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)
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)
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)