Shelf Life
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Take on Me

by Paul Jensen,

It's Cyber Monday, which should hopefully mean that those of you on the hunt for bargains are finding plenty of good ones. It also means that some of this week's price links might be out of date (since I usually put these columns together on Saturday), so be sure to do your research before you mash that checkout button. Whether you're in the middle of an epic shopping spree or just having an ordinary Monday, welcome to Shelf Life.

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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Take on Me

On Shelves This Week

Dinosaur King - Season 1 BD
Discotek - 1078 min - Dub - MSRP $59.95
Currently cheapest at: $38.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After a young boy named Max and his friends discover cards that can summon dinosaurs, they must battle against the nefarious Dr. Z to keep him from taking over the world as the Dinosaur King.

Extra: We don't have any formal reviews for this English-dubbed series, which apparently aired on US television back in 2007. Our user ratings have an average of about 4.7 out of 10. Both seasons are available streaming on Netflix.

Dinosaur King - Season 2 BD
Discotek - 660 min - Dub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $24.99 Amazon

Synopsis: Max, Rex, and Zoe must reunite with their dinosaur friends in order to save their parents from time-traveling pirates.

Extra: No formal reviews or user ratings for this sequel series, so you're on your own with this one. See the season one entry for the streaming link.

Hells BD
Discotek - 117 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $29.95
Currently cheapest at: $19.47 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After realizing she's trapped in a demonic academy, high school girl Rinne Amagane must find a way to escape and return to the land of the living.

Extra: We don't have any formal reviews for this 2008 film, possibly because this seems to be its first official release in the US. Our user ratings have an average of 7 out of 10.

King's Game - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf

Synopsis: A class of high school students begin receiving text messages with bizarre commands, and the penalty for disobeying them is surprisingly deadly.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this series, and it was also covered in This Week in Anime. You can stream it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Lupin the 3rd: The Legend of the Gold of Babylon
Discotek - 100 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $29.95
Currently cheapest at: $19.47 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Lupin heads to New York in search of tablets that lead to the hidden treasure of Babylon, but he'll have to dodge Zenigata and mafia hitmen along the way.

Extra: No formal reviews for this particular Lupin film, but our user ratings for it have an average of 6 out of 10.

Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 325 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $22.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Twelve years after a disaster struck the country of Rimgarde, its young princess must take up arms to confront a new threat.

Extra: We have a review of a previous release of this series, and it's available streaming on Funimation.

Sound! Euphonium - Season 2 Part 2 BD
Ponycan - 180 min - Sub - MSRP $99.99
Currently cheapest at: $79.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Past regrets and present competition collide as Kumiko and her bandmates head for the national tournament.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this season, along with a feature article on the series in general. You can stream both seasons on Crunchyroll.

Tales of the Abyss - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 650 min - Sub - MSRP $54.98
Currently cheapest at: $27.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Unexpectedly freed after years in confinement, young prince Luke fon Fabre sets out on an adventure through the outside world.

Extra: This series was previously released in several parts, and those sets were covered in Shelf Life here and here.

Three Leaves, Three Colors - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $34.98
Currently cheapest at: $26.24 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Former rich girl Yoko befriends two fellow students, the energetic Futaba and eccentric Teru, and the three of them deal with the everyday struggles of high school.

Extra: We have a review of a previous release of this slice of life series, and it's available streaming on Funimation.

UQ Holder! - Complete Collection BD
Sentai - 375 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Tota Konoe, grandson of the legendary magician Negi Springfield, takes on a new generation of supernatural foes.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this Negima sequel/spinoff, and you can stream it on Amazon Prime and HIDIVE.

Shelf Life Reviews

I've written about a couple of entries in the Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Series for this column over the years, and now I'm taking a look at the newest of the bunch: a sequel film that has the cast road-tripping across Japan.

