For the Team – Free! & My Swim Story | OWLS “Team”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s  sixth monthly topic, “Team,” I decided to incorporate what would have been a “Cafe Talk” about my high school swimming experience, along with my thoughts on the anime Free! into one big post over sticking with a team to the end.

While the prompt was more intended as dedication to “Pride Month” and all of those who support the LGBT & Queer communities both in real life and in anime, the generosity and flexibility, as well as the promoted creativity that OWLS is known for, allows me to bend this topic back to its home nature: companionship found in teamwork. Thanks Lyn for the prompt!

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A brief discussion on the 12-episode summer 2013 anime “Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club,” and its 13-episode summer 2014 sequel “Free! – Eternal Summer,” both produced by Kyoto Animation, directed by Hiroko Utsumi, based on the original story by Kouji Ooji.

“After High School, You’re Ordinary”

This was what Haruka Nanase was told long ago and, nearing the end of his own high school experience, Haru is still unsure of what to make of his future. Swimming as early as elementary school and winning races and a tournament with his childhood relay mates—all boys with very much girlish names—Makoto, Nagisa, and Rin, Haru has always loved the water. When they all went their separate ways for middle school, Haru dropped swimming entirely. Now he’s about to enter the real world, all dried up for a life of normalcy.

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That is—until the boys reunite in high school. Only desiring to race Haru after all these years, however, Rin could care less about the old team being together—he only wants to find out that HE is indeed the better, faster, stronger swimmer.

Without Rin, the three boys form a new Iwatobi High School Swim Team, and it turns out that their first challenge is not training and practicing hard, but actually recruiting a fourth member so that their relay can face off against Rin’s team later in the season! Eventually, these boys, bound by friendship, the spirit of competition, and the love of the sport, will discover what swimming in a relay means to each of them!

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And Just Like That, We’re Off the Blocks! 

Free!, like a well-trained athlete, balances episodes of training and technique with bits of fun, slice-of-life ventures and some emotional turmoil inbound. By using races and competitions as peaks of interest (and a way to execute the boys’ hard work), everything flows smoothly and as such makes time fly by. By the end of the two seasons, all relationships and story developments feel comfortably resolved—and that’s all I can ask of most adapted works these days!

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If it’s not apparent to you yet, the boys of Free! are very beloved by its fans in the community, and for good reasons, too. They all have such great . . . chemistry, and truly, they’re more than just friends—they’re family, the kind that look out for each other before themselves, as well as value each others’ strengths and weaknesses alike. Each so unique and diverse, they all have their own personal demons, but rather than facing them alone, they fight each battle as a team, causing their bonds to develop even further. I’d dare say that Free!’s characters form one of the most heartwarming squads out there; if not the best, they’re at least favorites of mine!

Name a Better-Looking Sports Anime. I Dare You.

Looking back, Free! was the first Kyoto Animation show to leave its signature mark on my viewing experience, and boy is it delicious. Not the muscles, well, maybe the muscles. I’m talking about the water—to quote Haru, it’s as if it’s ~alive~. Their attention to how water actually flows in real life is incredible. You could almost call it “liquid smooth.” KyoAni has a splendid color palette, which is bright, airy, and cheerful, not to mention that their eye for the cool, modern aesthetic is top-notch. Color and tone values help to distinguish between scenes of comedy and rivalry. I almost feel as if I’m cleansed when I watch this show, if that makes any sense at all.

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But the boys, oh yes, they are youthful, breathtaking creatures with beautiful physiques. I said it. No regrets.

The seaside OST also provides a flowing atmosphere from scene to scene, specifically those “go out and do something wonderful” tracks like “Rhythm of Port Town” and “Revelry of Student.” What the show’s probably known for music-wise is its energetic openings “Rage On” and “Dried Up Youthful Fame” by the wild OLDCODEX. And then there’s that ending “SPLASH FREE” by STYLE FIVE, a group composed of the five lead seiyuus (loudly sings 50% OFF ver).

For the Team: My High School Swim Club Story

My 8th grade summer ushered in a whole new set of problems: high school was right around the corner, and I was a) waaaay out of shape and b) wanted to fit in. So I was just like anyone else, right?

