February OWLS Blog Tour – Bell Adores His Goddess

OWLS Image

Welcome to my OWLS post for February (full schedule of OWLS posts here). In February, we will be exploring love and romance. The word selected is “adore” because it has two main connotations: to be loved and respected or to feel worshipped. We will analyse characters that give us a feeling of admiration and explain why we love those characters. We will also be exploring different forms of love (familial, friendship, and even self-love) and how those types of love influence our lives.

Bell Adores His Goddess

Bell and Hestia - Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon (DanMachi)

It won’t be much of a surprise to regular readers to know that I adore DanMachi. I avoided watching the anime for so long because the full name, Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, seemed too stupid for words and like it would be either an idiotic comedic harem anime or something really sleazy. I’m really glad I finally watched it and I’m really glad that while waiting for the often promised but yet to be delivered season two that I got into reading the light novels, because the characters here are very worth it.

While there are definitely harem elements at play and we could throw the words love and adore around between a lot of the characters there are two specific relationships I want to look at in this post. The first is Bell and Aiz, which is kind of a catalyst for growth and one where the word admiration is probably far more fitting than adore. The second is Bell and Hestia, where the word adore is the absolute perfect fit.

Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon Volume 6
Why haven’t we gotten to this in the anime?

Starting with Bell and Aiz, we kind of have to go right back to the very beginning of both the anime and the books. Bell is a rookie adventurer who enters the dungeon alone only this day he gets chased by a Minotaur that is on a floor far higher than it should be because it managed to get away from Aiz and her party on a lower floor. There is no way for Bell at his level to even try to fight it and ultimately he gets cornered and believes he is going to die. That’s where Aiz turns up, slays the beast, and in the process covers Bell in blood.

For Aiz, this is a moment of regret because she feels responsible for letting the Minotaur go in the first place, but also because she doesn’t get a chance to apologise to Bell before he scampers off (something that becomes something of a pattern). Bell on the other hand feels intensely embarrassed that he needed to be saved given he wants to be a hero, but more than that, he is inspired. He has found his goal. Someone so much stronger than him. The person he wants to catch up to no matter what.

Bell and Aiz - DanMachi

While he declares that it is love, nothing in the story after this point really suggests romance between the pair. At times they have a mentor/student relationship, at others they have distance because they are in different familia and serve different gods, Bell continues to admire Aiz and aims to get stronger… okay, he also continues to be intensely embarrassed around her which might suggest he continues to hold a crush. Aiz also continues to be fairly observant of Bell and when he takes actions she doesn’t approve of she feels disappointed, so maybe there will be love between them.

However, as the title of the anime initially suggested, Bell sees Aiz as a goal rather than a person. Not so much that he wants to own her (which would be the sleazy version of the story that we fortunately didn’t get), but more as someone he wants to stand equal to. Their relationship remains defined by Bell’s admiration and almost hero worship of Aiz. It is hard then to see how they will move beyond this point to a romantic relationship, assuming of course that either one actually wants that development in the future.

DanMachi OVA
Cheating a little as this image is from the OVA.

But, Hestia, the goddess in Bell’s life very clearly wants a more romantic relationship with Bell. She flaunts herself in their home, she clings to him, she is openly jealous when other girls get near, and she drags him out on a date around the town. In the light novels, she continues to have him go with her at various times on ‘dates’ and she continues to be very protective of him and who gets near him (even more so than in the anime). However, she also trusts Bell to make the right decision and supports him even when some of his decisions will have consequences for the family (big consequences at times). Hestia very much loves Bell and wants him to see her the same way.

And there is the problem. Because Bell genuinely adores his goddess, but he can only see her as a goddess, not a woman and certainly not a romantic interest. More than anyone else, Bell would lay down his life to protect Hestia, would fight for her, would do anything to make her happy, but to him she is the goddess. She’s the centre of his family, the one who took him in when he was rejected elsewhere, and the one who gave him the blessing that allowed him to pursue his dream of becoming a hero.

