Rikka Takanashi is a teenage girl who possesses the strongest ocular power known to man: the Tyrant’s Eye. She's currently locked in a fierce war with a shadowy organization, and the fate of the world may hang in the balance with each passing battle... or at least this is what she believes. In actuality, Rikka is merely a normal high school girl afflicted with chuunibyou syndrome, a "disease" that makes one prone to delusional flights of fancy. Meanwhile former chuunibyou sufferer Yuuta Togashi is enrolled at the same school, looking to put his embarrassing junior high exploits behind him. However, when Rikka discovers his past life as the "Dark Flame Master", she uses this to her advantage to include him in all of her wacky schemes! With Rikka’s zany behavior dragging him further and further from normalcy, Yuuta must try to pull her back into the real world – or risk getting sucked into hers!
This is my very first review, please take it easy on my judgement ^v^ Heads up, this review is only for the first season. Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai, a light-hearted romantic comedy with its own fair share of drama. To me, although I may have been reading too far into it, it truly a great anime that I enjoyed watching. I used to have my own fair share of chuunibyou, and that's the thing you have to have to really relate to this story. You have to really share that childish imagination to see more of this story. Like a child, enjoy their whimsical fighting scenes and laugh like an adult would when they reveal the reality of it. During my time as a chuunibyou, I experienced most of the same things. Magical creatures all around me, taking parts in imaginary battles with dragons or creatures of shadow, protecting a magical artifact that connected the real world to my "imaginary" one... and so on. Which is why I find it strange to really call it an illness, I simply consider it part of a child's gigantic imagination. To the main female lead, Rikka, it was an escape route from the boring, and quite harsh, reality. She's aware of it, that it's probably the wrong thing to do, but it's special, and interesting, and fun, so why does she have to stop? A continuous conflict. Same with the main male lead, Yuuta, who found himself different and so, isolated himself, although not entirely on purpose. To start off, let's talk about the story. Yuuta Togashi, a freshman, transfers to a new school with the hopes to completely forget about his "embarrassing" past as a chuunibyou. The night before the opening ceremony, he sees a rope hanging from outside his veranda. Curious, he looks out to see a girl climbing down. This girl, Rikka Takanashi, is an absolutely severe case of chuunibyou. The premise is actually quite interesting, I don't think I've heard it before, or maybe I just haven't seen enough anime yet (which I doubt). Rikka's backstory, which I will spoil a bit here so this is a warning, makes a lot of sense when it comes why she got chuunibyou. To put it complicatedly, the world denied her of her father and all fun after that. She never really hated anyone, she just found everything boring. Then she finds the Dark Flame Master, just doing what he wanted. In a random passerby's eyes, DFM would definitely have looked weird. But to Rikka, he looked like he was having fun, which sparked her creativity and imagination. She was inspired by his relentless indifference and his continuous doing-whatever-he-wants, and thus developed her own chuunibyou. Their romance isn't half bad really, Yuuta cared enough for Rikka to chase after her multiple times throughout the series and even showed her what she's been wanting to see from the begginning, the Ethereal Horizon, which truly was beautiful. The message of the series is quite beautiful in it's own right. To me, the message was: Don't be afraid to accept who you are, or who you were, no matter how shameful it can get. Some people don't have the courage to fully accept themselves, and are always afraid of acting how they want to in public. All of us, at some point, have thought of ourselves as special in some way. And so, we tried to be who we thought we were, special. It's shameful, and at some point you'll think back to it as embarrassing. But we'll always have those crazy fantasies, although hidden away, deep in our minds. We should hold it dear to