“Banishment… this world!” – Rikka Takanashi
On the surface Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai looked like another wacky slice-of-life anime from Kyoto Animation with no real point to make or story to tell. People who have finished the series will know that that’s not the case. The series was adapted from a novel by the same title, written by a new author named Torako. It’s a 12-episode series and was directed by Tatsuya Ishihara (AIR, Kanon, Clannad). Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai aired during the winter 2012 season.
The term “chuunibyou” is literally middle school second-year disease, a condition common among 8th graders where their imaginations take over their daily lives and they believe that they are somehow special or different from everyone else. Yuuta Togashi used to suffer from chuunibyou, declaring himself the Dark Flame Master and bringing about massive embarrassment. In order to escape his past, he enters a high school far away from his middle school to start fresh as a normal student. There, he meets Rikka Takanashi, a girl who still has chuunibyou and who tries to drag him back into it after seeing him make one last pose as the Dark Flame Master.
The pacing of the story was perfect. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai starts off establishing some characters and stepping into Yuuta’s shoes. You really think to yourself that Rikka is just some messed up wacko after watching a few episodes. For a while the series was actually Haruhi-like with a far-too-energetic girl and her friends dragging a normal guy into their club and doing fun things. Slowly though, a little bit of Rikka’s broken past is revealed and the bond between her and Yuuta grows. It culminates into a dramatic ending that confronts Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship, chuunibyou-ism, and Rikka’s past.
While Yuuta and Rikka were the stars of the series, the side characters also played a role in moving things along and providing comic relief. Kumin Tsuyuri’s nap times, Sanae Dekomori’s even more extreme chuunibyou, and Shinka Nibutani’s obsession with hiding her past came at opportune times but never impeded the relationship between Yuuta and Rikka. What I liked was that they managed to give some background to the side characters like Nibutani’s life as Mori Summer without actually spending any episodes on them. The side characters never outshone the main couple and played their roles perfectly.
As for animation, Kyoto Animation maintains their reputation for quality. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai has some amazing action scenes despite being a romance series. All of them involved diving into the imaginations of the chuunibyou-ers and actually seeing the kind of action they are imagining. That’s not to say that the “doki doki” moments were overshadowed; with their experience in doing heart-wrenching scenes like the end of Clannad AS, it was no problem for Kyoto Animation to create beautiful scenes coupled with a piano and flute duet that will bring tears to your eyes.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai was the most enjoyable romantic comedy I’ve seen since Toradora. Initially it comes off as a slice-of-life, but that quickly fades as a relationship develops and takes over the series. All the while, comedy still maintains its place without being overbearing. Anyone who enjoyed the era of Kyoto Animations’s Key/Visual Art’s adaptations (AIR, Kanon, Clannad) will likely enjoy Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai.