Friday, November 23, 2012

Chuunibyou - 08

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This was a very effective follow-up to last week’s game-changer episode, and I can offer Chuunibyou no more straightforward compliment than that.


I still find the writing with this show a little clumsy at times – and given the experience of the anime staff I assume that’s a function of the source material – but it’s become clear that there is a beating heart at the center of it that transcends the shameless pandering and screwball comedy.  In short, Chuunibyou is actually about something after all and not just that, but something interesting – and it was what I hoped it might be from the beginning.  I can’t escape the feeling that this is a great idea with execution that’s only good, and in other hands it might have been a classic – but if the last four eps are as good as the last two, it still has a chance to be a keeper.

What’s interesting about Yuuta and Rikka as a potential pairing is that despite their age they’re in such different places in their lives.  What I think Yuuta started to see this week is that while he was so proud of having left his childish fantasy life behind, in reality he was only playing to begin with – there was nothing in his life that drove him to become the Dark Flame Master except boredom and a desire for attention.  For Rikka chuunibyou is a survival mechanism – the merits of which are a different debate – and he’s really in no position to lecture her on her lifestyle because he can’t understand what she’s feeling.  I think that’s why he’s been a little easier on her than he might have been – that, and the fact that it’s obvious there’s a 14 year-old inside him that still find things like this really cool.  And 16 really isn’t nearly as far from 14 as 16 would like to believe.

If anything the very distinct – I won’t say abrupt or jarring, because the transition was quite well-done – shift in the show’s focus has left the supporting cast of Chuunibyou out in the cold to a certain extent.  In particular Nibutani and Dekomori seem to have little role to play now apart from that of comic relief, which is a shame as I still think Nibutani is potentially the most interesting character in the cast.  That’s why it’s interesting that Isshiki and Kumin, who were almost invisible for six episodes, have been written into a major supporting role now,  It actually helps to have another pairing to shift the focus off of Yuuta and Rikka towards for a few minutes here and there, and both characters have proved fairly enjoyable.  I especially liked the exchange where Nibutani told Kumin “the innocent act will only get you so far” before realizing it was all an act, and declaring “I haven’t met a real airhead for quite some time.”  I doubt we’ll see much real progress between Kumin and Isshiki but they’re fun to watch together.

As for the chance of real progress between Yuuta and Rikka, I think it has to take a back seat to the question of chuunibyou and the role it should have in our lives as young adults.  It’s not so simple as Touka says when she tells Yuuta “That’s reality.  That’s what it means to be an adult.”  That’s a gross oversimplification and a bit of a straw man, and I hope the show does better in presenting that argument – but on the flipside, there’s no question that Yuuta is romanticizing (for what reason, fill in the blank as you see fit – a couple of obvious possibilities present themselves) Rikka’s position here.  She is using her fantasy world as an escape from the pain of her life, and she is running away from reality – to an extent that’s ultimately unhealthy for her.  The real question is whether that’s necessarily something that should be discouraged.

I’m quite curious to see where the show comes down on this issue in the end – I hope we don’t have an ending where Yuuta happily embraces the Dark Flame Master and brings all his geek bling out of storage, but I’m curious to see the position Chuunibyou takes on escapism and its rightful use a… well – escape.  I don’t think the romance can be ignored, not when we have Rikka wearing Yuuta’s shirts and commenting on his smell, and playing with his hair while he sleeps – and it’s clear that he’s opened himself up to the possibility that she and he might do things together (though I don’t know whether it’s more the idea of he and anyone doing those things that excites him).  Their scenes alone together on the train, in his house and at the konbini are quite charming and some of the most low-key and unforced in the series, and I’d like to see more of them over the last few episodes.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be about romance or even chuunibyou – maybe it’s enough that he understands her, and gives her a path back to reality that isn’t too scary for her to walk.

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15 comments:

  1. Unlike Enzo, I'm less forgiving and I'd found this show to be pandering for its own sake and just circle-jerking with the same (plot, gag, character, etc, etc) device, which I happen to dislike, over and over again. Hence I'd dropped this show 3 episodes ago. It's good thing as well since I'm already watching 11 shows this season without this one, which is like almost 4 hours every week after OPs & EPs are skipped (I bet Enzo is watching like 15+ shows). Sakurasou is next-to-be-dropped if it doesn't get its act straight.