That’s when I told myself to do a sport—my first one ever—that no matter what happened or how bad I looked, I’d do it just for the sake of doing it. I was considering track for pole-vaulting since a close guy friend of mine did it. Then I looked at tennis.

Tennis couldn’t be that bad, right?

Then summer got real hot. Like, sure, it was 90+ degrees each day, but, early on during my anime experience when I was unfamiliar with simulcasts, I ran into a 30 sec trailer for something hot.

Really hot.

It was other peoples’ phrasing, not mine!

But there was NO WAY I’d “wear a speedo.” Heck, I didn’t even know if my high school had a boys swim team. So I rummaged the yearbooks and did a little online looking and sure enough, there it was.

As the summer drummed on, Free! kept calling be back to YouTube each week where someone would upload the episodes. Not the best streaming service, but I didn’t mind. Anyway, the way their club started off so small and so closely knit, and then the fact that they were STUNNING to look at—I had to do swimming, I just had to.

Season one ended leaving me in high spirits and hopeful that whatever came that coming winter (cause that’s when swim season was here), I’d be more than ready.

Flash forward, the school announcements read off an early interest meeting for the sport. I was overly nervous, of course, but I showed up, and just like a lost freshman EVERYONE knew each other already. Like 20 guys that all were buds with each other. I was already lost, and ready to give up.

Then the first practice came, oh god, the first practice. I received swimming lessons from a countryside town growing up, and so I thought I was a champ at it. But in fact I sucked. Really bad, hahaha!

The next practice came and five or so of the team didn’t show up.

They quit. Each with their own excuses.

Wat.

There were so few members on the team that we were all considered “varsity” swimmers, so at least that was neat. Little ol’ me was varsity as a freshman!

I somehow finished that year improving times meet after meet with the other first years. But my eyes never stopped wandering off to our lane four relay. Coincidentally, or perhaps by fate, there were four of them: one for each of the strokes, one for each of the boys in Free!

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I wanted to be like them. So I worked my ass off at morning practices and afternoon practices day after day after day.

I was even awarded the “Most-Improved” on the team! Still got the medal displayed in my room.

Then they all graduated. Except for one, since he was a junior, but yeah, they all had left me. They left the team, leaderless.

My sophomore and junior years ushered in new issues. New coaches, new members joining then quickly dropping for all the same things, but the core members of the team never left, and now they’re some of my greatest “upperclassmen” friends. Facing the facts, the others just couldn’t take the heat of practice.

But I could, and I did.

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Senior year came. Three other seniors joined me, but then those same three quit the very next day. By the end we were eight strong, but became eight of the closest guys you could ever imagine. We were all swimming Free!.

But there was this one freshman in particular. He was good. Very good. Like crazy good enough to make State qualification times in our first meet.

*gulp*

Then there was me, who had actually peaked his junior year and suffered all season with a young hot-headed coach who didn’t even know what “mercy” meant.

I suddenly felt unqualified. Alone, if you will. Days grew longer, my body grew more tired, and yet my times never improved.

I even remember crying myself to sleep one night, swearing to myself that I’d quit at practice the next day. “Who even needed to say they swam for four years during high school?? It’s not like I’d remember any of it a decade later!!”

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But then I thought about me—myself, that scared little guy who, during his freshman year, witnessed several of his upperclassmen leave the lanes for good. If it weren’t for those four boys, our A-Team relay, I probably would have—

I WOULD HAVE QUIT A LONG TIME AGO.

That’s when it hit me: I wasn’t staying there for me anymore. Heck, I didn’t need swimming, or an in-shape body anymore—it’s senior year.

But what kind of message would that have sent to them, their families, this community, that a team of only freshmen and sophomores were left senior-less after they all quit??

Nope. I was there for them. For the team that never left me when I was a first year.

For the team. 

So I whipped myself back into shape, my psyche ready for any challenges that came my way, because I wasn’t swimming for my own times anymore—it was for the relay, for the team!

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This past spring, we finished seven strong with one of our guys leaving us due to his parents moving away. But we never forgot him, and we never forgot about us.

And it was that fleeting member who got us to compete at State. Relay times are generally left permanently for the team, which is why, when he left, we met consideration time. It was just a few aching days after that we found out that our qualifying time got us in.

