Weekly Digest 1/16/14 – Chuunibyou 2, Witch Craft Works

Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -4 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -8 WCW - 02-5 WCW - 02-8

Two episodes in, I’m still not sure if there’s a reason this season of Chuunibyou exists apart from the obvious commercial one.

Chuunibyou 2 – 02

Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -1 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -2 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -3
Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -5 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -6 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -7
Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -9 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -10 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -11
Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -12 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -13 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -14
Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -15 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -16 Chuunibyou 2 - 02 -17

I remain on the fence about blogging this season of Chuunibyou.  There was nothing especially wrong with this week’s episode, just as there was nothing wrong with last week’s – they were very much in the vein of the first season.  But that’s part of the problem.

I’ll give Chuunibyou credit for this much – in this episode it did at least acknowledge that things are stagnant.  Maybe that stagnation is going to be the major plot driver this season, which would probably be the best-case scenario all things considered.  Because I’m finding it quite annoying that Rikka is still acting like a grade-schooler – even calling herself one at the aquarium dolphin show – and that it isn’t causing more of a non-comedy driven reaction.  Yeah, Yuuta whacks her on the head occasionally – hell, he even spanks her this week – but she still buzzes along merrily in her child’s world, spending all her sister’s money on junk and absorbing herself in fantasy to the point of dysfunction.  The reason it worked in the first season is because of the back-story behind it – we could see it as the defense mechanism it was.  Now it’s just annoying.

In truth, I think chuunibyou would actually be a step-up for Rikka because she actually does act more like a sixth than an eighth-grader.  And it doesn’t help that Yuuta himself – even when he doesn’t slip into Dark Flame Master mode – is fully ensconced in the sex-free world of childhood.  I don’t blame Nibutani (by the way, was there an explanation for why her hair went back to normal and I just missed it?) for being annoyed – I sure am – by the complete lack of boyfriend-girlfriend chemistry between these two.  I don’t much like the way Nibutani has devolved into a sort of combined Greek Chorus/audience stand-in/narrator for this show, but she’s still usually the one in the cast making the most sense.

The other thing that worries me is that there’s growing reason to suspect KyoAni is circling the wagons a bit with this season, focusing on delivering the service its core fans want and not worrying too much about themes.  There’s the OP and ED of course, the fact that Isshiki seems to have been written out of the show, and then we get an introduction of two more moemoe girls this week – one of them entering the same way Rikka did – as well as yuri hints with both of them that may or may not be jokes.  I want to believe there’s more to this season than simply a crass attempt to squeeze a few million more Yen out of the franchise, but the evidence isn’t there to support that yet.

Witch Craft Works – 02

WCW - 02-1 WCW - 02-2 WCW - 02-3
WCW - 02-4 WCW - 02-6 WCW - 02-7
WCW - 02-9 WCW - 02-10 WCW - 02-11
WCW - 02-12 WCW - 02-13 WCW - 02-14
WCW - 02-15 WCW - 02-16 WCW - 02-17

I watched a slew of second episodes this week that I’m not specifically blogging – Buddy Complex, Mikakunin, Hamatora to be specific.  And while I think all of them were better in their second episode than their premiere, none of them really gave me any particular urge to write about them (Mikakunin has something, but the older and younger sister characters and the casting of the imouto and the male lead make it unwatchable).  Of the lot of them I think Witch Craft Works probably had the best second episode, so I thought I’d touch base with it.

Mizushima Tsutomu is directing and writing this series, and I’m a great believer that the overall talent level of the staff will tend to find its level over time.  I’m still not sure this show is going to cross the threshold into being really interesting, but the second episode was a good deal of fun.  I like the way the Tower Witches are being depicted – all of them like slightly off-their-nut ojou-samas.  I like the sheer randomness of the episode – for example, what the hell was Takamiya sculpting and why was he sculpting at all – and the entire scene at the cafe, with the bizarre familiars and the busty waitress.  And I like the willingness of the series to be pretty brutal – not just the Salem re-enactment (I guess the ED was foreshadowing) but the witch calmly slapping the lost little girl out of the way when she realized the dude she was looking for was right in front of her.

