Kyoto Animation and I have a pretty rough relationship in that I’ve not really enjoyed anything I’ve seen from them but, from what I have, Love, Chunibyou & Other Delusions is the one I’ve enjoyed most although I’m not a particularly big fan of it.
Having originally seen it a year or so ago and storming through both seasons (yes, I prefer season two), I found myself really enjoying the concept and animation, although I failed to connect with main girl Rikka who I found to be overly stubborn and forceful, along with her friend Dekamori who KyoAni somehow thought was a good anime original character to include. Whilst many of the main cast proved to be insufferable and so the more emotional moments fell a little flat, it’s still a show I managed to enjoy even if I felt the execution wasn’t particularly great past the animation.
Chunibyou refers to people who believe and act like they have special powers which, as you’d expect, can lead to some funny and cringeworthy results. Rikka and Dekamori both have bad cases of Chunibyou and main character Yuta, previously a Chunibyou himself, becomes friends with Rikka and is brought back into the world of make believe. I like that Chunibyou is explored and feel that KyoAni could’ve done a much better job with it as it felt like an excuse to create some fantastic pieces of animation (I can hardly fault them here!) with the reasons behind their acts of Chunibyou feeling glossed over. I’ve not read the original source material but Dekamori wasn’t in it, along with character Kumin who’s adorable and the author loved her so much that she included her in later light novels.
As you can tell, I’m iffy on the characters and the way the plot progresses. A lot of the progress feels as if it’s for naught in the end and whilst there’s a lesson behind it, it isn’t particularly one I agree with. I’ve never had a chunibyou phase but I have a strong imagination and have thought up loads of fantastical things that I’d sometimes love to be real but I can tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and whilst Yuta originally realised that acting as if you have special powers in public is uncomfortable for those around you, it’s a topic that’s not very well tackled in Chunibyou.
I can’t say I’m a KyoAni fan but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that their art is just so beautiful that I always feel disappointed that it’s riddled with their tendency to force yuri undertones into everything, and that they utilise many of the same visual tricks across their anime so that they don’t stand apart quite as much as many other studios anime do. Regardless, Chunibyou is gorgeous to watch and the action scenes – obviously within the characters minds – are well executed and a joy to watch, and KyoAni’s use of colours and lighting is up there with the best of them. Being only 12 episodes long it thankfully doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Having originally watched this in Japanese, I gave the English Dub a whirl despite not really feeling it when they first revealed the actresses and I still think that there’s been some miscasting here – something that seems to be a regular problem with Sentai Filmworks. The voice actors and actresses themselves sound fine but, in the case of Rikka especially, they don’t seem to match – Rikka sounds much flatter and deeper than you’d expect her to be and doesn’t really get across the overexcited personality of the character. Yuta on the other hand sounds too excited when he doesn’t come across as such and, on the whole, I’m not a fan of the dub. Again, it isn’t a problem with the talent themselves as much as it is with poor decisions in directing and casting.
It always pains me a little when watching a KyoAni show as I tend to love the concept and I adore the animation, but I find that the stories and characters always seem to fall a little flat and that they’re not very good at being tone consistent. There’s also the fact they created Dekamori, one of the most insufferable and annoying characters to have ever graced anime. Why on this earth KyoAni thought Dekamori, essentially an even more exaggerated Rikka, was a good idea to include is beyond me and she’s seemingly mostly there for comedic purposes despite not being funny. It annoys me thinking how better Chunibyou could’ve been had KyoAni not taken liberties with the original works.
Love, Chunibyou & Other Delusions certainly isn’t for everyone but I think it’s worth a watch, regardless of the abundance of issues I have with it. I wouldn’t be happy paying full price for it but I imagine it looks absolutely stunning on Blu-Ray (I’ve reviewed this based on Animatsu’s DVD release, which still looks very nice) and I wouldn’t mind checking it out someday but I’m not sure I have plans to watch this again. If you’re already a fan then you’ll be pleased to find the Chuni-Shorts and OVA episode available to watch with this release alongside clean opening and endings and trailers. I adored Shinka Nibutani, Toka Takanashi and Kumin Tsuyuri and without them I’m not sure I’d have finished this show, especially with Dekamori who was practically begging me to drop it.
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