Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai – 09
「混沌の…初恋煩(カオス・ハート)」 (Konton no … Hatsukoi Han ( Kaosu . Ha^to ))
“Turmoil…of the Chaos Heart”
Ohhh Rikka, how far can your chuunibyou go? That’s exactly what we found out today. Since the beginning of this series, Rikka’s chuunibyou has been both the thing that made a relationship between her and Yuuta possible – without it she would never have approached him, he wouldn’t feel like he can’t leave her alone, and in fact, she would have probably never moved in with her big sister at all – as well as the biggest thing that stands in their way. While she’s still chu2ing it up, Yuuta isn’t able to think of her as a girl concerned with love, and even Rikka herself couldn’t understand it when it smacked her in the face! Thus, this biggest impediment was what needed to be circumvented before they could come together.
But first, KyoAni showed us how hard of an obstacle it would be with Rikka’s obliviousness to love…but honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about that other than “Rikka is cute“, so I’m going to talk about something else. During the first half, I supremely enjoyed the bit where Touka appeared from under Yuuta’s bed. It was funny to be sure, but I’d like to enhance (or ruin?) the scene by explaining why it was subtly brilliant. With gags like this, my first instinct is to go “How the hell did she get under there?”, so when Yuuta asked as much, I immediately smiled. The stroke of genius comes when Touka gives an explanation that doesn’t actually explain anything (how does being on the gymnastics team in high school explain coming in through a closed window and slipping under a boys bed?), and then swiftly deflects us away from questioning that by pulling out Yuuta’s dirty magazine for another gag. It’s like they get credit for making the joke more realistic, save without having to actually explain how it really worked. Genius!
Anyway, blushing Rikkas aside, the episode really started to heat up when Shinka started to meddle. Just coming out and telling Rikka she’s in love…a novel idea, but it sure got some quick results! Their whole conversation was adorable, from Rikka in denial to Shinka going into ikemen Yuuta mode. (Nice touch on the heart of butterflies, by the way). But most interesting of all was the fact that Shinka was the first one to punch past Rikka’s chuunibyou (here, when Rikka accepted her love advice)! I had always expected that would be Yuuta – and I guess he was there when she dipped out of character when talking about her family a couple episodes back – but you still did well, Shinka. You’re a good friend. (Except to Isshiki).
Shinka’s plans were amusing – especially in how the first two failed utterly – but I have to give her credit for the third one. Mind you, Yuuta did a lot of the work by bringing up the elephant in the room when he and Rikka were finally alone and not doing anything…so come to think of it, the same effect could have been reached without Rikka almost falling off the roof. Sooo…nevermind!
But in all seriousness, my heart definitely jumped when Rikka slid down the roof and stopped, only barely holding on. “Well that’s not good,” my notes read for that scene. I hadn’t expected legitimate danger in chu2koi! But the payoff was undeniably sweet. Like he has multiple times before, Yuuta gently guided Rikka’s feet to the rail and helped her down. Yet this time the situation was a little more serious, and the ensuing event was a treat to behold. Seeing Rikka’s arms snake around Yuuta’s back as she cried into his chest with the sun setting behind them…that was some nice ambiance. A sweet moment, and I can’t wait to see what it means for our heroes going forward.
And yet still, I find myself wondering why this show hasn’t resonated with me as much as other romances. Here’s what I think – chu2koi is too one-dimensional. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s a good dimension, one that’s entertaining and well executed…but there’s still only one of them. To me, the best romances are the ones where something else is going on, whether it’s an adventure or political intrigue or epic drama or merely a romantic rival to shake things up. Chu2koi has other facets, but only the comedy really holds its own – Rikka’s drama has so far fallen flat, there are no appreciable rivals, and even Isshiki and Kumin-sempai aren’t seeing enough development to hold their own as a potential B-couple. Danger, too, just isn’t there…the roof scene was the only taste of that, and compared to what we’ve seen in a hundred other stories, it just doesn’t hold a match. Just as an adventure is better if there’s a little well-done romance mixed, a romance is better if it has other elements wrapped around it, like braided cords of a rope that link together to increase the strength of the whole.
