First Impressions: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren


Astonishing lack of Rikka's butt-wiggle

Wonderful, wonderful Chuunibyou, what a surprise conclusion to 2012's slate of anime you were. It's no secret that I'm quite fussy with the shows that KyoAni pumps out, but this slice-of-life/science fiction/romance/comedy was gripping from the get-go. Suffice to say that made me pretty excited for the continuation, even though the justification for a sequel is dubious at best. 

But hey, it happened, and nothing could hold me back from more adventures with the crazy-yet-lovable Rikka and her overly patient boyfriend, Yuuta. But what do we even want from a sequel? I'm not sure, but I might not be too worried about it so long as we reach the end of this season without feeling the need to wonder why this exists in the first place.

This show, unsurprisingly, is all about the humble chuunibyou. While they appear to be seemingly ordinary eighth-graders, they actually battle swarms of demons and protect humankind from supernatural disasters that you aren't even aware of...or at least, that's what they think is happening. You and I would just consider them very imaginative kids; the kind that run around with sticks battling invisible hordes of bad guys. In the first series, Yuuta was a notorious chuunibyou, which forced him to attend a high school far away to make sure no one knows about all the embarrassing things he did. While enjoying a fresh start, he met Rikka a girl in his class who very much hasn't outgrown the 'phase', and who was dead set on drawing Yuuta into her fantasy world.

While the previous series was an absolute treat with its sense of humor and colorful characters, it also finished with a solid conclusion. This was great, but it also meant that a sequel was completely unexpected; unnecessary, even. With the story all wrapped up, where could the show go from here to keep up anywhere near the same levels of interest? As funny as the main cast and their antics are, I don't think it could get very far without something of a plot to carry it along. So, do we have one? Quite frankly, it's too early to tell. The first episode of Ren was a typical reintroduction episode.

Well, I say typical, but I suppose a high school student who believes her right eye wields a terrible power that can "vanishment the world" is a little atypical. We quickly discover that Rikka is the same adorable girl she was from the first season, though she's temporarily shacked up with Yuuta after the rent wasn't paid on her old room. This seems like a typically ditzy Rikka thing to do, though I wonder if she was even the one responsible for paying the rent. With all of the hints that someone significant has moved into her room already, I've no doubt that there will be screams of foul play-- even if it's the chuunibyou in Rikka shouting them. My bets are on the interloper being an old friend of Yuuta's, back from when he was a chuunibyou at his previous school. 

Everyone that matters is back for the reintroduction, including both Nibutani and Isshiki sporting new looks. Interestingly, Nibutani's previous look is what shows up in all of Rikka's delusions, in particular when she is fighting with her sister. There's still the great rivalry between Nibutani and Dekomori, which doesn't fail to make you crack a smile. But let's be honest, the star of the show was definitely Kumin: not only for getting clobbered by a ladle several times, but for her constant eagerness to participate with the others. Her attempt at fighting Rikka's sister made the episode for me. 

So, all in all, this was a pretty good reintroduction. We're still lacking the plot to keep us going through the whole season, but I believe we're due to get some proper story in the next episode. My only complaint thus far is with the sheer absence of Rikka's vertical butt-wiggle, with her past efforts ousted from the opening sequence, but thankfully we have Kumin making up for it in the ending. The new opening is actually really good, and I'll admit that I laughed after seeing Rikka fall over on the revolving platform. The accompanying music is a little odd, but I think we'll get used to it within a few episodes.

Oh, and if you were after some fanservice, be sure to check out the ending-- I'm glad it was kept out of the show proper.

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Chris Walden
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