Rikka Takanashi and the Derps Factory
I have no idea why I am still giving Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai Ren a fighting chance, really. The show is nothing short of the same rigamarole as the first season without any of the sort-of character development that occurred in the final episodes of the first season. Really, analyzing it beyond a depth of a hundred meters is probably pointless and left for people with way more time on their hands than me, but it is Saturday, and I have nowhere to go because I can’t leave my goddamn dogs home alone for less than an hour, so I figured this was a best as time as any to sort of offer a short (by my standards) thought about what would make this show better for everyone.
We know that KyoAni is not in the business of making serious anime. They’ve tried, oh god they have tried, but they cannot escape their hole they’ve dug themselves into with the tropes they love to use liberally throughout. When you think they’ve broken free of their chastity and given us an award-winning performance, they flop right back down like your cat who can’t be arsed to move away from your television so you can see.
But what particularly struck me was the many times where they could carve out an important plot point and actually build something interesting, and throw it away with the shittiest of deadpan jokes.
Now, I knew it was going to end up a joke, because it would be too easy at this point to discard the momentum they’ve built on SOPHIA RING MASTER DRIVE SATURN VII DREAMCAST THE TENTH in this season-long charade to get Yuta to stop being a fucking cock already about using his on ol’ Rikka here. But the reason I thought that a Toka child would really make this story interesting is because it would build upon the circumstances explained in the last season that led Rikka to go full-chuuni shortly going into high school.
- Rikka’s father passes away during her middle school years. Mother goes somewhere? (Forget/not explained?)
- Toka tells Rikka they’re going to move to their grandparents. They currently live above Yuuta.
- Rikka witnesses Yuuta’s full failure already in progress. She decides to follow suit.
- Yuuta sheds his persona in time for the start of high school, she does not. They collide together. Hilarity ensues.
Now, I don’t know their exact ages, and if someone wants to fill me in on that, go for it. I don’t pay attention, but let’s assume since we never see Toka going to school in flashbacks or beyond, that she graduated high school either during or before their father’s death. We know the death affected Rikka the hardest, because she adopted Yuuta’s persona in order to explain her grief and sorrow as well as compensate for her actions, but one can also assume Toka chose what most adults do when faced with grief. Alcohol and sex. I know that’s 2DEEP for a KyoAni show, but suppose she did go have a one-night stand with some Italian and get knocked up? She then has the child, allows the father to raise her in Italy, and she continues to stay in Japan caring for Rikka due to whatever circumstances keeps her mother out of the picture. She eventually goes back to Italy to see her, eventually choosing to move permanently once Rikka is on her own. Rikka, on the other hand, has no idea about any of this either because she wasn’t present or never saw Toka for this time, or was so engrossed in her chunni-mode that she does know about it and suppressed those feelings and hid them behind “The Priestess” moniker in order to not have to face Toka eye-to-eye. Toka, on the other hand, while not particularly fond of Rikka’s chuuni-ism, tolerates it because she is too afraid to face her grief about her actions after their father’s death. So where Yuuta helped Rikka resolve some of her grief over their father in the end of season one, the distance between her and her sister still remains, and the appearance of “the child” in season two would adequately re-open that to resolve between them, because Rikka is halfway through high school and about to be on her own, and Toka would want to try to resolve out everything that occurred between them during those years in order to fully be assured that not only she can take care of herself, but Yuuta will be there for her sister if that is what he truly wants. She can return to Italy permanently with her daughter and know things will work out for the best.
Nah, that seems too easy. Let’s just introduce Yuuta’s old flame and have the most awkward love-triangle only ten-year-olds can imagine.
The thing is, KyoAni could actually make a top-tier show with a little bit of polishing, and I don’t think it really takes that much to do so. Adding depth to a character isn’t making them darker, or ruder, or even funnier, it’s giving them purpose, a reason, or a backstory to them that makes you want to find out what they will do next. A Mary Sue character, unfortunately, is all about the lack of depth in the character, because you want them to be as hollow as possible so the person reading or watching can easily slip in and be them. Chu2Koi is a show that people like because it reminds them of something they did. Even I, your friendly sarcastic sorry excuse for a writer experienced a lot of FULL DERP up until I entered high school. Only I contained it to my bedroom, or my backyard, and if anyone came around, I pretty much immediately switched off. Children do it and keep doing it when others are watching because they aren’t self-aware of themselves, and others encourage it because they think it’s cute. But when you become aware of your behavior and how it affects other’s perceptions of you, you eventually grow out of it. Those who continue on either are impaired, give zero fucks, or still think other people find it cute. KyoAni, in this case, are the people in the room encouraging this shit to continue because they think it’s cute, and they also think you like cute things, so of course it’s cute girls doing cute things. It’s never going to resolve itself, it’s never going to wise up and say “Well Rikka, play time is over. Time to WOMAN UP.” It might try, but if BD sales do well, a third season will come back and say WELP, YOU HAVEN’T RESOLVED ANYTHING, BECAUSE NOW WE HAVE YUUTA’S DOUBLE-SECRET TWIN BROTHER WHO IS STILL FULL DERP AND HE’S THE DARK FLAME MASTER’S AMERICAN COUSIN.
So when anyone starts to talk about KyoAni and how they do business, remember, we know they sell well because we know they stick to the formula that works. They aren’t going to make New Coke, because we know only Coke Classic will sell, but also remember that this is why you aren’t a more-respected studio known for making good stories or strong characters. Hell, even Bandai can be arsed to make a genuine attempt at a Gundam that focuses on characters more than BUY ALL OUR PLAYSETS AND TOYS, though the fruits of their labors leave much for discussion.
Shit, even Kill la Kill is doing better at this, and they took the super-obvious SHE’S MY SISTER route. I mean, are we not doing phrasing anymore?
Edit: As I was reading the Wikipedia entry for The Simpsons, I noticed something in the section about its percieved decline in quality over the years that struck me:
The central tragedy of The Simpsons is that it has gone from commanding attention to merely being attention seeking. It began by proving that cartoon characters don’t have to be caricatures; they can be invested with real emotions. Now the show has in essence fermented into a limp parody of itself. Memorable story arcs have been sacrificed for the sake of celebrity walk-ons and punchline-hungry dialogue.
Jim Schembri – The Sydney Morning Herald
I’ll leave you all to construct an opinion about that yourselves.