More than just imagination.
Writing this as a “mid-season impression” doesn’t seem fair since the show has ended. Partly my fault due to school and partly because I wanted to see the show play out some more. So here instead is an impromptu review.
This anime is produced by Koyoto Animation and is based on a light novel of the same name. The story follows Yuuta, a high schooler fresh out of being a Chunibyo, or “8th grader syndrome,” a condition where where your imagination is always on and often supersedes their reality. There he meets Rikka, a classmate still suffering from the “disease.” He makes an attempt to guide her out of her illusions but is met with a variety of challenges.
Some background: The light novel was written by Torako for a contest hosted by none other than KyoAni themselves. The 2010 contest only gave the novel an honorable mention in its category but the interesting thing is that no one won the contest. Strange. Soon after KyoAni helped publish the novels and eventually announced an adaptation. Why did they pick this up for an anime adaptation? Not sure why but it definitely fits their genre of shows. In fact, the anime itself has some originality in the form of all new characters like Sanae and Kumin added in to expand the cast. This is their second attempt at a novel adaptation after Hyouka, which had mixed reviews.
Yuuta is a young adult entering high school fresh out of his ordeal with Chunibyo, where he pretended to be “Dark Flame Master.” He used to dawn a dark tench coat and gloves, posing his arm in front of his face while reciting verses. A picture would he helpful, but instead here an image of Kirito from SAO instead… Seriously, that was what I thought of when I saw Yuuta in his regalia. Now that he realizes how embarrassing he was back then, Yuuta locks away every trace, both physically in cardboard boxes and mentally by not talking about it. But, with a sudden appearance from an upstairs balcony, a mysterious girl in gothic lolita clothing descends upon him. Turns out she is Rikka, who apparently still has Chunibyo. Yuuta is at first trying to avoid helping her snap out of it. But his tribulations only make Rikka stay with him, discussing about her “Tyrant’s Eye” and encouraging him to recall his Chunibyo days.
The duo attracts the strangest of supporting characters, from a guy who confesses to keeping a ranked girl list to an older sister who is dangerous with a ladle. They even get developments of their own too, but not so much that it detracts from the main story. Rikka eventually gets a club of them together in order to “seek the truth.” The reasons for them joining vary but are surely
ridiculous hilarious and makes you keep watching. There is too much detail here so take my word that they are unique enough to warrant their own shows. OVA exclusives anyone? An endless loop of Kumin senpai sleeping around sounds good to me.
KyoAni has another great show on their hands. The animation is on par with their previous works, if not raising the bar again. The fanboy in me is gushing again. The quality is a great step above most others and the “imagination scenes” look appropriately overblown, yet not at the Hyouka levels I was expecting. One thing I noticed KyoAni has been using more of that of detailed lips on the girls. Before, only close-ups show these detailed features, but you can make it out from a further distance now too. Is it a new standard or just a show exclusive?
Most of the cast are newcomers, with few veterans here and there. Rikka’s and Dekomori’s voice actors satisfyingly fulfill their roles right to the cutest blurbs they make. Chinatsu, who voices Shinka, made her debut as the annoyingly funny Yasuna from Kill Me Baby about a year ago. Nice desu ne? Her voice is very flexible and can work for many character personalities. I expect her to take on more lead roles in the future.
The genre for this show was hard to identify at first but we all know that at heart it is a romantic comedy. The licensor, Sentai Filmworks, even added “love” to its English title. Could this show have been stretched to a 26 episode double season run to express that? Maybe. But since the story was written for a contest KyoAni doesn’t have much content to work with, as mentioned earlier with the new characters. At least they managed add an obligatory beach episode in there. Actually, that location is where we get more development of the main characters, so it works out in the end. They could have gone with the K-On (Season 2) route but I’m glad that they didn’t. Besides, the studio is making their first all original production next season with most of the staff from K-On.
Here now is a great example of every child’s use of imagination. The psychology that goes into naming this “disease” seems appropriate since the mind of a child can be crazy, yet innocently entertaining. But as we grow up we notice changes not only to our body but our minds as well. We now think of these imaginations as immature things. But is it right to lock them away? Shouldn’t we embrace them and improve upon what our imaginations thought of? The notion of childhood memories bringing us back these nostalgic memories even help us to design the entertainment we see today. Chunibyo makes a good example of this, despite the ulterior motives in the plot. The ending may fall on the cliché but a great summary is given in the ending narrative. Job well done KyoAni. Recommended.