Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – Mid-season thoughts

How do you remember the first season of Chuunibyou? For me, it was a sweet experience. It was funny with just the right amount of absurdity; the story advanced nicely; there was some suspense and character development. It actually made me think about growing up and how hard it can be. I had reminiscences of my own childhood fantasies, my own little chuunibyou.

And the second season just doesn’t do it anymore.

Chuunibyou Ren

I don’t think it has become a particularly bad anime though – it’s still fun to watch. But I get a feeling that this show has somehow lost its purpose.

Let me start with the plot. Previous season revolved around Rikka’s incapability – or more accurately, firm unwillingness – to stop mixing real world with her own, imaginary, a magical one. We, the viewers, would delve into this story of a young girl’s psychological escapism, and there would be layers and layers of content to uncover. There would be a romantic side of the plot, just as cute and clumsy as Rikka and Yuuta are.

Two hours worth of episodes of the second season, and I don’t even know what it’s all about anymore. Does anybody?

What has remained after first season’s finale is the romance part of the show. However, the pace is abysmal. Thankfully, it’s still just as cute and clumsy and heartwarming as it used to be, and when two lovebirds get intimate, I can’t help but squeal a muffled giggle.

I don’t want to say that I find such slowness of the main plot progression (granted this is the main one) as a bad thing in general. There are numerous times when this sort of narrative is used to tell the story in a vast rather than narrow and protagonist-centered way, and I like it. But, if there’s not much of a story to begin with, what are we really left with?

Fillers, comedy, and even more fillers.

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What annoys me the most right now is character development. Besides Rikka and Yuuta it’s become non-existent. Even for them it’s just as slow-paced as the romance advancement, and it’s rather unsatisfactory to say the least – linear and predictable.

There are characters just gone. One of my favourites from the first season, Rikka’s badass sister Touka, is gone. To Italy. For real. Isshiki, Yuuta’s classmate, has become even more of a sidekick he’s ever been – I had hopes for him at the beginning of original series, but since then he’s been gradually downgraded to just-some-guy in the background or an occasional punch bag.

Granted, there was a new girl introduced – pink haired Shichimiya, Yuuta’s fellow companion in their middle school chuunibyou fantasies. However, it’s been a half of the season already, and she hasn’t brought much new to the story. If anything, she’s slightly brought Yuuta and Rikka closer together – but it’s something that would’ve occured even if she hasn’t been there, wouldn’t it?

I loved the fourth episode, the one where Dekomori and Nibutani has been working together on Nibutani’s campaign in school elections. I thought to myself, ‘development! at last!’. But when at the end of the episode it all has been scraped and went back to the starting point, it made me feel deceived. Ugh.

Fighting scenes have been an important part of this show. They were introduced as sort of Rikka’s part of escapism; when she couldn’t face an event, she would resolve to her magical fantasies. On a narrative level, it’s been an obvious parody of mahou shoujo series; an absurd and fun way to relieve suspension. However, at some point it’s lost its parody aspect and has become a self-referencing thing. A shadow of its former importance.

This is how the first fighting scene feels like, as if it was there only to show new viewers what to expect from this anime, but at the same time it seems put there without an actual, story-wise, reason.

I’m glad that both Rikka and Shichimiya’s clash, and the sleep-fighting scene from fifth episode had more of a narrative background.

Chuunibyou Ren 06

There’s a ray of hope! Sixth episode was good, and from this point Chuunibyou might start to shine. Just as the first season pace expotentially increased from a mid-season point or so, perhaps it will also be the case this time?

We still don’t know what’s in Nibutani’s mind all this time. Is she just trying to bring Rikka and Yuuta closer together, or is there more to it? I really hope there won’t be a sudden love triangle emerging, the inexplicable kind of one. There were some hints of Yuuta’s affection towards Nibutani at the begining of the first season, but this hasn’t been continued later on. I’m afraid that if, theoretically, their relationship would be further continued, it wouldn’t feel honest or genuine. However, as of the second series, there are more direct or indirect insights of Yuuta’s – and Nibutani’s – past, so perhaps it wouldn’t be completely out-of-place.

I’m still waiting for more of Shichimiya’s involvement in the plot. I mean, what’s the point of introducing another character, and doing so in a way that this new girl is shown as an actually impactful persona – and then leaving her behind?

Plus, Rikka’s getting intimate with Yuuta. Finally!

Chuunibyou Ren 06

Side note: I don’t want to discredit the comedy part of Chuunibyou. It’s still there and it still works. Perhaps I’m trying too hard to find more meaning than there is to this show, but hey, I expected more. Maybe I’m just spoiled by Kill la Kill‘s awesome plot advancement?

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