Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 05 – Delusions of Grandeur
November 3, 2012 Leave a comment
Throughout the course of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai we have seen numerous delusions and flights of fancy from its characters. The most extreme have involved Rikka and Dekomori, with their imaginary fantasy worlds and elements of role-playing, all part of their intricate and complex fight against and unknown evil presence. However, Yuuta, and now Nibutani have equally suffered from their own delusions and daydreams, and while they may not be as extreme as the ones that Rikka and Dekomori have, they are nevertheless a part of Chunnibyou. Kumin is another character that gets involved in these delusions, and while she arguably does not ‘suffer’ from Chuunibyou, her willingness to play along with the various games and random things that Rikka, Dekomori and even Yuuta helps to demonstrate that it is not only those who are seen as suffering from Chuunibyou who can enjoy these fantasy worlds.
Yuuta continues to claim that he has moved on from his Chuunibyou phase, indeed, we have seen him putting more effort into his ‘normal’ appearance than he arguably put into his alter-go of the Dark Flame Master. However, as has become evident over the course of the series so far, Yuuta has as many delusions, or daydreams as much as Rikka or Dekomori. The difference of course lies in the kind of daydreams and what Yuuta fantasies about, with Nibutani featuring heavily in his flights of fancy. His various dreams about Nibutani asking him out, or saying that she loves him help to show how Chuunibyou is not something that can only be confined to the more outlandish personas that certain people create. Yuuta is essentially continuing on from his Dark Flame Master days, only his daydreams and various figments of his imagination are focussed on something altogether different, while also being remarkably similar.
At the same time, Yuuta continues to deny his Chuunibyou past, keeping it hidden from everyone other than those in the Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer. He is not alone in this, with Nibutani finally showing her true colours and admitting to being a Chuunibyou who believed that she could communicate with fairies. Nibutani’s public persona has clearly been carefully constructed so that she cannot be accused of ever being a Chuunibyou, in every respect it is both perfect and unnatural. Kumin cannot understand why they are putting so much effort into being normal, since as points out, Chuunibyou can be a lot of fun, with Rikka and Dekomori enjoying their school lives far more than Yuuta or Nibutani. Indeed, Nibutani deliberately chose the cheerleading club because as the class representative, and a member of the cheerleading club she is essentially the exact opposite of a Chuunibyou. And yet, Kumin points that out thatr Nibutani continuously complains about the upperclassmen (Senpai) and has become tired of going.
When asked why they continue to deny the existence of their Chuunbiyou pasts, the immediate response is because they find it incredibly embarrassing. Rikka and Dekomori clearly enjoy their school life far more than Nibutani and Yuuta who continuously walk on eggshells so that others do not find out about their pasts and alter egos. Also, while they continue to say that they find their Chuunibyou past embarrassing, we have to ask ourselves why they continue to be a part of this hobby club. Nibutani in particular complains about being a part of it, and emphasises her position as the class representation while also being a part of the cheerleading team, but she still gets involved with the Hobby Club and its activities. If they had truly wanted to be rid of their pasts, then the logical step would be to have as little to do with Rikka and Dekomori as possible. Regardless of their complaints and outward appearances, there seems to be something immensely powerful keeping them in the group.
Kumin on the other hand freely embraces Chuunibyou, and although part of that is because through Rikka and Dekomori she was able to get her napping club there is also an element of Kumin simply seeing Chuunibyou for what it is. Yes there is an element of embarrassment, especially during the teenage years when social inclusion is often seen as essential to a proper life, but often this comes at the cost of having fun. Rikka and Dekomori may be rather extreme in some of their visions, but they continue to have fun and enjoy their time, regardless of what anyone else might think. By walking on eggshells both Yuuta and Nibutani are in effect denying an essential part of who they are and their childhood. And especially in Nibutani’s case we see the effort needed to move away from Chuunibyou has in essence damaged an element of her school life by forcing her to do something that she arguably never wanted to do in the first place.
