Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions
Yuuta Togashi is starting his first year of high school, happy to be rid of his junior high school past, where he suffered from chunibyo (middle school syndrome, or junior high school second grade illness) and called himself "Dark Flame Master" and alienated himself from his classmates due to his delusions of his thinking he was a dark lord. Unfortunately for him he meets a girl named Rikka Takanashi, a girl who has chunibyou herself and idolizes his Dark Flame Master persona. Yuuta's past won't be completely whitewashed yet, as soon enough Rikka establishes a club consisting of her, Yuuta, and several other people under the name Far East Magic Society. More of Yuuta's chunibyo past will be brought up than he wishes it to be.
You ever have a great story idea, but when it came down for you to write it down, it didn't turn out as well as it did in your head? That's Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions in a nutshell. At its core, it's about a high school girl growing up past her junior high days and looking towards the future. This is something we all experience at one point in our lives; growing out of something from when we were kids, and the difficulties of doing just that. It's painful to say the least, and a difficult subject to tackle in media, much less anime.
Under certain studios (like Madhouse or Shaft), Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions's premise might have worked really well. But since it's Kyoto Animation here, we know what that means; "moe", slapstick violence, a gaggle of cute girls with cute traits (one girl loves sleeping, another fights with pig-tails, etc.), and very hit-or-miss comedy.
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions might be the first Kyoto Animation series where I out-and-out hate the male lead. Yuuta is loud, brash, selfish, insensitive, and even at times downright heartless to female lead Rikka, even hitting her a few times in the earlier episodes. Whenever some of the girls in the series blackmailed him about his Dark Flame Master persona (a trope I hate in anime), I couldn't tell whether or not to laugh at his misfortune. He becomes more likable later down the line, but it took a long chunk into the series for me to even be middling to his character.
Female lead Rikka herself is thankfully much more likable. A chunibyo herself, she is a bit out there in her own world ( not always played for laughs, mind you). She's generally a nice enough, clumsy girl, but her antics (including "magic" battles, which we'll get to later) do get a bit tiring after a while. The eventual relationship between her and Yuuta is kind of cute, even I though I think it would've worked better if the characters were a bit younger.
And now the other main characters. Shinka, a cheerleader and former chunibyo herself, is an okay character except when it comes to the double standards of her not talking about her Chunibyo past, but expecting Yuuta to do the same to others. Makoto is the standard pervert male best friend, and his crush is high school sophomore Kumin, a girl who loves sleeping. Really; she even carries a pillow around with her in school. And lastly we have "comedy relief" Sanae, an annoying junior high school girl with really long pigtails who uses them as a weapon, and idolizes Rikka as her "Master". All of them eventually form the Far East Magic Society Club.
And now let us talk about the Chunibyo "battles". Every so often in the series, Rikka and Sanae will have "magic battles", where the series pauses to show them using magic and/or weapons to fight others (in reality them simply slapping people, using small objects as weapons, or in Sanae's case, using her hair). There's a lot of these battles early in the series, though they're thankfully downplayed over time. I always felt awkward laughing at these scenes, despite the nice animation. It's not unlike how I feel when I watch America's Funniest Home Videos; I laugh, but then I feel bad about it afterward. Chunibyo is real in Japan, and seeing Kyoto Animation make light of it made me feel a bit annoyed by using a syndrome for humor.
The other humor itself isn't very funny, either. Yuuta's friend Makoto makes a ranking of the girls in his school, which calls the attention of Rikka and wanting to punish whoever did it. Makoto takes the blame, but not after a long-winded speech about cute girls. As punishment he shaves his head, but not without lot of crying and over-the-top acting. Sanae's constant fighting with Shinka not once make me crack a smile, either. And I especially didn't care for Rikka's older sister Touka's constantly blackmailing and/or threatening Yuuta to help fix her problems with her little sister instead of doing it herself, all because he's a man. Give me a break.
Thankfully, underneath the dumb comedy is an actual plot in Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions. The last third of the series gets more back into the nature of Rikka's condition, and her relationship with Yuuta. This is far and beyond the best part of the series, away from the filler episodes, baggage characters, and slapstick comedy and seeing this shy girl try, albeit slowly, open up to others. Rikka actually has a large amount of character development over the series, and we learn that her chunibyou self of the present wasn't just a thing, but has a deep, painful reasoning behind it. It even ties together Yuuta, so their being a couple makes perfect sense from the series' standpoint. The ending of the series itself is nice enough - with a moral about true to yourself and being happy - and wraps up the series quite nicely.
However, the last third of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions also very standard high school anime romance tropes, but Rikka's confession later in the series is kind of cute. And hey, it even happens before the end of the series. It's nice to see some deviation from the norm, especially from a company like Kyoto Animation. And I also gotta give them credit for actually telling a full story over twelve episodes and not extending it out more just to make more money (*coughcoughclannadcough*). The ending of the series itself is nice enough though and wraps everything up quite nicely.
If I sound conflicted in my review of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, it's because I am. There's some decent story and a very likable female lead in this show, but there's also hit-or-miss comedy, far too many characters, and droll moments. If you're a forgiving person, or really like Kyoto Animation's cute girls series, you'll like Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions. I just wish they spent more time on the main characters and less on pigtail-wielding junior high school girls or a girl whose gimmick is that she likes to sleep.
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions takes an interesting premise - a girl growing up and facing her past, present, and future - and weighs it down a bit. An okay show all-around, it could've been a four-star series if it had a bit more focus on Rikka. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Most of the violence in this series (or at least the more intense stuff) is reserved for the "magic battles". The actual series has little of that, but a decent amount of fan service at times, and some innuendo. Fine for teenagers and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Anime Network stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions © 2012 Torako / Kyoto Animation / Chu*2byo Production partnership
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