Quirky humor and brutality are both, of course, hallmarks of Mizushima-sensei’s style.  You can tell this show is the work of a real talent – the mundane stuff is more interesting than it should be, and the silly stuff (like Takamiya’s sister – who I assume is a witch as well – stalking he and Kagari) is funny when it’s supposed to be.  I don’t especially feel anything for any of the characters yet, though Kagari’s extreme deadpan is consistently amusing.  And the plot itself is only modestly interesting, though it has sparked a mild curiosity to see where it’ll go next.  There were a whole bunch of mediocre shows tightly bunched together after the first week, but Witch Craft Works has separated itself from that pack a little in the second.  It’s definitely in the “maybe” box at the moment.



  1. M

    Actually, I'd have expected you of all people to be familiar with the concept of the so-calld "Summer Debut", and what Shinka did was similar — a way to TRY to distance herself from how she was during the previous year. Needless to say, like her hair dye, it didn't last. And the first episode was pretty much everyone else who wasn't Rikka or Yuuta trying to act differently from how they usually are — see Kumin trying to crack bad puns.

  2. Yes, it's a trope – but you didn't think it was odd that no one commented on it, and it wasn't even acknowledged in the episode?

  3. K

    It's really weird that a 16 year old couple living together aren't having sex, not even so much as kissing O.o
    It's not as if I want fanservice, it's more that it would be nice for anime studios to acknowledge more often that most teenage couples have sex, most act like it doesn't exist, and it detracts from the sense of realism.

  4. j

    ugh if you're gonna bring realism into it, can you imagine how awkward sex between those two would be? no thanks lol

  5. u

    The thing is Yuuta himself acknowledges that he has no idea where to go from this point. And what's more, Rikka isn't emotionally mature enough to even CONSIDER taking the next step. For them, holding hands is a big deal already.

  6. k

    I've nick-named Kagari "T-800" after Arnie's character from Terminator 2.

  7. s

    I assume the second chuunibyou season exists because of the second LN; there is still story left to be covered. Hey, if they're going to tackle the whole aspect of two inexperienced teenagers engaging in a romantic relationship and do it with some wit, im all for this season existing and so far the show has done a competent job at it; the progression shown in this ep demonstrated that the status quo between these two will change and that it will ultimately be the heart of the story.

    After Kyokai no Kanata (as much of a decent series i thought it was it had its fair share of problems that ultimately ended up in disappointment), this is a better change of pace as it's good to see that this series is still as tightly woven as the first season. My only complaints (nitpicks) is that the chuuni talk be toned down a bit to better allow some more character insight and smoother dialogue (though it can be argued that the charm of this series is the chuuni talk and how it conveys what the characters truly feel) but it seems that with each ep count, the main couple will begin to express their true feelings both without the chuuni mask and physically.

    While i do think this season is trying to cash in on the success of the first (go figure…but hey its not like it's a bad thing), i do think the people behind this want to tell a fairly competent tale of two innocent teens in love. Kinda like how the first season was about not being ashamed of being different and having an imagination, this season will possibly be about how to handle the idea of love when one is inexperienced and to not feel the need to conform to others views on relationships. i think that should make for a good watch.

  8. m

    I agree that it's still competent and makes me laugh, but it does feel like yuuta and rikas relationship is being used as a set up for another delusional girl to have a yuri crush on rik and chase her (prob in an attempt to get laughs) If they instead use this as a wake up for rika having her bf being hit on it would prob work better. or even a wake up for yuuta (which he kind of already had) and make the 2nd season about their relationship progressing it would prob be really good again. If not it's just gonna be a show with some laughs, but nothing like its first season.

  9. s

    My thoughts exactly (except i dont think the new girl is going to be crushing on Rikka)…but from what ive seen, it does seem like this season will be serious about the relationship between Yuuta and Rikka….at least i hope so….im not in the mood to see Kyoani sell out on me

  10. B

    I like that Witch Craft Works doesn't take itself to seriously. I liked the little gags that made all the explaining bearable, the sister stalking him was great (especially the box thing, very metal gear like). Also the ED is hilarious

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