「束縛の…十字架(ハード・スタディ)」 (Sokubaku no … Juujika (Hado. Sutadei))
“The Shackles…of Studying Hard”
Romance engage! As expected (and hoped, oh so dearly hoped!), now that the cast is all together it’s time to pivot into romance-mode. It’s starting light – just a little, just a taste! – but I can already feel the ramp up that is to come. This is good, subtle, and slow, allowing us time to taste the gentle wonder of an innocent new relationship blossoming amidst the streets and hallways of youth. Lean back and let it sink in, let it suffuse you…this is some good juju, my friends.
As my overly dramatic intro would seem to indicate, there were a lot of good things about this episode. The humour was still there, and it was funny, but it wasn’t punching as hard as it was in past offerings – the laughs I gave were more from deft execution of jokes than big unexpected reveals, like how they quickly whipped out Kumin-sempai’s pencil gambit, only to have it fail with lightning speed a few seconds later. Great stuff!…but it didn’t have the punch of prior episodes, which were comedy bonanzas. No worries though, because any show that has super smart Dekomori and Yumeha and Touka getting divorced is still punching way above its weight class. “Not as good” for chu2koi is still far above what other show’s can manage, so I’ll take it with a smile on my face.
No, where this episode shined was in the subtle changes of the characters, both hinted at and shown. First of all were the changes in our two chronically embarrassed former chuunibyous, Yuuta and Shinka. They still protest about it so much…but as Kumin-sempai so perceptively pointed out, Shinka apparently complains (albeit off-screen) about cheerleading more than anything else, while Rikka and Dekomori are having a lot of fun being chuunibyou. Be true to yourself, young ones! But that’s coming, because though Shinka may protest, she keeps hanging out with this hobby group that she doesn’t even technically belong to, and Yuuta had his moments of reverting to chu2-mode before he realized and stopped himself. They’re still tsundere, they still protest…but I think they’ll learn to play along more and more, at least among their little group.
But the real treat was the soft, sweet moments that the threat to their chu2 society brought about between Yuuta and Rikka. We all knew the reason Yuuta wanted to stop being chuunibyou – embarrassment aside, he wanted friends. He was lonely. He was never lonely at home though, not with a family like his. Alas, that’s not something that Rikka has. That’s not a slight against Touka – she has to work, and apparently quite long hours at that. Yet even so, Rikka spends the nights alone. Yuuta may have helped solve Rikka’s loneliness problem during the day – and his own as well, by the way – but not the one at night. Here we saw glimmers of that.
Fortunately, Rikka is beginning to open up not only to Yuuta, but Shinka and Kumin-sempai as well. That’s what made Yuuta realize – it made him realize what he had in this group, or more correctly, what Rikka had, and needed. Determination, engage! Yuuta is a good guy, and he shows it in moments like these, where he does what is needed – like bribing Rikka with little chu2 treats to keep her studying – to teach her enough to clear this challenge. More than his lapses back into chuunibyou-mode, that’s what makes me think he’ll come to fully embrace his past, to accept it, and maybe even play along a bit, at least among his friends. And if not, he can always just embrace Rikka :3
And it looks like that’s what we’re heading for! At least by the looks of that last scene. Ohhhhhh man, so silly, but so cute! Like with the other show I’m covering this season, chu2koi deftly used warm pinks and yellows and a light, cheery glow to cast an idealistic air about the scene. It sucks you in and sets you adrift in the lake of innocent emotions flowing out of the screen. Any episode I end with a heartwarming smile on my face and an uplifting sense that the world really is kind and loving is a good one in my book. This is one of those. Case closed!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – As the tsundere frost melts from Yuuta & Shinka, Rikka’s loneliness is swept away with it. Divine Exseed Freya Magna!! #chu2koi
- The best baka around, supported by the best cheerleader. Nap time, ra ra!
- Panicked Rikka is adorable. Awu~
- Punishing Dekomori is one thing, but don’t hurt Naptime-sempai, Shinka! You deserved to get sleep insulted and accidentally judo chop the ground >:
- Seriously, I loved Shinka and Yuuta losing faith in the world because Dekomori is at the top of her class. Also, dat evil laugh! GEHUHUHUH >:D
- I liked how Rikka subtly expressed her disapproval that Yuuta was paying too much attention to Shinka. D’aaaww!
- Say what you will, but Dekomori has skills.
- Seriously, not sure who is making the biggest mistake between Touka and Yumeha. I know if I were married to Touka, there’s no way I’d let her get away! As for Yumeha…well, if she’s going to turn out anything like her mother or sister, give her (quite) a few years and the same applies!
- Chu2 test-o? I wasn’t sure how they were going to work chu2-mode into this episode, but that was an innovative one. I’ll admit, I laughed!
- It was so cute how Rikka had to run off and mail Yuuta her thanks. D’aaaww, she’s embarrassed! But we still got the sweet smile at the end, so all is well in the world. D’aaaaww x2!