It's time for a summer vacation for Rikka and her older sister in this week's Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, but it seems that the rest of the former's clubmates will be coming along for the ride too.
What a vomit-inducing ride it is too, at least for Dekomori and Isshiki, but as soon as we arrive at the modestly impressive home to Rikka and Touka's grandparents - and indeed even before that - it's clear that something isn't right with Rikka, as her usual banter is replaced by a sullen and almost wordless sulk.
So what exactly is Rikka's deal? Some questioning by Yuuta certainly confirms that something is up, but Rikka's garbled explanation does little to help, and Touka is being similarly evasive as she looks to stop her sister doing this and that with no real explanation of why. Eventually though, the whole story comes out - that of the death of Rikka's father three years ago, what a sudden occurrence it was from Rikka's point of view, and what a struggle it was for Rikka to live with her grandparents from her father's side given their nature having been left their by her mother. It's a sad tale that puts Rikka's behaviour almost entirely into perspective, while raising a very real question regarding whether she can accept her father's demise no matter what feint hopes she continues to cling to.
Given the way it was revealed and explained, this episode of the series should have been an emotional tour de force, but somehow despite doing a lot of the right things in the right places and in a well-paced way, it lacked any real impact - perhaps its simply that such material doesn't work well set against all of the show's previous comedy, or perhaps even its concept as a whole, but although it feels that a lot has clicked into place regarding Rikka's personality and behaviour I can't find it within myself to be touched or moved by it. I'm pretty sure I'm not a completely soulless husk (yet), but something about the series just fundamentally isn't working for me - I mentioned this last week in terms of its comedy and charm, but it seems that the same issue also assuages me when it comes to getting to the heart and soft centre of the show. From an animation studio that always seems to know exactly how to pull on my heart strings in exactly the right way, it's a shame to see Chuunibyou doing what feels like a "by the numbers" attempt at something along those lines.