heated exchange ensues. Yuuta doesn’t perform with Rikka for the festival. Later that night at the talent show, Rikka sings a song her late father liked, then removed her contact and eyepatch.

That was one hell of a hug last week. Yuuta’s first time hugging a girl, and Rikka’s first time hugging a guy. Considering their inexperience, it’s inevitable they’d have trouble figuring out how to proceed. And yet, they do a pretty damn good job of it, not spending episodes not talking or avoiding each other or falling subject to rivals – just walking home, getting stuck in the rain, grabbing a bite at EcDonalds (yeah that’s spelled right) and ending up under a bridge with a beautiful, romantic scene of the town-lit river. And they make their feelings known to each other. Yuuta definitely gets style points for preparing a confession as Dark Flame Master, and of course Rikka eats it up. Weights are lifted and everything’s peachy…until Rikka’s mom enters the picture.

Rikka’s mom…the one whose responsibility was to deliver the truth about her father in a timely fashion, but didn’t, resulting in a complete fiasco when Dad died. Rikka hasn’t forgiven her, and we don’t blame her. But we also understand Yuuta’s position: he can’t continue to enable Rikka to live in a fantasy world; she needs to turn the page and grow up. The time for that comes right quick too, as their honeymoon is tragically brief. In a rapid flashback of Things Not Going Well (when Yuuta presents Rikka with a lunch her mom made), we see them grappling roughly, so far removed by the day before, when she seemed so fragile she might break if he held her closer. But after that tantrum, when Rikka removes her eyepatch – her trusty armor against…something – in front of the whole school, it’s like a long-overdue first step towards adulthood.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 04

Yuuta grudgingly joins the Far Eastern Magic Nap Society because Nibutani Shinka also joined, though he can’t figure out why she did. She asks Yuuta if she can visit him at his house on Sunday, confusing him further about her intentions. It turns out Shinka was searching for Sanae’s “Mabinogion”, which she herself wrote a year ago under the pseudonym “Forest Summer.” She seeks to destroy all evidence of her Chuunibyou past. She burns the book, but Sanae tells her she has other copies. Yuuta suggests Shinka “fight her” with magic, but Sanae defeats her. Shinka decides to stay with the society until her goal is complete.

We thought we knew what was going on…we thought Yuuta was being needlessly suspicious and catious…we thought Shinka joined because she – teehee – liked him. How wrong we were. Shinka is rotten to the core…well, it’s more accurate to say she’s like Yuuta: a Chuuneetotaler, one who has forsaken their dorky past and switched schools so she could have a normal high school life. But she doesn’t like Yuuta. Yuuta was right all along. She isn’t interested in him in the least (not yet, anyway). We daresay this new, imperfect Shinka is far more interesting than the ditzy cipher we’ve seen the last three episodes. The Oribe Yasuna (same seiyu) within has been drawn out, and we’re lovin’ it..though we still don’t get her barrette placement.

It would seem the Chuunibyou phenomenon is a lot more common than one would think; the club is made up of two currently in the throes of it, two who tried to kick the habit but were brought back into its midst by fate, and…Kumin, who just naps all the time. But there are sure to be more at their school. Aside from learning more about Shinka, we had Yuuta making clever use of his “darkness notes” to shoo Rikka and Sanae away for his “date”; we saw Shinka resorting to chanting a curse, reverting to her Chuunibyou habits. This week’s battle was between Shinka and Sanae is a battle Sanae wins not because of her Mjolnir, but by reciting Shinka’s own Mabinogion to her verbatim, wearing her down till she yields in self-disgust.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)