Ah, good ol’ Kyoto Animation bringing us some what they do best – cute girls doing cute stuff with a snarky/jaded male in tow. Not that I’m complaining though. I’ve been a fan of Kyoto Animation since my early anime says (not that that’s saying much though). Although a large part of my love for the studio can be attributed to their great animation, those moronically cute girls they’re fond of sticking in their series win me over every time. And, gosh darn it, I’ve been pulled in yet again by this charming slice of life about those afflicted with Chuunibyou, or Eighth Grader’s Syndrome
Our main character Yuuta once suffered from this affliction which requires a great imagination and a surprising amount of devoting, claiming to be the Dark Flame Master. While he was fully immersed in his own world, he became somewhat of a social outcast during his middle school years due to his prevailing status as a weirdo. Flash forward to the present and Yuuta is desperately trying to escape his past embarrassment by trying as hard as he can to be “normal,” though his plans are somewhat spoiled when Rikka, a girl still suffering from Chuunibyou, befriends him.
As a mainly comedic slice of life show, Chuunibyou works quite well. As the voice of reason and reality, Yuuta is an interesting guy. While he wants to dump his past and try to forget it, he finds that he is unable to rid himself completely of it. He still finds himself sometimes slipping back into his other persona, excitedly firing off a play weapon he sees in Rikka’s room at one point, and he even shows a degree of awe over Rikka’s “battle” with her sister. In a way, that’s what makes him so likable – his inner battle between his Chuunibyou past and his desire to be as normal as possible. In many ways, he’s still a kid who is trying to figure out what growing up means in terms of finding a balance between the idea of an adult and the traits of a child.
Rikka, our other protagonist, is still very much stuck on the childish side of spectrum with her devotion to her Chuunibyou ways. To be honest, beyond the typical “Oh, she’s cute/moe” comment, I don’t have too much of an opinion on her. She’s not particularly annoying, but she’s not my favorite character either. She can be a joy to watch though because her exaggerated actions tend to create some of the cuter or funnier scenes, a great example being her performance against various drama club members which was really overblown and stupid, but fun to watch (her “other” personality scene was also a fun one). In the end, her eccentric nature is what sort of sets her apart from the typical moe ditz, although Rikka isn’t the sharpest tool in the box either. By herself, Rikka could become boring pretty fast, but the offset Yuuta provides and his interactions with her make her more interesting and fun to watch.
The supporting cast, unsurprisingly, is made up mostly of girls, most of which have or have had Chuunibyou. They aren’t nearly as engaging to watch as the main pair, and some (twin tails) can be borderline annoying. Though, to be fair, they aren’t a terrible group to watch and contribute a good deal to the comedic effect of some scenes.
Animation wise, well, it’s Kyoto Animation, so it looks pretty darn good. The backgrounds are beautifully detailed and the character movement is really fluid. The colors are vibrant and crisp, giving the show a clean look. The fantasy fight scenes are well done and chock full of bright colors.
Though I doubt it’ll win any awards for best show of the season, Chuunibyou is certainly an enjoyable one. Although it doesn’t require vast amounts of thought, Yuuta’s struggles as a young man add some depth to the series, and make it not a completely brainless watch. Despite a lack of plot (which isn’t too surprising), the antics of our cutesy gals and not-as-cutesy guy are fun to watch because of the eccentricity of nearly everyone in the show. I think the comedy works well most of the time, although you probably won’t be left gasping for air. Although I wasn’t expecting to, I’ve enjoyed every episode I’ve seen so far and will be happy to see more of Yuuta’s struggle to overcome the Dark Flame Master within him, all while participating in the daily adventures of his growing number of Chuunibyou friends.