Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Heart Throb (Cert 12)
3 Discs DVD / 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 320 minutes approx.
This second season of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! – released here back in 2015 – was originally due for release late in 2016 but the curse of the delay gremlins struck. But they have now been smote by the mystical magus of the Manga Kingdom, so grab your eye patches and retractable umbrellas and allow yourself to be whisked away into the fantasy world of the deluded high schooler.
For anyone in need of a reminder, Chunibyo is a term coined to define what the Japanese call “Eighth Grade Syndrome”, a genuine phenomenon involving kids who developed escapist fantasy hero persona with magic powers who are unable to grow out of them by the time they reach their teenage years.
Our chief protagonist is Chunibyo sufferer Rikka Takanashi, whose condition, revealed in the first series, was born out of a trauma suffered as a child. Now in high school she still can’t let go of being the holder of the Wicked Eye, which she hides under an eye patch, a cause not helped by others around her equally consumed by their own Chunibyo.
There isn’t much of an overarching storyline in this second season, subtitled Heart Throb, leaving it until the final few episodes to introduce a dramatic plot ahead of the climax. For the most part, this is a collection of largely standalone incidents designed to push the relationship between Rikka and her long-suffering boyfriend Yuta Togashi, who thought he has put his Chunibyo to rest until he met Rikka.
With her sister Toka living in Italy, Rikka now lives with Yuta and his sister Kuzuha. Meanwhile the support cast from before all return – Sanae Dekomori, Rikka’s pig tail sporting servant, narcoleptic Kumin Tsuyuri and prissy Shinka Nibutani aka Mori Summer. Sanae is still teasing Shinka about being a fake Mori Summer while Yuta is forced to indulge his erstwhile Dark Flame Master persona to galvanise Rikka.
One big change is the arrival of Satone Shichimiya, making her debut in the same fashion that Rikka did in the first series by climbing down the side of the apartment block. Another high schooler unable to shake off her Chunibyo, Satone calls herself Sophia Ring SP Saturn VII, and is in fact a childhood friend of Yuta, whom she calls “Hero”, unaware that Yuta has now ostensibly abandoned his delusion.
Initially Satone doesn’t pose a threat to Rikka and Yuta, certainly not with someone like Sanae ready to defend her master in a series of spectacular magical wars that exists only in their minds. The backstory of Satone and Yuta is rather cute all told, and one can’t help but feel a little sorry for Satone upon learning Yuta is no longer the Dark Flame Master, seeing another part of her childhood disappear before her eyes.
But as time goes on Satone is unable to resolve her feelings for Yuta and the inevitable showdown between her and Rikka is set. But Rikka also her doubts and realises that she must take things to the next level with Yuta (in this instance, kissing) to affirm their love and keep him in her life. This means awakening the Dark Flame Dragon and fulfilling their lovers’ contract – of course.
Elsewhere the gang get involved in an interschool sleeping contest, a trip to the beach (natch), Shinka running for Student President (guess who sabotages that), a face off against (real) fake Mori Summer and a school trip to the mountains. In other words, this season settles a little too comfortably into the same rut as other slice-of-life comedy dramas plot wise, but with added eccentricities.
This is probably where the series loses a little of the charm that made its predecessor such a rich and emotional experience, along with the addition of more deluded characters. Satone is cute enough but four helium voiced moe girls reeling off garrulous verbiage rescued from the leftovers bin of Dungeon & Dragons at the top of their lungs does become a little tiresome after as while.
Granted this is the major appeal of the show and there is no denying the cast are a likeable bunch and provide much amusement within their high spirited interactions, especially Sanae and Shinka, but even the most durable gimmicks do have a breaking point. Satone therefore adds little new to this dynamic, being as she is the forerunner of the role Rikka’s currently plays in Yuta’s life.
The other aspect is poor Yuta trying to distance himself from his past but is reluctantly drawn into it again purely to accommodate Rikka, who by now really should be growing out of it. The strain and frustration of having to compromise himself just to keep Rikka in check is dealt with mostly through comedy but this never becomes a truly serious concern until the final episodes.
Had the frippery of the earlier chapters been used to create a crisis point where Yuta finds himself unable to keep up the pretence and wants Rikka to snap out of her delusion, maybe even deliver an ultimatum that will break his heart, the emotional content of the first series would have carried over to this one and given it the substance if sorely requires.
Koyoto Animation has done another fantastic job with the visuals, and the battle scenes are as impressive as ever. The artwork and backgrounds are simply stunning and should look a treat on Blu-ray. This quality also extends to the bonus OVA episode and the six short “Lite” clips in the extras, which are non-canon but very amusing nonetheless.
If the delightful characters and their fantasy antics was the key appeal for you in the first series then Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Heart Throb will deliver more of the same bombastic silliness to your eternal delight. If the poignant drama was the hook for you, this sequel will prove a little less satisfying in that respect, but there is still plenty of fun to be had here.
Japanese Language with English Subtitles
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Chunibyo Lite Shorts
Rating – *** ½
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