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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Collectors Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

14 min read

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions HeaderThe pain of growing up – and how we hold onto childish things.

What They Say:
Yuta has a problem. As one of the thousands of Japanese students afflicted with “chunibyo,” a state where they’re so desperate to stand out that they’ve literally convinced themselves that they have secret knowledge and hidden powers, Yuta spent most of his middle school years living in a complete fantasy world. But that’s not his major problem now, as with a lot of work and effort, he’s finally managing to overcome his delusions to the point where thinks he’s ready to start high school with all his cards in order. No, his BIG problem is the girl he first encounters climbing on his balcony.

It seems that his own efforts to rid himself of his chunibyo have attracted the attentions of another sufferer, and she’s decided that this makes him her soul mate. And since Rikka’s just moved in upstairs, now he’s being sucked into her fantasy world! Can a formerly wild and crazy guy handle being the focus of a completely delusional girl? Or will his own chunibyo return with a vengeance?

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language as well as the newly created English language adaptation, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is essentially a high school series with a couple of fantastical elements thrown in for good measure that lets it go big a few times. But for the most part it’s all about the dialogue based aspects of it, which is handled well across the forward soundstage. With a decent little ensemble cast to work with, the series moves effortlessly between parties to provide a solid narrative that has some good placement and depth in numerous scenes to give it a little extra impact. When it does the bigger scenes, it definitely hits things better there, but since it’s all supposed to really stand out as it’s not exactly real, it achieves its goal well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show runs for twelve episodes and an OVA, plus an episode-length worth of shorts, and is spread across two discs with nine on the first and the rest on the second. With animation from Kyoto Animation, the series has a very strong visual design with some really beautifully animated sequences, great detail throughout and the kind of color layering to it that just elevates it to a whole other level that allows it to stand out. The transfer for this brings all of it to life with great pop and vibrancy, making it pretty much a joy to watch with smooth, clean colors with no breakup issues throughout it. The detail in the backgrounds and character designs is really nicely done as well and with the show pretty much free of problems, it makes for a great viewing experience.

Packaging:
Sentai Filmworks released this as a sub-only DVD release previously and because of the outcry, they delayed the Blu-ray and did it up as a big DVD/BD combo collectors edition box set, which is what we get here. And it’s definitely a big set with a lot to it for fans to sink their teeth into. It comes in a really big box that holds the two DVD cases, one for the BD release and one for the DVD release, along with a spacer box of goods and a hardcover book. The box uses some great silver foil to give it a great look as we get the main girls in their school uniform on one side with the ornate background to it while the other side has Rikka and Sanae on the other in their swimsuits being all playful. The spine is quite large so it actually makes sense to have artwork here, which has the logo using the foil as well as a great stylized image or Rikka along the bottom.

Inside the box we get the two cases with the Blu-ray case with the same background design as the box but with blue instead of the foil while the DVD goes with red. The Blu-ray case gives us Rikka from the spine while the DVD has a cute image of Rikka and Yuta’s sisters all over Yuta. The back covers are similar in layout but with different artwork for each volume where it also breaks down the episodes by number and title with disc as well as the extras. There’s also a good breakdown of production credits and technical grid for both that makes it clean and clear so you can easily figure out what each release is like. Both cases also have artwork on the reverse side that’s different with two full panel images.

It cannot be overstated, but the hardcover book is fantastic. This beast, at just over 140 pages, is filled with episode breakdowns, interviews, examinations of various aspects of the series and all sorts of promotional artwork and end credit cards. There’s a lot of fully translated material here that’s just going to enhance the release overall for fans that’s definitely unique and a real draw for the set.

Within the spacer box we get a lot of goodies. And I mean a lot. THere’s a great chain that’s similar to what Rikka wears and a keychain that provides an utterly adorable image of her. We get some fun bookmarks collected together and three cute stickers. There’s a foil card included as well as a motion card that shows Rikka’s various expressions which is surprisingly fun to play with. A deep set of beautiful postcards is included for the characters as well and we even get an eyepatch you can wear – though they make it clear it’s not a medical device and is for novelty purposes only. We also get some oversized character cards as well which is really nicely done with the line art and the finalized art.