DanMachi Bell and Hestia (Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon)

Where Aiz and Bell would have a lot to overcome before they could become a genuinely romantic possibility, with Bell and Hestia it seems nearly impossible given the way Bell views Hestia. I genuinely love the two characters and their interactions, but I have to admit I feel a little sorry for Hestia as she tries to have Bell see her as a woman and not just a goddess (that seems a little like a downgrade but it would be an important step if anything were to develop between them).

It is the complexity of these relationships, and the relationships Bell forms with the rest of the members of his familia, that keep Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon a remarkably interesting story despite following more or less the usual tropes. I really hope that second anime season does eventuate because reading the books there is so much great stuff still coming and I’d love to watch it someday.

DanMachi - characters

If you missed it, check out YumDeku’s OWLS post from yesterday and be sure to check out Dale’s post tomorrow. The full schedule for the month is here.

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Karandi James
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IS IT WRONG TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON?
	IS IT WRONG TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON?

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What Does It Really Mean To Me To Love Anime?

Friday's Feature Banner Image

Now, there are probably as many answers to the question of what it means to love anime as there are people who claim to love it. Like most passions and hobbies, it is something that is deeply personal and becomes an integral part of the individual. So while we can share an appreciation of a love of anime, our reason for loving it and how we got there is likely one only we will ever understand.

For those who have read my blog a while you will know my love of anime began with Sailor Moon, though I guess that is technically not correct for two reasons. The first being that I’d seen Astro Boy and probably quite a few other anime prior to Sailor Moon but I hadn’t known what they were. And watching Sailor Moon didn’t make me fall in love with anime. It made me fall in love with Sailor Moon and stories with great female characters.

Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Chibi Moon and the Scouts

Given the access to anime at the time was limited, other than Card Captor, that love didn’t really go anywhere in terms of anime even when I knew that Sailor Moon was in fact from Japan, and then got to Australia via American translation. See, my next steps after Sailor Moon were actually Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed. Stories that pushed imagination, had great characters and really good narrative arcs (even if the overall plots, now that I’m looking back particularly at Charmed, were a little questionable in quality).

Of course, I also just had a general obsession with stories and was busily devouring libraries of novels as well as pretty much every movie that hit the cinemas at the time. Even as a teenager, I had a healthy respect for even poorly told stories because even a poorly written story could reveal something, could entertain, could teach me a lesson about how stories and characters could and should function, and generally inspired me.

Conception Episode 12 Itsuki
Alright, my love of even poorly told stories didn’t extend to this. Conception was just bad.

I still remember watching Chronicles of Riddick when it came out and I was at university. My friend and I went in to a fairly empty session (even emptier by half-way through the movie) and set up in the middle with sugar filled drinks and chocolate. I don’t think either one of us had laughed that hard in a long time as the clumsy narration threw exposition at us and actors attempted to deliver nonsensical lines as if they were golden. Fantastic fun and a movie I bought on DVD because nothing works quite so well as a pick-me-up as seeing something fail as spectacularly as that movie does (seriously, they outrun a sunrise at one point).

However, it was around that time or just after it, that a certain someone, who knew I loved Sailor Moon and a few other anime that I’d managed to come across, suggested we watch Evangelion together. They just happened to have it on disc (how I do not know). There was also a Death Note watch somewhere around then or just after. I never can remember which of them I saw first but they both left an impact.

Evangelion - Shinji

You know, there are moments in your life when you just know everything is about to change. As I watched episode after episode of Shinji and the tragedy unfolding for the characters, even as I hoped they would win the day and realised that wasn’t where the story was heading, I think a switch somewhere inside of me was flicked on.

And then YouTube began.

And I suddenly had an avenue to access all of these amazing stories that I’d never seen before, heard about, or even dreamed existed.

Bleach - Gin vs Hitsugaya
If you weren’t watching anime when YouTube first started, you have no idea how frustrating watching fan-subbed shows in ten minute increments was. Like seriously, you rarely found the whole episode subbed by the same group so names and terms and things would change mid-episode, parts would be missing, mislabelled, whatever. And buffering. Wow, I remember waiting for the video to load enough to bother hitting play. Be thankful for better internet and video streaming sites.

