May 20, 2014

The Memetic Madness That is Fandom

Having finally finished Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions - Heart Throb  I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it's not quite on the same level as its predecessor. 

The original show, in addition to being funny, was a touching, beautifully portrayed love story that amongst all the hilarity, involved Rikka coming to terms with her loss and getting her act together. The sequel has her pretty much back to where she was for most of the series...except that Rikka and Yuta are definitely a couple. I confess that at first I thought the two of them were just joking with regard to Rikka's active fantasy world, but alas no, and no explanation is given for the regression. Were it not for specific references to the Christmas party in the first serie,s this show could easily have been set during the same time frame as that show...and it might have been more satisfying.

Whereas Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions is about moving forward and growing up, '...Heart Throb' is, in many ways, a renunciation of that. On the surface the show glorifies stability above all else and seems actively hostile to the notion of personal development. For instance, the new character Sophia comes dangerously close to character development...but dodges that bullet with great verve and skill. Great effort is made to ensure that everything remains exactly as it is at the beginning*. I know nothing about the source material for this show, but the this glaring difference makes me wonder if the sequel is a response to fan complaints. 

However, the show is quite entertaining in its own right and it made me laugh out loud several times. 

With the two main lovebirds relationship pretty much fixed, there is some development exploration of the other characters. 

Nibutani in particular, actually comes off as quite likable and decent in this series. She is an important part of a rather unexpected dynamic in the show that it is a bit deeper and more nuanced in its view of Otakudom than one might expect. 

Despite the show's overall tone of aggressive Otaku affirmation '...Heart Throb' is not entirely sanguine about the subject. There is a somewhat creepy cour (with VERY creepy undertones) that involves the implications of fandom as a cult and it's handled pretty well...imaginary magical battle notwithstanding. 

The show is cute, wacky and often quite weird...

...and occasionally even weirder still.

  While it is not quite as good as its predecessor in that it does little to advance the cast, it is still a thoroughly enjoyable show 

*...well...except for Isshiki, who is last seen dealing with a development that might or might not be truly horrible for him...the writers are rather vague on that point.

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