Touka really shines in this week’s Chuu2Koi
Usually when the cast of a comedy anime heads to the beach, you know you’re going to get a fairly light episode of fanservice bikini shots and fun activities, like watermelon smashing, fireworks, water splashing, eating, and volleyball. What you usually don’t expect is some serious character development, and large scale background fill-in. But with this week’s episode of Chuu2Koi, we got both, pulled off in a way to make the serious feel serious and weighty, the fun feel fun and light, and intermingling the two without confusing either, and without making either one lose its impact.
At the end of last week’s episode, Touka asked Yuuta to come with Rikka and her on summer vacation, because they “needed” him. Rikka also invites the rest of the Oriental Magick and Napping Society in Summer, and Isshiki, apparently now captured in the orbit of the club (or at least the orbit of Kumin-senpai) invites himself along as well. Not only going to the beach, they’re visiting Touka and Rikka’s grandparents, who it turns out were Rikka’s guardians for the last 3 years, after their father passed away and their mother absconded. And it’s clear that Rikka’s grandfather is not amused nor interested in her development of her own personal reality, although her grandmother seems cheerfully oblivious in that way that grandmothers are.
What was that over the horizon?
I had wondered about Rikka’s parents since she pointedly did not mention them as contacts earlier. And now we’ve found out why. After foiling Rikka’s first plan, Touka takes Yuuta to the family gravesite to see their father. Apparently he had died of illness 3 years ago, but to compound the impact to Rikka, they had all kept the seriousness of his condition from her, and even the fact of his illness. Consequently, his death came as a big surprise to her, and all indications are that she just won’t face the reality that her father died. That’s when her departure into her own realm started. But Rikka herself explains to Yuuta that on the night he died, she saw an unusual phenomenon out in the ocean, which made her think he was still there, somewhere, on the other side of an Unseen Horizon. Is the Unseen Horizon what she’s decided to call the afterlife? Is this actually her way of acknowledging his death?
The truth has been in front of her, but does she see it now?
Unfortunately, that seems unlikely given what happens. Yuuta assists Rikka in ‘escaping’ from Touka (even though Touka knows exactly where they’re going, and is there ahead of them) and they make the trip to where their family lived. Rikka is hoping to find her old base of operations, so unlike her grandparents house, the Adminstration Bureau she’s referred to as her enemy for so long. But when she gets there, instead of the happy memories she has, the site is vacant, the house gone, and now for sale. Perhaps this is the most definitive evidence that’s faced Rikka that things will never go back the way they were. And it affects her, even as she prepares to battle the “priestess” again. Her battle mantra takes on a new level of poignancy and significance – “Reality, be rent. Synapse, break. Banishment… this world” – as she says it with tears in her eyes. Has she come to the realization yet? Will she accept Touka’s words?
Blushing at a compliment
Touka herself continues to impress me as a character. We find out that her job is actually as a chef in an apparently well-known restaurant. And while she’s still tough and strong in dealing with Rikka and her friends, there’s definitely caring there. Her description of Rikka’s chuunibyou being a ‘problem’ back in episode 2 takes on a new meaning, seeing how their grandfather reacts to it and also its apparent source. She really seems to care about Rikka, even from a fairly significant age difference (6 years or so is a good guess). And as I’m sure I’ve said before, she cares enough to indulge her fantasies, not just dismiss her or order her around. For as much ‘trouble’ as she can surely be, Touka engages Rikka on Rikka’s level, and we see that now she is trying to pull her back to the rest of the world, primarily for her own good.
“Baka-mori” and “Nise-Sama”
The episode wasn’t all serious and dramatic, however, and the comedy that came from the rest of the gang really helped bracket the main story of Rikka. We get to see that the other four characters (since Isshiki now seems to be at least a supporting character) have paired off, with Isshiki trying to get Kumin’s attention while admiring her (in her all-white outfits) from not that far away, and Dekomori and Shinka showing that even as avowed enemies, they’re getting closer as friends. Some of it is pushing from the others, and some is just realized by the others. In a change from previous episodes, Dekomori is actually the butt of the humor this time, with her bluster all but disappearing first in trainsickness and then in sunburn. And you can’t write a post about this episode without mentioning the insults they both managed to get sunburned into the other.
Grandfather doesn’t approve of Rikka’s alternate reality
This episode we actually saw the first character in the show that is actively anti-chuunibyou. Rikka’s grandfather wants her to have nothing to do with it, and disapproves vehemently. It’s likely that is what got their house dubbed the “Administration Bureau Base”, as Rikka considers it to be ‘enemy territory’ and she’s some sort of prisoner. It’s unlikely there will be any movement in his attitude about it, and it’s probably outside the scope of the show for her to change enough to satisfy her grandfather, so I don’t expect much in the way of change in their relationship.
And more screenshots, including Full-Length Kumin-senpai!