It would be nearly 2010 before I would say I was an anime fan. Prior to that I would have claimed to be a fan of specific titles. Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Bleach, Darker Than Black and so on. At the time I was still watching as many live action TV shows as animated ones but the balance was definitely shifting.

For me, anime satisfies my love of stories all by itself. Whether I’m chasing romance or horror or action or drama or anything else, I know that there’s an anime for the mood I’m in and for the story I want to live through for a few hours. While I won’t give up reading books or watching movies, and every now and then I’ll get into a TV series that isn’t anime, for the most part, I don’t need to venture far from anime to feel that sense that I have found what I am looking for.

Each new season is an adventure and trying out shows, whether they work out or not, is a delight. Each first episode is full of surprises and each show brings me new characters to meet (whether I end up liking them is another story).

For me, loving anime isn’t something I decided to do. And it isn’t something that I hide. It also doesn’t come at the exclusion of other things that I also love. But I know my life would be a great deal emptier without it. I know that I am really happy to have come across anime like Snow White With The Red Hair, to have spent time with the characters of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, to have risen to great heights with the shoutiest of shounen protagonists, and to have been steeped in misery and pain with the edgiest stories that just want to push the limits.

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash - Mana

While I did indeed celebrate Valentine’s Day this year (as I have for many years), I felt this was a good time to reflect on what it means to me to love anime. To know that anime has a place in my life and my heart and that I really treasure the people I have met through anime and my blog.

Now that the official Valentine’s Day is over, celebrate your love of anime. Share your story of what loving anime means to you.

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Karandi James
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DEATH NOTE COMPLETE SERIES [THE OMEGA EDITION]
DEATH NOTE COMPLETE SERIES [THE OMEGA EDITION]

Who Is Your Valentine?

DAKAICHI Episode 1 - Junta and Takato

In the lead up to this wondrous day of hearts, flowers, chocolate, and whatever else may come your way, I asked my followers on Twitter to reply with a picture of their anime Valentine. Here are the responses (also some great people on Twitter in case you aren’t following them). See if you can find your Valentine.

Did you find your Valentine in the list? If not, who is your anime Valentine?

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Karandi James
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All’s Fair In Love, War, And Welcoming Parties

Kaguya Sama: Love is War Post Title

Kaguya-Sama Love Is War Episode 4 Review

The French are coming, or at least French students, for reasons unexplained and unimportant given this is literally just the most recent backdrop for the antics of the student council in Kaguya-Sama Love is War. I actually kind of liked that all of the skits kind of connected this week in this overall story even if we were still decidedly in the set-up and deliver punch-line kind of format we’ve come to expect from this anime.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 4 Shinomiya

The first skit was cute. Not actually funny, but it had both Shinomiya and Shirogane in cat ears at one point and both desperately trying not to admit that the other was cute and to be honest it was adorable to watch. Ultimately completely pointless given the conclusion of this is that no one in the student council is allowed to wear cat ears anymore but there are worse things than seeing anime characters in cat ears for a few minutes.

Kaguya Sama Love Is War Episode 4 Fujiwara

We then move on to a game to decide who will go shopping for the gifts for the students at the party. Shirogane determines to lose to Fujiwara but beat Shinomiya so that he and Shinomiya will go shopping but he won’t lose to her. It works out that way but more because Fujiwara actually outwits the both of them. Again, I didn’t find this section particularly amusing, but I definitely appreciated Fujiwara’s character more after it.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 4 Shinomiya and Shirogane

What follows is Shinomiya wanting to message the President but getting all worked up about the first person to text. This section kind of annoyed me. It is like watching someone play the ‘You hang up first’ game where the only solution is to walk over and snatch the phone out of their hand and hang up – or flee the country, whichever seems less problematic at the time. Though, the punchline here isn’t exactly expected so I kind of had to give it points for that.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 4 Shirogane and Betsy

The highlight of the episode though is the party itself where clearly the guy pulling the Student Council strings is playing his own games and sics the French vice-president on Shirogane. He, however, doesn’t understand French so her insults more or less roll over him like water off a duck’s back. They don’t however pass Shinomiya without raising her ire and seeing her genuinely defending Shirogane may be the best moment she’s had yet in this series.

