"Maybe everyone has some kind of 'syndrome', you know?"
- My friends used to say that I had "Rubin's Syndrome". No joke. Apparently it was a combination of depression and just me being me.
TL;DR: Your Childhood, The Anime. The quirk of being embarrassed of the stupid things you did when you were young is very much relatable. Cute girl doing cute stuff never gets boring, especially when you add unexpectedly awesome fight sequences. Rikka is cute. The cat is cute. Romance is slow, which is expected. The special episodes are worth watching. The first movie might as well have been another OVA episode if they removed the recap part. The recap was poorly done, but everything else is quite nice.I've been watching some of Studio Shaft's works lately, and my head hurts. A lot. I started on Monogatari, and halfway through Season 2 my head hurts. Then I went to Madoka Magica, and after finishing the TV series my head hurts. I need a break from stuff that will enable my overthinking brain.
Hey, KyoAni! I trust you to give me at least an above average anime that won't make me rethink my existence. Show me some cute girls doing cute stuff!
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
(Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions)
Cute girl being cute by believing that she is from another world.
(Don't worry, I'll have a post about Monogatari and Madoka Magica... Eventually. I still have all of the movies for Madoka Magica and the entire Season 3 of Monogatari. Wait, the Monogatari series isn't even finished yet? F*ck.)
Remember that time during your adolescence where you think you are not just a normal human being and have some special ability? No? Oh wow you have even less of a childhood than yours truly. I don't remember the specifics, but I used to roleplay as a Digimon/Pokemon trainer and have these "epic" battles with my friend. Ahh the ignorance of my youth... Anyway that's what the Japanese call chuunibyou (中二病), roughly translated as "2nd year of middle school syndrome". Yay kanji! Symptoms of this "syndrome" usually revolves around the kid thinking that he/she has some out-of-this-world ability, and that they are more special than everyone else.
Meet our main male, Yuuta Togashi. He's a former chuunibyou "sufferer", where he used to call himself "Dark Flame Master" (refer to image on previous paragraph). After graduating from middle school, and being embarrassed about his past, he chooses a high school that none of his previous classmates go to in an attempt to put his alter-ego behind me. Hmm why does this sound so familiar... Everything seemed to be going well and good, he befriends the guy seating behind him, gets selected as a class rep, starts crushing on the prettiest girl in class, blah blah blah. He probably would've gotten the boring high school life he wanted, if he didn't meet....
...Our main female, Rikka Takanashi. She is very much still "suffering" from chuunibyou syndrome, as she believes that she is in possession of the "Tyrant's Eye", which "grants her magical abilities", and of which she covers with an eye-patch so that "its power will be sealed". Because of this weird quirk of hers, she has difficulties making any sort of normal conversation, let alone making friends. I mean, who would want to talk to someone that seems to be talking to themselves? Wait this sounds so familiar again...
(I just realized Rikka is basically Kuroneko without the whole "being a b*tch in my fantasy" thing. Rikka is just plain cute both in her fantasies and in anime-reality. Wait, am I just realizing that I have a thing for weird girls?)
As our two mains cross paths with each other, comedy and cuteness ensues when Rikka finds out about the identity of "Dark Flame Master". The two slowly (and I mean slowly) form a bond as Rikka drags Yuuta along with her fantasies while Yuuta tries his best to pull Rikka back into reality. Other than the quirk of having chuunibyou, this is basically your textbook highschool romcom.
Get it? Textbook? Highschool?
Now, let's talk about probably the greatest part of this anime:
Apparently the KyoAni staff in charge of this anime had a pretty big budget for what would've been "just another highschool romcom". I mean, I would've settled for "just another highschool romcom", but of course KyoAni had to blow my expectations once again.
Out of nowhere we get treated with very, VERY well animated fight scenes between Rikka and the other characters. We get a peek into Rikka's imagination as she spars with the various "opponents" introduced in the show. We get to see their "powers" and (ridiculously large) "weapons" in their "true form", which really took me by surprise during the first of many similar scenes. All of the fights felt like they could actually be included in a real fantasy/action genre anime, and the transitions between real-life and imagination during the fights takes the joke even further as you see Rikka using her umbrella at one moment and then at another moment she's using her ridiculous I-don't-even-know-what-to-call-it weapon.
So, Rikka was using her chuunibyou syndrome to try to forget (or is "ignore" a better word here?) about her father's death. As a child, she could not accept the fact that her father is suddenly gone forever. As a means to protect herself, she fantasizes that her father is not yet dead, but is at a place called the "Eternal Horizon", which was made quite clear early in the show that she is trying to find this place. Do I blame her? Not really. I'm partially blaming her mother and sister here for not telling her about what I'm assuming is a terminal disease. Of course the kid can't accept the fact that her father is dead when she never even knew he was dying.
But then again, is it really healthy to continue to ignore and deny the truth by creating a false reality around yourself? This is what I meant when i said I don't know how to feel, and I can totally relate to Yuuta for being indecisive about this too. Is it better to leave Rikka to continue being happy in her fantasies, or should Rikka be brought back to the real world "for her own good" as her family suggests? Again, I feel like the family is still at fault here for not even trying to teach the kid about death. If you think about it, she was, like Kumin said, basically saved by her chuunibyou syndrome. Without it, how would she be able to cope with the loss of her father? Goddammit KyoAni I said I don't want something that will enable my overthinking brain!
In the end, at least Yuuta went with the middle-ground solution, by allowing Rikka to stay in her fantasy while giving her closure on her father's death. The ending was good, but whatever happened just before that was a total car crash with no explanation and makes no logical sense. Why did Kumin become the possessor of the Tyrant's Eye (other than to move the plot along)? How did you send a letter to your future self 2 years from now? How is Isshiki gonna explain to the police about the whole molester scene they caused? Why did Yuuta and Rikka run away from the police? In what world does a bicycle with two people on it out-speed a F*CKING POLICE CAR?
Phew. I just needed to get that out of my system. Moving on.
Oh right, the OP. How can a single OP contain one of the cutest Rikka moments in the entire show, while also containing a bunch of headache-inducing cuts?
First, the cute Rikka:
Cute, right? Here's the headache-inducing part, and I'm nice enough to put it in a spoiler box, mainly so that I won't continue to have a headache while I write this post:
Nibutani x Dekomori FTW!
Also, RIP Isshiki x Kumin...
A: "We still have so much of our budget leftover from Chuunibyou! What should we do with it?"
B: "Let's take the money for ourselves and celebrate our hard work on this project!"
A: "Hmmm... That would be nice..."
C: "How about we make an entire mecha anime out of it?"
A: "Perfect! Call our CGI animators in here ASAP!"
Overall KyoAni completely shattered my expectations of this show, mostly because I was just expecting an average highschool romcom. The quirk of having chuunibyou during your childhood is totally relatable, even if we didn't call it that. KyoAni once again excels in showing us cute girls doing cute stuff, while also not being afraid of getting down and dirty with awesome fight scenes. I haven't watched Season 2 yet at the time of writing this post, but I'm definitely looking forward to it. There's apparently also a movie that just came out earlier this year, and I'm regretting that I never found this show before then since I would've definitely went to watch it at the cinema. Oh well, I guess my laptop screen is as good as I can get.