Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 01 – Extraordinary Delusions
October 6, 2012 1 Comment
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai is one of the more hyped series of the season largely because KyoAni, the studio behind many other good anime, like many other studios in Japan is producing it. While there are many interesting points about Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, the main element of the series is focussed on the mean behind ‘Chuunibyou’. Chuunibyou roughly means ‘Middle School 2nd year syndrome’ and is used to describe those times in life where people begin to try an act ‘cool’, or what they consider to be cool. There is an element of fantasy and even delusions involved with Chuunibyou, with people pretending to be wizards or even thinking that they have special powers. As a term then it describes a fascinating element of life where the imagination has a powerful hold on people, a time where you are still children but wish to grow up and be adults.
The main protagonist of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, Togashi Yuuta used to suffer from Chuunibyou, proclaiming that he was the ‘Dark Flame Master’, with power over the flames of darkness. As a character we are given brief glimpses of his past self in middle school as a social outcast, shunned by the class and viewed as simply strange. In his current incarnation of course Yuuta is desperately trying to be ‘normal’ and leave everything that happened when he was ‘infected’ by Chuunibyou behind him so that he can live a normal high school life. On the other hand, Takanashi Rikka still suffers from Chuunibyou and believes that she posses the ‘Tyrant’s Eye of Truth’, which she has obviously simulated with coloured contacts and an eye patch. It is fascinating to see how her meeting with Yuuta has slowly begun to change is outlook on life, although there are obvious comedic elements to having someone who seems to believe that she has magical powers being involved with another who wishes to forget his past.
As a series it seems to be looking at that period in life when you are both still a child, while also being told by society to grow up and start to make those decisions that will affect your life after school. The message that is drilled into everyone at that time is that you are no longer children, and yet at the same time you are. Within social circles liking cartoons and other ‘childish’ things may become un-cool, and everyone strives to be as grown-up and mature as possible. Yuuta continues to struggle with this difference between the expectations of children and the reality; he wants to be normal and yet doesn’t know what normal is. At the beginning as he is throwing away everything that was associated with his ‘Chuunibyou’ phase there is the suggestion that he is utterly ashamed of what he had become. And yet as his younger sister points out, the amount of time, effort and money that he put into that image cannot be forgotten, and arguably should not.
In many respects the effort that Yuuta puts into being ‘normal’, or at least what he assumes to be normal is similar to the time and effort that he put into his image as the Dark Flame Master. It can therefore be argued that the normal life that Yuuta craves is the exact opposite of his Chuunibyou phase, but is as unnatural – it is bland and lacks character. His meeting with Rikka is essential to Yuuta reimaging his surroundings and rethinking what he considers to be cool or normal. There is something wonderful about the way Rikka views the world, her actions, while strange add an element of the fantastical to the everyday lives of those around her. Her actions and general thought patterns are a little strange – including the belief that she holds the Tyrant’s Eye of Truth, despite simply using a coloured contact and eye patch – and yet her general demeanour, along with her actions and reactions mark her out to be far more interesting than other ‘normal’ girls may otherwise be.
What is particularly interesting is her impact on Yuuta, along with the reaction of his family to her presence. Her sudden presence in his life seems to change Yuuta’s view on his Chuunibyou items, and instead of throwing them out he has decided to keep them instead and potentially auction them off at a later date. It is perfectly clear that these items hold a great deal of significance for Yuuta, and that despite his wishes to forget about his past and move forward they were an indelible and important part of his childhood. His family also seem to have liked that element of his personality, and while his younger sister Kuzuha may constantly point out that he said strange things, it is clear that she isn’t really insulting him at all. There is also his other sister, the very young Yumeha who finds his sword and starts playing with it, suggesting that such an item is cool and simply enjoying herself. This, along with his mothers’ childish actions and assertion that he was funny and cool during the Chuunibyou stage also suggests that is not something he can simply cast to one side and forget.
Chuunibyou continues to be an integral part of who Yuuta and now Rikka are, and while their actions may seem a little strange to many, they are all a part of growing up, and also about enjoying yourself. By casting all of this to one side and trying to fit in as a ‘normal’ student, Yuuta is denying an integral part of his life and who he is. Even at the very beginning before he enters the class we see him saying his catchphrase, clearly demonstrating that he still quite enjoys saying such lines. Furthermore, while Yuuta claims that he wants no part in Rikka’s life and tries desperately to avoid her at all costs, his ability to get along with her and essentially create a comedy double act. If he truly disliked her and wanted nothing to do with her it is highly unlikely that Yuuta would be as involved as he is. For her part Rikka remains somewhat of a mystery, having just moved into her sisters apartment above Yuuta’s home and appearing to have no friends or any other acquaintances. Rikka seems to be a fundamentally lonely girl, with a sister who works late and no one to talk to or eat dinner with.
This in itself is an important element of Chuunibyou, that of being a social outcast or perhaps simply socially awkward. Part of the reason for Yuuta’s drastic transformation and his constant search for a ‘normal’ life comes from his terrible memories of middle school where he was ostracised from the class and became a social outcast. Such an act clearly had an immense impact upon him, and it could be argued that being a social outcast and ignored by everyone in his middle school load Yuuta to be as normal as possible. His attempts to stay clear of Rikka can be viewed as a way for him to avoid a repeat of what happened in his middle school, which is also backed up by Yuuta deliberately attending a school that is essentially as far away as possible to avoid his past self catching up with him. With this in mind there are also questions to be asked about Rikka and why she has decided to move in with her sister.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai got off to a very interesting start at least, with both main characters coming across as eccentric and fascinating. The art style is also very colourful and ‘rough’, with a lot block colours used in a very different way to the animation style and quality of Hyouka. It will be fascinating to see how the relationship between Rikka and Yuuta develops, especially since Yuuta obviously gets on with her despite his assertion that he wants nothing to do with her. The central themes of childhood and notions of what it means to be normal are also potentially interesting if explored properly and it appears obvious that there are others who have suffered from, or continue to suffer from Chuunibyou in the class. There is also the question about whether Chuunibyou is even serious, and whether it is just a handy term to describe a series of different symptoms and actions. In many respects it is not a disease, but merely a different state of mind or attitude towards life – it is arguably the case that anyone who watches anime past the age of 14 may be considered to suffer Chuunibyou for example. Overall an interesting start to a potentially fascinating series.