One last thing on my previous point, namely the reply to an objection that I’m sure will be raised. As far as rival love interests go, it doesn’t matter if the other ones are “doomed to lose.” It’s generally pretty clear which girl (or boy) is going to win, with only very rare shows subverting those expectations. That’s the thing though – other options insert uncertainty, no matter how small, and a little uncertainty is what makes you want to keep watching, juuuust in case this is one of the shows that is going to surprise you. Yet here, there’s no one like that, so Yuuta and Rikka are 100% assured. I’m absolutely okay with that if there were something else of substance to sink my teeth into, but there’s not. I feel like I’m eating cotton candy; it’s delicious to be sure, but once it’s finished I still find myself hungry. That’s okay if cotton candy was what I wanted, but this show always struck me as having more depth beneath the surface, the potential to be one of those dual-threat romances I love so much. I wish it would hurry up and show me.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Rikka’s chuunibyou keeps getting in the way of her love…until, thanks to the help of Shinka (& gravity), suddenly it doesn’t #chu2koi
- “I’d better be careful around you.” No, Touka, you’d better be careful around me. *licks his lips like predator-kaichou from OniAi
- I’d totally take Dekomori as my servant. She’d be, what, Rider? (With Cereberus as her mount). I can just imagine it….”Activate Noble Phantasm: Mjolnir Hammer!” Then she’d trip over her twintails and get impaled by Berserker-Shinka. Frack.
- It’s interesting how Rikka’s chu2 mode didn’t activate. Maybe they’re saving the Tyrant’s Eye vs Dark Flame Master battle for the climax? Or just for next week. Either way, a great way to show that not all was normal with Rikka’s heart.
- You’re not going to get anything from dancing with Yuuta, Isshiki. Well, other than back in the yaoi rumour mill.
- Related: The Oklahoma Mixer? Oklahoma sucks! (Man, I’m just pissing everyone off today, aren’t I?)
- I gotta admit, Rikka’s evil laugh…was pretty bad. I just can’t imagine her as anything other than a cute girl. Which is totally fine with me!
- At first I thought Shinka was wingmanning for both Rikka and Isshiki…only, nope. So cold, Shinka-chan! Forever alone, Isshiki-kun!
- Seriously, how does Chimera stay on these girl’s heads? And actually…why is the cat at school again anyway? That’s one talented feline, lemme yell ya.
- One final note on my earlier criticism. To be clear, I don’t by any means hate this show – this is the criticism of a fan trying to understand why something he enjoys isn’t entertaining him as much as it seems like it should be. Yet I think my criticisms here back up an old qualm I have of KyoAni itself. Hype backlash (trope!) aside, KyoAni has always struck me as tactically brilliant, but not strategically so. That is to say, while all the small movements and tiny details are taken care of, the major strokes can sometimes fumble. That’s why they can take great source material and polish it to a mirror shine (Clannad), but occasionally crap out an egg like Endless Eight. Perhaps that’s still preferable to the other more consistently imperfect studios, but for my money I’d rather bet on a Gainax, a Shaft, a J.C. Staff, or a Sunrise. Sure, you’ll get a lot of more flawed efforts, but you’ll also occasionally get a TTGL or a Madoka or an Ano Natsu de Matteru to make it all worth it (or a Kyoukaisen…shut up I like it!). KyoAni is like the diligent perfectionist while the others are the weird kids who occasionally come up with a brilliant idea that change the world. But then again, maybe I’m just weird too.
I apologize for the less-spirited-than-normal post. Unfortunately, I think Stilts-oniichan is coming down with something, so I’ll be going to rest shortly. But the strange thing is, by the time I finished writing this post I actually felt a lot better. That just goes to show you the power of RandomC…or something!