I’m probably going to be swimming against the current with this show.
My instant reaction after the second episode of Chuunibyou is about the same as the first: that this is a very good execution of a series that isn’t my cup of tea. Some have compared it to Denpa Onna, a series I liked but didn’t love, but there’s one huge difference – that show had Miyu Irino as the male lead. Among the issues I have with this series is getting past just how ridiculous Fukuyama Jun’s voice sounds coming out of Yuuta’s character design. This is one area where KyoAni’s religious devotion to their own orthodoxy really bothers me, though it doesn’t seem to present a problem commercially if past history is any judge.
I do see the Denpa Onna comparison, though Chuunibyou is certainly more frenetic in overall tone. It certainly isn’t a bad series – I laughed sometimes during the episode, and while I don’t find the visuals especially stellar by KyoAni standards they’re Godly by almost anyone else’s. I especially liked the scene where Yuuta let his inner geek escape when he saw the swag in Takanashi’s room, embarrassing him in front of lost cat seeker Tsuyuri Kumin (Asakura Azumi). It was FukuJun’s best work in the first two episodes and gets to what should make this series appealing and only occasionally (for me) does, the struggle of the boy to escape the “Dark Flame Master” who’s actually a big part of his true nature.
There’s something in that which should be identifiable and resonant with anyone who is or has been a teenager, especially one with a penchant for nerdly habits. But somehow Chuunibyou often leaves me cold, and Yuuta’s navel-gazing feels inauthentic. There’s also a strong tendency to lapse into what feels like showing off to me – KyoAni falling back on the over-the-top cuteness that they know they do better than anyone else, and have the bank statements to prove it. I’m not sure whether the problem is that they’re trying too hard here or not hard enough, or even if there’s any problem at all apart from my own preferences in anime. But on balance, the central premise isn’t resonating with me in practice as well as it did on paper. As to Rikka, I’m not quite sure what I think of her yet. She’s the funniest thing in the series and the most irritating at the same time – I sort of like the fact that the character is completely invested in her delusional worldview, but just the same if I had her as a neighbor I’d want to move as far away as possible. As for her big sister Touka (Sendai Eri) she comes off as pretty damn unlikeable in this episode – though she certainly has reason to be a little irritable considering who she’s living with.
Maybe something will click in the next couple of eps, because this is a series I really want to like. It feels as if there’s something meaningful and clever at the heart of it, but right now it’s not connecting with me. Let’s see how things look after next week.