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  2. I find it weird that I've come to like Chuu2byou and not LB (dropped). I guess it is just down to personal preference that you still like and believe that LB will deliver. I however just couldn't take the seiyuu's acting anymore and can confirm that I'll never play an eroge or galge just because of that.

    Chuu2byou reminds of Hyouka in a weird way that I didn't like at first but after 5 episodes I was still watching it and starting to really like (love by the finale of Hyouka). With Kyoani I guess once I get used to it's bad points, and knowing Kyoani they won't change, it's much easier to enjoy the good points. This episode really helped me appreciate Rika more, not because of her tragedy but because how she dealt with it and how her weird way of talking is just a code for very frank and open confessions.

    I defended LB when JC announced they would make it but seeing the result I can't help but think that Kyoani would have done a better job and not just in the animation department but every single aspect of it. Shame.

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  3. what kind of mother works all night? too convinient for the plot

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    1. a lot, actually. maybe you just don't know one.

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    2. What mother? Rika's mother abandoned her and left her with her grandparents. She's now 16 and old enough to live on her own, but instead lives with her sister who is a cook. I've known a few cooks and they really do have pretty shit hours like this.

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    3. A nurse on the night shift. It's pretty common actually.

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    4. I don't know, ever heard of this thing called the graveyard shift?

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    5. night shift nurse, bar hostess, graveyard keeper, night construction worker

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    6. 16 is way too young for someone to live by themselves. Yes, some people can make it, but most can't and I don't blame them.

      Touka had a ton of responsibility placed upon her and I don't envy her lot.

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  4. @Doodle God
    "I'm less forgiving and I'd found this show to be pandering for its own sake"

    That's a shame.

    --------------------------------------

    Finally, a post where GE approved and complimented an episode of Chuunibyou! *celebrates* I suppose the demographic for this series falls to those who relate to the characters and storyline or they just don't like fun and simplicity.
    I'm exploding right now of how much this was a Yuuta x Rikka episode. (>.<) It was cute: no misunderstandings and cliches. Just an honest, good outing between two people: going to a store, watching a movie, and enjoying a shared meal. I like how subtle, uncontrived Yuuta and Rikka communicate and interact with each other. Nothing too stressed and buckled just smooth, nice, and easy; We even had sweet monk boy and Kumin moments. This episode was cute all around: Yuuta's over-thinking, Rikka's moeness, and Nibutani & Dekomori's squabbles. Loved it! ♥

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    1. I don't know why I bother responding to these kinds of things, but if it actually matters to you my last several posts on Chuunibyou have been pretty darn positive. Just because you don't slavishly praise every element of a show doesn't mean you don't like or "approve" of it.

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  5. "It’s not so simple as Touka says when she tells Yuuta “That’s reality. That’s what it means to be an adult.” That’s a gross oversimplification and a bit of a straw man, and I hope the show does better in presenting that argument"

    Relevant XKCD comic: http://xkcd.com/150/

    Shows like this make me glad to be an unabashed KyoAni fanboy, I really enjoy this shit.

    Also, requisite statement of happiness that this episode had Touka here. Love the choker, I can't help it.

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  6. I, for one have always liked this series, even if the comedy is repetitive! I mean, come on, it's a refreshing concept that's never been done. 11 episodes and it'll still be that!
    still, even though i like comedic relief more for this show (I think it really does well in that), the emotional part was still pretty ice to watch. though i was kind of disappointed with how the whole confrontation with the sister turned out!

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  7. I would say I appreciate the show for bringing out some heart, but most shows will try to do this near the end anyway, its just that most seem to trip overthemselves while doing it. So if anything, I'm thankful that this didn't.

    I have to agree I'm saddened we aren't getting character arcs, particularly from Nibutani, but its something I'll have to deal with as the novel series only seems to be two volumes long and we have only 4 episodes left basicly. The show has been surpisingly solid for me sofar and I hope the ending dosn't let me down.

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    Replies
    1. As usual for Kyo, the BD sales will be monster so they'll certainly have the option of a second season or movie/OVA if they want.

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