I have a lot of unopened anime on my shelf. That’s not a brag, but a dig on my horrible indecisiveness. Every time I look at all the anime I’ve gotten through Right Stuf sales, my free year of Sentai Filmworks anime, or simple drunken purchases, I pick out two or three I feel like watching. Then I sit down for about 30 mins going over which one I want to watch first until I inevitably give up under the excuse that I’m watching too much anime this season to begin with. With this conundrum weighing me down I decided to turn to the ancient art of having others choose for me. Henceforth I’ll be using Twitter polls to decide what anime to watch and review next, with the four anime in the poll chosen by members of the Anime Arcade community! In fact I’ve already had 3 polls up already, so be sure to follow our Twitter feed so you don’t miss the next one! I have my friend and co-host Logan to thank for the first list of four that culminated in this review this time around. The show Logan’s list hath wrought was…
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions – Heart Throb –
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Aired: Jan 9, 2014 – Mar 27, 2014
Episode Count: 12 + OVA + 6 Shorts
Languages: Japanese with English subtitles / English Dub
Genre(s): Comedy, Romance, Drama
Price: $47.99 (Premium Edition) / $51.99 (DVD)
Less than two years after the successful release of the first season of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, Kyoto Animation released the second season (Heart Throb) in the Winter of 2014. Tatsuya Ishihara was once again tasked with bringing this world to life, and after his success in 2012 expectations were high for this iteration of the already storied anime series. I recall that this was one of the first shows I watched week-to-week upon my return to anime (before I knew about Crunchyroll), but I honestly didn’t remember much about this second season. Now that I have completed it I somewhat remember why that is, and why it’s so much easier for me to recall the first season. Pitchforks down fans of the franchise, I’m not saying I hated season two. However, I hope that after reading my thoughts on it, you’ll understand why I found Heart Throb to be a weaker iteration of the beloved franchise.
We return once again to the lives of Yuta Togashi and Rikka Takanashi, as they begin their second year of high school. Immediately we are informed that Yuta’s family has moved to where his father lives, and Rikka lost her apartment in a baffling mistake. Due to these unforeseen circumstances, the two are forced to cohabitate, and this arrangement is sanctified by Toka (Rikka’s older sister) once it’s clear that Kuzuha (Yuta’s younger sister) will be living with them. From this point forward we observe the young couple’s attempts to understand love, and the slow evolution of their relationship. Early on we are introduced to Satone Shichimiya, a fellow chunibyo enthusiast who goes by the name “Sophia Ring SP Saturn VII” (heretofore referred to as Sophia). Sophia is a friend from both Yuta and Nibutani’s past, but unlike those two she retains her flamboyant disregard for reality. This new player on the stage puts Rikka on edge, as she soon learns jealousy over this perceived rival for Yuta’s heart.
Much like in the first season, this show is filled with touching moments between Rikka and Yuta as they explore their relationship. However, in this season we also were treated to a couple touching moments between Nibutani and Dekomori. Even Kumin had an episode all to herself in this season. Unfortunately, these episodes did little to really develop these side characters, leaving the episodes themselves feeling a bit like filler in a 12 episode season. For her part, Sophia did a good amount to progress the relationship between the leading couple, and her own arc towards the end was compelling as she wrestled with feelings she thought were long dead. I was completely satisfied with Sophia’s character, but the way she put her feelings to rest was ultimately anticlimactic in my opinion. Overall the story was a mix of heartfelt moments, combined with baffling storytelling decisions that ultimately left me confused. Its major saving grace was the ending, which was emotionally fulfilling and heartwarming.
The only real addition to the character list from the first season is Sophia. As I stated before, she’s brash in her chunibyo ways and marches to the beat of her own drum (much like Rikka and Dekomori). She claims to be a magical devil girl, and wields a scepter that looks like it could have come from just about any magical girl show. At first Sophia’s only functions in the show seem to be comic relief and bringing the main couple closer together. Later in the show, she is given her own arc explaining her past feelings for “Yuusha” (her nickname for Yuta), and the resurgence of those feelings. It was a very emotional part of the show that I very much enjoyed but I wish there had been more of it. Instead of the episodes that felt like they went nowhere, I would have preferred more set up for Sophia who seemed like she would be the conflict center of this show from the onset.
