Anime Review | When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 05.11.2016

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When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (UK Rating: 12)

Chuunibyou is a concept fairly unique to Japan; children who act like they have special powers or abilities or knowledge far after they should know better. For the friends of Jurai Ando, every day was filled with his delusions and childish fantasies, until one day they became real, imbuing him and his friends with fantastical abilities. As the old saying goes, "With great power comes… no responsibility!" since the group uses its powers for little more than pure amusement, but when others with powers appear, they may be forced into action. This complete series from Manga Entertainment contains 12 episodes and is available now.

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At first, it seems that this is going to be yet another harem series as Ando is surrounded by women in the High School Literature Club, each dangerously close to the usual tropes so regularly seen. Kanzaki is a bit of a tsundere, Kushikawa is the dopey childhood friend, Takanashi is the elegant straight-laced school president and, finally, Himeki is the token middle-schooler. One guy, four girls, magical powers… hardly anything new there; could this be yet another series following one guy unable to pick between all the girls who fawn over him? Thankfully not, as When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace subverts those expectations, focusing more on character-centric slice of life stories…well, mostly.

That's not to say there are no romantic harem elements here - there are. Takanashi has some feelings for Ando, but the real triangle is between Kushikawa, Kanzaki, and Ando. Kanzaki, too, was quite the Chuuibyou and although she constantly mocks Ando, she understands him, while Kushikawa has evidently always had feelings for Ando, but has never understood him. Similarly, at first the powers are completely unexplained and are just a backdrop to some fun stories, whereas towards the second half, and certainly to the tail end of the series, an explanation to the super powers appears and it's quite the original one at that - certainly one that won't be spoiled here. It's a shame the reason is not given longer to develop as it would certainly lead to some interesting stories, yet at least it gives an incentive to check out the light novel source material.


 
Each of the main characters is granted different abilities. Kanzaki can slow down, speed up or stop time; Kushikawa can manipulate all of the elements; Takanashi is able to return anything to a prior state; and Himeki is the most powerful of them all, able to freely shape and craft reality itself. Ando, meanwhile - the star and protagonist of the show - has the power of "Dark and Dark." This terrible ability, when activated, sparks a black flame to life in his hand and… that's it. It's not even hot; just a little warm. The perfect ability for a Chuunibyou.

While this is very much a comedy series, there are still some moments of real sincerity and emotion. One, in particular, is a fantastic highlight to the show. Tensions reach boiling point between Ando and his childhood friend, Kushikawa, with Ando constantly brushing off Kushikawa's interest in his life. He doesn't explain things to her or tell her about his day, while she constantly tries to understand him. When Ando begins spending time elsewhere and sharing more of himself with someone else, Kushikawa has a breakdown. The moment is spectacular, well written, and fantastically delivered by the voice actors in both English and Japanese. It's a burst of pure emotion that is superbly done. It's not just this moment that delivers an enjoyable performance in both English and Japanese, though, as the voice actors in both versions do a great job.

Originally based on a series of light novels, this anime adaptation was produced by Trigger, the studio that made the phenomenal Kill la Kill, and while this certainly doesn't have the same unique and insane platform for them to shine, the powers make for some real visual comedy moments. There are also plenty of Easter Eggs from Trigger's other series for the eagle-eyed out there.

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7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
A surprisingly enjoyable show, the premise makes this seem like it is going to be more of the same, a cliché harem show seen a thousand times before, but instead When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is a genuinely funny series that delivers a journey filled with surprising depth and interesting stories. It's a shame this is only given 12 episodes, since it feels like there are many more stories to be told.

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