Rikka’s first mission may have been to discover the ethereal horizon, but it’s now time to turn from grieving for her lost, to learning to accept the love she has in her grasp. At the start of their second year of high school, she and Yuta, her chunibyo-denying friend, have moved in together under the half-pretence of his helping hand till she finds her own place. It’s true that, where we find her at the start of the season, Rikka could not take care of herself while her older sister Toka lives in Italy. But as much as season one of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! was about being in denial of your reality, internal and external in equal measure, this season is about finding the maturity to accept yourself as you are. In learning this through their everyday lives together, Rikka, Yuta and their friends in the Far Eastern Magic Napping Society (summer thereof) find a balance between the adult, and the child who still wants to explore and find adventures, however mundane.
Rikka and Yuta share the sort of innocent love that so closely resembles those school romances, so tame in hindsight. Still, you find yourself tossed between old heartaches and warm-fuzzies in sharing the memory of them with these characters. The beauty of this instalment of Chu-2 is that the beginnings of a mature relationship are there. Slowly, slowly, their love changes as they become more comfortable with their lives joining as one. Sparked by the act of sharing space, falling asleep under the same roof if not in the same bed, Heart Throb crosses its own invisible boundary, between falling in love and building a life together. Though Rikka refuses to repress her chunibyo for the sake of anyone’s comfort, hoping at last to awaken the Dark Flame Dragon in Yuta, this game is a cover for getting to the centre of his soul; not a dormant dragon, but the truth behind his chunibyo. This higher contract, beyond that of a demonic passion play between master and servant, extends to all their friends caught in their own protective fantasies.
The school days that show these changes unfolding do often fall to tropes. That slice-of-life staple of the society plainly based on goofing off having to defend itself against closure rears its tired head. But when they do arise it’s always a stopgap to a discovery, displaying how certain characters are learning to work together and recognise one another’s strengths and weaknesses. The Far Eastern Magic Napping Society prove their merit quickly by entering an interscholastic napping contest (which is very much a thing). Beyond that, the injection of a new intrusive character from Yuta’s out chuni days sees the cast pushed to accept something that dawns on us all in a big way during high school – the terror of change, reflected in battle against the so-called ‘fakes’ we fear and ridicule, just because they mirror how we pretend.
These imaginary duels, in which we share the kids’ visions of magic, tear us from that dreaded usual and back to the pure wonder of childhood. But the grandeur of cursed sight and supercharged spells prove all bluster, an attractive boundary for Kyoto Animation’s soothing shades in setting and character micro-actions. These become the keys to their true quests, reflecting lingering uncertainties. The same ones we once had, and perhaps retained into adulthood; maybe, more often, for the better.
Extras: English dub; OVA episode; Chunibyo Lite shorts; clean opening/closing animation; also available from Sentai Filmworks.