us, because that, my friends, is called "self-consciousness." No matter how embarrassing it is, don't deny it, because it is part of yourself. Moving on now, to animation. The animation was pretty generic, the typical KyoAni cutesy animation for all your moe girl needs. It complemented the comedy part of the series. KyoAni was also the animation studio of one of my favourite anime, Kyoukai no Kanata, which is more of the dramatic side of things. But I don't think they really executed the dramatic scenes in Chuunibyou as well as they did in KnK. Still, I have to say that the animation really shined during the fighting scenes or any scene in the characters' imagination. The scenes that I thought were actually pretty well animated was Rikka's fight with her sister when they get to the empty lot, the scenes when Dekomori were trying to convince Rikka to go back to how she was, and, the Ethereal Horizon. I have a weakness for beautiful starry skies, and if you've seen KnK, then you know how well KyoAni does beautiful starry skies (laugh). Now, for the sound. I'll be completely honest, I wasn't very comfortable with the music. Specifically, both the Opening and Ending. The sparkle noises were probably the only parts that I enjoyed in the opening. To me, it didn't quite fit, and always made me want to skip the opening. As for the ending, there's just something about the opening note for the lyrics "Inside identity" that just struck me the wrong way every single time. The last few verses of the ending was probably the only part I stuck around for. BGM, I don't really have a problem with. It's pretty normal, really. I love when Rikka and Dekomori actually sing the BGM, I'm still not entirely sure why. As for the voice acting, it was probably one of the best parts of series. It fit the light hearted tone, and, albeit not as good, the dramatic tone as well. But the series is mostly comedy, so it's mostly pretty good as well. Personally, I loved Yuuta's voice, especially when he's DFM. Rikka's voice pretty much fit as well. Isshiki is probably the only one whose voice I constantly flinched whenever I heard, but well, he's supposed to be a weird pervert, and it certainly sounded like a really weird pervert most of the time. Lastly, the characters. I won't go through all of them of course, I'll separate it into two categories: Main and Supporting. As for the main, which are Rikka and Yuuta, I find little fault in their characters. At first, Yuuta complains a lot about his chuunibyou, and Rikka is so childish she could get a little annoying to some people. But you see them grow, to some a little to others quite a lot, throughout the series. You see the actual conflict in Rikka's feelings about being a chuunibyou, why she is one, why she wants to be one and, when she gives up on it, how much she wants to be one again. As for Yuuta, he's always been a nice guy, but you do see that his kindness towards Rikka does change a bit. His feelings towards chuunibyou as well. It's ironic actually, how I love Rikka's normal personality and Yuuta's chuunibyou personality. The supporting cast are not as interesting as the main characters, but they're pretty enjoyable too. Isshiki and his, "I want to be loved" personality that really reminds me of the song, Anybody's fine, I just really want to date. (I'm cheering you on, Isshiki, gambatte.) Dekomori is sometimes annoying, but I found her constant "Des"-es cute after a while. I loved her when she gave up on Chuunibyou though, you do see that she had always had the potential to be normal. Nibutani is enjoyable, with her sort of tsundere personality. I found her desperation to hide her secret funny. Kumin is so laid back, so calm, but she was actually doing well when she was impersonating Rikka. Tooka is pretty awesome too, her relationship with the youngest Togashi was hilarious. Overall, this anime was enjoyable, I laughed quite a bit at some parts, and other parts really made me think, "Hey, I know how that feels!" which made it even more enjoyable to watch. It pained me when Rikka was trying so hard to be normal, to be honest, I think her quirks are just part of her "true" personality. Her normal self was so forced that it sort of came off as that. It's a fun little anime with an interesting premise and pretty good comedy. The entire season is worth at least one viewing.
