Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai Ep. 1: More socially awkward people

If I could sum up my initial impression of the first episode, it’d be “Well, it’s kind of like an anime version of Bridge to Terabithia, but the main character’s a prick.” Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. I just find our main character rather unlikable. All of the same themes are there though: friendship, individualism, childish fun, etc. You’ve got a guy who wants to fit in, but then he meets a girl who appeals to his more creative, imaginative side. It’s probably just a coincidence, but Yuuta, the main character, even has a little sister who thinks he’s cool.

People always say that our imagination is most active when we are young. That is probably true and everything, but this statement also gives off the impression that our imagination will somehow dies off with age. As such, I think it would be more accurate to say… well, we become self-conscious. Guys like Yuuta epitomize this. His imagination hasn’t gone away at all; he just knows shame now. As a result, his former antics embarrass him, and he’s afraid that Rikka will drag him down when he’s tried so hard to discard his former self. So for grown-ups, I’d argue that the imagination’s still there. Just look at all the people on Reddit proclaiming their love for pillow forts. If Reddit was like high school or a workplace though, you sure as hell wouldn’t find too many pillow fort submissions.

My first gut reaction to Yuuta was harsh — hell, I just called him a prick at the top of this post, right? — but I can understand why he rejects Rikka over and over. He’s a teen. Teens are stupid, but they also just want to fit in. Yuuta only wants to make some lasting friendships: “That memory pains my heart. I’ve been on my own in that class ever since.” Even so, the main character nevertheless frustrates me, because he admits that he’s been in Rikka’s position before. As such, he’s being a jerk to someone who, like him, just wants to make friends. Is she wrong for thinking she’s found a kindred spirit in Yuuta? Why should she be punished just because she doesn’t feel the same sense of shame that he does? He’s the one with all the hang-ups, after all.

But at the end of the day, they’re all kids. Yes, they’re teenagers in high school, but they’re still developmentally incomplete. As such, can I really expect Yuuta to act any differently? Will Rikka teach the guy that he doesn’t need to conform 100% to his peers’ expectations? Will he help her make enough friends that she doesn’t have to retreat to her fantasy world all the damn time? I’ll tell ya what, though… all of these questions make me wonder if I should even be watching this show. Beyond the premise, it just feels like another generic story about friendship. I’m not asking for some tiring exercise in self-referentiality like what Shaft would’ve done with the same subject material, but is there enough here to keep me interested? Well, would I ever re-read Bridge to Terabithia, a book I haven’t read since elementary school?

Basically, I just think the show’s messages will end up being too self-evident to keep me engaged. I suppose it could try to tug on my heart strings instead, but that rarely happens with anime and me. I would probably have to see why Rikka prefers to play in her fantasy world as opposed to acting like a typical teenager, but I’m bracing myself for a potentially corny backstory full of tears and angst. I guess I’ll find out soon enough over the next few weeks.

* * * * *

• Nitpick: That OP is seizure-inducing, and I’m not even exaggerating. By all means, take a look for yourself. Parts of it are literally uncomfortable to watch. I made a comment on Twitter that the OP basically resembled a moe strobelight.

• What I liked: Well, it’s KyoAni, so the animation is decent. I don’t get their penchant for pudgy fingers and limbs though. I guess it’s supposed to be cute and everything, but a peculiar side effect is that everyone looks super, super short.

• Nitpick: What is really the appeal of girls with eye-patches? No, I get it: the show is lampooning similar heroines in shows that actually take themselves seriously (e.g. Another). I’m just curious as to why this look ever became popular to begin with. Having just one eye is so moe!

• Nitpick: For whatever reason, the male voice actors are being told to sound annoying.  I guess Yuuta will just take some time to get used to, but Makoto’s voice is downright nasally. He’s supposed to play the typical best male friend, but I hope this doesn’t end up being the case just so I don’t have hear him utter another word again.

• Nitpick: Even if it’s not aiming to be ha-ha funny, the humor didn’t really click with me. Maybe the show would just be better served to play up its heart.

• Just an observation: Of all Rikka’s special moves, the only thing I could recognize was the Konami code. 

• What I liked: Hey, a new show! Yes, I’m reaching here, but at least it’s a diversion from the you-know-what.


30 thoughts on “Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai Ep. 1: More socially awkward people

  1. Rikka strutting into the train in a “haters gonna hate” fashion busted my gut. Clearly we have different takes on humor.

    But it is true that Chuunibyou does not look like it is going to be subtle about character development. Some of the lines weren’t even necessary other than the possibility of going “this is the only way you should interpret this scene”. I’m still watching it because it’s entertaining for me, but I don’t think it’s going to foster much discussion because of how predictable it is.

