Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – Review
Hey, remember when you were 14 and you thought you were some cursed magic warrior from another realm sent here to defeat the evil Shadow-Somethings by the Ruler of Where-Ever-The-Hell? Yeah, neither do I, probably because I’m not a complete loser, or it might just be because I didn’t spend my childhood in Japan, and who knows what living in a place like that could do to you. Regardless, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! is about just such a thing, and on a rather severe level at that. Apparently, it’s some form of “illness” that causes young Japanese teenagers to act really weird and crazy and have delusions of being some superhero thing. But I mean, come on, it’s Japan, I’m sure that’s not restricted to just kids.
The show is about Yuuta, a former victim of the “disease” known as Chuunibyou, also known as “Being a Weird-ass”. However, he’s put all that behind him in the hopes of making it through his entire high school life without people willing to saw their own arm off just not to be seated next to him in class. He’s completely done away with his childhood persona “The Dark Flame Master” in exchange for being a normal everyday kid. But because this is an anime, things aren’t really allowed to go easily for the main character. He meets a girl named Rikka, who seems convinced that her right eye is in the possession of some magic powers from another dimension or something, and she wants Yuuta, or rather, The Dark Flame Master, to aid her in achieving whatever non-existent goal her magic eye requires of her.
In a lot of ways, the first half of this show is basically The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, only if Haruhi wasn’t actually God or whatever, and none of the stuff she thought existed actually did. And the fact that the series was done by the same animation studio doesn’t help either. You have a girl obsessed with weird magic stuff, her level-headed male sidekick, a club dedicated to the sole purpose of indulging the girl’s strange interests, and a bunch of other odd characters that come along for the ride. The second half, however is decidedly different from the first, and diverges itself from a standard “quirky kids doing quirky things” storyline while dealing with themes of growing up as well as the importance of always being young at heart. It never gets terribly dramatic and serious, but there’s a decent amount of emotion in the last few episodes that give story and characters a bit more meaning. The ending is also somewhat cheesy, but you pretty much come to expect it from shows like this so it didn’t bother me too much.
The show continues from Yuuta and Rikka’s first meeting in a rather episodic way for the most part, and spends most of it’s time establishing the two main characters and their relationship. This is where the show really excels in my opinion. To begin with, the relationship that Rikka and Yuuta inevitably develop is very believable and natural, which is something that can’t be said for plenty of anime in the same category. More often than not, anime romances develop due to nothing more than the demands of the plot, but here it’s enjoyable and easy to see how their relationship changes as the story goes on. While Yuuta acts as the standard straight-faced male, he seems to stand out from his archetype due to his natural interactions with Rikka. He isn’t the same overly-nice, bland and forgettable male lead that pretty much every shounen romance in existence seems to be stuck with, and he’s a much more believable character because of it. In the same way, Rikka is a tremendously enjoyable female lead, and it’s not just because by most people’s standards she’d be legally insane. It’s primarily because the show is about her, why she acts the way she does, and the way she changes over it’s course, though saying too much would spoil some things. The way she interacts with Yuuta and the rest of the characters is also very entertaining, and adds a lot of enjoyment to what would otherwise be a rather normal school slice-of-life show.
The supporting characters are somewhat hit and miss in my opinion, or maybe it’s because that Yuuta and Rikka are such strong leads that the rest of the cast seems kind of ho-hum. Kumin is all but a body to take up space and is literally asleep through most of her screen time. In the same way, Isshiki is only there to give Kumin something to do, to have the standard best male friend, and to give another small subplot to the story. I also found Dekomori pretty annoying and useless for the most part (her “catchphrase” didn’t help matters a whole lot either), until the end when she was actually given something to contribute to the plot. Nibutani was the only other character that I actually liked, which is odd, considering that I don’t thing you’re really supposed to like her all that much. From the first few seconds you see her you expect her to play the archetype that her character and personality are obviously meant to play, but I absolutely loved the complete 180 she takes later on, and by the end of the show it’s pretty hard to see her as you originally did.
Because the show was one by Kyoto Animation, it’s no surprise that the animation is very good and surprisingly consistent in quality throughout the course of the show. There isn’t really thing all too spectacular about the art style, but because of all the small details and quality of animation they put into it, it really makes it enjoyable to watch. Another thing worth mentioning is the refreshing lack of ecchi and over-sexualized scenes in the show. As far as I can remember there isn’t a single ecchi scene in the entire series (though it’s hinted at in the very first scene) and the scenes containing any kind of sexual innuendo are few and far between. Oh, and the anime-standard beach episode? Only about thirty seconds of it are actually on the beach, and none of it is spent going “Ooh look at the girls in their swimsuits! This is for you, hentai artists!”. Absolutely glorious. The last thing to say about this show is a kind of hard thing to put into words, and that is: it’s just fun to watch. I guess it’s kind of the same for shows like Clannad and Haruhi, in that, nothing really important every happens, but they’re still really enjoyable and memorable shows. The show utilizes so many of the good qualities that exist in anime while simultaneously getting rid of the bad ones, and simply gives an overall enjoyable experience.