The bizarre nature of theatrical romance is infectious, constantly warping our sense of "love" into something unattainable. These theatrics may be exciting, but they provide a series of misunderstandings in our expectations when it comes to romance.
There are many examples of this, like how two characters can somehow manage a "genuine love" even if they barely interact. Infatuation at first sight is a common occurrence, but it's typically followed with chatting, interaction, meeting up, or going out on dates. We shouldn't be expected to believe that two characters can love each other when they're unable to communicate properly. If a romance like this exists in the real world, it would be short-lived and childish.
Another example gives us stories that are miraculous, full of drama, and constantly exciting. With little to no downtime, we quickly assume that every step in love has to be somehow emotional. You can see this in many modern films where the drama never ends. Even in real life, these situations are always mixed in with amusing ones. It's hard to imagine a relationship with no lighthearted moments, and even if one could exist, it would be tough to convince the audience that such a romance were possible.
Additionally, sex, the first kiss, a marriage proposal, and physical passion are highly valued in most drama. They're also highly valued in society, but I'm referring to these romantic traditions in a directorial sense. By inserting dramatic music, building lovely scenery, or directing fantastic cinematography, you're showing your audience how important these gestures are.
Our perception of romance is heavily skewed. People want a fairy tale when they fall in love, wishing their lives would conform to the romantic stereotypes they were exposed to growing up. They want their marriage proposal, first kiss, and sexual encounters to be as magical as they were in their favorite movie.
Our delusions have created quite a detached mindset. People are so obsessed with a form of love that just doesn't exist. In reality, romance isn't so melodramatic. It certainly can be, but it's often more casual, awkward, and heartfelt. A romantic interest should be someone akin to a best friend. They're the person you can confide in wholeheartedly, and few to no relationships function the same way modern drama thinks they do. Of course, with every relationship there's drama, but to portray it as wholly dramatic is problematic.
Love, Chuunibyou & Other Delusions! portrays its romance awkwardly. The series mostly showcases this "casual" love, with Rikka and Yuuta treating each other like best friends. Rather than barely interacting, being obsessed with the others physical attributes, or becoming constantly involved in drama, the two casually enjoy each others company. The series even mocks romantic stereotypes, claiming that kisses and sexual desires aren't necessary to sustain a romance.
However, as Chuunibyou mocks stereotypical romance, it continues to revel in its own attempts at portraying these stereotypes. The show tells us that these things aren't important, but the series is directed in a way to suggest that it is. There are a number of scenes in season two where it implies that something passionate is about to happen, but nothing ever does. The most infamous scene occurs during the final episode, where Rikka and Yuuta are about to have their incredibly dramatized first kiss, until Yuuta's phone starts ringing and they never do. At an earlier point in this scene, the two come to an agreement that these passionate gestures are meaningless in their pursuit of romance.
This is problematic, as there are three contradictory philosophies here.
Firstly, the writer wants to tell us that passion is relative. You cannot assign your experience to what another's romance should look like. People shouldn't feel obligated to conform to gestures they're not comfortable with. If you don't want to kiss, have sex, or touch the person you love, then you shouldn’t feel obligated to. Love is what you want it to be. It feels as if the writer wants to mock the romantic stereotypes that plague modern drama. There's even a character that's meant to be the audience's mouthpiece, constantly going "Ugh! Why can't these two just kiss already!"
Secondly, the director consistently puts emphasis on these passionate gestures. From the amount of time spent on dramatic music, fantastical cinematography, exaggerated acting, and glossy animation, there's a clear attempt at assigning value. There's so much build up right before two characters should do something passionate. If the writer is trying to argue that these gestures mean nothing by making them never happen, then why is the director trying to build them up in such a misleading way?
Thirdly, the characters very clearly want to enjoy these passions, but they don't have the courage to. In an attempt to run away, they claim that these things don't have to be symbolic of their love. So, what do the characters actually think? Do they genuinely believe these gestures mean nothing, or are they just too afraid of being passionate?
Is this contradiction just for the sake of misleading the audience?
Like I've mentioned earlier, there's a character who's meant to be the viewer's mouthpiece. If you're unsure what I mean by this, I'm referring to how this character is supposed to represent the voice in the audience’s head. We're meant to be thinking something and this character was created to say it aloud.
This character is Nibutani, someone who constantly tries to get Rikka and Yuuta to be more passionate with each other, becoming upset whenever her plans fail. The main character even tells her to mind her own business and not get involved with his romance, but she does so anyway.
This seems like the authors attempt to insert what he assumes his audience is thinking into a character. He wants us to feel the same way as Nibutani, constantly upset that these two won't kiss or hold hands. The writer understands that his show is directed at young teenagers, so he tried to write the series according to the expectations of his audience. However, it seems that the director didn't really understand what the writer was trying to do. Instead of keeping the style consistent with the writing, he instructed his animators to be as flamboyant and romantic as possible, creating a genuine misunderstanding between the script and direction.