Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! The Movie: Take On Me (Cert 12)
1 Disc DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 96 minutes approx.
The path to true love is never smooth as Yuta Togashi and Rikka Takanashi find out first hand in two TV series and now this feature length outing, but seeing as Chunibyo has always marched to the beat of its own drum, you can never be sure where the story will go.
Our teenage leads are now in their final year at school; Yuta has turned 18 whilst Rikka is not far off but still hasn’t shed her Chunibyo syndrome. Still living together in the same apartment with the approval of Rikka’s older sister Toka, their relationship remains as chaste, but now things are going to become complex.
Yuta gets a call from Toka in Italy saying she wants Rikka to stay with her over there; they think it’s just for the summer holidays, Toka means permanently. Her rationale is that as Rikka still hasn’t abandoned her quirky delusion Yuta hasn’t done a good enough job in looking after Rikka and Toka believes she should take over.
Naturally, this causes much consternation and, after some goading by their friends, Yuta and Rikka decide to elope, taking off on a trip across Japan to avoid Rikka being taken away. Being one step ahead of them, Toka blackmails eternal rivals Sanae Dekomori and Shinka Nibutani to follow Rikka and Yuta and prevent the marriage from happening.
Kyoani have taken the brave step of concluding – if this is the end – the Chunibyo story with this feature film rather than a new TV series, which might have been better served to bring this saga to a close in getting as much emotion out of the fans’ attachment to the two protagonists as possible.
Then again, they could have been lazy and delivered a non-canon spin off like so many other franchises do, a concession that makes this something of a worthwhile investment. However, this also means that prior extensive knowledge of the storyline and characters is essential in following and enjoying this film, acknowledged by the lack of recap material for newbies.
So, if you are already up to speed with where we are in the Chunibyo saga then we can continue and dive right in to what Take On Me has to offer. The first thing to note is that despite the passing years, nobody has actually aged or changed that much at all – Rikka is still a short, eye pact wearing fantasist, diminutive Sanae’s dangerous pigtails remain longer that her body and is still feuding with Shinka.
On that front, Sanae is (inexplicably) student council president and Shinka is her deputy which only adds to their issues yet there seems to be something of a begrudging unity forming via their mission to stop the elopement. If I’m being honest, their bickering antics and near misses whilst on the trail are the comic highlights of this film, while the plight of Yuta and Rikka falls more into the divisive drama category.
“Divisive” make this sound heavy and gloomy but fret not, there are still many cute and funny moments to be had a Rikka and Yuta traverse the country and try to stay afloat on their meagre budget, including a near miss at a love hotel. But while Rikka’s delusion might be endearing for many of us, it does prove frustrating in her growth as a soon-to-be young adult with Yuta being the one to bear the brunt of the consequences.
To show his love or Rikka, Yuta buys her a ring – not a gleaming diamond but a fantasy designed token of his affection – which Rikka giddily accepts but soon starts to feel that it is “draining her powers”. The subtext here is analogous of the single woman losing her identity when marrying a man and the idea of the ring being a symbol of possession and servitude to said partner.
A secret phone call to Satone Shichimiya, another Chunibyo who fought Rikka for Yuta’s affections in the second series, convinces Rikka that accepting the ring and marrying Yuta will stop Rikka from being herself, planting the seeds in Rikka’s mind that Yuta won’t love her anymore if she is no longer the possessor of the Wicked Eye. This causes a distraught Rikka to run away during the night, leaving the ring behind.
Even if Rikka is an adorable character through her fanciful reverie antics, it is hard not to be frustrated by her actions and immaturity beholden to her condition stopping her from viewing everything through such a myopic lens. We begin to wonder if Chunibyo isn’t a registered mental health issue if someone is so panic stricken at the thought of having to stop playing fantasy eventually is going to compromise their happiness and future.
I’m sure the intention was more to create sympathy for Rikka and Yuta so the eventual resolve will elicit cries of joy from the audience but the rushed nature of how it plays out, dictated by the 90-minute run time, means it resonates mostly on a superficial level, incurring a cynical take like the one proffered above. But you know this isn’t going to end on a downer because of how far the characters have come, but be warned, for some it might feel like a cop out, whilst leaving the door open for further adventures.
For a big screen event, KyoAni don’t appear to have stretched themselves to any special level beyond the high quality of the TV animation, presenting the usual vivid and detailed artwork, bursting with bright colours and energy for the fantasy sequences. This again might make this feel pedestrian in terms of being a spectacle but maintains its renowned visual appeal.
Take On Me delivers everything that we’ve come to expect from the Chunibyo franchise to the delight of their faithful fans. If this really is the end, it doesn’t quite feel like the emotional blockbuster it could have been but is still a hugely enjoyable way to bow out nonetheless.
English Language 5.1 DTS HD -MA
Japanese Language 5.1 DTS HD -MA
Japanese Promo Video
Kotatsu Photo Session Shorts
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – *** ½
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