Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 06

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The world of Chu2Koi is so rich and lovely and full of compelling personalities that episodes that center on the secondary characters are a pleasure rather than a drag. But when Yuuta and Rikka are the focus, the show really comes into its own, and reaches a higher level. This week they are the focus, both of the episode and of all of their classmates, with whom they’re on what looks like a fantastic school trip. It’s a trip during which—preferably on the third day—Yuuta hopes something will happen; we know not what, specifically.

But while it’s not his intention to put Rikka on the spot, the other students do just that, remarking on their status every chance they get and offering to snap photos of the happy couple’s time together. It puts both of them off, but Rikka in particular, who eventually snaps under the pressure, delivering an awesome slide-kick to Shinka before running off, trying to escape all the prying eyes. It should be stated that Shinka herself is also questioned by her peers about whether she has a boyfriend, and if not, why not; a subject she too prefers not to discuss.

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All the proximity to people with their own sense of what’s normal in a relationship based on their own upbringing and experiences (or lack of same). In fact, while no one comes out and says it, it’s not apparent any of the kids on the trip are dating anyone, except Yuuta and Rikka. If they are indeed the exception, it only heightens the pressure to perform as a shining example of what romance can be. Again, neither of them are interested in being an example, or in being observed at all.

No, that “something” Yuuta had hoped would happen happened not because of anything he planned, but because Rikka took the initiative, though she was possibly prodded on by Shinka. We were struck by how fast it happened: the girls are sleeping in their room; the guys are telling ghost stories in theirs, but before you know it, BAM, Rikka is under Yuuta’s covers (to prevent being caught by a teacher). The romantic tension really radiates through the screen as they realize they’re finally alone; they’re closer than they’ve ever been, but not at all uncomfortable.

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The kiss they attempt there is maddeningly (and expectedly) interrupted (at which point we were ready to throw something solid at the TV), but in the end, when it mattered, Chu2Koi didn’t let us down. As Yuuta guides Rikka back to her room, they end up discussing the mutual embarrassment they’ve been feeling, which had nothing to do with there being something wrong with the other person. They start to return to bed, but Rikka rushes up from behind and plants a passionate kiss right on his cheek before meekly shuffling off.

Yuuta was worried (and confided in Shinka as much) that Rikka’s Chuunibyou and romance were simply incomparable, but he was mistaken. Rikka wants what he wants, but it’s just a matter of defeating the “magic barriers” that keep them apart; making the Chuunibyou work for her. With their first kiss trepidation overcome, they both start to feel their love blooming. We felt it too.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

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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)