I will say this is my favourite episode so far. No annoying narration at the beginning setting my teeth on edge with its warped philosophy on love. Limited narration during the skits. An overarching plot loosely tying the segments together. Then Shinomiya actually acting on emotion rather than calculated planning. So yeah, best episode yet. Still not a huge fan but if it continued on like this I’ll probably end up low-key enjoying this series each week.

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Karandi James
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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 2
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 2

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Couples from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

This week’s top 5 list counts down my favourite anime couples from 2018. They don’t need to be canon, they don’t need to actually end up together, they just need to be super-adorable and make my heart melt. I’d love to know which anime couples you fell in love with this season so be sure to leave me a comment below.

And apparently I haven’t previously done a list like this at the end of 2017 or 2016, so this is the very first couples list for a single year. I’m definitely going to have to make this an ongoing thing next year because this list was super fun to write.

Honourable Mentions:

I never thought I’d see the day that Kirito and Asuna weren’t on my Top 5 couples list but with what little we’ve seen of Alicization and only one episode with the two of them actually together I just couldn’t justify having them in the top 5. The same goes for Okabe and Kurisu from Steins;Gate 0. I love those two together but they just didn’t show up that much together this year. The last honourable mention is Mitsuru and Kokoro from Darling in the Franxx. Those two were actually pretty adorable together despite my misgivings with the plot of Franxx.

Number 5: Siluca and Theo from Record of Grancrest War

As much as there are some big issues with Record of Grancrest War, and as much as I feel Siluca’s character progression hit the skids as soon as Theo and Siluca became an actual couple, this was one of the most adorable pairs from earlier in the year. Theo may have seemed like a passive protagonist, but he certainly didn’t waste any time or the opportunity to confess his love to Siluca. These two characters could have really carried a very different show if they had chosen to focus on their relationship a little bit more and it would have been fantastic to watch.

Number 4: Nanami and Yuu from Bloom Into You

Okay, Nanami and Yuu both have issues with relationships and I’m honestly not sure if I’m hoping for these two to get a happily ever after or not after everything that’s happened, but I cannot deny I love watching these characters together. The way they gently poke at each other, move the other to see things differently, offer comfort and support, as well as mock when the occasion calls for it, is just all kinds of adorable. I’ve really enjoyed watching their relationship progress even if it is progress of the one step forward several steps back kind.

Number 3: Syaoran and Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card

Another great couple from a not-so-great anime. Then again, Syaoran and Sakura have been one of my favourite couples for a very long time and Clear Card just confirmed why. Seeing these two together is truly a joy. Now if we could just stop Syaoran from trying to keep secrets from Sakura, and if Sakura could share her power more often because watching the two of them flying together was the single most squeal worthy moment ever.

Number 2: Takato and Junta from Dakaichi

It won’t be for everyone but I really enjoyed watching the relationship develop in Dakaichi. Part of the appeal is Takato as an individual character, however the longer you watch, the more you realise that everything that is great about how Takato changes as a character comes about because of Junta, and he’s no slouch either in the character development department. These two guys have found each other and while their relationship is riddled with issues and ego, it is an so much fun to watch and I just keep hoping for their happily ever after.

Number 1: Ash and Eiji from Banana Fish

This one isn’t going to surprise anyone who follows me on Twitter. Seriously, every Friday I’ve been spamming the retweets of fan art and screen caps of these two because they are so worth it. And you know what, they don’t need to kiss on screen, they don’t need to actually confess their feelings, and we don’t even need a ring exchange. Every scene with these two together shows their relationship and feelings and seeing them interact is the sweetest and simultaneously most heartbreaking thing to watch and most definitely gives this one every reason to top my list here. Ash and Eiji are beautiful together and bring out the absolute best in one another.

That’s my list, come to an end. Right now I’d love to know which couples made your list and why so be sure to leave me a comment.