Outside of the new addition to the cast, there were some unfortunate cuts to the cast as well. I was first struck with sorrow at the knowledge that both Yuta’s mom and baby sister were going to be missing from this season. While they were not essential to the plot of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions they added a welcome sense of ambiance and gave life to Yuta’s world. The little discussions between him and his family made Yuta feel more grounded in reality than most anime teens, and I was sorry to know that I wouldn’t get any more of their hilarious dialogue. Toka made a few appearances in this season, but was absent for most of it. This was also something I was sad to see, even if I knew it was coming due to her moving to Italy at the end of season one. Toka was great for moving the plot along, and she brought the theme of fatalism in adults and its correlation to individualism to life in the original series. These minor changes had a pretty large impact on my perception of Heart Throb, as they seemed to be the small pieces that completed the whole of the show.
Visuals and Music
Visually this anime is still every bit the illustrated feast for the eyes that the original season was. Kyoto Animation certainly has a way of making their vibrantly colored world come to life, and nowhere in this series is this expressed better than in the fantastical chunibyo fight sequences. This season’s fights were amazing to behold, and the backgrounds they fought in were much more detailed than before. Outside of the fights the animation was in keeping with its predecessor, not much gained or lost. Rikka was a bit more lively in her interactions this season, but otherwise the characters didn’t change much. Sophia fits in well visually with her chunibyo appearance, complete with heart sticker ever present on her cheek. If you’re a fan of visuals, it’s really hard to go wrong with this studio’s works.
Musically Heart Throb brings the excitement from the first season with its exhilarating soundtrack during the aforementioned fight scenes. The music gets the heart going, and the effects are reminiscent of shounen and mecha anime. This makes sense as the places these characters likely draw their chunibyo delusions from are those types of anime / manga. In fact there is an Evangelion reference in the first season, and Rikka has a mecha-esque transformation in this season. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the opening theme (“VOICE” by ZAQ) for Heart Throb a little more than season one, but I felt the ending theme (“Van!shment Th!s World” by Black Raison d’être) was a tad weaker. In terms of OP/ED combinations, these are at least worth one watch through if not more.
In the pantheon of romantic comedy anime few have reached the fanfare of Love, Chunubiyo & Other Delusions, so it stands to reason that it would get a sequel season. Heart Throb brought all the visuals, sounds, and touching moments of its previous season. However, it felt lacking in a few of the areas that made the original series so beloved. A few of the themes from the first season are present and most of the cast remains, but the missing pieces to the original puzzle make it feel slightly weaker. Adding to this feeling were odd filler-ish episodes that obstructed the flow of the plot and seemingly kept the new character from developing as much as she could have. Even with all this, the ending was still massively satisfying emotionally, and the romance scenes between the two protagonists are very charming. If you were a fan of the first season you’ll certainly enjoy this second season, but possibly just a little less.
TL;DR: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions – Heart Throb – is a decent continuation from the acclaimed first season. It brings upgraded visuals and sounds, while keeping the same romantic comedy style of storytelling. Unfortunately this season lacks a few side characters that added ambiance to the first season, as well as lacking the same storytelling flow of the original. However, if you enjoyed the first season chances are you’ll still get a kick out of the new character (Sophia), and enjoy all the touching moments between Rikka and Yuta.
Recommended Audience: Fans of romantic comedy with minor dramatic elements will enjoy this show. Bonus points if you enjoy hugely imaginative combat in anime, as this one has some fantastic fight sequences. Age wise, this show is pretty much good for all ages, but the drama parts of Heart Throb might go over younger audiences’ heads. Probably best for younger teens and above.
Ai-Chan’s chunibyo battle with Heart Throb leaves her battered but not broken with 3.5/5 HP!