Final Thoughts: Chuunibyou
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Back in 2017, I watched Chuunibyou for the first time to my absolute delight. The series, despite my initial impressions of just another uninspired slice of life series ended up being unique in a way that was both admittedly cringe but also endearing. As I talked about in one of my latest OWLS posts, the show has a great message about allowing reality to be replaced by fantasy as a way to cope with the the harshness of it. Aside from that, though, the show’s characters are extremely well written. I had not watched the show in a while, when I remembered earlier this month that the show received a movie sequel back in 2018. So after re-watching both seasons of the show and seeing the the movie, here are my Final Thoughts on Chuunibyou.
Chuunibyou as a Metaphor for Autism
When I first watched the show back in 2017, one of the things that stood out to me was the concept of Chuunibyou, otherwise called 8th grader syndrome. It was a so called disease that caused people do play out some kind of fantasy without much respect for the real world. After finishing the first season of the series, one thing that came to mind was the similarities between Chuunibyou and Autism. After all, the metaphor kind of makes sense. Autism, generally speaking, causes problems with learning and social interaction. This is shown a lot with Rika, and how, even with Yuta’s help, she struggles to live as a normal person. It is also true that not all people who have autism have it forever. As it turns out, a small minority of kids who are diagnosed with autism actually end up losing it, usually with the help of early intervention and treatment.
However, the metaphor is not perfect. While some are lucky enough to lose their autism, most cases of it are usually lifelong conditions, so the idea that so many kids could just lose it in such a short period of time is a little preposterous. Also, both Yuta and Rika were not born with the condition, but rather became enveloped by Chuunibyou after watching someone else affected by it. Written a little differently, though, and the metaphor might have actually worked.
Regardless of what Chuunibyou actually means, one thing that remains constant throughout the show is Yuta’s influence over and responsibility for Rika. When the two meet in the first episode, Rika confronts Yuta over is Dark Flame Master persona that he had waved goodbye to with one final chant before starting his first day of high school. After telling her he is done with that life, Rika becomes even more interested in him. Eventually, since the two live in the same apartment complex, they just start hanging out. Toka, Rika’s sister, sees Yuta as a positive influence, and so is more or less ok with him.
The two do end up spending a lot of time together, even going so far as to start dating. Still, Rika remains a Chuunibyou. While Toka has always dealt with her sister’s weirdness, she viewed Yuta as a way to “fix” Rika. Ultimately though, Yuta ends up becoming a sort of shield both against Rika’s immediate family’s wishes that she would be normal and expectations of others. He allows Rika to be who she wants, validating her as a person along the way.
Honestly, Its Just Fun
For as important as it is to dive into the meaning behind a particular show, Chuunibyou also serves as a reminder of just how fun it can be to watch slice of life shows. Chuunibyou as a condition that Rika and the others have all dealt with creates a funny, dysfunctional family vibe that endures throughout the length of the series as well as the movie. Hmm…
Oh! The Movie!
Chuunibyou! Take on Me! was pretty much half of the reason I even decided to rewatch the series, so I guess should talk about it for a bit. Honestly, my expectations going in were pretty high. After all, Chuunibyou is a Kyoto Animation property, not to mention that the movie format would like give them even more room to play around with the gorgeous animation they are known for.
Unfortunately, and it pains me to say, the movie was not much more technically impressive than its anime series counterpart. The animation in terms of fluidity was more or less the same, and the Chuunibyou based action sequences were pretty much on par with their counterparts in seasons one and two.
Story-wise, the movie was great. Toka, wanting Rika to live with her in Italy so that she can be taken care of, moves her stuff out of Yuta’s apartment. In response, the two decide to elope, running all across Japan, trying to escape from the evil priestess. As the two journey together, Rika struggles to understand what it is that she wants. However, by journey’s end, the two make the ultimate lover’s contract and decide to get married.
If I had to describe the movie in one word, it would be satisfying. While it is true that their relationship kind of goes from zero to 100 real quick, with Yuta proposing to Rika seemingly out of nowhere, it also just makes sense given their relationship. It was never really in question whether or not the two were going to be together, and so the movie just speeds up that ending. Normally, I would be complaining about this, and indeed even in Chuunibyou this kind of pacing is pretty weird, but given the nature of the relationship between Yuta and Rika, it could be argued that it makes sense.
Overall, Chuunibyou has emerged as one of my favorite KyoAni series as well as one of my favorite in general. It is certainly unique in its presentation and ideas, and also is just in general a fun show to watch. It is definitely a worthwhile show to watch.
How do you all feel about Chuunibyou? Let me know in the comments below.
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