There are two things that I’ve seen over the past week that can be described as nothing short of, and for want of a better word, badass. One was the opening cinematic for Heart of the Swarm, and the other is the subject of today’s post. By themselves, the Chuunibyou specials took up 6 epic minutes of my life, and 400MB of my hard drive, where it’ll remain, even if it’s on an already space-deprived laptop. Still, in spite of it’s exceptionally short length, there’s something that doesn’t quite escape my annoyance- the fact that the title has Chuunibyou in it.
Think about all the things that made Chuunibyou great, Rikka’s adorable-ness, the near-impeccable directing, an interesting hook, and character development that just works. The special plays homage to none of the aforementioned. Much rather, it focuses on encapsulating the essence of the action scenes that were littered throughout the series, and improving on them ad nauseam. A feat made even more amazing considering that the action scenes in the original Chuunibyou already rivalled that of SAO. The result is a 6 minute short with incredible production values, but alas, this isn’t the love letter to the fans that we were hoping for.
Any continuity between the original series and this seems negligible. Even the canon of the non-canon world that Rikka fantasises about is ignored. Instead, we find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic world, one that was never alluded to. Any talk of the power resulting from Rikka’s eye is given no attention, and her signature battle cry is left unheard. In the place of Rikka’s umbrella we get a mecha, and in the place of Dekomori’s spinning twin tails, we get a mecha, it’s as out of placed in Chuunibyou’s quasi-lore as spiderman’s mecha. It almost seems as if Kyoani was too lazy to come up with new content, and that they just decided to recycle some awesome animation they did for a demo reel, and added in the animation of a few familiar faces. Indeed, if one could muster sufficient detachment from the characters and the title for these 6 short minutes, you’d probably think that you were watching an entirely different anime.
This is made worse by how unsatisfying the ending of the original series felt. If the knot was tied perfectly in the end, if I left the show with the closure that the second last episode needed so badly, perhaps I’d not have been so peeved about the specials. The specials failed to deliver that assurance that we’d leave Rikka and Yuuta without any qualms of their future qualms. It didn’t need to be too flashy, it didn’t even need to be too long, the 6 minutes allotted to this might’ve been plenty. Even if there wasn’t that depth of closure, I think that an extra episode to the Chuunibyou lite series would’ve been more welcomed to the Chuunibyou family then this; I would have preferred another skilful enunciation of, “Yuuta Itai” by Maaya Uchida, than what was left in the specials. In fact Maaya Uchida doesn’t even get a line the entire time. Kyoani has given the world’s most expensive bandage to a man with a fever.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be able to look you in the eye and say that I didn’t enjoy this short 6 minutes. Everything from the music, to the scenery seems artfully crafted, with the sharp attention to detail that characterises most of Kyoani’s other work. Every frame of this glorious short seems to be wallpaper-worthy, good-wallpaper-worthy even. There hasn’t been this much attention to colour since the French Impressionist movement started, nor this much attention to shadow during the heyday of German Expressionist cinema. As mentioned above, this might actually turn out to be something out of a recycled demo reel, seeing as to the greatest tribute paid by the special to the original was a simple allusion to how Rikka was Dekomori’s “master”, but it’s a bloody-great 6 minute recycled demo reel short at the very least.
Although you’d note how masterful those 6 minutes were done, you’d still wished that they left Rikka and Dekomori out of it, that they’d find it within them to leave out the Chuunibyou from the title, and BR disc that it was packaged with just to warrant a sale. These 6 minutes deserve better than being a parasitic additional feature on an unrelated, albeit excellent, anime. And this anime deserves better than this 6 minutes for closure; if OVAs are supposed to be a love letter from the producers to the fans, this is an apathetic birthday card sent by your insurance agent on a day that isn’t even your birthday. I am amused yet disappointed.