- Alt. Name
- Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
- Release Date
- Fall 2012
- No. of Episodes
- Kyoto Animation
- Light Novel
At some point in everyone’s life, we probably have gone through a phase of believing we could use the force or making gestures at automatic doors, so it looks like they’re opening at your own command. While those are just a few examples of what could have happened during this phase, and perhaps some aren’t out of this phase still. This phase goes after anyone with a vivid imagination, which makes this disease so pervasive. Nonetheless, imaginary play usually ends in Elementary school and at the very latest Junior High. While in Japan, the term for this phase is called Chunibyo, which means eighth-grader syndrome, but what would happen if someone never leaves this phase?
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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! It is a 2012 Slice of Life Comedy-drama anime series from one of the most beloved animation studios in Japan, Kyoto animation. An animation studio that brought the world some of the most beloved anime series within its respected genres, but the real question is this series truly as great as its past creations like Clannad, Air, or even The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? While this is an appealing element to mention in this series, I wouldn’t put this series in the romance genre though it does have romantic aspects, not the central theme of the series. As such, with most of our series spanning multiple seasons, this review is regarding the first season since the second came out later and needs to be treated as a separate part.
Everybody has had that stage in their life where they thought of themselves as unique beings, at least different from the masses of ordinary humans. They might go as far as seeing themselves capable of wielding mystical powers or perhaps even believe themselves to have been reincarnated from a fantasy realm. This disease is known as chunibyo and is often the source of some of the most embarrassing moments of a person’s life. Others might say it’s a fate worse than death.
For Yuuta Togashi, the scars that his chunibyo has left behind are still quite fresh. Having believed to be the Dark Flame Master during his middle school years, he looks back at those times with extreme embarrassment, so much that he decides to attend a high school as far away as possible so nobody will recognize him. Putting his dark history behind him, he longs to live an ordinary high school life. Though some things aren’t as easy to quit cold turkey as we think. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten out of the woods quite yet; meet Rikka Takanashi, Yuuta’s classmate and self-declared vessel of the “Wicked Eye.” As this eccentric young girl crashes into Yuuta’s life, his dream of having an ordinary, chunibyo-free life quickly dissolves.
Now, whenever a story synopsis is overtly laid out, and to some extent, even lacking an x-factor within any story is troublesome. Whether it be due to the series having no clear primary genre, or too many genres within itself. Though with this series, in particular, the synopsis though lacking any real attention-grabbing factor, for whatever reason it works for this series. It tells the potential viewer what the show’s central premise is without divulging too much information while also connecting with its possible audience through past memories. Which is extremely difficult to do when you have at most two paragraphs to get potential viewers to want to watch versus them at best case scenario adding them to their forever expanding “to be watched” list.
Another positive about this story is that the pacing is appropriately realistic, especially with the two main characters. Since this series is within the Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life, and to a lesser extent, the romance genre purifies the original negatives within each of types. Some may consider Slice of Life series to be boring, and unable to hold the viewers’ attention. This series has it all, and perfectly meshed each genre together and placed sprinkles of action all over, and when it comes to the action elements of the series, their well-timed and, at times, even mesmerizing. This mixed with the realistic and slow build-up within the romance plot, which never boils over, perfectly simmer until the top is taken off.
Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and this series is no exception, especially with its story. While the series combines multiple genres exceptionally well, the pacing when they change styles and lean more towards a newer one, the pacing comes to a complete halt. Now I’m not talking about gaps where nothing happens or awkward moments – the latter being plenty and actually makes the story progress – but when the series goes from action scenes to romantic ones, it’s too fast of a transition at times. It doesn’t build up the best emotional impact it could have had. Though this doesn’t happen negatively every time, when something is only nailing barely half of its shots begs the question, why?
The art style within the series is wholly beautiful and continues to keep the Kyoto animation charm. While some may not notice the inner beauty within this series, fans will surely see that every emotion that is felt within this series is shown, not told to the viewer. Whether it be through subtle jaw clenches, watery eyes, or even panicking when something goes wrong. The beautiful use of lighting to correspond with the different worlds is a crucial example that the artists were head over heels with this series. Within each character’s design is unique to their own, and even their Chunibyo phase is sleek and stylish, especially when it comes to possible cosplaying. This art style is genuinely first place material and undeniable enjoyable to even the most hardcore anime fan.
