Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 03 – Chuunibyou as Social Haiku
October 21, 2012 1 Comment
Chuunibyou is a social Haiku, as a term it is used to condense and concentrate numerous complicated social and cultural situations and attitudes into a single, easily used idea. At its most basic, Chuunibyou is essentially a term used to describe adolescence, a period in everyone’s life where external influences and ideas can have a tremendous impact on how you view yourself and the wider world. It is therefore tremendously difficult to truly label someone as a ‘sufferer’ of Chunnibyou, apart from those who act in the most extreme ways. Rikka, Dekomori, and the past Yuuta are all perfect examples of the more extreme end of Chunnibyou, with each character taking on a new, and altogether different personality. The way they act, speak, and interact with the wider world around them differs tremendously from the social ‘norm’, therefore marking them out as wider, or perhaps dysfunctional.
There are, however, significant problems when looking at Chunnibyou, and labeling others as Chunnibyou sufferers. The term itself is a handy phrase that can be used in numerous situations, but, because of that it has become a catch-all, and is used to describe different people, thus giving the impression that anyone viewed as suffering from Chuunibyou is essentially the same. The term lacks social and cultural context, missing out the impact that surroundings, attitudes and lifestyle has upon the individual. Instead of looking at Rikka and Dekomori or Yuuta as individuals, they are lumped together under the catchall umbrella term of Chunnibyou. Like a Haiku, Chuunibyou has condescend and reified the complexities and subtleties of society, and while it is clearly used to describe an intricate web of ideas and attitudes, it is only the extreme end that gets noticed.
We can therefore argue that Chuunibyou is far too convenient, and like many Haiku, the intricate meanings are lost on many people, with only the most obvious or extreme qualities remaining. The characters of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai are all ‘sufferers’ of Chunnibyou in some form or another, and while Rikka may be the most extreme and entertaining example, she is not alone, nor is she unique. At the very beginning of the series there is a brief introduction to Chuunibyou, explaining that it is a complex idea that encompasses a variety of behaviour and general social problems. What is interesting is that while there are clearly elements of the fantastical in some of the strange delusions that Yuuta as the Dark Flame Master and Rikka in her present form have to deal with, it is also used to describe a far wider variety of things than you might think.
In Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai it is primarily used to explain the bizarre hallucinations and delusions of Rikka, although there are other characters that arguably suffer from it. In fact, the major question of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai is whether or not Chuunibyou can be considered an illness at all, or whether it is merely a term used to describe a series of (often) interconnected circumstances that make life a little more interesting than it otherwise would be. There are other characters in Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai who partly conform to the various ideas and elements of Chuunibyou. During this episode we see Makoto, Yuuta’s ‘normal’ friend talk about wanting to join the Light Music club because rock and roll is cool. He further explains that he will be buying a guitar because rock and roll, along with guitars are perfect ways to hook up with girls and have numerous adoring fans.
He, like many others in the teens has been influenced by sub-cultures such as rock/metal, although there are many more. One specific element of Chuunibyou is that of being influenced by subcultures in order to be different and to have a ‘cool’ factor that may attract others. By specifically wanting to join the Light Music club and even going so far as to buy an Arrow Shaped guitar (very metal), Makoto is demonstrating that he is as much a part of Chuunibyou as Rikka. Makoto’s actions and attitudes help to demonstrate how complex the various elements that Chuunibyou is supposed to describe are. It also further underlines how the more extreme the reaction and response, the more likely it is that the person will be single out and labeled as Chuunibyou, despite simply being a part of a much larger idea. Yuuta was singled out from the class and alienated because he no longer conformed to what was socially and culturally acceptable. He was clearly quite extreme in his personality switch, however, if we were to look at it more closely it becomes obvious that on a basic level he would be no different to someone who suddenly decided that they wanted to be in a rock band or become a Thespian.
