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.

Takanashi Rikka Kai: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie

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So, we finally got around to watching this movie, which is a suitable substitute for the first season, as it’s pretty much the first season (our reviews here) on fast-forward, complete with a few awkward cuts from one episode to the next. The conceit is that in the time before Rikka knows whether she has to move away or will be able to live alone above Yuuta, she retells her story to the audience from her perspective.

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The only problem is, aside from the sequences that bookend the film and a couple narrations, there’s nothing different from the events that take place here and the way they unfolded in the first season. It would have been interesting to see more new material from that time, rather than simply rehash it all in abridged form. Thus, this film is kind of a let-down, but only for those who went into it not knowing what it was going to be.

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For those who want to be brought up to speed on how Yuuta and Rikka fell for each other and ended up living alone together (however briefly), this film does the trick, though certainly nowhere near as efficiently as, say, Kill la Kill’s excellent cold-open recap. For those like us who thought there’d be more original material, it was still enjoyable to go back and be reminded why we liked the franchise so much we eagerly awaited its sequel, which is proving just as good.

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As for the original material, the ending, in which Yuuta (along with Touka) have to go to bat against Grandpa Takanashi, and it was great to see Rikka’s moment of jubilation upon learning they succeeded. But the star of this film is the entire pre-opening credits sequence: a gorgeous, lavishly-animated wedding-slash-battle that’s really just a Rikka daydream. If you’re not interested in a gorified season recap, we still recommend watching at least this first bit of the film, which is a great microcosm of why we love the franchise so much.

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 – 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)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – OVA

Takanashi Rikka, Togashi Yuuta

With Christmas approaching, the club agrees to throw a party. The school is closed, so Dekomori hosts everyone at her enormous mansion. While playing cards Dekomori and Rikka get drunk off of alcoholic pastries, briefly loosening their tongues about their feelings towards Shinka and Yuuta, respectively. Yuuta carries her home, but she feels better on the train and they go on a Christmas cruise on a sightseeing boat. When the time comes to speak up, they agree to keep things the way they are for now and everything will work out. Dekomori and the others join them on the boat.

This was a nice little nugget of Chu2Koiness to bridge the gap between last fall and the forthcoming second season, one that we said at the end of the first we hope will further flesh out Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship. They don’t really make any significant progress towards officially becoming a couple, such a major development, if it occurs, will occur next season. Their interactions here underline the fact that there’s no rush, but if they’re still just tenderly holding pinkies deep into the second season, we’ll be disappointed. Even Kuroneko and Kyousuke became an official couple, for crying out loud!

Speaking of tiresome, Dekomori Sanae should really be intolerable to us, but we get a kick out of Uesaka Sumire’s very playful and vibrant manner of speaking. We also get an awesome quasi-battle with an unarmed Yuuta versus a very tipsy Rikka and Sanae totally going all out with the weaponry. Along with the lovely Yuuta/Rikka chemistry, these battles were one of our favorite things about the series, and hope to see more of them next season. We also like Shinka helping Rikka out with trying to get closer to Yuuta, as Rdikka is still new to this kinda thing.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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! – 11

Three weeks after Rikka removes her eyepatch, Touka takes off for Italy. Yuuta is impressed by her progress, dressing and talking normally and even reaching out to make friends in class, but a part of him is uneasy. Shinka also notices there’s a forced quality to Rikka’s transformation, and Yuuta’s support of it. Multiple attempts by Dekomori to say her back into the realm of fantasy fail miserably. Yuuta helps Rikka clear her room of unnecessary clutter. She tells him her mom wants to go to her dad’s grave with her. Yuuta tells her he’s fine with it, and lets her go, even though part of him doesn’t know if she’ll come back.

This is where it gets tricky. On the one hand we commend Rikka for being so dedicated to kicking her Chuunibyou to the curb and starting to act like an ordinary high schooler, but the cold-turkey manner in which she quits…just doesn’t sit right with us. Or Shinka. Or Sanae. Or even Yuuta, who appears outwardly proud and supportive of her choice, but is now having regrets that so much of the girl he fell for is just…gone. It’s like she’s a different person. Life needs a little magic; get rid of it all, and its hard to take joy in life. Sanae makes things even more difficult, especially because she’s echoing voices within Rikka and Yuuta they’re trying desperately to tune out. Sanae is so distraught over essentially losing a friend, even Shinka offers her comfort.

We know why they’re both so keen to stick to their guns: Yuuta promised Touka he’d help set Rikka on the straight and narrow, and Rikka, no longer obsessed with what doesn’t really exist, now has to come to grips with things that do; the things she ran to Chuunibyou to get away from in the first place. But this isn’t entirely fair. Her mother’s happiness and her sister’s peace of mind are important, but they shouldn’t come at the cost of her happiness. Everybody’s winning here except Rikka. Yuuta knows what has to be said in the face of Rikka’s brave front – but he can’t say it, because part of him is beholden to the normal Rikka her family wants. Now that the eyepatch is off, there may be no going back. Growing up can be a bitch.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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! – 09

Shinka unilaterally decides the club will perform a flashmob battle. The fall semester is nearly halfway gone, and Rikka has been avoiding Yuuta ever since she spent the night. Rikka believes the “overseers” planted a “dark anomaly” in Yuuta, making her heart race at the sight or thought of him. She and Sanae call him out one night to “defeat” him with, but fail. Shinka picks up on Rikka’s behavior, takes her aside, and tells her she’s in love, then crafts opportunities for Rikka to get Yuuta to respond. The third attempt, when Rikka nearly falls off the roof of the school, succeeds when Yuuta rescues her resulting in a passionate embrace.