    1. Rikka strutting into the train in a “haters gonna hate” fashion busted my gut. Clearly we have different takes on humor.

      I rewatched the scene; I don’t get your sense of humor. But I did laugh once though: when the lil’ sis smacked him with the giant sword.

      1. See, I didn’t get as much of a kick out of that one, so its my turn to feel confused about your sense of humor. I feel like this is going to be tougher to explain than the difference between displaying and endorsing rape culture, yet it really shouldn’t.

        What kinds of comedy/humor do you think are funny?

        1. If you ask me to think of a comedy anime, the first show that would come to my mind is FMP: Fumoffu. Recently, I’ve enjoyed Binbougami ga!, but in general, I usually don’t find anime funny.

          In terms of just comedy in general, my favorite current shows include Adventure Time, the first two seasons of Community, the first few seasons of The Office, etc. I can always rewatch the first eight seasons of The Simpsons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-air and find the humor fresh, but more importantly, full of heart.

        2. To answer my own question, I think of the first season of Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei and Detroit Metal City. Rather than TV shows, though I owned several early seasons of The Simpsons, I was raised more on Comedy Central and watched stand-up comedy (Ellen Degeneres, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan) and The Daily Show/Colbert Report. Movie-wise, Airplane will always be my first pick.

          Speaking of American cartoons, have you watched Gravity Falls? It’s not as innately strange as Adventure Time, but there was a lot out of this that I could appreciate given that it’s a show aimed towards kids.

          I still need to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-air. I’ve only seen clips here and there that portray both its humor and its brilliant moments of acting. Any suggestions on seasons or do I really have to watch all of it to enjoy it?

          1. The Daily Show/Colbert Report.

            Oh, I guess I forgot to mention them. I prefer Colbert over Stewart though. In terms of stand-up comedians, I like Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy back in the day… I guess for some reason, I just prefer black comedians.

            Speaking of American cartoons, have you watched Gravity Falls?

            I keep thinking about whether or not I should give the show a shot, but I haven’t quite made the leap.

            The Fresh Prince of Bel-air.

            I always recommend the first few seasons of any show. My biggest problem with American TV is the Flanderization of their characters over time. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-air’s case though, I really think the early seasons struck a good balance between comedy and addressing how a black youth from the streets would adapt to wealth in the suburbs. The issue is still relevant today despite the show having aired around two decades ago. People are bitching up and down about how black athletes can’t seem to hold onto their money, but people fail to recognize that institutional wealth is only just becoming a thing for black families. For the first time in a while, second generation black kids can go “Yeah, my mom/dad had some money saved up for me.” Anyway, I’ve gone on a tangent when you merely asked about comedy. I guess I just couldn’t help myself.

  2. When I saw the OP, I was thinking to myself:

    Was this a Harem? It looks like what you might expect from one….

    The first five minutes didn’t help either.

    1. If it’s a harem, the first episode doesn’t seem to give any indication that it’ll be similar to shows like Imouto. The biggest hurdle right now isn’t the looming threat of dumb harem antics, but can it avoid being too simplistic?

      1. The next Fifteen minutes disabused me of that notion. Still, I fear that Chubuyoni can’t resist pandering to Harem Antic Fanservice.

  3. I wish the setting wasn’t so bog standard. I can see the chuu2 thing being interesting in, I dunno, a rural working class setting, or college, or something that isn’t a bunch of reasonably affluent kids in the city enjoying misunderstandings together. Maybe Rikka’s escapism could be influenced by a dismal view of future life based on her family’s societal standing, or maybe the anime is set in a country at war; anything but another Clannad-style childhood trauma that you see coming the second the edges of the picture get blurry.

    But who am I kidding? This isn’t Oyasumi Pun Pun, or, I dunno, Welcome to the NHK. It’s a light-novel-sourced high school romcom adapted by Kyoani. The otaku in-jokes are sufficiently funny, the girls are sufficiently cute, and I’ll be looking forward to the next episode every week. But storywise, I just cannot see anything groundbreaking coming out of another japanese high school, especially with no promise of _actual_ sci fi or fantasy.

    Until you drop it, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of deeper meaning you can pull out of this one, E Minor.

    1. Until you drop it, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of deeper meaning you can pull out of this one, E Minor.

      Oh is that the perception of me now?

  4. Oh my, that OP O_O. Also, what is it with KyoAni and putting gainaxing cheerleaders in their OPs? Was that meant to be a reference to Haruhi?