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Karandi James
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Three Big Lies We Tell Ourselves in the Face of Love

Bloom Into You is full of characters who tell themselves lies – but are these lies we tell ourselves?

Watching Bloom Into You, despite finding Yuu’s struggle to reconcile her rational mind and her feelings fascinating and beautifully nuanced in the way it is presented, really makes me frustrated. I’m watching a character who is clearly genuinely in love with another, who has opportunity after opportunity to act on her emotions with few genuine obstacles, and yet time and time again, she creates a barrier between herself and the object of her affection.

Bloom Into You Episode 5

It almost makes me wonder how they’ll play it at the end. If the end up together, Nanami probably deserved better than being strung along by Yuu for so long before Yuu finally accepted what was true from nearly the beginning. If they don’t end up together, than Nanami will be Yuu’s one-who-got-away and she’ll have nobody to blame but herself and her own self-deception and indecision. Either way, while it might seem sweet and it certainly keeps the story moving, the reality is that if this romance were not a fictional construct, this would be a really bad place for the characters to be in.

While it might seem fine to see it as only a work of fiction and to dismiss these characters as exaggerated for affect, these characters, like many others in anime, really do seem to echo their creators and when it comes to love, you have to admit, people do some pretty silly things.

Bloom Into You Episode 3

So Yuu represents the first big lie that people tell themselves. It isn’t love. Yuu is hardly the first anime character to convince herself that what she is feeling isn’t love. She joins a long list of anime characters who insist that they just like the other person, or worse, that they are just playing around. For Yuu, she’s convinced herself that she admires Nanami for all of her outstanding qualities, but that is normal. It isn’t love.

We see a more extreme case of this in Ririchiyo Shirakin who not only doesn’t really she is feeling love (or at least strong like) but manages to self diagnose herself with potential arrhythmia. Now, I’ll admit that most people are at least aware enough of their own emotions to understand that they aren’t genuinely feeling ill when they get that tightness in their chest or their heart goes doki-doki, but Ririchiyo is a fairly special case in terms of being unaware of how to deal with emotions.

And when we ask why do characters do this and make statements about how dumb it is and why can’t they just be honest… You start to think why don’t people in real life. Why aren’t people honest about how they feel?

Which actually brings us to the second great lie that people tell themselves. I’m fine the way things are. This one is illustrated through Sayaka in Bloom Into You. As Nanami’s friend she wants more but for various reasons has decided that she’s fine with things the way they are. She isn’t honest at all about what she wants from Nanami but still feels jealous when she sees how close Nanami is getting to Yuu.

Bloom Into You Episode 6 Sayaka

So why wasn’t Sayaka just honest about how she felt? 

Because, like most sensible people, she was afraid of losing what she had. It wasn’t so much that she was fine with things, but more the loss of what she had was more than she was willing to gamble. If she’d thought she’d had a sure chance, she might have made a move, but there’s no certainty in love. And with Sayaka’s background, can you blame her? Dumped by her former senpai who then made her feel twisted and wrong about her sexual preferences, Sayaka isn’t exactly wanting to dive head first into another relationship. She’s got plenty of reason to doubt and more than enough reason to try to hold onto what she has.

But, Sayaka isn’t alone in this. In fact, she shares this trait not only with many anime characters and people, but she also shares this trait with another Sayaka. Sayaka Miki from Madoka Magica who uses her one wish to save the one she loves and allow him to play his violin again but in all the time he was hospitalised, despite visiting him, talking with him, being with him, Sayaka never once confesses how she feels. And then her friend announces that she’s going to confess and Sayaka is left in an absolute state of turmoil which more or less leads to her downfall. 

So could Sayaka Miki have confessed? Was she fine the way things were? It is kind of too late to know but these characters represent the very real fear people feel about being open and honest with their feelings and the very real potential downside of holding off too long.

Bloom Into You Episode 1

Finally, Nanami gives us the third type of lie people tell themselves in the face of love. Even if you don’t love me back, I’m fine just loving you. One sided, unrequited love makes for excellent story fodder but the reality of it is pretty crushing over time. No matter how generous a person is, pouring love and affection toward another and receiving nothing back is exhausting and for most not something that can be sustained (most, not all). Nanami tells Yuu it is fine if she doesn’t fall in love. Later she tells Yuu not to fall in love with her. Yet despite that, Nanami keeps pushing the relationship forward wanting more and more from Yuu.

