There are few shows doing idiocy as well as Chuunibyou, and there’s definitely something to be said for that.
It occurs to me that this show would get a lot more interesting if it were revealed that Rikka (or even Yuuta or, God forbid, Dekomori) actually had magical powers. I mean, that would be a serious plot twist with a boatload of irony to it to boot. Not expecting that, mind you, but it would certainly elevate the series above the pleasing but somewhat predictable groove it seems to be in. Taking a more serious approach to the whole matter of chuunibyou and what it represents would do that too, but I’ve more or less assumed that ship has sailed at this point.
But still, what we’re left with is pretty good – a straight-up slapstick comedy that pulls no punches. And I mean that literally, because in addition to Dekomori and Nibutani beating the crap out of each other we actually have lots of moments where Yuuta tries in vain to pound some sense into the baka duo. It’s pretty rare to see guys hitting girls for comedic effect in anime, and even more for it to happen and not have legions of viewers crying foul about it – that’s the magic of KyoAni’s hypnotic powers, I guess. Normally I’m not crazy about that sort of thing whichever way it goes but at least Chuunibyou is striking a literal blow against double-standards here, and getting away with it.
We’re definitely still in full-on comedy mode here, but in addition to one or two semi-serious moments we had a new comedic direction in an episode centered around Isshiki. As voiced by eternal aho sidekick Houshi Souchiro Makoto hasn’t made much of an impression so far, and that’s putting it kindly. But as a subject for an episode his brand of idiocy sort of works, because it’s a different strain that Rikka and Dekomori’s and it tests Yuuta’s patience in different ways. It’s also a break from the “sensible guy surrounded by batshit girls” mode which has been a non-stop fixture for five episodes. Some of the bromance gags between he and Yuuta are pretty clever, and while we’ve certainly seen Makoto’s brand of oversexed insecurity before it’s been done a lot worse.
There are a few interesting canon-type developments here, starting with the question of who actually did give Isshiki the love letter (I haven’t dismissed Nibutani as a candidate). Is Kumin actually interested, or just a bald otaku? Most importantly there’s the matter of the ever-deepening cracks in the damn Yuuta has built to keep his chuunibyou at bay. He’s back in his old gamer mode, he actually wears the silly T-shirt Rikka makes for him (hint: white dress shirts hide very little) and he’s showing more and more interest in connecting with Rikka. The scene where she holds his hand at the railroad crossing was an interesting one, about as “straight” as Chuunibyou has gotten so far, and could certainly be interpreted as the closest the socially awkward Rikka could get to communicating her interest to Yuuta.
As for the rest, I still find Dekomori far too much to take – though she occasionally makes me laugh from sheer volume of idiocy mostly she annoys the hell out of me – but Nibutani’s quite literal take on the tsundere model might just be the most interesting character profile in the cast. And if she’s actually attracted to a social loser like Isshiki (though he did score serious bro-points with his noble self-sacrifice) that would make her convoluted and increasingly desperate flailing at trying to maintain her high standing on the social league table even more interesting to watch.