「聖母の…弁当箱(パンドラズ・ボックス)」 (Seibo no … Bentoubako ( Pandorazu . Bokkusu ))
“Pandora’s Lunchbox…of the Holy Mother”
Since I first saw the promos for this show, I thought it had a lot of potential. Potential to be cute, potential to be funny, and to have that certain kind of ridiculous levity that I enjoy so much. What it lacked – and has continued to lack for most of its run – is drama in any meaningful amount. Until now.
First of all, I enjoyed the parallels between Yuuta and Isshiki and Rikka and Dekomori. Dekomori going full yuri for her master was probably the funniest part (related: anyone know how to get blood out of a carpet? Or stop a persistent nosebleed? Just wondering…uh, for a friend), but for a truly well told joke, the best was the dual head on shoulder jokes. Dekomori’s was sweet, but to see Isshiki try to pull the same thing just made me lose it! Unexpected and hilarious! Also, tsundere Yuuta is a good thing.
But without a doubt the best scenes of this episode came next, when Yutta and Rikka were alone. The ambiance, the lighting, the direction of that whole awkward shuffle of two unsure young adults towards the place both of them want to be…perfect. Special mention needs to be made of the insert song. After how thoroughly the previous one flopped back in Episode 8, it was heartening to see one pulled out at exactly the right time! As a pure vanilla romance, chu2koi does things right. Rikka’s confession, Yutta getting all embarrassed about his mega chu2 confession, and that delicate pinky touch at the end…just beautifully done. Magnificent.
And yet, next is where the series transcends a level for me. Once again Touka beseeches Yuuta to help bring Rikka back to reality, and my first inclination was largely the same as the one for my other show this week – let her do what she wants! As Yuuta so rightly said, “She’s grown up enough.” It’s not that Rikka denies her father’s death anymore, not really. It’s that she doesn’t want to bury him. As soon as she takes her eyepatch off, that’s it – it’s over, he’s over. I think she’s grown up enough, and time will allow her to sort everything out to her satisfaction, just as it did for Yuuta and Shinka ditching their own chuunibyou pasts…and for that matter, all of us with everything we learn thanks to the passage of time. Your way hasn’t worked yet, Touka-san. Time to try Yuuta’s.
Now here’s the part that I initially missed about this series. While the drama with Rikka’s dad fell flat, that wasn’t this series’ drama point. Let me go ahead and quote myself from back in Episode 8:
I can only hope that this is all buildup for a massive emotional payoff later on. If so, it may be that this was done very well (in retrospect).
Called it–or rather, called the potential for it. Now, I want to make something clear – the scenes that centered around Rikka’s father from Episodes 7 & 8 were clearly designed to be dramatic and impactful, so the fact that they weren’t does mean they weren’t done very well. Insert songs aren’t used for frivolous reasons, and one falling flat means that a mistake was made. That said, it was also buildup for the source of the series’ true drama – Rikka’s mother. That worked much better, as it drove a point of conflict between Yuuta and Rikka. I’m still not sure I like her, but perhaps I hate her less. We’ll see.
Here’s where Yuuta made his decision. He confronted Rikka, in a way forcing her to choose between honoring the memory of her father (in her own way), and Yuuta himself, this boy she has come to love. Yuuta didn’t realize he was doing that, but he was. That was cruel.
As for the results, the episode ends with Rikka singing a song that her papa liked, and taking off her eyepatch…revealing two green eyes. As we expected, this second time she was without her coloured contact was a big moment, character-wise. She chose Yuuta! Yet, to my own eyes she doesn’t look any happier for having “grown up.”
From here there are two paths that could be taken, though really they’re the ones we’ve had all along – embrace their chuunibyou, or deny them. Though actually, there’s more complexity to that. There’s those two options, yes…but once that decision is made, it’s whether to keep being chuunibyou, or to move past. The best ending for our heroes is if Yuuta urges Rikka to take back up her eyepatch and return to being that girl he fell in love with…and yet she decides to move on anyway, keeping all of the cute innocence she had, save in a less delusional manner. Other endings would be okay, but worst of all is to deny and move on. That’s where Yuuta and Shinka are, but for Rikka, I feel the price will be higher. After all, Yuuta and Shinka just had to give up the delusions. For Rikka, she has to give up her father, and bury him, finally and forever.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – One of the sweetest dual confessions I’ve ever seen is followed up by the drama #chu2koi never had. Loved it!
- I approve of Isshiki’s increasingly obvious attempts to court Kumin-sempai. Too bad she doesn’t appear to have realized that he’s aiming for her…even when he openly confessed at the end. Sleep on, Kumin-sempai. Forever alone, Isshiki-kun!
- Beware of ex-chu2 girls. Or any girls, really. That’s probably for the best.
- Related: I would enter their delusions, if you know what I mean. Erh…what? They’re underaged? Crap, I didn’t mean it like that!!
- I liked how Rikka kept showing her eye throughout the episode. Good foreshadowing towards the eventual reveal.
- Holy hell, their costumes were amazingly cool! …except for Rikka, who was cool and cute. I really hope the embrace their chu2 pasts enough to have fun with them once in a while, and to laugh at them as all true adults do. They’re just too cute together to not keep putting them into badass longcoats (trope!) and whatnot.
- Can we get a special lite episode of Dark Flame Master Shinka vs (an emotionally distraught) Tyrant’s Eye Dekomori? Please? Pretty please?
- Seriously, learn to use your OPs and EDs, KyoAni! The fact that they’re finally doing original work (~70% of this is original, as well as 100% of next season’s Tamako Market) is encouraging, but until they learn to stop breaking my mood with inappropriate EDs, they will not obtain Pantheon status in my book. The ED is part of the whole experience, people! I trust this’ll be fixed by next week. KyoAni employees read RandomC, right? Right. Glad we got that cleared up.
- Last week, after I expressed some perplexity about why I wasn’t enjoying this show as much as I felt I should, many of you offered reasons. The one that I felt was most compelling was that chu2koi should be enjoyed as a simple vanilla romance. That’s not wrong – it’s one of the reasons I like slice-of-life shows, and I have compatible views on expectations in general. That said, I greatly prefer things this way. Love is wonderful, but it should be tested. Into the fire, my young friends! You’ll come out stronger, or not at all.