Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 11

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It takes him till the eleventh of twelve episodes, but Yuuta finally figures out that Satone is in love with him. Because he’s in love with Rikka (the only girl he’s ever been in love with), he has no idea how to proceed. This irks Shinka to no end, and she’s irked even more when he takes Satone’s assurances that she’s alright at face value.

Having no luck with Yuuta, Shinka breaks out her middle school uniform and Morisummer veil, in a nice callback to the last Lite episode, which reiterated the fact that Satone reveres Morisummer and would therefore be receptive to advice from her on a delicate matter. Basically, Satone has to fight a legendary battle to overcome her despair, with Yuuta, or rather the Dark Flame Dragon within him, as her target.

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On that note, Yuuta first learns about something else that’s been giong on all season: the answer to what Rikka has been up to of evenings. Having read a missive of his (which Satone also read years back) describing how to unlock and release the Dark Flame Dragon, Rikka has set out to do just that. Far from just a means of wasting some time, she considers the task crucial to becoming truly bound to Yuuta.

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For someone who lives with her very doting, scoldy, oftentimes father-like boyfriend, she did a fine job keeping her mission on the downlow until now. It’s thanks to Satone that Yuuta’s able to figure it out. Unlike them, he’s not nearly as in touch with his chunibyou as he once was, but it’s still there, just as it is for Shinka. He knew it would remain a part of his and Rikka’s life; he just didn’t think she’d go so far to realize a dream he’d pretty much forgotten about.

It’s nice to see Yuuta get worried about Rikka and embrace her tightly when he finds her; it would seem he needs to take care of her as much as she needs to be taken care of, lest she stay out in the rain all night and catch a cold that will never end. At the same time, Rikka remains as good a fit for Yuuta as ever, allowing him to straddle the worlds of fantasy and reality, for stepping all the way into the latter just wouldn’t be as fun.

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As for Satone, it’s gotta be tough watching Yuuta perform the ritual to release the dragon with another girl, she does get her battle when it emerges from the blue moon, in a stirring, gorgeous scene. Afterwards, Rikka has an even worse cold but is satisfied she’s sufficienly bound to Yuuta, while Satone seems to be fine, and may indeed be much better than she was behind the facade. Hopefully Yuuta’s learned a little more about women (those with chunibyou, at least, which are the best kind!) and the consequences of leaving his old notebooks lying around to be discovered.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 10

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Whatever Chuunibyou euphemisms she needs to use to describe her condition, the simple fact is that Satone has fallen for Yuuta…again…and has fallen hard. She’s determined to keep the promise she made to herself the first time it happened: to devote herself to remaining the magical devil girl forever. The persona (and mental state) that is Sophia Ring etc. is nicely represented by a simple (and very KyoAni) symbol: the little heart sticker on her cheek.

Whether due to the sweat and increased heart rate from her rekindled infatuation or the summer heat, that sticker has been coming loose and falling off. She tries to stick it back on, but it just falls off again. Her “condition” is being fueled by memories of close moments she had with Yuuta, and they’re proving more powerful than she can handle. It’s quite a transformation from the Satone we were first introduced to.

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It’s also a welcome one. With Shinka and Sanae’s love-hate relationship chugging along Yuuta, Rikka’s powers back, and she and Yuuta in their own lovey-dovey little world, it was only logical for the drama to start brewing around Satone, especially after her epiphany on the train. Having recently watched the film that recaps the first season, there’s a definite symmetry to Satone and Rikka’s arcs—only Satone’s isn’t poised to end happily; after all, there’s only one Yuuta. The pain and anguish Satone goes through this week is familiar, but still powerful.

Oh, Yuuta: so busy participating in his own subtle, unique, brand of romance with Rikka, doesn’t see Satone’s “battle” coming. They end up together again while Yuuta is searching for Rikka (natch) and have to seek shelter under a shrine when the heavens open up. That’s when Satone begins a totally different battle – one against herself. Despite featuring no fantastical special effects, it’s easily the best battle we’ve seen her in. She insists that Yuuta tell her everything he can to give her brain enough logical ammo to convince her heart to give up on this whole Yuuta business.

