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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000170348
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 8/9/2015 18:41
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    Review for Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!

    10 / 10


    What would the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya have been like if none of the members of the SOS Brigade actually had powers, they weren’t actually nascent gods, aliens, espers, or time travellers, and instead were just normal kids with delusions of such?

    It would be useful to begin this review with a definition of the word Chunibyo. As you can guess, it’s a Japanese word, but one which described a universal condition, a disease of puberty as the show puts it, where self-awareness and childhood whimsy collide. Think about it. As a child, the universe revolves around you. It’s an understandably infantile selfishness, as children are yet to learn to relate to others, yet to learn to see themselves as others do. But around puberty, children start to converse instead of talk, become more aware of the world around them, but are yet to take on the delusion that they aren’t the centre of the universe that adults need to adequately function. They read comic books, watch TV, see movies, play games, all with fantastic ideas and larger than life characters, and what would have been a game of let’s pretend in primary school, becomes more of an obsession for a young teen, perhaps even a deep held belief that there is more to this world than meets the eye, and being that they are at the centre of the universe, they’re part of that world too.

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    This isn’t a uniquely Japanese problem, and neither is it a phenomenon of modern culture alone. It’s universal, and it’s eternal. Just think back on what you were like at age thirteen or fourteen. I remember what I was like at that age and I want to cringe in embarrassment, and it’s a common reaction if this show’s protagonist is any indication. Thankfully it’s a short lived affliction. A fascination with ancient astronauts, alien invasion, and the Illuminati, quickly gave way to the appreciation of girls, football and arcade games. The real problem comes when Chunibyo lingers on to the mid to late teens, when you really should know better.

    Yuuta Togashi was a typical Chunibyo in middle school. He was under the impression that he was the Dark Flame Master, blessed with supernatural powers, and destined to have a more meaningful existence than anyone else. He dressed up, wore a bandage on his right hand to ‘seal’ his powers, bought all sorts of paraphernalia, culminating in the sort of unfeasibly large sword manga heroes wield, and was ignored by his classmates, and humorously tolerated by his family. That phase quickly wore off, although remembering the dork he used to be tends to send him into paroxysms of extreme embarrassment, wishing a painful death to his younger self. Now he’s starting high school, putting all that nonsense behind him, and he’s even chosen a high school far enough away that no one could possible know him, know who he was a few years previously. The night before high school starts, a girl in an eye-patch wearing a loli-goth outfit climbs down a rope from the apartment above, and offers to show him... No... he’s striving for a normal life...

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    The next day on the way to school he literally bumps into a cute girl wearing the same school uniform as him, which might set the day off in the right manner, until the eye-patch girl shows up at the station as well, and when the train pulls in, uses her ‘telekinetic’ powers to ‘force’ open the train’s automatic doors so she can get on, a performance that shocks Yuuta so much that he misses the train altogether. He just about makes it to school on time, retaining his normality, and even making his first friend, Makoto Isshiki, the boy sitting behind him in class, who has a refreshingly non-Chunibyo interest in the girls of their class. Isshiki is also suitably impressed when it appear that Yuuta already knows the cutest girl in class, the freshman representative Shinka Nibutani, the cute girl from the station. But then the eye-patch girl walks into class, Rikka Takanashi, in full on Chunibyo mode, the last girl that Yuuta wants to know.

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    The eye-patch conceals the Wicked Lord Shingan (a colour contact lens), supreme powers, and she wants to make a pact with the Dark Flame Master. She knows who Yuuta used to be, and she isn’t above using a little blackmail to enlist his help. Which is how they start the Far-East Magical Society as an after-school club. They even get members, although a cat named Chimera doesn’t count. Firebrand Sanae Dekomori is a middle-school girl who joins, and who is Rikka’s ‘#1 Servant’. The Far East Magical Society becomes the Far East Magical Napping Society when 2nd Year Tsuyuri Kumin joins (her Napping club attracted even fewer members), and Yuuta’s reluctance to join is overturned when for some strange reason, the cutest and most popular girl in the year, Shinka Nibutani joins. So Yuuta winds up supporting Rikka’s lingering delusions, all the while trying to keep his past self a secret, but slowly learns that there’s more to this eye-patch wearing self-styled ultimate force of darkness than meets the eye. There’s a cute girl with a tragic past...

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    12 episodes of Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions, plus an OVA episode are presented across 2 Blu-ray discs from Animatsu.