Frankly, there’s a lot of material in this and it really makes it feel like a collectors edition in a big way from start to finish.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is pretty nice overall as we get a pair of static images across the two Blu-ray discs that lets the characters stand out well. The first disc goes a bit traditional with the girls in their usual outfits with some blue to the background that’s appealing, even with the logo askew. But the second volume lets them up their outfits a bit more and ties it with a purple and pink background that just lets it stand out all the more in a great way. The navigation is kept to the right where it has some good color choices and layering to it where we get the breakdown of episodes by number and title. The layout is easy to navigate and submenus load quickly and easily during the main menu and while working it as the pop-up menu.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty good as we get a nice bit of additional content with it. The simple extras are here in that we get the clean opening and closing sequences as well as two minutes of promotional spots from when it started airing in Japan. We also get the shorts that were created for the show that are presented as though it’s one episode with an opening and closing and all of them connected together. The quality is definitely strong here as there’s no differences from the main show itself, so it could easily fit into the ongoing show and you wouldn’t notice since it’s not done as chibi shorts or something on the cheap, which is definitely appreciated. With it clocking in at twenty-two minutes overall, it basically makes for one full additional episode of simple stories and gags.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel written by Torako and illustrated by Nozomi Ōsaka, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions is a twelve episode series that spawned and OVA and a second season as well as several shorts for the web. The original work was part of a competition back in 2010 that got an honorable mention before getting fully published and then worked into an anime series as well by Kyoto Animation. The show is one that definitely fits into what you think of, for better or worse, when you think of a Kyoto Animation series in terms of story but also design and visuals. Which for me, is a good thing. Though they’ve had a few swings and misses, the misses still have an appeal just through their visual design. Luckily, Chunibyo is largely a hit for me with what it does, though not quite a home run.

The series is one that plays to familiar concepts and it’s very easy to just write it off as another high school light comedy/romance piece with freshmen characters that are trying to adjust to this part of their lives. We get the lead male in Yuta, a young man who has transferred from a school a good distance away in order to restart his life. We’ve got the class rep Nibutani that did the commencement for the freshmen class as well that is your proper young beauty with smarts, but without the wealthy superior aspect to her that’s a nice change of pace. Yuta makes a friend quickly with the kid at the desk behind his with Isshiki, who provides a chance for Yuta to be a part of the male social group that’s starting. We also get two anime original characters with a second year named Kumin who simply loves napping all the time and a middle school student named Sanae who gets pretty involved with everyone.

And we have Rikka, our other main freshman character who is one of the main catalysts for events here. Rikka is what they call a chunibyo, a teenager who hasn’t let go of their childhood in a way and envisions things in some grander way. Rikka envisions herself as vessel through which Wicked Lord Shingan operates, which is why she wears an eye-patch that protects her gold colored eye. Rikka possesses these powers as she deals with her seemingly mortal enemy (that’s actually her sister) and has an immense amount of skill in combating her opponents in the world. Of course, all of this is actually in her head, though we see it from time to time in some really beautifully animated sequences. Rikka’s been like this throughout middle school and some time before that where she’s essentially envisioning this bigger and more important life for herself, which others in class kind of just acknowledge a little bit but don’t make a lot of fun of her.

For Yuta, he understands her because he was the same way, which is why he left his school after being the Dark Flame Master there for several years and really playing up that dark hero role. His intent in coming to this school where nobody knows him is his attempt at starting his life over in a better way, having a proper high school experience and putting those childish things away. Unfortunately, he has a hell of a time doing this since Rikka is living in the apartment above him and his family, and she sees him only as Dark Flame Master, a kindred spirit in this world. Yuta fights back against this for awhile, for most of the series, though he gives in from time to time. But his struggle is to let go of it because he wants to be normal is what drives him a lot of the time, even as he ends up a part of a club that Rikka forms that brings this unusual group together to become friends.

