Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions
Finally rid of his embarrassing chunibyo past, Yuta Togashi is looking forward to his first year of high school. Finally, time for some normal friends and a normal life revolving around normal school days.
Rikka Takanashi might have something to say about that, though. Due to family circumstances, she's still quite heavily into her chunibyo personality, and partially due to her living in the apartment right above his (and some blackmail help from her sister), Yuta is dragged into the insanity of chunibyo life once more.
I was certainly aware of this show before... well, now, and me writing this review, but I wasn't sure how to take it. I'm familiar with the concept of chunibyo, but this extent of make-believe still strikes me as strange. Not so much the concept of it, but how much one can get involved in this sort of thing.
Yuta being embarrassed as all hell due to something he did, though? I think we can all relate to that. This being the core of most of the show's comedy, it gives us some common ground where the cast can meet and share their laments. Unlike Tim, I didn't really mind Yuta as a male lead, mostly because I appreciated his grounded view on things, regardless of how crazy things got. His situation also eventually ties in with the big moral lesson of the show itself, so he's not exactly unimportant to the proceedings either, like some other male leads I could mention.
Maybe one of the potential misgivings of the show could be found in the slapstick violence and bodily harm happens to a lot of the characters in this series, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions being one of the few that aren't afraid to let the males lay the slapsticky smackdown on the show's resident females. To be honest, some of those scenes did make me cringe -- whether one character did something to another, or to themselves -- but one thing the show is short on is the effect. Nothing in here is ever abuse. Rather, it comes across as the sort of thing you'd see in a Warner Bros cartoon, and eventually, I got used to it.
Whether one sees Rikka's situation in advance is up for debate, but she quickly becomes the hilarious foil to Yuta's strong desire for normalcy. She's more or less constantly stuck in chuni mode and quickly takes a liking to Yuta, which doesn't lessen any once she finds out about his chunibyo past. Yuta, for his part, fights it for all it's worth, but he still finds it within himself to indulge her bizarre fantasies from time to time; if nothing else, for her sake.
That's where we enter the "love" part of the equation, and it's every bit as sweet and endearing as I didn't really expect. It never really feels like a relationship initiated by pressure despite Rikka's sister's meddling through blackmail, but that might be because she didn't specifically ask him to fall in love with her. She just asked him to look after her, which isn't an entirely unreasonable request to make... outside of the blackmail issue, that is. One bonus part of the whole thing is that he actually gains support from the other members of Rikka's motley crew, Shinka in particular. Yep, instead of having the show be a harem show centered around Yuta, it is instead a regular romance with some extra female characters.
Speaking of said characters, they're more of a mixed bag, and maybe one of the two aspects to the show that does drag it down, however slight. Shinka was, surprisingly, not one of those. One comparison I read lined her up with Ami from Toradora, but Shinka never really had Ami's initially rotten personality. She's actually quite refreshing; fairly stable, a bit direct, but never meanspiritedly so. The main point of comparison was probably due to her pretending to be a nicer person towards everyone else, only letting out her "true" self while among her clubmates, and the reason she joined them in the first place is her own chunibyo past, which she is no less embarrassed about than Yuta.
The one character I was the most uncertain of was anime-only character Sanae Dekomori, who seems to be in there solely to be a foil towards the others. Like Rikka, she's a full-time chunibyo, and not only that, but she also considers herself Rikka's underling. But even worse, her entire chunibyo personae is heavily credited to the works of "Morisummer", another ex-chunibyo who is now extremely embarrassed by it all. Wanna take a guess who that might be?
And that's the thing; her role is limited to that of a pseudo-antagonist. She often clashes -- sometimes physically -- with Yuta and Shinka. Especially Shinka gets the brunt of the manical worship of her earlier chunibyo persona, mostly through attacks but also through her having made and carrying several copies of the "Mabinogion", which serves as Shinka's written shame and the reason why she sticks around the club; she wants to destroy them all, and Sanae is very much in the way of that.
Given that the show's main delivery of comedy is slapstick, her actions doesn't stick out too much, though; and actually serves as a better reason why she would want to remain in the club centered around her embarrassing past. And inevitably, she'd come to care about them, even acting as Rikka's support in the matters of love. (Made all the more amusing by Rikka still being in her "full delusional" mode.)
Kyoto Animation's talents are certainly not bringing any shame to this show. Everything about it carries a sense of energy and fun, which lends itself quite well to the relatively benevolent attitude the show takes to the whole "chunibyo" part, and from that, Yuta and Rikka's burgeoning relationship becomes all the more sweeter. The animation quality comes to a head whenever Rikka enters her "chunibyo" mode, though, mostly together with Sanae, which leads to their many imaginary battles. There is a great sense of imagination on display here, perfectly juxtaposed with how everyone else see them, waving umbrellas, ladles or sandbags tied to ponytails at each other.
My second and last nitpick comes in how the show chose to handle its ending. I wouldn't know for sure where the first quiet notes of Yuta and Rikka's relationship got off to its start, but it reached its crescendo in episode 10, leaving us with two episodes where I felt the show made a rather poor decision and went ahead with a rather stereotypical separation crisis, with only one airport or train station short of ticking all boxes on the big romance reunification checklist. It was aggravating, because I had to watch everyone, the main leads in particular, take an almost complete leave of their senses to make it happen.
Despite that, though, I enjoyed the hell out of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions. So much so, in fact, that I might very well have to upgrade mine to the Bluray set that is about to be released (and will also carry a dub, something this DVD set lacked.) There is also a sequel that I hope will be treated likewise, since it's not available on Crunchyroll for me. Despite some... warnings... about its quality, I do want to watch it.
A laugh and a half, and with an endearing high school romance to boot. — Stig Høgset
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: R1 DVD, Japanese with subtitles only.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions © 2012 Torako / Kyoto Animation / Chu*2byo Production partnership
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