    Disc 1
    1. A Chance Encounter... With Wicked Lord Shingan
    2. Priestess... of the Melody
    3. The Heretical... Pigtailed Girl (Twin Tail)
    4. Regret of... the Mabinogion
    5. A Binding... Hard Study
    6. The Atoned... Innocent
    7. Reminiscences... of Paradise Lost
    8. Exiled... Just the Two of Them
    9. A Confused... Chaos Heart

    Disc 2
    10. Holy Mother’s... Pandora’s Box
    11. Single Winged... Fallen Angel
    12. Eternal Engagement
    OVA. Sparkling... Slapstick Christmas

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    Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. Sentai might just have sussed anime transfers to Blu-ray, for this title at least. I didn’t spot digital banding once during this show, pretty much the only complaint I have left when it comes to anime on Blu-ray. What we have here is a really nice presentation of the show, clear and sharp throughout, with strong, bold colours, and bringing across the animation as smoothly and as faithfully as you can hope for. Chunibyo is a Kyoto Animation series, and that comes across in the style of the animation, and the bright and slightly hazy, softened look to the piece. The character designs are very distinctive, and come across with consistency, staying on model throughout. And I have to say that I love the credit sequences to this show, great combinations of music and visuals.

    The images used in this review have been supplied by the PR, and aren’t necessarily representative of the final retail release.

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    You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo English with a signs only track, and Japanese with a translated subtitle and signs track. As you might guess from that sentence, the audio and subtitle options are locked during playback, although you can easily change through the pop-up menu. Also, with this being a Madman/Animatsu port of the Sentai discs, you’ll have to live with Sentai’s big yellow subtitles, and you might be pressing the pause button quite often given the profusion of translation notes that pop up during playback. It’s nice to know what some of the references and in-jokes are.

    I watched the show the way I streamed it, in Japanese, and for me it’s the ideal way to watch it, the characters are perfectly cast, the stereo does a good job of reflecting the show’s delusionary action sequences, and also bring across the music well. I gave the dub a quick try, and after 8 minutes of a Sentai dub, I wasn’t in any rush to turn it off, which can only be a good thing. I’m not sold on Rikka’s English voice actress though, who sounds a little too mature for the character.

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    Judging by the logos, Animatsu appear to be going halves with Madman Entertainment for this title. The discs present their content with static and silent menus, and each episode is followed by a translated credit reel. There are no next episode previews. I ought to mention that on my Panasonic Blu-ray player, the menu for disc 1 was painfully slow, with button presses taking several seconds to register, while disc 2 was as instantaneous as you would expect.

    We get more than the usual extras on an anime release here, and while the OVA episode is listed as part of the series, it wasn’t streamed, and it’s my first time seeing it. I’m also seeing the Chuni-Shorts for the first time, which run to 22:40, and are only available in Japanese with English subtitles. There are six of them in total, short snippets of Chunibyo character fun, with Rikka wanting to learn how to play volleyball (it’s not easy with no depth perception), a look at how Rikka’s Chunibyo was formed, Kazuha’s opinion of brother Yuuta when he was a Chunibyo, Rikka’s cooking abilities (garam masala is the monster that lives under a castle!), Kumin’s observations of her Napping Club co-members, and a final blast of Dekomori vs. Nibutani! It’s all great stuff.

    You get two Japanese promos running to 1:54 and 0:32 respectively.

    Finally there are the textless credits, appreciated more than usual this time.

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    I don’t condone violence, so it goes without saying that hitting girls is wrong, wrong, wrong! Just don’t do it, go to jail, do not pass go. So why do I love it every time that Yuuta gives Rikka a disciplinary chop to the head? The Japanese voice actress lets out the cutest little yelp of pain, followed by a hurt whimper that just tickles me. It’s just so adorably cute! Just remember boys and girls, violence to cartoon characters is funny, violence to real human beings is bad...

    We’re in the realm of cute girls doing cute things again, something that studio Kyoto Animation are masters at. They first regaled us with this particular slice-of-life genre with the fan favourite, and smash hit series K-On!, and have subsequently followed it up with Tamako Market (licence this one please someone), and the swimming extravaganza Free, where all they did was change the gender of the protagonists, nothing else; they behave exactly the same way, all to appeal to the female demographic. It all might be terribly enjoyable, but it all boils down to cute stuff happening with not a lot of story going on, shows designed to appeal to the surface emotions, with no long term, deep investment required. With Chunibyo, KyoAni might just have transcended their speciality, as they’ve not only created a perfect cute girls doing cute (geeky) things anime, but it’s a show with a strong and compelling storyline as well, a great narrative arc. It might just be their best show of recent years, although given that it’s hitting some of the same buttons as Haruhi Suzumiya once did, I may be slightly biased.

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    The show starts off with a narrator explaining the definition of Chunibyo, before introducing us to former Chunibyo Yuuta Togashi, whose quest to live a normal life is about to take a dramatic u-turn when he meets Rikka Takanashi, a full on Chunibyo who has let the delusions take over her life for far longer than is reasonable. She certainly behaves a little too oddly for a high school student. She also quickly twists Yuuta’s arm into helping her start a high school club for like minded fantasists. Kumin Tsuyuri might not be such a candidate, but she joins to make up the numbers, and indulge in her own hobby of napping. She can sleep at the drop of a hat, but she also takes a liking to Rikka. Rikka did have one friend before this, a fellow Chunibyo who’s at a more reasonable middle school age, and Sanae Dekomori also joins the club. She wears her hair in two ridiculously long, weighted pigtails, which she tries to use as the ultimate weapon, the Mjollnir Hammer; although her first attempt to impress The Dark Flame Master (Yuuta) goes laughably wrong. She’s also militant in her devotion to Rikka. Finally there is Shinka Nibutani, the cutest girl in school, with an unexpected hidden side.