Set after the second season of the TV series, Take on Me pours the majority of its energy into two goals. First and foremost, it's here to provide an entertaining road trip adventure with the usual cast of oddballs, complete with plenty of inside jokes for fans of the franchise and of Kyoto Animation in general. Along the way, the film also seeks to provide the kind of satisfying progress in Yuta and Rikka's relationship that the second TV season arguably lacked. The chunibyo couple really, truly, this time for sure need to figure out whether or not they want a romantic relationship. Take on Me succeeds at the first of these two goals, but comes up a bit short with the second.

The film starts off with everyone enjoying some time off before the new school year. Yuta's helping Rikka muddle through her remedial classes, and all seems right with the world until Rikka's sister Toka shows up. With her overseas job looking like a long-term prospect, Toka wants to take Rikka back to Italy with her. Rikka and Yuta are horrified at the prospect of being separated, so they decide to “elope” on a trip across Japan in order to escape Toka's wrath and remain together. The rest of the cast soon joins in for a city-hopping game of cat and mouse, but it's only a matter of time before Yuta and Rikka have to decide once and for all what they mean to one another.

If you're a fan of the franchise and have seen a road trip movie at some point in your life, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Take on Me. The main characters hustle their way from one landmark to the next, with each stop featuring plenty of comedy courtesy of Rikka's overactive imagination. At this point, the chemistry between Yuta and Rikka is so natural that the writing doesn't have to go very far out of its way to find a laugh. Fans of the dysfunctional duo of Nibutani and Dekomori are also in for a good time, as the two of them play a major supporting role as Toka's reluctant minions. Their quest to track down and apprehend Yuta and Rikka is entertaining enough that it feels like a complete story in its own right. References to other Kyoto Animation titles are also sprinkled into the film, and are presented with enough subtlety that they'll entertain the studio's hardcore fanbase without confusing or distracting ordinary viewers. As a lighthearted continuation of the TV series, Take on Me hits its mark.

On the other hand, the film's dramatic credentials are somewhat less impressive. It does a decent job of depicting the relationship between Rikka and Yuta, and the two of them make slightly more progress than they did in the second TV season, but there's still a noticeable lack of substance here. Part of what made the series so memorable, particularly in its first season, was its ability to work some hard-hitting moments of raw emotion into its rom-com plot. By comparison, Take on Me never lands any big dramatic punches, and in some cases it seems to go out of its way to avoid getting too serious. Instead, we get some surface-level introspection from Yuta and Rikka, which is reasonably well-directed but not compelling enough to make the movie feel truly worthwhile from a narrative standpoint.

That feeds into a worry I have about Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions in general; with each new sequel, it feels more and more like the series is chasing its tail. As much as it flirts with the notion of Rikka needing to “grow up” and adapt to the real world, it's limited in how far it can take that central storyline. After all, the core appeal of this series is the back-and-forth dynamic of the (relatively) normal characters trying to contain the shameless weirdness of the chunibyo crew. As soon as Rikka hangs up her eyepatch for good, the show's over, which means that the writing needs to keep dodging the issue to keep the story going. It's a premise that can only be stretched so far, and even this film's more definitive conclusion is somewhat compromised in order to keep the door open for a sequel.

As far as art and animation go, Take on Me doesn't make the big jump in quality you sometimes get when going from TV to a movie, but that's partly because the TV series looked pretty darn good to begin with. The imaginary fight scenes remain a highlight in terms of pure spectacle, and both the character animation and background art are far above average. This release comes with an English dub featuring the usual cast, and the most notable on-disc extras are a trio of “photo session” shorts. As far as I can tell, these seem like they were originally made to play ahead of the movie during its run in Japanese theaters, and they essentially set up a chance for the audience to take selfies with the characters on screen. I'm not sure they work quite as well on a regular TV, but they're a fun little novelty.

Your enjoyment of this movie will depend heavily on the perspective and expectations you bring into it. If you're a franchise fan looking for a chance to revisit your favorite characters, you'll probably come away satisfied. On the other hand, folks looking for new plot developments might find it a little too frivolous for their liking, and newcomers are much better off starting with the first TV season. I enjoyed my time with Take on Me, but I don't think I'll feel the need to watch it again. That puts it comfortably into Rental territory, albeit on the more positive end of that spectrum.

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading!

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