We stayed overnight in a fancy hotel, exploring the town together with our coaches, shopping, laughing, making those kinds of memories.

The kinds you’ll never forget.

And then we swam at state. That one really good freshman OF COURSE placed in the top ten. Our relay . . .

We didn’t make it to the second day, hahaha! But we were lucky enough to even be there in the first place, right?

When our splits (individual times) were captured by our coaches and the timing mats, my own time came in:

I swam a 24-some-second 50-yard freestyle in our relay. That is, to date, the fastest I had ever swam, and I nearly cried. We were all yelling and screaming and cheering so loud that we nearly lost our voices, but we didn’t care at that point, cause we all for the most part had swam our best when it mattered most, and ya know,

That means the world to a Team Captain.

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Like Free! tries to tell us, you can be the best swimmer or the worst swimmer, but if you don’t work together as a team, you’ll never win what truly matters: friendship, companionship, brotherhood—they’re all synonymous at this point.

We go about our lives thinking and acting like we have to carry our own weight, and to an extent, that’s true. But like a relay, everything we do is ultimately for the team, for some group, tangible or not, that is bonded together through incredible triumphs, pitfalls, or just good memories.

And if you find yourself losing passion with something, or are stuck with a team that frankly isn’t filled with the most wonderful of people, then BE that wonderful person for the team. Do what I did and work your butt off, sweat your tears away, and devote everything you’ve got just to say that YOU never left them when it mattered most.

Cause ultimately, you, too, are part of a team, their team, and you should do things just like that:

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 This was a very long post (laughs) and I apologize, but there’s a lot to be said about Takuto here. A lot indeed. And if you read it all, from beginning until now, I can’t honestly thank you enough! Free! may be male fanservice to everyone’s eye, but to me, it’s a beautiful and inspirational coming-of-age story filled with compassion and teamwork that inspired me to take on a seemingly impossible journey—impossible alone, that is. It’s about growing up and finding out who you really want to be; about dedication, self-motivation, and life after graduation. Through Free! I made friends and fell in love with a sport, but more that I made memories to last a lifetime, and that’s irreplaceable.

As such, both seasons of Free! are awarded solid “Caffe Mochas” ratings, and should be watched on Crunchyroll or Funimation’s sites for FREE (hah) at one’s earliest convenience. That is, only if you’re craving something really hot.

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This concludes my June 5th (now 6th, apologies) entry in the OWLS “Team” blog tour. Being the first one to kick off a tour of this magnitude is quite a heavy weight, but hopefully I did a decent job, and now we can carry that together, right? Please tune in to Remy Fool (The Lily Garden) as he discusses the poor perception of male crossdressers in Japanese media this Monday, June 12th.

To all the guys I swam with throughout my four years, from the team that inspired me to the one that I, myself, hopefully inspired, thank you for all of the laughs and the memories—this one’s for you. Stay silly my guys. 

And to you, my favorite readers, an even greater thanks! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, once a team captain, now just another blogger

Rei

 

Hyouka: Fifty Lazy, Dull, Grey Shades of Curiosity (FEAT. Sherlock Houtarou)

A spoiler-free review of the spring 2012 anime “Hyouka,” produced by Kyoto Animation, based on the “Koten-bu Series” novels by Honobu Yonezawa.

Do you read the newspaper anymore? You know, that compilation of local and global updates printed on cheap, ink-rich, pulpy paper that would arrive every Sunday morning (delivery date varying on location)? Yeah, me neither. Between bright news channels on TV and the instant convenience of the Internet, I have no right reason to order such a monochrome, drab publication (unless you do it for the ink odor, to which I reckon you meet with a psychiatrist ASAP).

But despite my preferences, there are still those who cling to this plain method, which is completely fine, by all means. My only question: Who would want to pay for boring when digital brilliance is free with the click of a button?

This bum. Nice Hair.

This bum. Nice Hair.

Enter Oreki Houtarou, our mundane, dispassionate, high-school culprit who would indeed prefer this simple format. Why? A newspaper is neither flashy nor motivational. Additionally, it comes to you rather than you going to it, which though might not sound like a good enough excuse for us, works fantastically in Houtarou’s favor.

