Note: Review copy supplied by Manga Entertainment
Title: Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! The Movie: Rikka Version
Anime Studio: Kyoto Animation
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Genre: Drama / Comedy / Romance
Released: July 30th 2018
Language: Japanese / English
Running Time: 96 mins
Extras: Textless OP and ED, Trailers, Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Lit: “My Brother 2” bonus short.
In Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version, it’s just so not fair! Sure, Rikka may be a ‘chunibyo’ afflicted with a state where she’s convinced that she has hidden powers. Maybe she DOES think she has an evil eye that always has to be covered with a patch. But that doesn’t mean that what she believes isn’t real to her, and Rikka knows in her twisted little heart that Yuta Togashi is much more than just another boy. So why is he always pulling away? At long last, here’s the chance to see the world through Rikka’s eyes (or eye, technically, since the evil one is usually covered). Armed with your trusted parasol, you’ll deal with evil high priestess sisters, enchanted animals, and the scariest thing of all, going literally boy crazy!
NOTE: When referring to the series in this review, I shall be using the shortened name ‘Chunibyo’.
I’m going to start here by talking about the quality of animation for the film. The studio involved, Kyoto Animation, were not only involved with the original series, but with several other fantastic shows including The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, K-On! and the recent hit, Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid. As such, it should come as no surprise to hear that the animation is superb here. Due to tonal shifts that take place in the show – which we’ll talk about a little more in a moment – there’s plenty of scope to show a great variety in terms of visuals. In this case, that ranges from full-on over the top fantasy styled battles to laid back school scenes, and emotion fuelled dialogues to picturesque settings.
There’s no one thing that stands out as being poorly executed from a technical standpoint. On the contrary, Kyoto Animation have clearly spent a great deal of time ensuring that each different style of scene is given due care to fit neatly alongside any ‘top series’ that could be named from within the associated genres. My favourite moments are easily the battle heavy scenes though, with the delusions playing out in their full flashy glory, just us as the characters imagine them, while occasionally flicking back to reality for the audience. The stark difference between imagination and reality is at times hilarious, but also manages to feel endearing for how childlike it is. That’s not to say that this is the only standout though. It’s an oddly specific thing to pick up on, but Chunibyo is one of the best anime I’ve seen when it comes to detailing hands. There’s an edge of realism to them that makes them really pop.
Unfortunately, while the art is consistently high in quality here, the actual story left me mixed. When the original series of Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions was released, it was met with a lot of praise, and for good reason. The story the series presented did a wonderful job of transitioning between comedy, romance and drama at just the right moments. In fact, one of its greatest strengths was the sheer impact that it created when the story shifted the focus to the more serious elements of the storyline. The nature of this film is that, outside the short bursts of new material, it acts as an extended clip show, condensing the 325 minutes of the original series into around 90 minutes. That causes a few issues.
Like I said, the tonal shifts of the original production were very effective when it came to creating an impact with the viewer. The way the various characters were presented and the little snippets we learned about them as we went along also helped make it all feel like a very rounded production. If you’re first foray in the world of Chunibyo was this film though, you’ll miss out on a lot, especially when it comes to fleshing the supporting cast out. In particular, Rikka’s sister Toka and fellow student Shinka Nibutani suffer a great deal of reduction in screen time. That’s a shame because both characters were important in advancing the tale for both Rikka and Yuta.
And it’s not just characters that we miss out on either. Plot points that were previously spread out over several episodes, not to mention multiple conversations, are reduced to seconds of footage. You miss out on a lot of context as a result, which would not only reduce the emotional impact for first time viewers, but also leave them without a complete picture as to what is happening and how it plays into the overall story.
That’s not to say that none of the scenes hit the mark though. Some of the more comedic moments and a couple of the awkward romance scenes with Rikka and Yuta do translate well in this format. On top of that, the new material is very good, and provides good examples of each of Chunibyo’s strong points. The opening scene where Rikka dreams about marrying Yuta is a prime example of the franchise’s fighting chops, and the closing scenes – which were clearly designed to set up season two – furthers the relationship between our leads. There was also a cute moment where Kumin points out that Shinka often turns up in costume to please Rikka’s ‘servant’ Sanae, hinting at the two being closer than their fighting would sometimes indicate.
What’s interesting here though is that, despite the faults of the clip show format, using it does fit with the story. You have to remember that this is a retelling of the first season through the eyes of Rikka. While Yuta had the luxury of being a regular kid throughout the series, Rikka was struggling with life at the time. Whether intentionally or not, she was hiding in her head, and that means that a lot of the real world events would be very different in her memory than in that of the rest of the cast. As such, a fractured retelling does feel appropriate in this case.
Also of note is the bonus short episode, which sees Yuta’s little sister Kuzuha telling us about a time that Yuta himself was in the 8th grade and fully immersed in his Dark Flame Master persona. This was genuinely hilarious, with Kuzuha tolerating her brother’s behaviour more than embracing it.
So, where does that leave this film overall? Well, if you’ve seen the first season, you’ll likely find some enjoyment in it. The new material is fun and knowing the story already means that you can fill in the gaps and use it as a good stop-gap reminder before launching into season two. Watching the film in this way also means that scenes such as Rikka standing at the invisible boundary lines are still just as heart wrenching as they were the first time around. If you haven’t watched the first season yet though, I would wait until you have.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5
If Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! The Movie: Rikka Version sounds like it might be something you’d enjoy and you live in the UK, then why not click on the affiliate link below? You can grab the DVD or Blu-Ray, and I’ll get a small commission. As a bonus, you can still pick up season one too!