Akasaki Chinatsu voices Shinka. She also voiced Oribe Yasuna in Kill Me Baby!, which wasn’t the best anime in the world, but her strong, flexible, energetic voice was the main reason we watched it. The running gag was that no matter how many crazy methods she used, she’d never quite achieve her goal, much like Wile E. Coyote. This week, Shinka channels Oribe once she realizes the blatantly obvious: Rikka has well and truly fallen for Yuuta…like a ton of bricks. Shinka’s schemes come straight from shoujo romance manga, but this time, she finally succeeds. And all it takes is Rikka almost falling off a roof!

Yuuta, for his part, is your typical passive male lead who lets half a semester of awkwardness pass before his harrowing rescue of Rikka. Rikka mistakes her feelings for some form of sorcery, and we’re not even sure how sincere she is in that skewed interpretation, considering her Chuunibyou is a coping device, not just something she does for the hell of it (like, say Sanae, until she gets a tragic backstory…). Deep down, of course, Rikka knows the true reason why Yuuta makes her face red and her heart race; she just afraid and needs a little catalyst, which Shinka helpfully provides. She and Yuuta aren’t out of the woods yet (nor are any of the couples this Fall :P), but it’s a hug in the right direction.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 07

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)

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)

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

Rather than take up the final three minutes of the regular episodes, these Lite omake episodes air separately on KyoAni’s YouTube channel. They may only be three minutes each (minus the OP and ED), but that turns out to be an ideal amount of time for exploring the little nooks and crannies of the Chuunibyou world, adding color and texture in the process.

01: Yuuta coaches Rikka on the finer points of volleyball (such as not having one eye covered), only for the class to switch to basketball, nullifying their hard work.

02: Flashes back to middle school when Rikka first started wearing a bandage on her arm. She added an arm sling, eyepatch, face wraps and crutches, but her teacher made her scale it down to the present arm bandage and eyepatch. Her classmate is amusingly unfazed.

03: Flashes back to when Yuuta was in the full throes of Chuunibyou, dressing and talking funny. His mom and sister Kuzuha aren’t impressed, but Kuzuha’s friend Mika thinks he’s cool.

04: Rikka shows Yuuta’s baby sister Yumeha (who is outside on her own for some reason) how to be a good wife by taking her to the store and purchasing dubious ingredients for meat stew – which she’s clearly never made.

05: Tsuyuri Kumin introduces herself and her clubmates from her point of view, and reports how fun it is having Yuuta, Sanae, Shinka, and Rikka around all the time. She also believes while Yuuta plays the straight man, part of him wants in on the Chuunibyou fun (this is true).

06: Dekomori starts a fight with Shinka involving doorway trips, rubber bands, and water balloons (Shinka uses her inner Chuunibyou to deflect one). Shinka chases her around school and finally beans her with an enormous water balloon. They end up in the bath, trading splashes and insults.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 05

The teacher who approved the circle says it will be disbanded if Rikka doesn’t pass math exams. Rikka is terrible at math and hates studying, so she first tries praying at a shrine, then has the circle volunteer to clean a pool. Her teacher then tells her she’ll have to at least meet the class’s average score, not merely pass. Yuuta takes her under his wing and gives her a crash course in math, using nomenclature that appeals to her Chuunibyou. She ends up beating the average by two points. As a reward, Yuuta bestows her the email address “Black Raison d’être.”

Just about everyone in the circle revealed something new about their characters. Sanae is really good at math. Shinka is just class rep and cheerleader because it’s the opposite of Chuunibyou, not because those things actually interest her. Yuuta softens his self-embargo on Chuunibyou in the service of education. Kumin…well, Kumin still just likes to nap. Finally, Rikka is extremely bad at math; may have ADHD…and while we’re quite familiar with her upbeat, over-imaginative side, this week things got a little more…melancholy.

Rikka’s not the best when it comes to chores (her room’s a mess and she leaves dirty dishes around), and her sister is almost always late. Tooka and Sanae may well be the only contacts in her phone. In short, she’s lonely and isolated, and for her, Chuunibyou makes life that much less depressing. So rather than insist on minimizing its role in their interactions, Yuuta, having gotten to know Rikka more, embraces it in helping her cram. Math, like high school socializing, is a language she isn’t comfortable with. If Yuuta wants her to learn either, it must be on her terms.This seems to be steadily building up to a weird but interesting romance.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Sanae really should stop ending every other sentence with “desu”…but she probably won’t.