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Holo and Lawrence’s relationship is initially held back by the circumstances upon which they first meet, rendering Holo as an owned object rather than an equal companion and stifling both leads’ feelings behind layers of performative inauthenticity. Part of the appeal of Spice and Wolf is watching these two characters overcome the gendered norms of their medieval setting, as well as their own personal flaws, to achieve an emotional reciprocity that is narratively satisfying.
When I first watched Love, Chuunibyou and Other Delusions I had no idea what “chuunibyou” was, but the anime quickly made me think: I was definitely a chuunibyou as a kid! While not a form of mental divergence in and of itself, I contend that for neurodiverse kids, chuunibyou can be a coping mechanism.