A few questions for the director of Occult Academy, Silver Spoon and of course, the smash hit series Sword Art Online.
The Winter 2014 Anime Preview Guide Love, Chunibyo, And Other Delusions! REN
Jan 9th 2014
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
Review: If you have not seen the entirety of the first season then you should pass on this series until you have, as otherwise very little of what happens in this episode will make any sense. I did watch it, and made it my pick for the top new series of 2012, which is why my claim that the first episode of this season is a bit of a letdown should be taken with a grain of salt; it is still a very solid episode but just set against a very high standard.
And a big part of that letdown may be that the series trademark shtick – of contrasting fantasy imaginations against what is really going on – is not as fresh anymore. Since it first aired in the Fall 2012 season, other series have also tried integrating in elements of the chunibyo phenomenon (i.e., a supposed psychological condition particular to early adolescents where they aggrandize themselves in a delusional fashion), albeit to lesser degrees of success, and the first episode does not show any new twists on that front. It is hardly stale, though, as it shows that characters and events have advanced at least some. A new school year is starting, which means that Sanae is now a first-year high school student, Shinka is further trying to distance herself from her past by radically changing her hair color and wearing a longer skirt (Makoto also tries the former, albeit with comically less success), Kumin is painfully failing at trying to develop joke-telling skills, and Rikka seems better-adjusted even though she continues her chunibyo ways. Rikka has also temporarily moved in with Yuta due to some housing issues involving siblings/parents leaving for work elsewhere, a fact that Yuta desperately wants to keep secret from everyone until they can find her a new apartment because he knows it will look bad. And indeed, it doesn't stay a secret for too long and raises just as much trouble as he expected when it comes out. Fortunately his little sister shows up to save the day (sort of).
Shinka's character design changes have apparently been a source of no small consternation to some Japanese fans of the show, and indeed it does require some getting used to, but the reasons behind the change are entirely logical ones grounded in her age and personality and she still retains the entertainingly antagonistic relationship she had with Sanae. The opener suggests that another girl is getting added to the mix (possibly she will be the person who moves into Rikka's old apartment about Yuta's?), but she does not appear in this episode, so where exactly the series is going from here is uncertain; the end of the first season wrapped up the existing plot threads pretty well, after all. Still, the artistry is good enough, the characters appealing enough, and the antics fun enough to keep established fans around until the next plot impetus forms.
Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions! Ren is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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