No matter what Nanami says her actions speak louder than her words. Her request of Yuu at the sports carnival, that Yuu initiate a kiss, speaks volumes. Nanami wants Yuu to reciprocate. She doesn’t want to be holding up a one sided affection. While she rationalises and says that she’s fine just being in love, ultimately what she wants is more than that.

Looking at another anime character, Linda from Golden Time tries very hard to wish Banri the best. She loved him but because of his accident he forgot her and she left to let him move on with his life. Reunited, she tells herself that she honestly wants Banri to have the life he chooses but deep inside it is killing her to see the boy she loved not know who she is and with Koko. Admittedly, the amnesia aspect of that makes it somewhat less relatable to the average viewer, but it is still an interesting love story.

Bloom Into You is a beautiful anime. The direction, the music, the characters are all beautifully put together. But where it gets a lift beyond just being another pretty anime about high school love is in its exploration of people in love and the lies they tell themselves. This is what makes this story and the characters compelling and brings us back week after week. That and it is just really pretty.

Bloom Into You Episode 6 Nanami and Yuu

Well, if you made it to the end of this ramble, I’d love to know your thoughts on love in Bloom Into You or in anime in general.

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Karandi James
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IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? – HESTIA FULL GRAPHIC T-SHIRT WHITE (L SIZE)
IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? - HESTIA FULL GRAPHIC T-SHIRT WHITE (L SIZE)

Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions Series Review

Overview:

Yuuta Togashi suffered from a condition known as Chunibyo in middleschool where he pretended he was the Dark Flame Master and had magic powers. Now he’s going to high school and he’s chosen one where no one from his middle school will know him looking for a fresh start as a ‘normal’ student. Unfortunately for him, on his first day he meets Rikka Takanashi who not only seems to have Chunibyo, she’s determined to drag him into her delusions as she searches for the Unseen Horizon.

Review:

If you’re thinking from the overview that this is another high school kids learning how to grow up and find out who they are anime, you aren’t entirely wrong. That is at the core what this show is about. How we grow as people and what we give up or choose to hold onto as we transition between being a child and being an adult. In that sense this show is truly wonderful because it looks at this idea from a number of different views that I’ll get into later but that isn’t all the show has on offer.

I actually watched this anime after watching an AMV someone had put together about it. I knew nothing else going in so was kind of surprised about the more serious topics in the anime. The AMV had essentially clipped every scene of make believe, the visual representations of Rikka’s fights against the Priestess (her older sister), and other ‘delusions’ the characters have throughout the series and it made it seem like the show actually was a fantasy. Actually, even watching the show, at times you had to question whether the twist at the end was going to be that these characters actually did have some unseen power because they intensely believe and buy into their own concepts at times and the way these play out are quite brilliant. But no, not a fantasy. And the characters aren’t actually all that delusional given at their core they know the difference between reality and their dream but at times choose to take refuge in the dream. The only difference between them is how strongly they deny certain aspects of reality.

So this show offers some fairly complex questions about characters, how we perceive and accept reality, and also some excellent visual spectacle resulting in some truly awesome fight sequences that bring quite a bit of excitement in short bursts throughout the series.

Chunibyo5

Still, the selling point of the show is undeniably the characters themselves. Yuuta and Rikka are absolutely charming in their lead roles. While Yuuta has decided to accept the world’s definition of normal at the start of the series and has packed away all of his paraphernalia collected during middle school into boxes, Rikka is truly still embracing the world she herself has created. The contrast between the two and their initial clashing as Rikka tries to convince Yuuta that as the Dark Flame Master he is essential on her quest and his insistence that she act a bit more normal plays out well. And the series could have left it as being that simple. Guy who previously strayed from being normal guides weirdo girl back into the world, thus saving her from social ridicule. But that isn’t where this show chooses to leave its narrative.