To save his elder sister’s club from disbandment/comply with orders, Houtarou reluctantly joins the Classic Literature Club. There, he reunites with his lively buddy, Fukube Satoshi, and adversary/manga addict, Ibara Mayaka, a couple too energetic for him to be around. That’s not all lurking in the clubroom, however. Violet-eyed Chitanda Eru, a proper, lovely girl, transforms into the quintessential curiosity bomb when something interesting and mysterious catches her eye, or rather, tongue (“Curiosity killed the cat,” or “Cat got your tongue,” anyone?). Anyway, the story follows the Classics Club and their investigations surrounding their beloved Kamiyama High, for the more they unravel mysteries, the more they get tangled up with each other’s personal lives.

And that’s all these kids do. Solve mysteries for the mere sake of solving mysteries – all while satisfying Chitanda’s raging curiosity, of course! The development of the setting and characters comes from each of these case arcs that divide the series. That’s where problems can arise, you see. With the way the anime is set, beginning strongly and upholding that entertainment through the middle, the end pulls the characters out of the thrilling school festival setting to further polish the two relationships. What that creates is a most lackluster ending – as if we ended on just another episode – which is a real shame considering that the suspense from the two previous potent mystery arcs was driving up to this ‘finale.’

Ah, friendship ~

Despite my need to rearrange the story arcs, Hyouka’s characters are at least one-of-a-kind. As you know, Houtarou is and was my site’s mascot prior to my watching this anime, and you might be glad to hear that he’s sticking around! “If I don’t have to do it, I won’t. If I have to do it, I’ll make it quick.” Bent on avoiding a “rose-colored high school life,” that is his faithful motto. But he gradually breaks away from this eternal LAZINESS the more he quells Chitanda’s curiosity. The consequent result of his efforts – He develops a driving curiosity for himself!

“I’m not stupid. I’m just too lazy to show how smart I am.”

This is how I look when people ask to see my notes.

SAME

Houtarou is also incredibly relatable (my bedhead twin). I found his nonchalant way of dealing with the day-to-day schemes of his rather gray life not only amusing but realistic. Besides his dull “oohs” and “ahs,” provided by the charming actor Yuuichi Nakamura, he also has very little to say. Most of Houtarou’s ‘dialogue’ is composed of complex thoughts in that brown bushy head of his (indicated by the tugging of his bangs), while what he actually spouts is concise and to the point.

If Chitanda’s energy combats Houtarou’s laziness, then Satoshi’s spunk grinds with Mayaka’s bluntness. Claiming to be a “database” that can store info but not make conclusions, Fuku-chan supports Oreki regardless of his high expectations for him. All the while, Mayaka tries desperately to win Fuku-chan’s heart and Chi-chan fires questions in Oreki’s direction. Ladies and gents, here you have the musings of the Classics Club!

Calling the animation simply “beautiful” would be the easy way out. The cinematography here makes other KyoAni works look elementary. The dull world around Houtarou is coated in pale browns and yellows to reflect his boring view. In contrast, when he becomes shocked or surprised, lighting plays a key effect, as everything sparkles and brightens the eyes! When it comes to the mystery aspects of the show, each time a new case is introduced, the run-down of the information carries its own unique and quirky animated sequence. It’s as if Shaft and KyoAni birthed a gorgeous, brilliant, and eccentric child!

Kids actually utilizing their public libraries – and it’s cool!

I want to bring up the OST not because it’s necessarily the greatest thing ever, but because it fits the mystery atmosphere so perfectly! For the majority of the tracks, irritated strings, peculiar xylophones, and romantic choirs/pianos/harps pave the way for intense thinking and detective work. Sleuthy, eerie, dramatic, or flat out rambunctious, the music remains an engaging feature of Hyouka. The exciting inclusion of classical music, be it the reoccurring Beethoven, Bach, or Faure adds a, and imagine this, “classy” feel to the whole shebang. I simply can’t get enough of “Sicilienne” and Bach’s “Cello Suite!” *Cue reading letter from Oreki’s sis*

Before we leave the OST department, I’d like to highlight “Yasashisa no Riyuu” by ChouCho, the first opening. This song just oozes with good feels and astonishing visuals, so it was naturally a shame to lose it after the first half! Similarly, the first ending “Mikansei Stride” by Saori Kodama was also a pleasant touch.

