There are a lot of different things one would and could say about “chuunibyou,” or literally translated as the 8th grade disease. In the anime adaptation of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, it paints a story about the pain of facing reality. But I think it’s just a story about growing up, where the subject matter of said disease is akin to a cocoon.
In fact, thematically, Haibane Renmei is the one title that comes to my mind as the closest associate to Chuu2koi. Unfortunately there is nothing as elegant and thoughtful as what 00-era masterpiece had, that could be found in Kyoto Animation’s last TV anime. On the flip side, Chuu2koi is not a dreadful inquiry about life and death, but a cheeky remembrance of something more of us can get behind–the things that occupied our playful imagination from our early days.
After all, children play; adults don’t. It’s not so much something we hold true today but it’s a stereotype of considerable heritage. We occupy ourselves without the cares of the world, and instead things that are simply otherworldly. In the case of chuunibyou, the term otherworldly is no longer a figure of speech. The connection between that we know as chuunibyou and the innate flights of fancy all of us take at various points in our lives is a nice hook, but maybe that’s not enough for some of us.
The finale to Chuu2koi felt like an all-too-earnest Japanese indie flick. I don’t think that is problematic per se but it misses the opportunity to explore in profound ways on why we dream. It could’ve gone deeper, I guess. As much as I might like to explore how Rikka’s disease is similar to someone’s imaginary friend, it just wasn’t “koi” enough for the story. Will it be the force of reality or the lifeline of romance that pushes Rikka out of her shell? Will she turn out to be a butterfly? I think some of us was cheering for that monster from Shin Sekai Yori? I am trying to not make a Mardock Scramble joke.
And that is the Achilles’s Heel to Chuu2koi. It’s like multi-classing in D&D; there are some inherent synergies but overall is not where the smart money is. In the end Rikka had some personal difficulties and Yuuta helped her to deal with them. The colorful ways these kids expressed their youthful lives was what got us interested in the show, but I don’t know if I would’ve stayed over for dinner. Or rather, it’s like eating too much candy before dinner and how that kills the appetite. Most of us were left wanting to see more Kumin or Dekomori, these adaptive changes that were not in the source material. Even the final scene upon the “Eternal Horizon,” while evocative and reminded me some of the better confessions under similar, starry circumstances, felt closer to a lovers’ double suicide than the emotional capstone that sates and empowers viewers as they walk away from the show. Like Rikka, I preferred the Dark Flame Master that carried the show, not the full-of-starch Yuta Togashi; and like their delusions, these moments of joy were equally fleeting and leaving us wanting. It was not for lack of drama, it just wasn’t as good as the stories beside it.
Maybe that is some form of satire? Just like how we don’t want to settle for the ordinary in Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions? I guess we’ll just have to settle for this pedestrian TV animation.