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Yuuta has no idea what’s going on, but when he gets a text from Rikka (natch) that sends him away, he unknowingly repeats a gesture he made to Satone in the past (throwing his cape over her in the rain), only this time, he’s throwing it over himself as he leaves. Satone thinks she’s gotten through the battle, but he returns with an umbrella he found for her. Just like that, the tears flow, the heart sticker washes away, and victory for Sophia may be out of reach for good.

We imagine the triangle that has thus coalesced shall be the focus of the two remaining episodes. Yuuta can’t possibly not know what her deal is; that would constitute an unacceptable level of denseness. We’re also hoping next week doesn’t simply pick up where we left off and let Satone get away with laughing it off. We’re going to operate under the assumption that Yuuta knows her true feelings for him now. It will be interesting to see what he does with that knowledge, and how it will affect things with Rikka (who still doesn’t know squat).

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 09

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Constantly coming up with magical shit to say must be tiring stuff, even when you’re not in love. Rikka “losing her powers” is a euphemism for increasing difficulty with losing herself in that world. As her feelings for Yuuta continue to swell, they’re muscling out the Chuunibyou. After all, she can imagine all the crazy weapons and battles and experiences_ she wants, it’s still all happening in her head, merely an embellished version of real life. What chance do such ephemeral delusions have against the real life she’s living with Yuuta?

That’s the question posed this week, and the answer seems to be, not much chance at all, if Rikka merely gives up. It’s understood to be a bad thing, if Rikka finds her eyepatch uncomfortable and ceases to be imaginative enough to keep up with, say the samurai-loving daughter of Tooka’s boss (whom she initially, hilariously introduces as her own). To a casual, or rather infrequent observer like Tooka, it may look like nothing has changed between Yuuta and Rikka since she left, which is, as she says, simultaneously relieving and disappointing.

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That’s kind of how we felt this whole episode, too. It passed up a lot of opportunities for real change in the show, which was a little disappointing, but nor did it rush into cheap durama for durama’s sake, for which we were relieved. No doubt there was potential in an arc in which Rikka fully abandoned her delusions and committed to a normal relationship of her own volition (lord knows Yuuta isn’t pushing). But that would defeat the whole purpose of this romance: it isn’t normal. It’s strange, and complex, and unique.

It’s also damned hard to maintain a balance between love and chuunibyou, since they’re both sides of the same coin (and there’s a lot of coins in this episode!): love is it’s own fantasy, just as invigorating and terrifying and powerful, if not moreso, than anything Rikka can pull out of her imagination. But Rikka is determined not to let it take her powers. She and Yuuta have resolved to have their cake and eat it too. Yuuta believes in and loves both sides of her, as she does his, so losing one side just wouldn’t do.

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That brings us to Satone, whose feelings for Yuuta reemerge just as Rikka’s powers are restore (and Satone repeats her support for them). In a beautifully-rendered sequence on the train, as Yuuta falls asleep and leans his head on her, the same imagination that gives Sophia the Magical Devil Girl so much offensive power are twisted into vivid fantasies of a love-that-never-was, because she never confessed to Yuuta back then.

Satone has had her annoying moments, but we have to say we like what the show’s doing with her. She actually made a concerted effort to give the couple her blessing and move on with her life, but that dull pain in her chest won’t go away, nor will the regret and longing. Will she try to hide/repress these revitalized feelings? Will she distance herself from Yuuta (hard to do as they’re neighbors)? This reforged love triangle has potential.

7_very_goodRating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Oh yeah, this was a beach episode, and all of the characters were in swimsuits most of the time, but it was very natural and low-key.
  • Nibutani makes lovely first impressions, and has a knack for marketing.
  • What are the odds of Tooka just happening to come by a seaside noodle stand owned by her little sister and boyfriend’s friend’s aunt and uncle? We like Tooka, she’s deadpan as usual, but we didn’t really see her presence in this episode as all that crucial, other than so Yuuta can tell her progress is being made, even if it may not look it.
  • Speaking of not looking it: it really didn’t look it this week! Yuuta and Rikka barely speak and only touch fingers once. When they do talk, Yuuta acts all fatherly and scoldy.
  • More to the point: why the heck would Yuuta and Rikka not sit next to each other on the train? Did they develop and allergy to each other’s dander or something?