Yuuta’s vision of what it means to be normal might more firmly align with the rest of the world, but it is a vision he has constructed of a ‘normal’ high school life. It is every bit as delusional as his idea about being the Dark Flame Master. It’s a new role with a new costume and new rules, but it is just another role he is playing, and even he realises at times that his insistence that Rikka is in the wrong early in the series is unfair. At the same time, he doesn’t allow himself to all totally back into the delusion because he does have to function in society. By the end of the series, Yuuta very clearly takes on the role of a bridge between Rikka and the rest of the world. He understands where she is coming from but finally realises that imposing his view of normal upon her is equivalent to destroying or denying her very identity.

This isn’t a transition that happens instantly and Yuuta sways back and forth between the normal and delusional poles crafted by the show. Early on he’s convinced not to throw away all those boxes and he puts them back in his room. Later they get opened and some of the objects get put back into use. He isn’t entirely casting aside a highly significant part of who he was. The thing is, he’s happier as he accepts his past and those aspects of him that still feel the need to strike a pose when holding a toy gun or sword. Rikka may be ‘weird’ but by being with her, he finds a way to accept himself and some of those parts of him that others might deem childish or delusional.

Chunibyo6

In contrast, Rikka stays true to who she is for most of the series. However, the final act delivers the inevitable. The understanding that to get on with others (in this case her mother) and to move on in the world, Rikka realises she needs to be ‘normal’. What follows is a truly bizarre couple of episodes where this once vibrant person becomes a shell of who they are. Questioning everything they do and say and trying to determine what is normal anyway. Seeing Rikka in this state is distressing and watching Yuuta encourage her efforts while being inwardly torn (because while he understands this is part of growing up – or at least he thinks it is – he actually misses Rikka being Rikka) is almost heart breaking.

Chunibyo4

For Sanae, one of the supporting cast and another character who has fully embraced Rikka’s delusions, she is genuinely heart broken by this transition. Seeing this enforced and highly artificial normalcy and the impact it has on these characters sends a truly powerful message about our expectations of people and how we view the world.

It is a shame that we view Rikka’s internal struggle through the eyes of Yuuta. Admittedly, the story would have been far too fractured to be affective from her perspective, and we would have already known why she chose to embrace her particular delusion if it had been from her point of view, but in this sequence seeing her thoughts on this process would have really hit hard. Still, Yuuta’s own inner conflict as being the catalyst for a lot of this pain has a pretty powerful impact and it takes away the potential argument that Rikka wanting to return to how she was is a selfish act. If it had been her perspective, it would have been too easy to write her off as willful. Viewing the conflict externally and through others really allows you to feel true sympathy for her as a character.

This theme of everyone embracing a delusion to a certain extent is carried across most of the support cast and becomes part of a conversation between two characters toward the end of the season. I honestly think the show would have been better without that conversation as it kind of took a message that had been powerfully demonstrated and hit us over the head with it like a blunt instrument, but at least thematically this show is very cohesive.

I haven’t touched on many negatives with this anime. They exist. Some of the characters will wear on your nerves at times while others you’ll find charming. Development of characters outside of Yuuta and Rikka exists but to a far lesser extent and some characters remain very much a one line descriptor. Certain events early in the show really do end up being just filler and there’s a few obligatory high school anime moments that don’t really add much to the overall narrative. Still, I had a lot of fun with this show. It won’t be for everyone because it is a high school anime with cute girls and all the usual tropes, but I think the overarching narrative here had enough solid ideas to really keep my interest and the visual spectacle of the delusions playing out certainly keep things exciting.

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I’d strongly recommend at least giving the show a go though it won’t be for everyone. There are some very cool moments, some very funny moments, and if you make it through to the end of the season you will probably cry at least once. There is a season 2 of this which I will review after another rewatch (I’ve only watched season 2 once so need to watch a bit more carefully). I don’t like it as much but it actually does take Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship a bit further and continues the overall idea of what growing up is like.

If you’ve seen this anime I would love to know your thoughts so please leave a comment below.


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Karandi James.

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