So, yeah been a year since I have to do reviews more or less within the span of the week. But yeah such is life, sometimes you got to do things in a crunch time situation. Anyway, this time in dealing with chuunibyou, we are going back to look at the continuation of a show that I have covered before last year…..
“Don’t Give Into Your Shame”
Love Chuunibyou and Other Delusions Heart Throb (Season 2)
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Writer: Jukki Hanada
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Yes, at long last, the long-awaited review of Season 2 of Love, Chuunibyou and Other Delusions, also containing the subtitle Heart Throb. It continues the school life adventures of Rikka Takanashi and Yuta Togashi as they explore young love while dealing with their own individual hang-ups. They are joined by the other school friends, be it the crazy minion Dekomori, the popular girl/formerly ashamed chuunibyou Nibutani and the sleepy kind senpai Kumin. But with this being their second year in high school, Rikka and Yuta run into some more roadblocks to their relationship being fully realized.
At least that’s what the second season could have been about. It starts off promising enough with that, even if it feels like a soft reset has been pushed upon Yuta and Rikka with regards to their relationship. Soon their love life is interrupted by Satone Shichimiya, an old female classmate of Yuta’s who moved away but is now back in town and acting as a third wheel in the main couple’s relationship. This is endemic of Season 2, where the good stuff is there but there isn’t enough time to develop any of it fully, and once it’s over that’s it, resolved in perhaps a too clear-cut manner for my liking.
So, what does Season 2 focus on? Episodic storytelling it seems to be the watchword this time around, with a lack of an overarching narrative that the first season had. And as a result, it varies in quality on an episode to episode basis. Episodes 4 and 8 are good at exploring the Dekomori-Nibutani relationship dynamic, which was something good in the first season so understandable in including that. They work well as an odd comical double act, Dekomori being the crazy one with a scheming streak, while Nibutani is the young woman trying to move on from her (self-admitted only) shameful past. But then there’s stuff like episode 5 involving the napping club competition where it gets rather silly or including material that doesn’t go anywhere. Like was all the changes introduced in episode 1 really important if you end up not sticking with any of it? What was the point of Chento aside from having another moe character added to the cast? All these questions and a few more, and not much in the way of answering them at all.
Which is a shame as with the first season, the main cast of characters work very well, but the plot just lets them down more often than not. I give the first season a lot of thanks in part because it had a very strong central narrative and a quite pertinent message to the teenage audience this show targets. But here, that is absent and filling the void is just wacky episode stories and a sub par version of the first season’s main narrative which trying as hard as it might just ends being weak. It’s quite telling when the Plot B episodic material is more interesting then the weak Plot A material.
So, does the production suffer as a result of the story problems the second season? Well, not directly it seems. It helps that the same production team (director, writer and storyboard/episode directors) worked on the second season as well as the first season. So the production is still KyoAni level of awesome animation as expected from them. But as it is in service to such a meh story, what’s the point of it looking so impressive? I mean, yes there are a few more dream world sequences which are neat but to what purpose does it serve beyond looking nice? It just seems like Art for Art’s sake.
Well, is there anything worthwhile in the second season? Well, the English dub is still quite good, as expected of current Sentai Filmworks dub releases. Granted, Emily Neves isn’t directing this season, just playing Kumin and some bit parts. Instead, Kyle Jones directs with a dub script team consisting of himself, Sean McManus, Lainee Hooks (dub scriptwriter for S1) and Katelynn Barr, with the added benefit of no noticeable difference between S1 and S2. They did at least get back the main cast from the first season, and they do as good as a job as they did with the first season. I do have to say Meg McDonald does a better job with Rikka here, seems to have improved quite a bit in that regard. Christina Kelly as Shichimiya is perhaps the standout performance in the dub, able to pull off the cutesy moe side for the character while being able to convey the dramatic moments when called for that. It helps when she can sound the age of the character without it sounding too forced. So yeah, if you liked the dub in Season 1, then Season 2 dub is just as good.
So, Love Chuunibyou and Other Delusions Heart Throb falls into that category of sequels that fall short with respect to their previous franchise entry. Not sure what KyoAni was thinking with making a second season within a year after the first season, but if I had to guess, money is a likely factor. But in the pursuit of money, what we get with Season 2 is a shallow, vacuous version of what we were given the first time around. The title for this review is a line from Nibutani during episode 8 and that seems apt for this show. Shame is something you should try to confront, not avoid or give into. Yet, the production team behind this decided to avoid it and here’s the result. What a shame, as you got a very good cast of characters to tell a compelling story, if only one could have been bothered to do so. Not that to say its good fun and entertaining, but it is merely popcorn fare.
Anyway, that’s all from me for September. October I will be doing 2 posts here. The first, due out around October 15th, will be a revised 10 Favorite Anime List, as it has been a while since I did one. The second, due out around October 30th, is my annual Halloween special review. Yeah I know it’s before Halloween but it comes close, so whatever.
‘Til next time, dear readers…..