A the heart of this story, it’s about the way that Rikka and Yuta have to try and deal with this part of their lives. Yuta wants to let it go, though he still has a certain attraction to those parts of his past. But the real focus is on the way he interacts with Rikka as her reasons for being like this goes back to her elementary school days with the seemingly sudden death of her father, a moment that has left her with this particular kind of coping mechanism as she believes she can figure out how to deal with the invisible boundary she sees and to bring him back to this world. It’s all heartbreaking as we delve into the details of it, with Rikka’s sister explaining how it unfolded and what they did to try and help her, but also realizing that to really try and push Rikka to let go of it and accept the reality of the situation may end up breaking her all the more. Which is why, over time, they pin their hopes on Yuta to be the one to ease her out of it and into a more normal life.

The series leaves me of two minds about this aspect of it. Initially, we just get that she’s like Yuta in that they have some really vivid imaginations and escaped for some reason into these personas, either to exist and cope or just because it was more exciting than the lives they were leading. In that regard, it certainly makes sense and many people do it, and move past it as they get further into their teens as they grow and change themselves and deal with the world at hand. On the flip side, there’s real differences in what’s going on here with Rikka and Yuta. While there may be issues for him connected to his father, who works in Jakarta, Rikka herself is the product of some really serious problems that requires some real help. She gets help from the friends that begin to coalesce around her and Yuta, and the two of them begin to develop a relationship, but there’s something very serious about what Rikka is going through that is dealt with in different ways here. That it does try to deal with it is welcome, though it gets only so far, and you do find yourself conflicted about how much of these childish things one should give up as they get older.

What helps along the way is that the supporting cast really helps to flesh the show out and you can get invested in their stories. Nibutani ends up becoming a part of the group and club because she’s initially trying to deal with a book that Sanae has as it turns out that Nibutani lead some pretty interesting creative stories online that Sanae is living by, not realizing that Nibutani wrote them. Yuta is just shocked at her being in the group at first, since he quite fancies her, but when he learns of this other side of her and that she’s basically doing the same thing as him in restarting her life, the relationship between the two begins to ease into a friendship. Partially because you have to think that his interest in Rikka grows because she’s more honest about her fantastical side and imagination.

Nibutani and Sanae also end up developing a pretty fun adversarial friendship that makes for some good physical comedy and interactions, though Sanae’s slightly younger age at times becomes frustrating because they do play it mostly right and you realize that at this stage small differences in age can make a big difference. I also rather liked that Isshiki got more time to be developed as time went on, with him going through a couple of changes that alters the course of his school career a bit. While he’s hopeful of actually dating, he’s frustrated that it seems like Yuta starts dating first and his mysterious love letter admirer doesn’t follow through. But he ends up realizing his interest in Kumin along the way, who seems like she might share that interest, and we see some initial moments that could lead to something. But it’s unrealized at this point, which works because seeing the thought and hope for potential from Isshiki can remind you of your own early high school life and the way everything seemed like it could become something amazing.

In Summary:
There’s an obvious familiarity to the series here because of its setting and some of the other quirks that are almost a trademark of Kyoto Animation series. But as it progresses and reveals more of itself, the trappings fall away and it’s very easy to get invested in the characters as you understand their situation and the struggle that is growing up, moving away from one phase of your life that you know and starting to deal with the other unknowns. While it’s easy to write off Rikka and her personality early, and easy to focus on Yuta and his struggle to be normal, I found the script flipped for me as it went on and I became more invested in her.

The show works well as an ensemble piece too and it left me wanting to know more of those characters as well outside of the interactions with the main characters and I also like that while there’s some level of resolution here so it can move forward, there’s also a sense of some things being the same as well. The show is one that I think will have more of an impact on me the more I think about it and roll around the ideas in my head more, and it’s also a release that will definitely make a lot of fans happy for what it does. While these kinds of releases are pricey, a few a year with the right series will definitely be worth it as Sentai Filmworks did a fantastic job here across the board. It may be easy to write off this show in some ways, but it’s one that definitely feels worth of investment to me.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Chuni-Shorts, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 24th, 2015
MSRP: $129.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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