NOTICE: This review covers both seasons. THE STAFF - Animated by Kyoto Animation, meaning very good production values around very typical stuff like SCHOOLS-MOE-AND CUTE STUFF BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO.- Directed by Ishihara Tatsuya, the one who pretty much did every major show of KyoAni. This guy knows well what emotional buttons to press.- Based on light novels, so don’t expect much of a plot. PROPER MINDSET This is a school comedy around people with illusions of grandeur. I had no idea there was a term for children with vivid imaginations, even when I actually used to be one myself. I remember mixing my mother’s perfumes with shampoos trying to create some super magic potion like a mad scientist. Or using a back alley as my base, where I was creating armadas of spaceships out of dried up clay mud holes and controlling the galaxy. Man, this eighth-grade syndrome is one heck of an embarrassment when you finally get over it (or mocked by others for doing it). Anyways, the show basically has a running joke around how stupid it looks when you try to play it cool and special when you are otherwise a completely normal person. SCRIPT With a silly premise such as this one, and with a studio that specializes in moe shows it was obvious to expect a goofy moe school comedy with lots of cute girls doing silly things, and nothing more. And that is what it is; don’t expect much of a plot. It basically has two sentences worth of it, and even those are deleted in the second season just for maintaining the status quo. For the same reason don’t expect it to take itself seriously or to even attempt to be cathartic, like in the case of Welcome to the NHK. This is made by the kings of escapism shows, remember? To the most part it’s just the random delusions of everyday people and the only goal they have is to make you laugh. The big trap this show has is the final part of the first season where it tries to fool you into thinking there is development. It becomes far more dramatic as it tries to flesh out some of its characters; something it didn’t do up to that time, as everybody was busy being a comical caricature, defined by a single quirk. As soon as that event is over and the weak minded are meant to believe things are going to become far more serious and romantic in the second season, all they get is a reset of progress and the addition of extra girls who are completely needless to the theme, and possible love triangles and lesbian coupling, which just like everything else, head nowhere. I had forseen all that of course, since I know who made the show. Most others apparently didn’t, even it the get-up was more than obviously playing out like a harem in its early stages. Or perhaps you didn’t notice how the cast is made up of one typical blunt dork protagonist, a dozen typically cute girls surrounding him in ways that feel like they dig him, and a minor male student who is there only to address the horny side of the protagonist? Those are trademarks of the formula. Anyways, down to it the show is fun and games with no real conflict. The only case this doesn’t happen is a sloppy change in mood during the finale of the first season. The ending of both seasons doesn’t exactly offer any major changes or even closure, and the characters never become more than what they began as. Because DUH escapism shows need to maintain the status quo. You have to be blind not to have figured that out right away. CAST The characters are, as I said earlier, defined by a single and simple personality quirk, thus they never feel complicating or realistic. They all follow the exact same pattern of having some sort of delusion and abiding to it like it’s a religion. Some of them are trying to keep away from their delusions, as they feel very ashamed of doing them in the first place. That is supposed to make them somewhat self-aware and down to earth but even that means absolutely nothing, since the setting is equally unrealistic as they are. If you notice how everybody else around them reacts, you will realize THEY DON’T CARE! I mean, really, the main characters constantly do all sorts of crazy stuff and absolutely nobody in their families or schoolmates seems to laugh or shake their heads in contempt. They just look puzzled for a few seconds before going back to whatever they were doing and completely forgetting the whole thing. There is no reason to feel embarrassed if nobody cares; thus even the very theme of the show is there just for laughs. It has no depth and is barely looked into. I am not fond of the generic looks and behaviors everybody has, or how they add silly eye-patches and long pigtails just for the sake of comedy. But at least they serve as part of the illusion of grandeur every girl has. Said illusions are very funny and elaborate, presenting it like a silly spar is in their minds an epic battle for the salvation of the universe or something; making them easily memorable as eccentric caricatures. But surely not as characters; since they lack depth and development. PRODUCTION VALUES Context aside, the show is made with lots of care. The direction is close to flawless, as you never feel like the flow of the scenes is too slow or too fast. Everything lasts exactly as much as it needs and it is usually accompanied by lots of silly jokes. The production values are amazing when