I had heard about this series for a while, yet had no inclination to watch it. However I was bored one day and after browsing through Netflix, I decided to load it up and see what was going on. I am glad I did, because man did I binge the fuck out of those twelve episodes. After the cut let’s take a dive into the first season of Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions!
If Wonder Egg Priority is a show that was too ambitious, that tried to do too much, then Chu-2 is the exact opposite of that. Instead of trying to go too big, the stakes are small. Instead of several issues to deal with, it deals with one. And instead of running from one extreme to another, it is able to hit a sort of balance. Set (as always) during high school, we follow series lead Yuta Togashi as he prepared to enter the next stage of his education. He is eager for a fresh start, doubly so because during his middle school years, he suffered from extreme delusions, or as they call it in a japan, being a chunibyo. However his goal of having a fresh start is slowly derailed when he comes into contact with Rikka Takanashi, a fellow first year, who not only is still a chunibyo, but seems to embrace it.
Now people who have been around the anime fandom for a while will be familiar with the term chunibyo. It’s a archetype that has been around many series, a recent example the character of Megumin of Konosuba. They are always portrayed as over the the top, unwilling to grow up, and being overly comical. There have been some great moments with the character-type over the years, but this is the first anime that I know of, that directly talks about the idea. And Chu-2 does it extremely well. The antics of Rikka, along with some of the other characters are downright hilarious, and surprisingly adorable. While I’m far enough removed from my teenage years now, I can still retain a great degree of empathy. I remember being a 13 or 14 year old kid, trying to fit in, and thinking that I was something special. We’ve all had those cringe moments, and it was kinda sweet to see Rikka and the crew go through a phase everyone does.
However Chu-2 is not just a comedy, and this is where the series goes from being good to great. While the antics of Rikka are funny and cute, they also hide what is a realistic and understandable trauma: the death of her father. Being young enough to not really understand, Chu-2 is about Rikka coming to terms with the reality she is trying to run away from. This is helped in no small part by her elder sister Toka who serves as the series antagonist and dose of reality. Whose genuine concern for her sister is helped by a no-nonsense and sometimes cruel attitude towards the situation. Yet while some might see Toka as a bit of a bitch, not understanding that Rikka just needs time, their family situation and Toka’s own life are forcing her hand. She begins to depend more on Yuta as the first season goes on, leading to some comical, but also very touching and surprisingly harsh moments. The supporting cast also helps with this and one scene where Yuta angrily confronts fellow chunibyo Sanae and tries to get her to ‘see the light’ left be awestruck in how raw and real the emotions where, but then I could be laughing in the next episode as she wildly spun her twintails around.
And the best part is that Chu-2 is able to handle this balancing act with an extreme level of tact and grace. The show maintains an extremely good balance, mixing in drama and comedy, and giving ample breathing room for both. Rikka’s story is neither glossed over, or heavily leaned on, and everything that is in there feels like it is for a reason. It is a well oiled machine, and the use of the Chunibyo archetype allows for some grandiose action scenes that don’t feel like metaphor-laden set pieces, or pretentious drivel. Even better is that Chu-2 allows the viewer to see both sides of the argument, and while part of me does think Toka is right, that Rikka needs to drop the act and face reality, there is another part of me who gets it. People process their grief in different ways, and we all get to acceptance at our own speed. That could be acting out, changing your hairstyle, writing your feelings in a diary, lashing out in anger, or wearing an eyepatch and trying to find the legendary Ethereal horizon.
I’ve only watched the first season, but I was completely enraptured by Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions. This was the perfect palette cleanser I needed after the admirable mess that was Wonder Egg Priority. This is a story that knows what it is about and focuses on that like a laser. The result is a well told, tightly woven tale of dealing with grief that is remarkably well balanced. Funny when it needs to be, sad without ever being melodramatic and thoughtful without being in your face about it. Chu-2 pulled me into its world in so easily and never let me go, and while I’ve heard mixed thoughts about the second season (and good things about the concluding film), I’m 100% committed to seeing where this story goes next. If you haven’t checked out this show, I highly suggest you do. It’s a got a great cast, great dub, and its story will tug at your heartstrings without ripping them out. Give it a look and see what you think.
2 thoughts on “Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Season 1: Like a Laser”
I agree with everything you said here. There’s sadness and private pain woven in with the humor as she tries to come to grips with her personal tragedy. Very well done.
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And the balance is good, there isn’t too much in either direction. Too often I find things can he too flippant or way too melodramatic.
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