12 Days of Anime: Day 1 – Chuunibyou and Life

So these posts are part of a series in response to The Cart Driver’s Call to Arms. Basically, I’ll post about anime each day leading up until Christmas. As this will be a daily thing, my posts will (most likely) be much shorter. For this these dozen posts, I’m going to try posting a little bit about currently airing shows. And so, without further ado…

Day 1: Chuunibyou

On the first day of anime my waifu gave to me,
a chu2 from KyoAni…

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What bosses. Like seriously, this is ridiculously cool.

So Chuunibyou (also know as Chu2koi) has almost wrapped up now, and I think it’s about time I weigh in on the show. As with Sakurasou, my feelings are almost eerily echoed through Stilts’s posts on Random Curiosity. So turn there for nice analyses of the show.

First off, KyoAni is a master of storytelling, but not a master storyteller. What do I mean by that? Their execution is top-notch (I know I raved about it during Hyouka, which might eventually make it’s way into a blog post), but the material isn’t always great – which is what leads to such disasters like the Endless Eight (if you paid close attention, you’ll notice KyoAni not only redubbed all the lines each time, but also redid most, if not all, of the animation…not that it made the arc any better).

What the subtitles said.

What Kyon said.

Luckily, both of these qualities (a good story and good execution) are showing through in Chuunibyou. This simple story of love, romance, and life has been a great ride so far. I know some people like their shows spiced up with love triangles, drama, and moving scenes, but sometimes I just like the simplicity of vanilla – and characters so kawaii you can die of heart failure (although once we hit episode 11 the show nosedived into the realm of melodrama).

I mean, I almost died when this scene came on. The moe is strong with this one...

I mean, I almost died when this scene came on. The moe is strong with this one…

Why do I like Chuunibyou as much as I do? It’s quite close to home for me – I’m a big fan of “escaping reality”, you might say (at least might say so). I read a lot of books, watch a lot of anime, play a lot of video games, play tabletop RPGs (and almost LARPed), cosplay (albeit not extremely seriously), and now have started (tentatively) writing. I might even go so far as to say that I believe the ability to create entire new worlds (realities, even) and share them with others is a fundamental aspect of what makes us human. And a fundamental aspect of what separates language from simple communication. So the entire premise from Chuunibyou has been extremely touching for me. I actually admired Rikka, Yuuta, and Shinka’s chu2 selves, and have been especially saddened by their loss.

I mean, this is what is left of Rikka.

I’m not the only one – Rikka doesn’t seem the best off for it. And dang – look at all the effects KyoAni pumps into this scene to emphasize the mood! They’re so good at this stuff.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post: What does Chuunibyou teach us about life? That it’s okay to escape the confines of reality, but not reality itself. What do I mean by this? The fundamental aspect of the chu2 syndrome is that it involves creating a new reality – spicing up the old one. Magic, mysteries, powers – they’re all fair game (and look mega cool when KyoAni gets done with them). And that’s fine – as long as you can differentiate between your fantasy and “real” reality. Deko even admits as much. Because ultimately you have to distinguish the two not only in order to survive but also to interact with other people (real people in this case – you can always create fake individuals in your head, and I’ll make a distinction between the two). The problem comes in when you use this type of behavior to escape from reality in a complete sense – fleeing to your fantasy world to deny your problems in the real one.

This can be a thin line. In Rikka’s case, she used her chuunibyou to sort of “escape” from from the truth about her father’s death, trying to preserve her old innocence and remain untainted by the claws of death. But here’s the catch – in this type of situation, chuunibyou is a symptom of the problem, not the actual cause. And this is Yuuta’s mistake. By forcing Rikka to stop her fantasy, he only strips away her protection and doesn’t actually solve the root of the problem – that she has to deal with her father’s death. And this is because he has refused to accept his past chu2 self, and so has taken this view to task on Rikka. To his credit, Yuuta does seem to realize some of these things (or at least that things are amiss), but doesn’t know what to do to fix it. Worst of all, I’m pretty sure he now pities Rikka, and so simply tries contain her sadness rather than trying to shoulder it together, like a true couple should. Rather than admit his mistake (his intentions were not wrong, but the outcome turned out notsogood), he fumbles and lashes out (for example at Deko T_T), hoping Rikka will somehow recover.

To her credit, Shinka

To her credit, Shinka seems to have succeeded where Yuuta still is struggling. Going into the drama club would be very fitting for her. In fact, it might be fitting for all the members (except Kumin and Isshiki, but they’ve being doing their own thing anyways).

This is what I mean by pitying Rikka rather than trying to help her through this difficult time. It's the difference between "damage containment and hope for the best"

This is what I mean by pitying Rikka rather than trying to help her through this difficult time. It’s the difference between a “damage containment and hope for the best” attitude and a “let’s get through this together” attitude.

Yuuta, you don't do this to a girl...

Yuuta, you don’t do this to a girl! What kind of monster are you?! Also, KyoAni proves themselves once again to be the masters of animating tears…デス!

As I said, he at least realizes something is going wrong, and it's because he hasn't taken the next step.

As I said, he at least realizes something is going wrong, and it’s because he hasn’t taken the next step. Yes, he helped Rikka come face to face with reality, and partially mend her relationship with her sister and mom, but now he needs to bear it with her and bring her back to her usual cheerful self.

Here’s to wishing Yuuta and Rikka can recover from this, and that the final episode of Chuunibyou will bring this relationship to a happy close!

Note: Photo credits for a lot of these go to Random Curiosity.

EDIT: Added in the Christmas-esque verse at the top, inspired by a friend, which I’ll try to do for the rest of the posts.

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2 responses to “12 Days of Anime: Day 1 – Chuunibyou and Life

  1. I’m in the midst of writing a post regarding the same things you’ve touched upon. This will certainly help speed up my thought process.

    Which reminds me, I need to start writing for 12 Days too.

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