As a fan of anime for more than a decade now, I always heard a reference or another for a series called Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (Or it's western name: Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions!) While I barely hear any reference for it lately, it was always on my list of anime I'd like to watch one day.
So, on a whim last week I decided to binge the series. For its premise, it was better than I expected even though its story was mundane and more real-life-like than what I thought it would be. An anime so great at what it tries to do!
This is a Spoiler-free article about the 1st Season (12 Episodes)
The idea behind the series is the titular "Chuunibyou." Which can be translated as "Eighth-grader syndrome." It's a real-life mental condition that usually manifests in middle school teenagers so desperate to standout that they convince themselves they are special, like being a chosen hero or have the knowledge of the existence of another universe. Teenagers with Chuunibyou will believe such things ignoring any evidence that proves them wrong. It's also a condition that most grow out of with time...
The main protagonist of this anime, Togashi Yuuta, had Chuunibyou in middle school, believing himself to be the all-powerful "Dark Flame Master." By High-school, Yuuta had already grown out of it and believes that middle school was the most embarrassing period of his life. Wanting nothing more than to be normal, he went to a far high-school no one knows him would go to, and strives to make a lot of friends.
His plan was destroyed when he encounters Takanashi Rikka. A girl who still has her own Chuunibyou, believing she has an evil right eye. She knows about his Dark Flame Master persona, and is prepared to fight the dark world with him. Oh, and she moved to the apartment above his own just the day before.
Thus starts the adventures of Yuuta as he tries to live a normal life while keeping Rikka from compromising his identity. They make a bunch of friends, learn about each other's situations and maybe a love would bloom! (Definitely actually. "Love" is in the title after all.)
While Chuunibyou is mostly comedy and heartwarming stuff that develop into romance by the second half, the conflicts are very personal. There are no evil characters in this series (at least in the first season,) just a bunch of kids and their families trying to deal with their problems. Rikka has a legitimate reason for her "Tyrant Eye" persona, and if you're someone who experienced similar things to her, it might be painful to watch. Yuuta behaves more like a real person than a Light Novel/Anime protagonist.
The animators clearly did a great job with this anime. There wasn't a single frame that I would consider "badly drawn" or "off-model." There are fight scenes in Chuunibyou that made me wish that the same team draws the fight scenes of popular shonen anime! (One Piece?) ...I think the real-world setting and the limited cast of characters helped the animation a bit, but I didn't expect this quality from a simple anime like this.
Finally, I want to talk about the theme of this anime. It's "Individuality" and accepting oneself. It's about growing up and what does one sacrifices while doing so. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai questions the view that strangeness and coping mechanisms are illnesses that has to be cured. This anime encourages escapism through and through! While I agree with the themes to some extent, I can't fully agree with the answer presented at the end.
I'm similar to Rikka in some way, and while the anime views her problem in different ways. It still ultimately treats her extreme escapism as a good thing. Still, in the context of the anime and its others themes I believe that conclusions ending makes absolute sense. Just as long as you don't apply it to real life. I believe that an Aesop of a work doesn't have to be something the audience agree with or even true, so it's okay in my book.
Now, I'm thinking of watching the second season but decided to write my impression. The first season is already a complete story in itself that doesn't need a continuation, so I'm not sure where the next season will take the story.