it comes to smooth motions and slapstick. The characters talk appropriately for their roles and they never feel like they drag in whatever they do or say. The soundtrack is nothing special but at least feels perky and energetic as it should be in such a show. LEGACY There is no way to tell how long can running jokes and moe-moe keep you interested. I personally lost interest in 3 episodes since I am no fan of the style or the lack of a plot. I understand that the show is making fun of how most otakus feel like they are airheads or too weird for the rest of the “normals”, and that many will try to eventually appear normal to their society if they want to get a job or marry easier. It builds familiarity with the audience by dealing with a subject most fans experience all the time. I liked how it follows a theme but not how it doesn’t do anything with it. Just like all Kyo Ani shows, it’s a nice time-spender but nothing exceptional or that memorable outside its emotional manipulation gimmicks. And now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 8/10 General Artwork 1/2 (generic) Character Figures 1/2 (generic) Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series) Animation 2/2 (fluid) Visual Effects 2/2 (those hallucination scenes rock) SOUND SECTION: 7/10 Voice Acting 4/5 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series) Music Themes 3/5 (average) STORY SECTION: 3/10 Premise 2/2 (interesting) Pacing 0/2 (practically episodic without continuity) Complexity 1/2 (not much) Plausibility 0/2 (none) Conclusion 0/2 (basically a reset of the plot, so no ending) CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10 Presence 1/2 (moe-moe generic) Personality 2/2 (eccentric) Backdrop 1/2 (simplistic but it’s there) Development 0/2 (practically none) Catharsis 0/2 (practically none) VALUE SECTION: 3/10 Historical Value 0/3 (none) Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot and context) Memorability 2/4 (good ideas and jokes but nothing beyond that) ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10 Art 0/1 (looks generic) Sound 0/2 (sounds meh) Story 1/3 (good idea that is not going anywhere) Characters 2/4 (they are eccentric to the point of liking them but remain generic and don’t develop) VERDICT: 4.5/10
a story about identity, escapism, denial and the power of imagination, with a healthy helping of awkward-but-believable romance thrown in for good measure. the series is largely comedic (and later rom-comedic) in nature, barring some fairly heavy reveals towards the end of the first season that serve to explain why a high schooler is still chuuni-ing around with seemingly all her attention focused on the pseudo-delusional narrative she's built up for herself. the main character is Yuuta Togashi, a former chuuni who went under the alias "Dark Flame Master" before discarding his "identity" at some point between middle- and high school. as narrative causality would have it, his final good-bye salute to his former self happens to be seen by Rikka, who, perhaps sensing a kindred spirit, constantly accosts him with outlandish ideas. thickening the stew further are Rikka's underclassman "Sanae" (a small blonde thing who uses her twintails as meteor hammers) and the woman formerly known as "Mori Summer" who used to be something of an authority-cum-legend in chuuni circles, and is now willing to go however far it takes to hide her embarrassing history from her new schoolmates. as far thematization goes, Chuunibyo doesn't have the same heavy-handed condemnation of escapism on display in works such as Paranoia Agent, instead coming off more as advocating for a kind of a golden mean, only condemning overt and harmful (dare i say, delusional) attempts at escaping the realities of the cruel world we live in. still, the concept of escapism never comes off as something used as a punching bag for cheap laughs, instead the series seems to veer more towards encouraging acceptance of the self and of the other, the past being a notoriously (and in this series, demonstrably) tough opponent to kill. in addition, without that acceptance of your own mistakes you'll be condemned to live your life as a slave of your past, rather than living as a product of your choices, however painful they may seem in retrospect. this becomes all the more clear during the last few episodes of season 1, with the crucial distinction that the former struggle for inward acceptance is superseded by something much more pressing and terrifying; accepting a tragedy and learning to live with the consequences. escapism, while not treated as harshly as the aforementioned shows, definitely gets a fair bit of flak, and with good reason. you can't escape reality forever, whether you're fleeing yourself or the world around you. anyway, there's a bunch more characters, funny hijinx, a slowly thickening romantic subplot and some incredibly ambitious and lovingly animated fight scenes used to show (in an exxaggerated manner) how two duelling chuuni's see their bout - not as a slapfight between teenagers, but as a bridge-collapsing, earthshaking battle of arcane warriors. it's a very comfy show. my only issue is i can't watch season 2 since the girls go from "late night TV" thicc to "banned in Germany". might actually be a very good time to rewatch it.
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