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Hyouka’s best feature was its ability to juggle the genres of mystery, drama, romance, and slice-of-life, and do it phenomenally! To parody, it was like “Fifty lazy, dull, Grey Shades” of freakin’ curiosity. Seriously, if I was having the crappiest day ever and was wanting to be cheered up, or if I wanted something fairly heavy to dip my emotions into, then this is one of the bests. Even if the mysteries are lacking towards the end, there are plenty of other great qualities the story has to offer. So why don’t you throw down that dusty newspaper of yours and hop online with Hyouka!? It’s not like you were reading it, anyway.

“People who are confident in themselves never talk about expectations. “Expectation” is a word rooted in giving up. It leaves you with no other choice. It makes it obvious that you’re powerless.” – philosophy of Fukube Satoshi

+ One-of-a-kind characters (especially Oreki, Fukube, and Irisu) with different viewpoints and philosophies on expectation. Great vocal performances for characters

+ Mystery arc “Why Didn’t She Ask EBA”

+ Sensational cinematography of Oreki’s drab world and its contrast, captivating art and animation

– “Just another episode” ending; no satisfying conclusion

I can’t believe I finally got to watch Hyouka! Uf, and what a splendor it was. For the café, Hyouka is a solid 8/10 with a superior caffe mocha rating! It’s a real bummer that, at this point, there is no English localization of the anime (WHY HASN’T ANYONE PICKED THIS UP). While I encourage you to watch it if you have a hankering-for-a-tinkering with some mystery drama, the only way to find it is through fansubs, meaning not-so-legal streaming. Only watch it if that kinda thing doesn’t bother you. To those who have, what did you think of Hyouka? “Watashi KININARIMASU!” *Oreki: . . . shit.* Thanks for reading, keep an eye out for thieves hangin’ around your club room, huehuehue, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Triumph! Sound the Euphonium!

A review of the 2015 spring anime “Sound! Euphonium”

I’ve been joined at the hip with music since a young age, and, having been a first-chair orchestra member for seven years and counting, I have not only the right but the responsibility to announce that this series exemplifies the hearts and minds of every concert band and orchestra member to T. Putting KyoAni’s ideal cuteness aside, Sound! Euphonium accurately depicts how rigorous classroom music can be when kids become critical of themselves.

Talented euphonium player  Kumiko Oumae enters Kitauji High School’s brass band club during her first year (‘Euph’: a “good sounding” small tenor-pitched tuba, sometimes referred to as a baritone). There, she encounters her old classmate Reina, and memories of a previous junior high incident flood back, causing Kumiko to be hesitant. As Kumiko remains strong buddies with other girls, though, Reina slowly opens up and the two become very close friends. Looming in the darkness is the national contest, which their meticulous new teacher, Taki-sensei, proposes to have the students decide for themselves whether or not they should pursue the gold.

Much like in real life, hours of practicing, enduring hardships, insanely challenging musical passages, kids who have talent that start to waver, competition among new and old recruits, wanting to drop out to focus on education and countless other issues bring a shining realism to the table – a characteristic that I haven’t sampled for a while now. From start to finish, the show knows exactly where it wants to go, and as much as I want to say it was the practical setting to thank, it’s because of the characters that this drive was so truthful.

Euphonium‘s cast does not rely on one or two characters, but rather the entire ensemble. Kumiko herself is strong-willed, though sometimes acts a little empty-headed, and her budding romance with the silent yet brilliant Reina is certainly our sweetest relationship. But there are several other duos that bring the issues listed earlier to light. The vigilant Asuka and occasionally sheepish Haruka tackle youth leadership with unsurety. The lackadaisical yet easy-going Nakagawa manages to keep Kumiko on her toes in terms of skill. Sub characters like the hot-headed Yuuko and gentle Kaori pose a nagging trouble to the professional Reina when they all duke it out for the trumpet solo. Seeing as how I play a string instrument, I was dying to hear more dilemmas from the only string player in the band: On the oversized contrabass everyone, Midori “Sapphire-chan” Kawashima! Too bad she only existed to cheer on the other girls 😦

I was overly pleased with what the anime had in terms of cast, as nearly each member of the band, major and minor, received standout character designs and individual thoughts and scenes. Having Taki-sensei  as a rather disoriented teacher also made situations more ambiguous. For instance, he’d ask “Are you having trouble with that?” Then instead of following up, Taki would declare, “Please have that ready by next week.” There were just certain aspects to his character that made me want to cuss, but then he would return on scene with a heartwarming smile and encouraging speech, kinda how a real director would.

