Final Review: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (hereafter known as Chuunibyou) is based off a 2 volume light novel that won an honorable mention award at the 2010 Kyoto Animation Award Competition. The series receive a 6 episode ONA, known as Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Lite, that aired along side the full TV series. The TV series is 12 episodes and aired during the Fall 2012 anime season. The series was licensed and simulcasted in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Chuunibyou starts off with high school protagonist, Yuuta Togashi, who had suffered a severe case of chuunibyou or literally translated as “eighth-grade syndrome.” It’s a syndrome where one blends fiction with reality and refuses to accept what reality is. I’m pretty sure many people can relate with this, which makes it an interesting approach. Of course, upon entering high school, Yuuta wishes to be more mature and hopes to forget those “horrible” moments of chuunibyou. All goes well until he meets Rikka Takanashi, a girl who continues to suffer from chuunibyou as she enters high school. Furthermore, she happens to know Yuuta is “Dark Flame Master.” As a result, Yuuta, who had wished for a fresh start in high school, is forced to relive his secondary school traumas by joining Rikka’s club along with Sanae Dekomori, Shinka Nibutani, Kumin Tsuyuri, and Makoto Isshiki.

Let me start by saying the idea is cool and all but the approach is initially awful. Chuunibyou lacks a hook outside of the actual syndrome premise and basically starts off like K-ON! or Hyouka with a slightly crazier cast. To some degree, this is expected from a Kyoto Animation title but I really did not expect it to effectively bore me to sleep. In fact, the show stays with this snooze fest until about episode 3 or 4 when Nibutani finally reveals her interesting character and thereby starts the amusing Nibutani and Dekomori quarrels. From there the series is effectively uphill. It follows the characters trying to get over chuunibyou while throwing in a romantic comedy element. However, it’s not all perfect. In my opinion, the show lacks a proper balance and grows far too serious in one go. It’s very nice that the show is concise and to the point with a very conclusive ending but it lacks anticipation and hook factors to truly make it a story that will be missed.

Backgrounds are very detailed as expected from a Kyoto Animation title. Character designs are quite solid too but there are a number of both art and animation consistencies throughout the series. While one could argue that it’s a bit of an artistic touch, it definitely did not seemed to be presented as such given the level of fluctuations. Animation wise, the parallel world quality is obviously through the roof and showing KyoAni at its finest. Outside of that though, it’s pretty basic overall. Quality in comparison with other KyoAni titles? Arguably average. Comparing with The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is obviously not a fair one but if compared with Kanon 2006, AIR, or CLANNAD, Chuunibyou falls short.

OP is solid for both Lite and the TV series. ED theme for the TV series is good while the Lite ED is forgettable. Background music is mostly forgettable while sound effects are quite good. Seiyuu wise, Jun Fukuyama as Yuuta is good. Chinatsu Akasaki, who voiced Yasuna in Kill Me Baby, is lovely as Nibutani but that may just be a bias given the “step up ” from her debut role. Sumire Uesaka as Dekomori is an interesting twist from Sora in PapaKiki, and Maaya Uchida as Rikka was okay at best.

Enjoyment? It started off as a huge bore but progressively got better. It’s biggest pain is the first 3 episodes where you couldn’t really call it even a “setup” as looking back it felt completely irrelevant to the series. If there’s one show that I would easily recommend that is similar, it would have to be Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. Personally, I found Denpa Onna to be much more amusing but at the same time it’s also a slapstick so those less experienced with anime may not get the full enjoyment out of it.

Overall, Chuunibyou definitely created a niche for itself. It draws on a common syndrome that happens to actual adolescents and while the overarching story (i.e. Rikka’s father and all) does not happen to everyone, the chuunibyou syndrome is definitely something that many viewers can probably relate to. Personally, I wished it dwelled more on and how to overcome it rather than having Rikka use it as “an escape” from reality and ultimately force itself to try to become a tearjerker drama but at least the story is quite down to Earth for a KyoAni title. The show is a relatively simple watch if you could get past the initial episodes but it definitely was not something I really looked forward to every week this season.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Chuunibyou syndrome details are flushed out nicely and realistically.
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Okay but they don’t show true colors until 3 or 4 episodes in.
  • Character Development (1/2): Outside of Yuuta and Rikka, we don’t really learn much about Nibutani or Dekomori aside from what is spoken.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (2/2): Small cast and easy to remember.
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Rocky start. Could have spread out some of the drama content more rather than a quick one-two punch in the final few episodes.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (2/2): Very believable and a syndrome that many can relate with.
  • Conclusion (1/1): Nothing to complain about. Overall solid.
  • Total: 8/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Pretty and detailed.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Inconsistencies every now and then.
  • Fluidity (1.5/2): Basic animation outside of chuunibyou world
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1.5/2): Colorful but weak on the eyes outside of chuunibyou world.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Kyoto Animation is starting to skimp on the budget it seems.
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2/3): OP is good for both Lite and TV. ED is good for TV, awful for Lite
  • Background Music (0.5/2): Often forgettable.
  • Sound Effects (1.5/2): Above average
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Decent voice cast.
  • Total: 6/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Dekomori and Nibutani quarrels are the highlights of most episodes for me. May as well make a show about them instead.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0.5/2): Very weak beginning. Later episodes didn’t really hook me as drama seemed forced
  • Presentation (1/2): Again, weak beginning will hurt this show. Episodes build on each other and many viewers may not have the patience to wait for something to happen.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): Some rewatchability. It’s not a terrible show and it’s short.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is the most similar title. If you’re looking for a romantic comedy/drama, there are far better titles and I could spend all night listing. Moe shows fall in the same bucket.
  • Value (0.5/1): It’s somewhat unique and may have some memorability in the long term.
  • Total: 4.5/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 6/10

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