Anime Review: Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions

In Japanese popular culture, chuunibyou (chunibyo) refers to an unofficial condition wherein the affected party believes and acts out a childish fantasy to the point of becoming delusional. For example, take the main character in Kyoto Animation’s production, Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions. Yuuta believed he was “The Dark Flame Master,” wielder of supernatural powers and a “cool” persona. He even dressed strangely to look like this character. Sometimes, chuunibyou is translated to 8th grade syndrome or middle school syndrome, since it is most common in second-year middle-school students.

With that knowledge in mind, we may dive into a series review of Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions. For purposes of brevity, I shall refer to the anime as Chunibyo. Covered in this review are the visual, audio, story, and character components, as well as personal enjoyment. At the end, an overall score will be given for this series. Let’s begin.


Visuals: 8/10

The art style is cute, colorful, and polished. If you have seen other anime by the same studio, such as K-On and Kyoukai no Kanata, it’s easy to see that some of the same artists are involved. The characters have large eyes, childlike proportions such as large heads, and small mouths. The color palette was something that struck me as pleasing and memorable. The eyes on all the characters are stunning. I pay a lot of attention to face expressions and whether I like them, but this aspect wasn’t really a highlight of Chunibyo. They were pretty average. Honestly, so were most of the backgrounds, settings, and aesthetics.

As for character designs, they vary from average to amazing. Even the somewhat overused design of Yuuta (main male character) looks endearing and detailed due to the quality and style of Kyoto Animation. The unique color palette I mentioned help make more distinct character appearances; for instance, the purplish color of Kumin’s hair made her cute haircut stand out much more than it would have with a more typical color. The best and most unique character design is that of Rikka (main female character). All of them are cute, though.

One can’t discuss art in Chunibyo without drawing attention to the scenes where events are seen through the eyes of Rikka in her state of chunibyo. These fight sequences are full of flashy, fantastical lights and effects. They were well-animated and attention-grabbing. The visuals in Chunibyo would be much less impressive and memorable without these make-believe battles. It shows a lot of creativity and imagination to include things as Rikka imagines them; plus, you won’t get bored with the visuals. Now and then, there are also some nice, variable angles and shots in general in the series. This category is well deserving of 8/10.


Story: 8/10

This anime follows Yuuta as he befriends Rikka, a girl with an alarmingly serious case of chunibyo. She believes she has dark powers and a magical “Evil Eye” which is to be used to find “The Unseen Horizon.” As he bonds with new friends, Yuuta grows closer to Rikka and learns there is more to her than meets the eye. Chunibyo falls into the genres of comedy, romance, and school. It does a good job of getting your attention right away and holding it decently through the series. The plot isn’t especially structured, being more slice-of-life, but it works well enough. The writing and progression of events within each episode impresses me more than the arrangement of the episodes in a broader sense.

When I talk about story, I also comment on related elements of content and themes. In Chunibyo, there is plenty of comedy and funny moments. It’s mostly silly or absurd type humor, along joker/straight man dynamics between Rikka and Yuuta. Occasionally, the comedy is witty. Comedy is not all that this anime has to offer, though. There is a strong atmosphere of “cuteness” and cute moments. In addition, it’s hard to miss the drama and emotional depth found in the story. I cried at several points. The psychology of Rikka is especially interesting.

There are a small number of tropes and overused facets in Chunibyo. The earnest main character has a best friend who basically only serves for comic relief. Episode 7 is the beach episode, just as it is in numerous school anime. (On that, I was thankful there was very little in-your-face fan-service.) There is a school festival where big time drama unfolds, another event found in most school anime. But if this is the worst Chunibyo has to present, then it’s really not bad at all. By and large, this is a show with an original concept, various creative elements, and a well-crafted series of events. The tropes don’t take too much away from it.

Themes in Chunibyo include romance, accepting reality, growing up, emotional vulnerabilities, and embracing your identity. I just have a few other notes. A few episodes struck me as especially well done in addition to being critical in the plot. Episode 7 masterfully revealed so much information and development of the characters in such a short time, and led to a surprising end. Episode 10 was similar in this regard. It was so well-written and played out without the feeling of anything being rushed or forced. The ending is one of the most heart-wrenching scene in the anime. The final episode was excellent as well.


