Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 04 – Hidden Pasts and Public Personas
October 27, 2012 2 Comments
There is always a part of your life that you will either keep hidden, or simply don’t mention to everyone you meet. It might be something that you’re embarrassed about, or perhaps something that might not be relevant, or even damaging to your public image. More often than not we can look at how the enjoyment of various forms of media such as anime, video games, or something else that is viewed as being socially destructive. Chuunibyou, while clearly a term used to describe a complex and wide-ranging set of ideas, influences and attitudes is one such example of something that many may want to keep hidden. But, to continue on from last week’s idea of Chuunibyou as a Social Haiku, it is obvious that such a simple word hides an increasingly complex set of ideas and values. As Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai progresses we are beginning to see an amazing range of characters and characteristics, all with their own ideas, insecurities and problems. Furthermore, the notion of Chuunibyou is becoming ever more blurred, and in doing so it becomes increasing difficult to truly mark out where this ‘syndrome’ ends or where it begins.
For many people the idea that they were once a Chuunibyou sufferer is embarrassing and they view it as both socially and culturally damaging, a secret to be kept hidden. Yuuta has gone to great, if fruitless lengths to keep his Chuunibyou past hidden from everyone in his class and school, he has even chosen a high school that is essentially as far away form his old middle school as possible. The elaborate, and arguably extreme methods that Yuuta has gone to in order to conceal has past as the Dark Flame Master and start anew clearly counted for very little in the end. Rikka finding out about his past personality and actions does not, however, have the negative effect that he continues to fear. Instead, Yuuta has gradually become part of a group, of slightly eccentric, but nevertheless fascinating and interesting people. Because of his past therefore, Yuuta has actually gained friends and a social group, rather than lose it and be segregated from the rest of the class.
Chuunibyou is clearly a difficult word to pin down – while Rikka and Dekomori may be the most obvious (and extreme) examples, there are other characters that could arguably be labeled as Chuunibyou. Makoto for examples demonstrates in last week’s episode that there are other elements to Chuunibyou that may escape people’s notice because they are not extreme or outlandish. By joining the Light Music club and buying a guitar because he views Rock and Roll as the perfect way to get the girls, Makoto is demonstrating another side to Chuunibyou. There are numerous sides to, and elements of Chuunibyou, and while Rikka and Dekomori continue to provide us with the most extreme examples of this ‘syndrome’ there are still those who either wish to hide it, or create another persona, that is in itself an element of Chuunibyou. This week’s episode largely deals with the creation of an intelligent and mature personality as an element of Chuunibyou.
Niubutani had already alluded to the notion that her mature and bright personality was merely a mask, used to hide her true self. Her wish to join the Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer stems from her embarrassment at her past self being uncovered. Through her actions we discover that, like Yuuta, she also suffered from Chuunibyou in the past as Mori Summer, a self confessed magician who could talk with fairies. She also chooses a high school that is far away from her old school so that she can start anew, her perfect personality is therefore merely a mask; a thin veneer used to disguise what is underneath. She has created a perfectly sociable and likeable character that is very similar to the ones that Rikka, Dekomori and Yuuta create. Their personalities may be more extreme, but they are no different from the personality that Nibutani has created in order to be a ‘normal’ high school girl.
Although, Yuuta is still struggling with his past and in many respects the ridiculous and incredibly entertaining things that he did as the Dark Flame Master continue to haunt him. His constant assertion that he wants to hit or slap has past self for his own stupidity demonstrates that he has yet to fully come to terms with his Chuunibyou phase. However, his ability to get on with, and even interact with Rikka, Dekomori and Kumin on a daily basis also demonstrates that his Chuunibyou phase continues to be an important part of who Yuuta is. His sharp remarks and comebacks that follow any of the numerous ridiculous and incredibly silly phrases that Dekomori and Rikka utter gives us the impression of a comedy duo or act. Using a typical comedic form found in numerous Japanese comedy acts and shows, Yuuta acts as the ‘normal’ character, the one who continuously berates the others for their stupidity.
If we look at Yuuta’s relationship with Rikka and Dekomori in this light we see that, far from completely denying his past, he has begun to see it in a new light. Furthermore, he acts as a foil for Rikka, someone is able to at least partially control, or perhaps direct her considerable imagination on something else entirely. Despite his constant complaints, Yuuta has started to take a more active role in their daydreams and delusions, often focusing them on something very specific. In this episode for example he uses notes he made as the Dark Flame Master to keep Rikka and Dekomori occupied while Nibutani visited. This is a significant and important change when we consider that at the very beginning of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, Yuuta had boxed everything up and was about to throw it all away. But, by keeping these items, and even willingly use them to help Rikka and play along once again demonstrates that Yuuta has begun to accept his past and is even willing to use it to his, and arguably Rikka’s benefit.