If I had to pick something about the plot that seemed off, it would be the sudden love interest and misplaced drama. In the first few episodes, we clearly see that things between Reina and Kumiko are really awkward. After climbing a mountain trail path in a certain middle episode, however, POOF! The two become super intense friends – for some, too close for comfort. It’s not really yuri, but you could ship the two by just looking at the poster art now.

The non-music drama stems from a miniscule love triangle between Kumiko, an energetic girl pal Hazuki and Tsukamoto, Kumiko’s childhood friend. Seeing how Tsukamoto only cares for Kumiko, who feels indifferent, Hazuki becomes a forced trope just to milk some sort of depressing drama out of the whole shebang, not that the show already played perfectly fine without it. But like the sudden love, it’s all only one episode, so it can easily be overlooked.

I KID YOU NOT when I claim that Kyoto Animation performs their finest job I’ve ever seen from them in terms of animation!! All of the shining brass instrumets, the natural movement of people breathing during practice, the beautiful people themselves, and that side-of-the-river bridge where Kumiko always goes to chat and play the euphonium – it’s all so soooo gorgeous; a true crime not to watch the opening at least once to get a glimpse of BREATHTAKING EVERYTHING!!

The OST is also remarkable! Orchestra tagged along with a piano for melody hits up feels from slice of life to cliff sunsets to tension in the classroom . “Flow of Destiny,” the simplest variation of the main theme can be elegantly heard throughout the series. Real classical music is also pulled into the soundtrack for during performances and practices. Especially noted is Reina’s ditty of the “From the New World Symphony’s 2nd Movement,” which everyone stopped to listen to. 🙂

Hitting off each note is the exciting opening “DREAM SOLISTER” by TRUE! I love the inclusion of the brass instruments – it makes the song coherent to a show about a brass club, ya know? The ending “Tutti” by the Kitauji Quartet is also tons of foot-tappin’ fun!

In terms of character interaction, the featuring of the entire class as a whole and as individuals, stunning animation, topnotch voice acting, realistic musical presentation and content, Sound! Euphonium did several things right and executes everything with near perfection! The ending is also standing ovation-worthy for including the uncut concert performance rather than just cutting that out to view the results. Concert band and orchestra kids were given the best representation in anime – for most, more than what we could ever ask for. 5/5 stars, a triumphant “Caffé Mocha!” Congrats, Kitauji High School Band – You most definitely deserve the Gold in my eyes!!

+ Relatable and realistic anime for high school band and orchestra classes (or at least some); best representation anime has given us students

+ Themes of hard work VS raw talent are executed quite well

+ Absolutely breathtaking visuals, instruments look excellent, actual music is awesome, too

+ Story knows exactly where it’s headed, and delivers with a triumphant, satisfying end

– Sudden romantic relationship drama unnecessarily threw plot off course, though only for an episode

Thank you for reading my review over the wonderful Sound! Euphonium! It was definitely one of the most fun and fulfilling shows to follow this past spring. Did you have similar thoughts on this show? Were you as impacted as I was? Leave your comments below so that we can chat! Now while the inspiration is hot, I’m gonna go work hard myself and practice my cello! Haha, until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Review

Ah yes, adolescents at its finest. I too, “suffered” from chunibyo, Japanese term for eight grader syndrome, when I was younger, though I wouldn’t call it suffering by any means. Sure, mine was only from elementary school until sixth grade or so, yet they were some of the most fun, carefree years of my life. Today, we invest ourselves in a girl who claims to “live in the world beyond” – yet she’s an incoming freshmen in high school.