Though the real tie for best in the show would be the animation production itself, and both genuinely justify the recognition this series gets. From the very opening, the observers are welcomed with a beautifully created opening sequence both visually and musically. The mirrored visuals and metaphors are outstanding, and first-time viewers won’t catch them until the last episode comes together if they’re paying attention. The use of movie quality production whenever the characters are in their Chunibyo moments are amazing and would put even the most simple action-heavy anime to shame. Though, what really sets this production apart from the pack is the emotional tension combined with trauma within the story gets built up even more with the mix of beautifully crafted scenes that’ll bring anyone to the edge of their seats.
The characters within the series are unique and interestingly diverse, though with such a premise shouldn’t be surprising. First off, we have Yuta Togashi, a first-year high school student who used to be called the Dark Flame Master while in his Chunibyo phase. Finding his past extremely embarrassing, he attempts to start off in a school where he doesn’t know anyone. However, after encountering Rikka, his past delusions come crashing back to haunt him. Though he tries to act normal, he begins to realize that life is never ordinary, and through family and the friends he’s made, that is what makes him normal.
Then there’s the star of the show, Rikka Takanashi, Yuta’s classmate and neighbor who’s above his apartment. Though she may be intensely delusional with her belief that she has the “Wicked Eye”, she is somewhat shy around new people. Though she is very attached to Yuta, she is reserved around strangers and jumps into a battle pose whenever she meets someone for the first time. She has the most significant character arc, and though from beginning to end, nothing mentally changes, she does grow exponentially, which is an impressive accomplishment for her. Unlike Yuta, who has family and friends who are there for him, she really doesn’t have that. Her sister works late most nights, so it is usually her alone in her home.
Though this series does have some fascinating secondary characters, most of the time, they’re only present for laughs. First is Sanae Dekomori, Rikka’s best friend. She is a third-year junior high school student who has very long blonde elastic twin tails that are often used as weapons – though they are more of a hindrance than helpful. She is an excellent student at the top of her class and has already completed the entire junior-high mathematics curriculum.
Of course, we couldn’t have an anime without the main male character having a crush on one of the most popular girls in the class, meet Shinka Nibutani. While being the class representative, she also is a member of the cheerleading club. Her most prominent accessory is her pink hairclip on her forehead. Like Yuta, she is a former chunibyo victim named Morisummer and also chose a different high school to escape her past. Though upon the first impressions, she is viewed as a kind and gentle girl, her true nature is more of a bitter and easily irritable – at least when in public.
The last two characters aren’t really present that much, which is unfortunate because they brought the group’s levelness without being too out of left field. First, Kumin Tsuyuri, her most prominent characteristic, is she loves sleeping… which becomes a sight gag within portions of the series. She is the most sheltered and conservative character, mainly due to being home-schooled before high school. Then we have Makoto Isshiki, Yuta’s best friend, and while he isn’t the most developed character, his most prominent characteristic is his thick hair – or no hair. As the series continues, he develops a crush on Kumin due to her old-fashioned ladylike demeanor.
While the series tried to mesh potentially six genre elements – comedy, drama, slice of life, action, romance, and fantasy – into twelve episodes, the probability of success would be rather low. However, the series was able to take the best parts of action and fantasy, while also successfully not to overwhelm its audience. Though I was highly entertained and enjoyed the series, I can’t let any series slide on being predictable at the beginning of the series. It’s a trope that is usually used in slice of life series where boy meets girl, and the viewer just knows they’ll end up together. But what this show does well is that it’s not about the end result; it’s about the journey.
This series takes it’s viewers back to their adolescent – and usually cringeworthy – lives and lets them relive it once again with them. Though it may not be attractive to some, I believe this series is one everyone should watch because of its pure heart aura and innocent coming-of-age story that makes it a perfect entertainment atmosphere. Whether you’re a fan of Kyoto, Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama, Romance, or even Action, you need to give this series a chance and promise you’ll have an exciting and reminiscent time with it.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.