Jurai Andou is a member of the Literature Club at Senko High School. He is also a massive chuunibyou with grand delusions that often annoy the other members of the club; Tomoyo Kanzaki, Hatoko Kushikawa, Sayumi Takanashi, and Chifuyu Himeki. One day the lives of all five members of the Literature Club, plus the student council president Mirei Kudou, change when they all suddenly gain superpowers. Now they have to try to adapt to living with their new abilities. What they don't know is that they aren't the only ones who were given such gifts. With Studio Trigger at the helm, does When Supernatural Battles Became Commponplace live up to expectations, or does it fall short of its potential?
(Note, for the sake of my sanity, for the rest of the review, I will be referring to the series as Inou-Battle.)
Giving Chuunibyou Actual Powers
I actually quite liked KyoAni's own chuunibyou-based series, Love, Chuunibyou, & Other Delusions!, especially the fight scenes. But in that series everything was in the heads of the characters. Nothing more than their vivid imaginations. In Inou-Battle, however, their powers are real and can be rather devastating. Hatoko is basically the Avatar, as she is given complete control over the elements. Chifuyu is a slightly nerfed Doctor Manhattan, as she can create literally anything she imagines, including entire dimensions. Tomoyo can manipulate time in every form aside from rewinding it. And Sayumi can restore anything into its original state. As for Andou, Andou gets a useless blue flame that can't even burn anything. In a twist of irony, the person that would be most excited to have powers gets the one with the least use. But he loves his ability, nevertheless, going as far as even saying "Goodnight" and "Good morning" to his flame.
With Great Powers Comes a Great Way to Kill Boredom
For the majority of the series, the characters essentially just use their powers to stave off boredom. Doing things like sparring and playing games. True to the series name, we get to see what the normal, everyday life of someone with powers would be like.
Trigger's Animation is Still in Top Form
While Inou-Battle may not have enough battles in it to allow Trigger to go over the top awesome like they did in Kill la Kill, they still at least get to use their dynamic, comedic animation style to great effect. Inou-Battle is still quite a GIF-machine of a series with numerous standout moments of animation.
Inou-Battle has a lot of shoutouts to other series, mainly series that Trigger's co-founder Hiroyuki Imaishi worked on, such as FLCL, Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking, and of course, Kill la Kill. I'm a sucker for shoutouts, so I quite liked seeing all of them.
One of the Best Vocal Performances Ever
In episode 7, Hatoko goes on an emotionally charged rant, and it is awe inspiring. It lasts for a couple minutes straight with Hatoko speaking in an ever increasing fast pace with nary a chance to catch her breath. The amazing thing is Hatoko's voice actress, Saori Hayami, did this rant in one take, and it is nearly flawless.
More Than Meets the Eye
There is actually a legitimate reason why the characters in Inou-Battle gain their powers. I won't say exactly why, because that would be massive spoilers, but it is a twist that actually puts Inou-Battle into more genres than I thought it would have going into it. It is actually a rather intriguing plot.
The Whale Plush Blushes!
Andou is so unintentionally charming that he managed to make an inanimate whale plush doll blush. That takes some skill.
They Leave an Interesting Plot Behind for Generic Harem Romance
The first half of Inou-Battle was just the main cast messing around and doing their day-to-day activities. The second half begins with the twist I mentioned above. Said twist itself begins a plotline that seems like it would be what the remainder of the series would follow, and it was something that genuinely interested me. However, we get only one episode dedicated to this plotline, which doesn't even involve the main cast, but a side cast(who I will be getting to soon), and then the last four episodes put heavy focus on the various girls in the Literature Club falling in love with Andou, or rather deeper in love with him, I guess.
It is just extremely disappointing to have such a juicy plotline dangled right in front of our faces only to be yanked away and replaced with harem romance, which for the majority of the series wasn't even really building towards. In the first half of the series I didn't feel like many of the girls in the Literature Club loved Andou as anything more than a close friend.
The Main Cast Are the Least Interesting Characters
Don't get me wrong, the members of the Literature Club have some charm to them, especially Hatoko and Chifuyu. It is just the side cast we get as the focus in the episode about the more interesting side plot are way more interesting to me. I'd honestly rather watch a series with them. And this is headlined by their leader, Tomoyo's older half-brother (and major chuunibyou himself) Hajime Kiryuu, or as he calls himself, "Kiyruu Heldkaiser Luci First". He alone has a more badass power than anyone in the main cast!
In the end, while I still enjoyed watching Inou-Battle, and think it has a lot of good points to it, I think it fails to live up to its potential. At least for now. If it ever gets a sequel season, I really, really hope it focuses on its much more interesting side plot. That being said, if you like harem shows or chuunibyou-based shows, this is a pretty good one on the whole. Despite its flaws, Inou-Battle shows that Trigger can do a pretty good job when they are given the task of doing an adaptation. Of course because it is an adaptation, I'm more willing to put the blame for the show's shortcomings on the usual pitfalls that come with adapting an ongoing series. All in all, Inou-Battle is far from the best the season had to offer, but it wasn't anywhere near one of its worst offerings either. As long as you don't take it too seriously, there is some fun to be had here.
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace can be watched on the Crunchyroll streaming service. When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is based on an ongoing light novel series written by Kota Nozomi and illustrated by 029 and is published under SB Creative's GA Bunko imprint.