Anime of Tomorrow
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai (review)
Final impression – cute philosophy (8/10)
Fall 2012 (12 episodes)
Back in junior high school, Yuuta was consumed by the crazy belief that he was possessed by a demon and could communicate with forces beyond the understanding of normal people. But he realized he was completely delusional and snapped himself out of it before he graduated to high school. Wanting to abandon all of the embarrassing mistakes of his past, he enrolled in a school far away from home to avoid meeting anyone who might ridicule him for the person he used to be. But just as he thinks he’s in the clear and a normal high school life lies before him, he crosses paths with Rikka, a girl who still hasn’t grown out of her childish delusions of grandeur and could possibly blow the cover on the past he wants to forget.
The most important thing that Chuunibyou has brought to the world of anime is that it’s possible to create a really fun, heartwarming romance story that doesn’t revolve around the subject of romance as its central premise. In this way, when Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship blossoms into love, it feels so much more natural and believable because they had a strong friendship that was already well developed. Rika’s romantic rival in Nibutani also doesn’t have the problem a lot of high school comedy romance series have with the usual plethora of girls vying for the protagonist’s attention. Instead of being a sort of homewrecker to Rikka’s heroine character, she feels like a real rival that Yuuta has an immature crush on, which he can grow out of as his focus shifts through the story.
But beyond the romance, Chuunibyou is also a terrific story about growing up. I already discussed my take on the deeper meanings behind the imaginative symbolism with Charles, so I won’t go into that here. However, the creative side of this anime is really amazing and a lot of fun. It takes those childish fantasies of imagined playground battles and fleshes them out with full visuals of what’s happening in the mind’s eye of the characters as they act out their abilities. Then the fights are given a hilarious comedic spin when the very next scene might cut to what’s actually happening in reality. So one moment, two combatants can be trading blows, each wielding a sword or hammer, and then their epic battle is quashed when we realize Rikka is just swinging her umbrella around while Dekomori spins around her twintails. It’s such a stark juxtaposition that you’re unlikely to ever see anything quite like it again.
But as much as I liked this series, I felt a bit betrayed by the final episode. It seemed very out of place when the rest of the story was building up to the point when Rikka and Dekomori could break free of their coping mechanisms and appreciate the world as it actually is. However, the ending regressed on that theme a bit and left things a little more open than I liked. I wanted something more final, and while there’s room for interpretation as to how everyone ends up, it’s not as bad as it could have been. I’ve seen anime like Canvas 2 completely fall apart on the last episode and Chuunibyou doesn’t come anywhere near that level of failure. Despite that last little problem, altogether it’s a series with a great style, original story and loveable characters.