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    So far so harem, with one boy, four girls, but Chunibyo eschews that route. There might have been a glimmer of Yuuta and Nibutani at first, and her interest in Rikka’s club seemed to have ulterior motives, but those motives aren’t what Yuuta hoped, and indeed when it transpires that Nibutani is in the same boat as Yuuta, a former Chunibyo trying to bury her own past, they have a little too much in common to fall for each other. She also tries in vain to bury that past, as Dekomori was a devotee of her online white witch persona, Morisummer, and has downloaded her wisdom and compiled it into a guidebook. Nibutani wants that guidebook destroyed, while Dekomori refuses to accept that Nibutani was Morisummer, and so battle lines are drawn that persist through the series. Then there is Yuuta’s friend Isshiki, who develops a crush on Kumin, and pops in and out of the club, trying in vain to impress Kumin (who’s usually napping when Isshiki works up the courage to confess), so the harem dynamic really doesn’t exist in this show. Also, once Yuuta witnesses the vulnerable and lonely girl beneath the Wicked Lord Shingan exterior, there’s no way he can leave Rikka alone, and that relationship is pretty much set in stone.

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    The early part of the series plays like the slice of life show, as we get to know the characters and some of the hi-jinks they get up to. Rikka’s delusions get an early airing when we meet her ridiculously gymnastic older sister Toka, a chef who keeps a ladle handy to chastise people. Rikka and Toka don’t get along, mostly because of Rikka’s Chunibyo, and it often erupts in umbrella versus ladle fights. Of course in Rikka’s mind it’s full on magical powers unleashed, massive explosions of energy, and we get to see that with the full force of an anime special effects budget behind it. But one of the genius comic choices of the show is to show what’s happening in the real world to contrast Rikka’s delusional fantasy. So we get two super-powered, supremely confident dark warriors, and then we get a slightly dorky, slightly clumsy, uncoordinated girl swinging away ineffectively at her older sister with an umbrella (Schwarz Shield Mark II), who keeps hitting her in the forehead with a ladle.

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    The first few episodes introduce the cast and set up the premise, gather the members of the club. We get Rikka’s battle with Toka over a pet cat (Toka’s allergic), we get the revelation of Nibutani’s past, we get Rikka facing the challenge of losing the club if she fails her exams, we get Isshiki getting caught running a cute girl election in his class, and facing a cruel punishment, and we get the club going on a summer trip to the beach and Rikka’s grandparents house. (A contemporary anime without a beach episode is no anime). But it’s here, episode 7 where the show’s story becomes clear, and we learn just why Rikka is a Chunibyo, just what happened in her past to make her run from reality into her fantasies. Throughout the show, each of Rikka’s ‘special’ moves is heralded by the incantation “Be destroyed, real! Blow up, synapses! Vanishment, This World!” It’s a daft phrase, meaningless and overly dramatic, and just there for comic effect, until the end of episode 7, where Rikka says it, and it just breaks your heart, because at last you know just why she hides behind the eyepatch.

    It’s episode 7 that will either win you to this show or not. Up till now, it’s been the usual cute girls doing cute things, but from this point forward, we also get story, character development and emotional investment. This is where Yuuta starts falling in love with Rikka and vice versa, it’s where he decides to support her, despite her delusions. And things move slowly but awkwardly forward, as their club mates also decide to help their relationship develop (or in Dekomori’s case, hinder it). The dramatic twist comes when Toka has to leave, and Rikka has to live with her mother again. Toka asks Yuuta for a favour, to repair the mother daughter relationship she wants him to snap Rikka out of her Chunibyo once and for all. It’s very much the correct thing to do, but Yuuta wonders if it’s the right thing to do, especially as it might mean losing Rikka for good. It’s an emotional, roller coaster ride right to the perfect ending.

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    I hadn’t seen the OVA before, but it’s a nice addition to the collection, a hark back to the comedy of the first half, with added relationship issues, although there is one glaring continuity error that bugs me. I could go on about Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions for ages. Each of the characters deserves their own review, so rich and well written are they. It’s a great show, full of wonderful comedy, the cute girls doing cute things that Kyo-Ani does so well, the slice of life aspect of the show, and it’s got a great story too, a touching romance, and no little drama, characters that you very much get wrapped up and invested in. It’s the perfect show, a perfect little series. You don’t need anything else. Of course KyoAni seeing a potential cash-cow went and made a second season, but that’s a matter for another review. The first season of Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions is very much a must own series, and Animatsu, Madman, and Sentai have given this show a great presentation on Blu-ray.

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