Furthermore, the effort that Yuuta and Nibutani (especially Nibutani) put into keeping their Chuunibyou pasts a secret is both fascinating and very odd. They arguably put more time and effort into maintaining the ‘normal’ public persona than Rikka and Dekomori put into their own alter egos and imaginary dimensions and worlds. Nibutani in particular has put an inordinate amount of time and effort into hiding her past, even going so far as to delete every blog post that she made. While this demonstrates her commitment to completely deleting her past, it also comes across as sad and perhaps unnecessary. Until she went to Yuuta’s house in order to get a hold of and subsequently destroy the Mabinogion, there was little to suggest that she even had this sort of past. Her actions and subsequent switching back to her true personality has done far more to demonstrate her Chuunibyou past than a simple book of her own ‘teachings’ could ever do.
Interestingly, Nibutani’s obsession with wiping out her Chuunibyou past, along with Yuuta’s continuous denial of his past as the Dark Flame Master point to something far more complicated. While both Yuuta and Nibutani may be embarrassed by, and actively trying to bury their past selves, their efforts suggest that their alter egos continue to play and important part in their daily lives. Their Chuunibyou past continues to hold an especially significance for Yuuta and Nibutani, but, it is out of fear of being socially segregated that they continue to deny who they are. Nibutani’s true personality is more natural than her ‘public’ persona, it may show a mean and vindictive side to her, but it is far more ‘real’ than her public persona as the beautiful and perfect student. Both Yuuta and Nibutani frequently fall back into their Chuunibyou ways, and although these slips may not be extreme they nevertheless indicate that their alter egos continue to hold a certain amount of significance for them.
In many respects we can see their sudden change in personality and attempts to hide their more extreme past as a continuation of Chunnibyou, with the wild delusions of magic and intrigue replaced with a more ‘acceptable’ public persona. By keeping all the paraphernalia of the Dark Flame Master, Yuuta continues to show us that his alter ego continues to exert pressure on him, and it is clearly a part of his life that he cannot quite let go of. There are elements that embarrass him, but his continued association with Rikka and Dekomori further suggest that he has yet to truly leave it all behind. Nibutani’s past as Mori Summer continues to play a significant role in her current incarnation as the perfect and beautiful cheerleader as well, with her new persona create din direct opposition to her old. In fact, it could be argued that their past selves have directly influenced their current lifestyles and public personas. In Nibutani’s case her current ‘perfect’ persona has been created as a direct opposite to that of Mori Summer, with her current self as someone who is the center of attention and arguably actively seekers the gaze of others.
In Yuuta’s case, he has created a ‘normal’ personality that is meant to directly counter the eccentric but entertaining personality of the Dark Flame Master. Their current association with the Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer is therefore curious in many respects since their current incarnations as normal should arguably be avoiding it. They cannot, and perhaps in the back of their minds don’t want to exacpe from their past selves. What is curious about this, and especially in Yuuta’s case is that their association with the Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer naturalises it and makes it seem ‘normal’. While the activities may be a bit silly, they are hardly harmful, and as we see during the numerous interactions between Yuuta and Rikka, his presence helps to integrate her into the class. With this in mind we begin to question both Yuuta and Nibutani’s insistence at starting a new ‘normal’ life rather than merely accepting their Chunnibyou alter egos and moving on from there.
It is clear that there is numerous social pressures involved which would make the creation of such alter egos difficult and potentially damaging – as shown by Yuuta being ostracized by his class. But his continued association with Rikka, Dekomori and Kumin once again demonstrates that there are always other options. Nibutani’s current public personality is also so different from who she really is that we have to wonder what takes more effort, being herself or hiding her past behind an equally intricate and complicated façade of Nibutani the perfect and beautiful. In this light we see that despite their eccentricities, both Rikka and Dekomori are actually the most normal or at least the most relaxed and easy going among the group – except for Kumin obviously. They are true to who they are and do not have to worry about any external factors or influences, when put next to Yuuta and Nibutani it is abundantly clear who is enjoying their high school life the most.