    I quite liked the first episode, more so than Hyouka anyway. I didn’t have as negative a reaction to the main character as you, though his physical abuse of our female lead got downright concerning at a few points. On that note, doesn’t KyoAni just love to animate little girls cowering on the ground. So moe!

    It wasn’t laugh out loud funny at any point, but it kept a constant smile on my face, and I snickered a few times (strutting onto train, little sis hitting protag with sword out of nowhere, and protag’s OTT embarrassment animations in the opening as he’s remembering his past). I think my opinion of KyoAni is similar to your opinion of SHAFT, I think they’re at the top of their game when they’re focusing on esoteric comedy. Our two leads are putting off a slight Kyon-Haruhi dynamic with the whole I just want to be normal/I just want to be special conflict and that’s not a bad thing in my mind. Agreed though, if angsty back-stories are awaiting us I’m going to be extremely disappointed, and in general the actual rom/drama part of this rom/com/drama are shaping up to be the weakest. Can we please just stick to taking the piss out of anime’s collective obsession with super powers?

    1. Also, what is it with KyoAni and putting gainaxing cheerleaders in their OPs? Was that meant to be a reference to Haruhi?

      I had a brief exchange with hachimitsu on Twitter about this.

      I didn’t have as negative a reaction to the main character as you, though his physical abuse of our female lead got downright concerning at a few points.

      I just think he could have been a little more sympathetic considering how he just lived through those same delusions as hers not too long ago. I get that he’ll be nicer to her as the series progress, but eh, I don’t think I was all that negative about him anyway.

      Can we please just stick to taking the piss out of anime’s collective obsession with super powers?

      Yeah, I just didn’t see too much of this in the first episode. Actually, I didn’t see any of it. The whole thing felt kind of milquetoast when it could’ve shown just how silly like-minded anime can be. I mean, you even bring up Kyon/Haruhi, so this is basically a “What if” with all the fantasy/sci-fi removed, but instead of being critical or anything, the first episode is just very meh.

      I can’t say I had a smile on my face as I watched the show.

      1. “Like a moe strobleight” hahaha, that’s fantastic.

        Not much else to say. Yeah, they’re really missing an opportunity if they don’t take the piss a little. I thought a lot of the childish delusion stuff was done pretty well though, like pretending she was opening the train doors herself, that felt pretty spot on to me. The whole concept of chunibyou seems to be taking the piss out of the audience of such shows, but it’s definitely not enough on its own.

  5. Fun fact: the moe strobe gets worse the larger the resolution of the video and its proximity to your poor melting eyeballs. Sitting back on a couch was bad enough, but at 720p on my computer monitor those damn insert frames were strobing between both sides of my peripheral vision! I kept turning my head like “what’s going on in- damnit it’s on the other side again!”

    What did I do to deserve this, KyoAni?

    1. That’s what you get for enjoying anime with a couch! Join the rest of us poor folk who can only watch their anime from no more than a foot away!

  6. At the beginning I also thought that the MC was a prick but he redeemed himself in my eyes towards the end of the episode. First, he helped Rikka with moving the packages. Second, when he realized that Rikka was home alone, he invited her for dinner. Third, when he saw that Rikka was disappointed that he wanted to throw away his old props, he decided to keep them. He is a nice guy.

  7. Before Mei in Another, there’s already a popular eye patch girl : Shindou Chihiro, from ef- A Fairy Tale of Two.

  8. … Just your average run of the mill anime … with a typical main character that doesn’t like pretty girls talking to him, if he make a quote that says ” I’m not interested in girls ” like some dude in a shitty moe manga THAT WOULD BE PERFECT

  9. … I now have doubt about whether or not an anime character is pretty or not … they look just the same … DAMN YOU

  10. I know it’s obvious but I thought it was pretty funny how similar this is to Haruhi.
    I’m not gonna go over all the similarities, there are too many.

    It seems like it’s doing basically the same thing as haruhi, but with watered down characters.

    I mean, sure kyon isn’t the most compelling of characters, but he was a character. He had opinions. He didn’t have much, but he had something.

    This new guy is just your generic harem lead, and I find him pathetic. The way he goes all shiney when the guys ask him to come eat with them, and the way he acts when mikuru says she noticed he was in her class.
    She doesn’t say she likes him or anything. She just said he recognised him. And he goes all shaky and starts panicking.

    I really hope this show doesn’t turn out to be something like to love ru.

    Also was anyone unnerved by the older sister hitting the kids so hard with a metal spoon that they needed bandaids? Where we supposed to be unnerved or accept that as normal?

    1. Also was anyone unnerved by the older sister hitting the kids so hard with a metal spoon that they needed bandaids?

      I think, like everything else in the show, this is just exaggerated for comedic effect.

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