Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai is Kyoto Animation’s Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Sneaky KyoAni; slipping this in the OP when it didn’t mean anything to the viewer.

Probably not in the way you’re thinking; I don’t think Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai (Chuu2) will put up anywhere near the same sales numbers as Madoka.

Shaft, the animation studio behind Madoka, is not a new animation studio. It was founded in 1975 and was a minor animation studio that produced only a few of it’s own animation series and movies for much of it’s history. That began to change when Akiyuki Shinbou was brought in to direct Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase for them back in 2004. After that series he stuck around and has directed to some degree almost every series Shaft has produced since then. Their profile slowly increased, in spite of the low budgets and hurried deadlines, and they had the chance to work on a wide variety of series like Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei to Hidamari Sketch.

Each series Shaft/Shinbou animated allowed them to define and refine what it means when Shaft makes that certain type of series but each individual series only encompasses a small percentage of what they are capable of. It’s like that old, mostly untrue, saying that a person only uses 10% of their brain. While it’s true, a person does normally only use 10% – 20% of their brain at one time, which 10% – 20% changes based on what the person is doing. It is possible to go over 20%, as the Mythbusters discovered, but it requires combining many types of activities and being able to do all these activities well simultaneously. Not an easy task to do which is one of the reasons for the greatness of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It took those scattered 10% – 20% slices from every type of show Shinbou/Shaft makes and combined them into one show. The result is that Madoka employed close to 100% of Shaft/Shinbou’s “brain”.

So, in a sense, Madoka is not just the culmination of everything Shinbou and the people at Shaft have done together in the last ~8 years but it also functions as the shortest answer to the question – “What type of anime does Shaft make?”.

Likewise, Kyoto Animation was an older minor studio (founded in 1981) that didn’t hit the big leagues until just a few short years ago. Their rise was much more swift due to their fourth series – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – sending shock waves throughout all of anime fandom. Like Shaft, they’ve had the chance to work on a variety of types of series. There were the action franchises like Full Metal Panic (still waiting for a new season :) ) to the tear-inducing dramas like Kanon and Clannad to the school-life series like Hyouka, K-On, and Haruhi to the comedies like Nichijou and Lucky Star.

With episode 7 of Chuu2 being the final piece of the puzzle, it’s now evident that Kyoto Animation has likewise decided to collect the assorted 10% – 20% fragments from all their anime series and run them in parallel to create Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai. It has the action, the tear-inducing drama, the school-life, the comedy and, though it is possible to tease these different strands out, the sum here might just be greater than the parts (like it was with Madoka).

So, Chuu2 is Kyoto Animation’s version of Shaft’s Madoka. It’s not only the culmination of everything Kyoto Animation has done in the last ~9 years but it also functions as the shortest answer to the question – “What type of anime does Kyoto Animation make?”.

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4 thoughts on “Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai is Kyoto Animation’s Puella Magi Madoka Magica”

  1. I feel that Madoka has been more profoundly affected by the hybrid of Urobuchi and Ume than by Shaft as a studio. If you ask which artistic aspect stood out the most in the series, people will point to the witches and other dimensions… all work of studio Inu Curry, not Shaft. Even in terms of typical Shaft techniques, like the erratic camera shots, Madoka is tame compared to most recent Shaft works – there’s just too much in the “what” of the series to take care of for the studio to play around with the “how”. Shimbo was needed for Madoka to become what it now is, but he was just one great individual among many involved in the project.

    Chuunibyou seems to me a much more likely candidate for a show that is the combination of its predecessors, with K-On moe, a somewhat Kyon/Haruhi-esque main lead combination and the Key-like humor-before-drama plot direction… but as of right now, I consider it the least impressive show the studio has produced so far. Chuuni has the style down pat, but does it have something to make it unique among similar shows?

  2. Gonna have to disagree with that. I appreciate Inu Curry’s work in PMMM but I don’t think it’s the aspect that stood out in PMMM especially considering the fact that they only take a small portion of each episode(there are some episodes that don’t even have with dimensions in them).

    Asides from Gen’s great story and Ume’s character designs… the greatest strength of PMMM is the execution. Almost every scene is executed perfectly… almost nothing is wasted even the usage of the OP and ED has meaning.

  3. When I watch Chu2koi I don’t get the impression that I’m watching a definitive KyoAni show. Which is a good thing. What would they do next?

    Madoka was such an amazing combination of talent at their peak that I find it hard to single any one of them out and call them “The Reason.”

    @cytrus, as for the least highly regarded KyoAni show, how about Munto? I never hear a kind word about it.

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