The “Dark Flame Master,” AKA Yuuta Togashi intended to leave behind his embarrassing past when his family moved to a different city. Wanting to start anew with his freshman year in high school, he tries to make a fresh batch of friends. This changes when a mysterious girl appears climbing out of her apartment. That neighbor – that same delusional girl in his class, Rikka Takanashi the “Wicked Eye,” hears him speak of his past when he lets it loose on the school balcony for relief. She becomes fascinated, hooked – drawn in by his cool display of chunibyo. This crazy chick is the full on thing, though – eye patch, umbrella shield, battling with the “priestess” (her sister) and more ridiculousness. Together, the two recruit members for a trivial club and hilarity ensue.

Let’s just face it: the characters in this anime are beyond incredible. Yuuta is a simple boy desiring to leave behind his childishness. He’s awkward when trying to meet people such as Makoto Isshiki, a kid who attempts to rate the girls in his class; however, the two become best of friends. Isshiki’s love, Kumin-senpai, spends the majority of the show sleeping – no joke – but is still adorable.

Another duo is Shinka Nibutani, class representative, cheerleader, popular, yet ex-chunibyo sufferer “Mori Summer,” and the middle school servant of “The Wicked Eye,” Sanae Dekomori. Nibutani is beautiful and regarded as gentle or sympathetic by her classmates, but when playful Dekomori is found carrying around a book written by Shinka from her delusional days, she does everything in her power to protect her image by retrieving the tome.

Dekomori’s extremely long blonde twintails, her preferred weapon, are very original in design. She even loads them with weights when she enters harsh combat against the “fake Mori Summer,” for she doesn’t believe that Nibutani wrote the book. Also, unlike Rikka, Dekomori is the highest in her class – smartest, cutest, and rich. This background gives Nibutani and Dekomori great depth and memorable scenes. I love them both :3

Rikka is the epitome of Yuuta’s past, and thus presents major problems to the guy – well, just comedy for us. She finds pleasure in the smallest of things that we as viewers often forgot ourselves, be it in the form of a calculator lock taped to her door or spinning around an umbrella as a sword. But she’s more than just creative, as the two develop genuine feelings for one another to the point where they start dating. Even Nibutani backs down to kindly support Rikka and her motives, returning as “Mori Summer” when absolutely necessary. They don’t get very far at first due to Takanashi’s delusional state of mind, but that’s the time when we get to enjoy the couple, cause from here on the story sadly loses its touch.

The second half of the series throws in a concept that I absolutely love, yet classically hits the viewer like a bus – drama. Rikka’s family and past are delved into with sudden furiousness that made me go “wut, I thought this show was built upon light-hearted comedy and romance, not overused dramatic clichés.” Sure, the events improve Rikka as a character and explain her motives, but that development throws the rest of the plot down the drain. Takanashi and Togashi spend several episodes apart which made me drop most of the momentum their relationship carried through the first half; they had worked so enchantingly hard to sculpt an unfinished project. The writers took the “Chunibyo & Other Delusions!” out of the show, leaving a failing “love” to support the title.

A better side to the show is its visuals. If I tell you anything, it’s that this show is cute! J Kyoto Animation, as always, does a remarkable job capturing the youthfulness of the characters by using bright colors and outlines. Movements are extremely fluid to the point where any few seconds of the show would make a hilarious gif. Characters are lively and background sceneries stand appealing.

The OST, though nothing fancy, sounds fairly decent. To contrast the energetic or more comedic moments in the show are lovely slow-moving piano pieces played during depressing/relaxing scenes. The opening, “Sparkling Daydream” by Zaq is paired up with fun, fast visuals of the characters doing what matches their personality and Rikka shakin’ her ass, which is just awesome!

So, is Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! worth the watch? Yeah, I think it is. I feel younger and older audiences can appeal to the characters equally. The show’s highlights were any of the cute chunibyo-filled scenes and quick-witted character interactions, though they substitute those later on for more, and I put this in double quotes, “”character development.”” Chunibyo is definitely better than most rom-com anime out there, and I enjoyed it a lot; however, I wanted to watch these lovable “kids” goofing around doing stupid stuff and not worrying about real life. It’s a shame we all have to grow up sometime . . . “Reality, be rent. Synapse, break. Banishment, this world!!!”– Rikka Takanashi

You can watch the series to its entirety for free over on Crunchyroll, as it has a really enjoyable Japanese voice cast. Also, it has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks if you wanna pick up a copy. Thanks for reading and hit the like button if you thought this review was somewhat decent! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host