Seri Koyuki is just trying to have a normal school life, but instead he ends up acting as the straight man to his odd classmate, Kabuto Hanadori. Kabuto is is a delusional high school student, whose fantasies range from believing he is a knight on a journey, to claiming that removing his eyepatch will release a darker alter-ego who he refers to as Michael Offenbarung Dunkelheit. Seri is determined not to let himself get pushed around by Kabuto, but it seems that this will be easier said than done! (Source: MU)
In this Boku no Tonari ni Ankoku Hakaishin ga Imasu/ A Destructive God Sits Next to Me, Bokuhaka Chuunibyou characters and chuunibyou-focused comedies have become a semi-regular feature in anime over the past few years . Along with Kyoto Animation’s Chuunibyou, there’s been When Supernatural Battles Become Common Place, Love Live! Sunshine!!’s Yohane, and even last season’s Outburst Dreamer Boys. A Destructive God Sits Next to Me clocks in as the latest example of the trend, but it unfortunately does little to change up or even energetically execute on the chuunibyou formula.
The problem with chuunibyou-focused comedies, at least as I see it, is how easily they allow writers to embrace their laziest comedic instincts. “A character does something unusual, and others extravagantly react” is generally understood to be a fairly simplistic form of humor, and yet chuunibyou-focused shows return to that gag structure again and again. Additionally, the exact popular tropes of chuunibyou are at this point established enough that even beyond their structural similarities, many of these shows feature literally the exact same jokes – the joke about containing their power, the joke about their eyepatch, the joke about their “dark familiar” (both KyoAni’s production and this one feature a dog named Cerberus), etc.
To be a chuunibyou-focused show and also a genuinely good comedy, then, requires going beyond simply pointing out the abnormality of some character’s behavior. You can’t just have the joke be “their behavior is unusual,” you have to set up actual gags and punchlines that go beyond merely reacting to their actions. A Destructive God is thus at its best when it embraces the contrasting personalities of its three leads, or illustrates the unique strangeness of its non-chuunibyou characters. The reveal of Tsukimiya’s “study methods,” wherein he learned about the amino acids by framing their reactions as a skeevy doujinshi, was a particularly inspired gag – and the episode’s ending, where all three characters were able to energetically bounce off each other, demonstrated their friendship might have some emotional pull as well.
On the whole, though, Destructive God suffers from an unfortunately low strike ratio on its jokes. When you couple that with its middling aesthetics and strong resemblance to other chuunibyou- focused shows, you end up with a production that I’d recommend for fans of this particular trend, but qualify as a pass for anyone else.