This time on From the Time Capsule, I’m given Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! to reflect on. This won’t take long.
In this column of The Critical D, I use my MyAnimeList and generate a random number on http://www.random.org/ to choose an anime series. Generally, whether or not the number lands on “season 1/2/3+” or “ova” series etc, I will treat it as landing on the corresponding show as a whole. In special cases where the two seasons are completely separate, ie. Ghost in the Shell SAC 1&2, I will treat it as a unique selection. Unlike music, I do believe anime can be reviewed objectively and in the From the Time Capsule segment, there will be a mix of objective and bias in the assessment.
MyAnimeList (Referred to as MAL [www.myanimelist.net]) is a useful free service that allows you to create a list to keep track of anime you’ve watched as well as record scores, tag, track archival, discuss shows on forums and more.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! is an animated work by Kyoto Animation that was the first of a handful of shows based on a novel or manga that won their “Kyoto Animation Award”. Kyoto Animation(KyoAni) began in 1985 and was only a small assistant studio, but started their own work in 2003 with Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. Following that up with a running streak of Air, FMP Second Raid, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kanon (2006), Lucky Star, Clannad & After Storyiii puts this studio above the rest in my opinion iiiiv. No studio has ever had a streak this strong in the history of anime (As a debut even!), and that, as well as their progression in animation quality and technique really puts them ahead of the competition. For these reasons and more, they are by far and away my favorite animation studio, and part of the reason I still watch anime today.
But enough of themv, let’s move on to the show at hand.
This is going to sound strange after gushing about the company, but I’ll preface this by saying that Chuunibyou in the grand scheme of things, was only a slightly above average work of KyoAni’s, and is not a fair assessment of what their quality can amount to. On that note, this show was quite good in the first season vi which I will focus on mainly, for reasons I will mention later.
Generally when anime have long titles such as this one, the Japanese like to shorten words and create a easier to say title ie. Yahari Ore no Seishun LoveCome wa Machigatteiru becomes Oregairu, or Onii-chan dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!, becomes OniAi. Unfortunately, this show’s title does not have a good way of getting condensed. So for now, I’ll just call it Chuunibyou.
If I had it my way, I would only choose shows from my list that have a decent amount of plot, or deeper meaning to its story, something that really goes the distance by the end of the show. Well, to keep it interesting, and not cheat, I stick to randomization and as such I’ll fall on shows such as Chuunibyou from time to time as a result. Chuunibyou at its core is a romantic comedy and slice of life, because of that, there’s no real adherence to a plot throughout the show, and much of the time is spent on comedic hijinks and character interaction. For what it is though, the show executes its concept well and Kyoto’s animation prowess brings the characters’ delusions to life spectacularly, but the action is just that, delusions.
Chuunibyou‘s story starts with the main male lead, Yuuta, going into high school with the plan of throwing away his embarrassing delusions of grandeur, or Chuunibyou, and acting normal. Chuunibyou is the Japanese term used to describe delusional role-playing, such as dressing up and talking like a comic character, having fantasy items or habits, and acting out situations that you would find in early-teen media. To accomplish his final cleansing of his past self, he decides to make a proclamation at school in what he believes to be a secluded area where nobody can see him, so he can essentially bid farewell to his persona. Now to be fair, if he had just NOT done this, and not risk doing anything at school, this show wouldn’t have been able to continue. Well maybe it would have, because of a small detail, but I’m not going to get into it here, you can watch the show to find out. Because of this proclamation, he is in fact seen by the main female lead, Rikka, who is still going strong with her Chuunibyou, and feels interested in him because she believes he is also in the same Chuuni-boatviiviii.
Yuuta soon finds himself involved with Rikka and her delusions, where he finds himself reverting to his persona for her benefit, and also getting involved with other characters. The action-battle delusions that take place are essentially over-exaggerated situations where the characters are trying to resolve an issue amongst each other, or talking things out in their own special way, it’s important to note though that there are zero supernatural elements to the show, in reality.
The pertinent characters that all show up eventually are:
The male lead Yuuta Togashi, whose persona is called “Dark Flame Master” who wields a sword, as well as the dark flame ix.
