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Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

January 12, 2014

Next to “Seitokai Yakuindomo*”, the other sequel I was looking forward this winter season is “Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren”, the second season of the anime based on the light novel series “中二病でも恋がしたい” written by Torako.

The first season was terrific, it provided a great mix of comedy, romance and character driven drama. The story centers around Rikka and Yuuta’s lives as they enter high school and must leave behind their middle school years where each indulged in silly delusions and fantasies, a phenomenon the Japanese label as ‘chuunibyou’.

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While for some it was just a phase, to Rikka it means so much more that she cannot bear to let go of that fantasy world just yet. Where the first season dealt with uncovering the reason for Rikka’s tenacity in holding onto her fantasies and her slowly coming to terms with reality, the question is now what happens next?

Surely we’re in for another season full of comedy, characters behaving silly and having to overcome some emotional challenges. But it would not be a romantic comedy if they were to omit Yuuta and Rikka’s romance. New character Satone has yet to appear, though she and her own wacky delusions are no doubt going to be quite a challenge for Rikka and Yuuta.

Perhaps the biggest strength of “Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!” was how well it told Rikka’s story, the story of a girl burdened by crippling emotional loss when her father passes away, but who manages to escape depression by fleeing into an world of imagination and fantasy. Once that is revealed, her catchphrase ‘vanishment this world’ makes a lot of sense.

Like a drowning man who plucks at a straw, Rikka is reluctant to outgrow her fantasies, even though society expects her to do so. Played out well in a way this is neither black or white, but rather a grey middle ground, the series shows us those delusions are what bring a smile to Rikka’s face, which is what she needs to keep going.

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More than simply a phase or some rite of passage, those silly shenanigans are not only Rikka’s way to cope with the cruelty of the real world, but also her own way to have fun in every day life.

While others like Shinka or Yuuta may keep up appearances and reject publicly embracing such behavior, they too seem to have more fun when indulging in such silliness. Even so, they both are as grounded and level-headed as anyone, showing that people like Rikka needn’t be labelled as deviant, but that normal people can indulge in silly fantasies for their own sake.

Sanae too is an interesting character in that aspect since she is both a youngster who freely plays along with Rikka’s fantasies as if she truly believes them, as well as an intelligent, good student with impeccable academic behaviour.

Considering this, doesn’t that part of “Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!” come across as if it wants to point out that normal people should not be condemned for indulging in hobbies that society will seek to label as unfit for adults? Like we see today with anime, gaming,…

Like the first season, this sequel is produced by studio Kyoto Animation and the key staff features the same director and character designer, as such everything is splendidly animated, with the same consistent animation style and character appearance.
Next to plenty of detail in rendering all the girls, great to see that the other characters, backgrounds and action scenes too are very well animated, making this series a visual treat.

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Something I always appreciate in sequels is when all of the voice talents reprise their roles.
Rikka is again voiced by Uchida Maaya who previously voiced Rei in “Vividred Operation”, Mao in “GJ-bu”, Minori in “Outbreak Company”, Hajime in “Gatchaman Crowds”, Rea in “Sankarea” and she will also voice Toyone in this season’s “Saki Zenkoku-hen”.

Akasaki Chinatsu voices Shinka, she also voiced Maki in “Love Lab”, Yumi in “Senki Zesshou Symphogear”, Yasuna in “Kill Me Baby” and Yumi in “Gingitsune”.
Twin-tailed Sanae is voiced by Uesaka Sumire, she’s tackled roles like Tamaki in “GJ-bu”, Sora in “Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai”, Elbia in “Outbreak Company” and Rika in “Genshiken Nidaime”.

Asakura Azumi voices Kumin, she also voiced Asia in “High School DxD”, Yukiho in “The iDOLM@STER” and Machiko in “Rinne no Lagrange”.
Nagatsuma Juri will voice new character Satone, she previously voiced Kanna in “Tamako Market” and this season also voices Ichika in “Oneechan ga Kita” and Shiromi in “Saki Zenkoku-hen”.

Will definitely watch the rest of “Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren” and hope this second season is at least on par with the first as despite its few flaws, this series is still a good anime well worth watching.

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