That’s the only word to describe how I feel about Chuunibyou’s latest episodes. I could stomach the romance as it was clearly going to happen at some point, but the “drama” this show brings is trying to blatantly copy the Key style of melodrama: the kind of drama I detest completely. Lots of ranting (with hardly any swearing!) below.
I could name at least a dozen shows who can handle drama in a way that isn’t dealt with the subtlety of a drunken Irish man pissing on a phone booth. What those series have, and what Chuunibyou does not have, is not what I’d call “build-up”, but rather “ease-in”. Was everything that has happened so far built up to where we are handled well? I’ll admit, yes, Chuunibyou clearly was headed for a point in which romance and drama would eventually come together but how it would come together was a big question mark. However, instead of trying to ease that transition from the romance to the eventual drama, the show decided to take the Key route: hammer it over our heads in yet another attempt to quickly come to a good conclusion. I call it the Key route as it is named for the visual novel company known for Clannad, Angel Beats, Kanon, Air and a lot of other series. If you’ve read some of my posts, you can tell that I am no fan of Key’s. Their attempts at drama are usually handled in a way that is just oft-putting: it may just be personal preference, but I prefer a ease-in approach where events and details are gradually developed and where the ending is a culmination of that gradual development. Key series never do that, they just end on a WHAM! note meant to illicit strong emotion from viewers rather than conclude on a meaningful note. I don’t want to say any Clannad After Story spoilers but I’ll just say: those orbs were bullshit, and leave it at that. Forced happy endings just never sit well with me and when Key series do just that, I tend to avoid them completely (no I won’t watch Little Busters). I know there are a vast majority of Key fans out there and us critics are a deep minority, but I just want to state my thoughts about their works. Agree to disagree, that’s what makes us anime fans.
Now I truly expected better from Chuunibyou. Yes it’s a KyoAni series, but not all of their series are vapid moe garbage (unfortunately their upcoming series seems to be just that). Just look at Hyouka, I can easily call it KyoAni’s best work despite having the same issue as Chuunibyou: one of the major arcs of Hyouka also had full blown melodrama, but soon after the show rebounded and went on to feature the best arcs of the series. You could say it’s the 12 episode curse that puts Chuu2koi in a tough place, because not only does it not have a lot of time to convey a great story but practically the entire show is completely different from the light novel series. There is no Dekomori and no Kumin-senpai in the LN, among many other differences. That would be enough to cut it some slack, but I personally have very little patience for this kind of drama. I prefer drama like Ano Natsu de Matteru: there was a lot of light hearted moments, but the serious nature of the story was always there and never got too ridiculous or ended in a full-blown out fashion that makes the rest of the episodes before it seem pointless. I could name countless other series, including my all-time favorite Natsume Yuujinchou, but the point is: when you have to resort to this kind of melodrama, it’s when I can completely stop caring about the series. Is it extreme? Perhaps, but I’m not just a cranky person: I love comedy series and basically anything except yuri or all-girl series, and I also enjoy drama when it is handled well and is properly developed over the course of the series. Whatever the episode count, 11 episodes, 12 episodes, 24 episodes or more, countless series can handle drama depending on how much of it is actually important. Chuunibyou failed to balance not just the absurd Chuunibyou humor, but the romance aspect while much better than the melodrama, still lacked good build up and of course the melodrama itself. I do think it tried to do too much, and I will contend that for being the reason I feel it is a disappointment. Could it handle romance and comedy? Definitely. Romance and drama? Definitely. But all three? Definitely not.
As of right now, Chuunibyou is dropped. For good. (I’m not sure to include it for December’s summary post.)