Shinka Nibutani, the holier-than-thou popular girl at school, who also had Chuunibyou when she was younger, with the persona named “Mori Summer”, who can communicate with faeries and has lived for centuries. Her blog was titled “Mabinogion” and she deleted everything related to her past persona to try and not be made fun of and hopefully become popular at school.
Sanae Dekomori, the blonde-hair blue-eyed friend of Rikka’s who has weighted twin-tails that she calls the Mjolnir Maul, which she swings at people.xii She says the word desu with such enunciation in an effort to make it sound like she’s saying “death”, to further her persona xiii.
Touka Takanashi, Rikka’s sister, and for the majority of the show, guardian. She’s older and doesn’t partake in Chuunibyou, but she’s very skilled at whacking people with a ladle, and Rikka’s delusion of said ladle is of a giant weapon.
Kumin Tsuyuri, a naive girl who loves napping, she does not partake in the Chuunibyou life, but she works together with everyone to create a club so that she can achieve her goal of having a napping club, although it barely functions as one. In the long run she just thinks everyone is a fun and exciting bunch to hang out with so she chills out with them.
While the aforementioned list of characters is not exhaustive, it makes up the core of the show and are the main focus of Chuunibyou.
Throughout the first season of Chuunibyou the various situations and scenarios that the characters find themselves in slowly attribute to the development of the characters and the budding relationship of Yuuta and Rikka. The conflict arises later in the show when the truth behind Rikka’s Chuunibyou surfaces, and Yuuta, while still trying to become the normal person he had wanted to work towards, starts urging Rikka to do the same. Through the support of Nibutani and Dekomori, who want to see the relationship of the two progress, but vying on the side of normality and Chuunibyou respectively, eventually work toward an ending you’d expect. As a cutesy couple of two with zero relationship experience, you can imagine the overall lack of physical progression that the first season of Chuunibyou ends on xiv, but again it is to be expected, and even though I was hoping for a kiss ending, I was not surprised when it ended without one.
If you define the progression of certain shows to shapesxv, then you can relate progression to one of three simple diagrams:
The Dot: A show that makes no effort in progression and is there for pure entertainment value, ie. Yuyushiki, Non Non Biyori.
The Line: A show that makes an effort in progression and succeeds in some capacity, whether the end result is agreeable or not, ie. most anime.
The Circle: A show that makes an effort in progression and starts where it began, ie. Arcana Familia, and………….
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren, the second season of Chuunibyou xvi.
I can confidently say that the first season of Chuunibyou started and ended in two completely different places, like a line. Whereas Ren did not, it tried to progress things further, but it ended up exactly where it began, as if it wanted to fulfill a status quo but it was too scared to go beyond the call of duty. Ren did introduce a new character though, Satone Shichimiya.
If the ending of Chuunibyou was a living organism, then Ren was an attempt to evolve it with an injection named Shichimiya, but only ended up making it feel sick, and then returning to normal. Satone Shichimiya is Yuuta’s friend from middle school that was the catalyst that got him involved with everything Chuunibyou. Aside from young-adult angst, jealousy,confusion, and a pinch of cuteness, Satone pushed the show to places that I doubt anyone wanted it to go. A majority of the episodes were blanketed with a depressing atmosphere, and couldn’t even bring themselves to the minimal level of entertainment that the first season held as the norm. I would like to believe that Shichimiya was a made up character and that the source material did not go in this direction, but no, she’s definitely in the novels, and this is definitely where the story went. I’m sure KyoAni did their damn best to adapt these events as well as possible, but I think they should have ignored the hype of the first season and noticed what the second novel entailed before committing. I would touch on some of the key points of the second season, but I don’t think it’s worth my time or yours.
Should you watch this?: If you like romantic comedies and/or “slice of life” anime, Chuunibyouxvii is amongst the better ones, accompanied by some very entertaining (but fake) action scenes. With characters that have unique and repetitive quirks, yet don’t necessarily feel over-used. It is definitely a memorable show that will stick with you easily compared to some others. Although I cannot force anyone not to watch Ren, I would advise against it, even though you will feel inclined to do so after having fun with the predecessor.