Furthermore, his personality as the Dark Flame Master was quite clearly not all-encompassing, with Yuuta frequently jumping out of it when necessary, such as playing with his younger sisters. The same is arguably true of Rikka, as she has switched between personalities and the way she perceives the world on several occasions. Also, if we look at how Rikka acts she is simply using a far more embellished and artistic interpretation of relatively normal everyday things. While eating lunch for example, Rikka demonstrates that she dislikes tomatoes; only she uses the world that she has created to come up with another reason as to why she cannot eat tomatoes. The circumstances are essentially the same as anyone else who doesn’t like tomatoes, or any other type of food. But, the differentiation between that and Rikka comes from her insistence that it is because they can have a detrimental effect on her magical powers. At the same time, her curious way of speaking and odd actions has partly alienated her within the classroom. Although, it seems that some of this may be down to Rikka being an incredibly shy person, and appears to find it difficult to interact with others unless she is in her role as the Wielder of the Tyrant’s Eye.
By hiding behind Yuuta and asking him to deal with the passerby, along with her willingness to get involved with other clubs, it seems that Rikka truly wants to interact with others. The presence of Dekomori as someone whom she can freely interact with at least shows us that she isn’t a loner, whi8le also suggesting that they are equally socially adverse. The presence of Yuuta grounds her, providing a sense of continuity between the normal, everyday life of a high school student, and the fantastical world that her imagination has created. His presence helps to integrate Rikka into the class, and by constantly interacting with one-another in all manner of situations, Rikka appears to have become far more accepted that Yuuta was. Their interactions while Rikka is eating also helps to demonstrate that, despite his constant complaints about Rikka’s eccentricities, Yuuta has become comfortable in her presence.
His willingness to eat the rice that had been ‘contaminated’ by tomatoes, thus being fed lunch by a beautiful girl displays how relaxed he is in her presence. That he immediately realised what he had done, followed by the entire classes applause causes an immense amount of embarrassment, but also helps to partly bridge the awkward gap between Rikka’s eccentricities and the realities of being a high school student. Yuuta’s ability to interact with Rikka, Dekomori and Kumin, despite their eccentricities and slightly extreme nature also helps to show that his fears of being alienated if he were to get too close to them have come to nothing. His straightforward reaction to everything that they do and say helps to show that while these characters may be a little odd, they can be approached.
He also acts an anchor of sorts, and arguably controls Rikka in some respects by preventing her from ever getting too extreme in class, and generally turning her curious speeches and actions into slapstick comedy. Yuuta acts in a very natural way around Rikka, Dekomori and Kumin, even going along with their frankly crazy scheme to create the brilliantly named ‘Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer’. You get the feeling when watching his interactions with the other characters that despite his constant complaints, he feels oddly at home and comfortable in his role as the sensible one in his comedy duo with Rikka. It also suggests that he has not entirely rejected his Chuunibyou past, as shown by the presence of all the paraphernalia of the Dark Flame Master in his room. The final, and arguably one of the most interesting characters in the series is Nibutani. She is a character who has become the center of attention almost immediately due to her good looks and figure, but there was a curious loneliness about her in this and previous episodes.
Her interactions with Yuuta demonstrate that she wants to get to know him better, but her status (at least according to the boys) as the number one girl in class has created an invisible wall around her. When we see her starring at Yuuta, Dekomori, Rikka and Kumin there is a clearly loneliness about her – she is all-alone, while they are all together, interacting and having fun. Her willingness to join the Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer, along with her general actions and attitude towards Yuuta suggests that she is as lonely and arguably as socially awkward (at least in her own way) as Rikka or Dekomori. The Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer can therefore be seen as a club for Chuunibyou, although not in the most traditional sense. That there is such a wide variety of different characters and people in the club once again helps to demonstrate of complex the set of social and cultural factors that Chuunibyou is used to describe are. In this respect we can truly see how Chuunibyou is a social Haiku, and also how it is also a term and an idea that can often be misused.