Audio: 8/10

The Japanese voice-acting in Chunibyo is excellent, and has some truly talented seiyuu (voice actors/ singers). The biggest name here is Jun Fukuyama, playing main male character Yuuta. He is famous for such roles as Lelouch in Code Geass, and later Koro-sensei in Assassination Classroom. Soichiro Hoshi played the “best friend” Isshiki, and I recognized him from Higurashi, where he plays protagonist Keiichi. While I’m not very familiar with who voices Dekomori, Nibutani, or Kumin, it’s clear that they all did excellently with their roles. I think Sumire Uesaka (Dekomori) had the most lively, in-character performance.

Rikka’s voice is adorable and hard not to love. Maaya Uchida is the seiyuu behind this character. She is known for various roles including Irina Shindou in Highschool DxD and Hiyori Iki in Noragami. She can also sing well. The ending theme, “Inside Identity,” was performed by Maaya Uchida, Chinatsu Akasaki, Azumi Asakura, and Sumire Uesaka — voices of Rikka, Nibutani, Kumin, and Dekomori, respectively. It’s not my style of song at all, but it gets stuck in my head, and I’ve come to enjoy it more over time.

Speaking of songs, the opening theme is “Sparkling Daydream” by ZAQ. I really enjoyed listening to this from the start. I rarely felt the desire to skip past it. It’s so upbeat and fun. The instrumental music in Chunibyo was also good. There are many short scores in the OST, with a mostly orchestral sound and a lot of piano. The combination of excellent voice-acting, fun songs, and enjoyable instrumentals show that Chunibyo deserves an 8/10 for the audio category. Here are two tracks I really enjoyed from the OST.


Characters: 8/10

The characters in Chunibyo are well-written, relatable, and rather novel. Rikka’s character is developed in a masterful way. At first, you think she’s just extremely mentally immature, as well as a bit annoying. However, there are deep reasons for her middle-school syndrome. Her personality is unusual and endearing. I felt very touched by Rikka’s emotional character arc and its beautiful conclusion. I don’t want to spoil the main reveals here, so watch it yourself!

Yuuta’s development wasn’t as good as Rikka’s, but it was still commendable. I found it interesting when, in episode 8, he tells the story of how his own chunibyo started, and how out of place he felt in “normal” society. Yuuta is earnest, and when it comes to Rikka, he is always trying to do what’s best for her. Nibutani is a great character, too. Although she can be aggressive, biting, and over-the-top, she also has a mature side. This shows most strongly in episode 11, when she comforts Dekomori. She also has one of the best lines in the show.

All the characters are lovable, in my opinion. Sometimes, they feel a little bit tropey, but that’s bound to happen on some level. Kumin was a cute and funny character. Isshiki was quite annoying, but comical, and slightly endearing at times. Touka, the older sister of Rikka, is similar to an antagonist character, but she is by no means a bad person. Even without paying much attention, you can see that all her actions are reasonable from the perspective of wanting the best for Rikka. Sometimes, that means tough love. The character category in Chunibyo impressed me immensely.


Personal Enjoyment: 9/10

All of the aspects discussed above were enjoyable in Chunibyo. The show is cute, funny, and well-made. The visuals for this anime and the character designs were always fun and pretty to behold. Let me think of a few specifics to mention. Rikka is just completely precious– absrdly adorable– and I love it. In episode 8, she is especially cute when she stays at Yuuta’s house and begins to fall in love. The scene in episode 9 where Yuuta saves Rikka from falling off the roof is one of my favorites. That hug is so sweet and genuine.

I have always had quite the imagination; I played pretend and invented characters and worlds far beyond the time that most people “grow out of it.” So there was definitely extra appreciation for the series because of that. I like the idea that everybody is rather weird, and there may be no true “normal.” Perhaps the problematic part of things like chunibyo is not the unusual nature of it, but the fact that we are ashamed of it. That’s where the theme of embracing your identity comes into play. Of course, this can be taken to far or used out of context, but it is generally true for the small things: those little quirks that are part of who we are.


Overall Score: 8.2/10.0 Excellent

Up there with classics like Toradora, Kyoto Animation’s Chunibyo delivers on all fronts. I recommend this anime for fans of school life and romantic comedy anime. Series fitting into these genres are not uncommon, but Chunibyo stands out as different from start to finish. This anime now holds a special place in my heart. Thank you so much for reading my work, and have a wonderful rest of the week!

PATREON

Note: Here is a gallery of screenshots I took from the series! I do not own them; they are the property of Kyoto Animation. I strongly believe there is nothing wrong with sharing and using anime screenshots as long as nobody claims ownership. So, help yourself!

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