Can Yuuta have the strength to pull Rikka back to him?
Yuuta’s been thinking about his confrontation with Sanae on the train platform as Rikka left, and he starts to get it. Why did he let Rikka leave? Why did he keep telling her to abandon her delusions about the true meaning of the world? And he keeps hoping she’ll come back, even spies on her apartment to see if she will. Yuuta also gets another lesson from the sage of the show, Mori Summer. Shinka obviously can’t really figure out what she wants, but she’s realized that her ‘normal high schooler’ act, just like Yuuta’s, is just as fake as being Mori Summer or the Dark Flame Master. In fact, everyone’s learned this lesson, as Sanae shows up at school with her hair long and straight, no twintails, no forehead, and speaking in a normal polite language manner (and driving Yuuta crazy by calling him ‘senpai’), and Kumin actually strays from her normal girl routine and becomes the new wielder of the Tyrant’s Eye, much to Makoto’s dismay and the confusion of her classmates.
And in a coincidental happening, a letter that the Dark Flame Master sent two years ago to Yuuta arrives that day. It even speculates that he is no longer the Dark Flame Master, as he felt those possibilities even back then, but urges him to not forget that he is the Dark Flame Master. He reads this at his lowest ebb, as he’s found out that Rikka isn’t coming back, that her stuff has been moved out, and that he can’t catch a train to see her. And this galvanizes him into action, borrowing Makoto’s bike and heading to Rikka’s grandparents house. And coincidentally, again, finds Kumin waiting for him, with a message “from the Tyrant’s Eye”. I suppose Rikka told Kumin all this about herself (doing some amateur deduction, something less than 2 weeks ago, as Kumin says that it was the night of the last new moon, and I’m pretty sure that later we see the moon at not quite full – not the last scene where it is full, tho), about how she didn’t accept her father’s death, didn’t understand why her mother and sister were so emotional, and that he was really gone forever. But she encountered the Dark Flame Master while living with Touka, and that inspired her to have more fun, to see things that everyone else didn’t see, and that ‘saved’ her. Was this all a setup to get Yuuta back to Rikka? To find out if he was really interested in her? Or to find out if he really meant she should give it up? Either way, it further inspires Yuuta that he needn’t give up his fun fantasies.
Yuuta finally makes it all the way to Rikka, just as she is breaking down thinking about her lost delusions, and her lost Yuuta, who even as she knows he saved her from herself, seemed to push her away at the end. From the roof of Grandpa’s house, he, as the Dark Flame Master, implores her to come with him, to make their own reality. And with a little help from the rest of the crew (who used Ojou-Sanae’s car and driver to get there), they make their getaway. But the glory of reuniting with Yuuta starts to fade from Rikka, and seeing the lights of the ships in the channel on the horizon, she slips back to ‘reality’, that they’re just electric lights on the ships.
Finally giving in fully, Yuuta invokes Rikka’s catchphrase, and drags her into a delusional world, something Sanae wasn’t able to do last episode. Yuuta shows her that it is the Unseen Horizon, and that she should say what she wants to say to her father now. She’s finally able to say sayonara, and make her peace with his passing, and see him say the things to her that she wanted him to say. More than concrete proof, more than a grave marker with a name, this is what she needed: to say goodbye in her mind and in her soul.
As I’d hoped, and figured it would be, the main point of the show was to show that everyone should live with a little bit of delusion. Whether you call it ‘chuunibyou’ or being special or individuality, there’s wonder everywhere. And that wonder, that will to have fun, will fight against your self-consciousness and your seriousness. Find your balance. Find what makes you happy. As someone who’s older, this is so important to me. It’s one reason I watch anime, and play music in a band, and play WoW and other video games. Everyone should have fun in their lives, and many times, that fun means that you tell your self-consciousness to shove it, and do something that’s inherently embarrassing.
And now, the final review for Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai (all the Episode 12 screenshots follow the Final Review):
Title: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai
TV Series; 12 Episodes
Genre: High School, Slice of Life, Romance
Produced: Kyoto Animation
The story is a fast moving affair, with a lot of stuff put into a 12-episode series, unlike a lot of recent KyoAni shows. But even as fast as it moves, it’s clear how it goes, well told, well paced, and full on in the direction it’s going. When it’s funny, it’s hilarious, especially early in the series. When it gets more serious, it means it. And when the drama happens, it doesn’t really mix too much comedy in at the same time. But that is a fine quality in a short series, not wasting time, not letting things slide. The show is about finding balance in your life, and even though the show doesn’t balance in the immediate sense, it balances overall, much like the message it sends.
The characters are probably the strongest part of the show, with the supporting characters becoming important people throughout, not just for plot advancement, but for being people in their own right. And while all the characters have moments of becoming caricatures instead, they never stay there, they never become just comic relief or just a diversion. They always have their importance on their own. It’s interesting to note that many of the characters in the anime are not major characters in the light novels the series is (loosely) based on, or aren’t in them at all. That they are all integrated so well into the story means a lot.
The character designs also fall into a good middle space between recent Kyoto Animation efforts. The first thing I thought of when I saw the main character is “This is what Houtarou Oreki (from Hyouka, last season’s KyoAni show) would look like in K-On. But the show doesn’t just trade on K-On! looks. The characters are more consistently drawn than K-On, more playful than Hyouka. It strikes a good middle ground, and completely suits the storytelling and message.
Typical of a KyoAni show, the production values are peerless. The style is fresh in its own way, a different setting, realistic backgrounds based on real world locations. The OP and ED songs are excellent, although there’s a little bit of mood whiplash going into the ED in a couple episodes, as the ED song, Inside Identity, is a fast-paced rock song, and coming off the more dramatic and romantic moments it can be a little jarring. But the lyrics to the song always fit, about trying to find the place that you fit in, and wondering if it exists. The OP animation was changed after a few episodes, because it used a left / right flashing style that was very distracting. But parts of the OP you’ll never get out of your head (Kumin’s pillow dancing, Rikka’s finger spins and booty shaking).
Overall the series was an excellent show. It took on a goofy concept: the idea that 8th-grade (second year of junior high school) is the intersection of two parts of a human’s life: Still young enough to have the imagination of a younger child, but now realizing their strength, power, and rational mind to come up with things that maybe aren’t the most real, but are definitely more fun. And it made that concept relate to the viewer, with tremendous humor, deep feelings, and interesting drama. This was a show that I looked forward to on Wednesday nights every week, perhaps the first anime I’ve really had that kind of anticipation for.
Episode 12 Screenshots