However, this is merely one small element of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, and while it may take up a lot of the screen time, there are other, far more serious aspects to Chuunibyou. Rikka continues to be somewhat of a mystery, she may have this other, more extreme personality and a penchant for linking her imaginary magic and universe to everything that she does, but she is ultimately an incredibly lonely individual. The look that passes across her face when she is told that unless she passes Math’s, the hobby club will be closed down is tangible. We know very little about her past or her family life, but the trouble that she went to in order to start up a hobby club suggests that she wants somewhere to belong. This coupled with her apparent inability to learn math’s forces her to try and make a deal so that in return for some labour the hobby club can continue.
She continuously uses her imaginary world to delay the inevitable or to distract herself and others. By turning everything into a fantasy like game, Rikka makes it entertaining, while also missing the point; however, her imagination is so vivid that it draws others in. Dekomori, who is already involved, along with Yuuta are dragged in to her curious notions of math’s problems, with Yuuta clearly demonstrating how quickly and easily he can revert to his old ways. During this episode it becomes clear that Rikka is socially awkward and instead of asking others for help, she tries to make a game out of everything they do, thus distracting them. The particular scene at the shrines further demonstrates her inability to do maths, coupled with her willingness to do anything in her desperation to stop the group from being disbanded.
As the series has progressed we are beginning to see how fundamentally lonely Rikka is. Yuuta has a loving family who are all too willing to play along with his flights of fancy as the Dark Flame Master – indeed, his mother veritably encourages them, viewing them as entertaining and fun – whereas Rikka is alone in her apartment. She continuously eats alone with Touka working late during the week and barely making it home in time to see her before she goes to sleep. This on its own may not be such a problem, however, when they are exchanging email addresses the look of joy in Rikka’s face along with the knowledge that the only numbers she has are those of Touka and Dekomori further reinforces the notion that she is fundamentally lonely. In this context her Chuunibyou starts to make more sense, by creating a fantasy realm where she is important and has immense power Rikka can escape from her lonely life.
Her room is cluttered and arguably full of junk, but there is a warm, enveloping feeling about it when we see how bare and dark the rest of the apartment is. In this context her flights of fancy make absolute sense, she is filling in the loneliness with something else, she is using her imagination in a similar to the way some arguably use alcohol or drugs, to escape a reality that she doesn’t want to see. Some may go through this phase because they think its cool, such as deciding that the best and only way to drink coffee is black, or starting to read classical literature, but others do it for a different reason. Rikka lacks the emotional and moral support that Yuuta’s family provides for him – through his sisters and mother he has a loving family, who are willing to put up with a little weirdness from time to time. In many ways his mother encourages it, with the oldest sister seeing him as a little weird, but nevertheless getting on with him as an sister would.
On the other hand Rikka has none of that, with a dark house and apparently parents who live somewhere else (we have yet to find out, but there seems to be something a little off with her entire family). By playing her role and giving Touka a role as ‘The Priestess’ Rikka is trying to include her and essentially create a way with which they can interact. While Touka may complain to Yuuta about the extremes that Rikka can take her imaginary world, she continues to care for her, and even asks Yuuta about how she is doing. This scene in particular suggests a certain distance between Rikka and Touka, one that was not created by her work, but simply widened by it. When she asks how Rikka is doing, and follows Yuuta’s comment up by saying that she wishes she were him, this further points to a gap or distance between them.
When we look at Rikka in this context it becomes obvious why she is so concerned about the notion of the Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer being disbanded because of her lack of knowledge at math’s. this hobby group is her social group, the only place where she can happily be herself and enjoy her time. Her home is dark and lonely, but when she is with Dekomori, Kumin, Nibutani and Yuuta she can enjoy her time and enjoy her life. In essence the group has become her only real way of enjoying her school life, and so seeing it disbanded would be emotionally and psychologically devastating towards her. We see how much importance she places on these characters when she asks Yuuta to come up with a new email address for her. If he comes up with one she will tell Touka, along with Dekomori, Nibutani and Kumin; to Rikka these characters are already essential friends. This is clearly something that Yuuta has begun to deal with and Nibutani will eventually have to come to terms with in the future, as she is in a position now where she cannot leave the group.
As Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai has progressed it is becoming increasingly obvious that Chuunibyou is not something simple. Chuunibyou tries to compress an intricate and complex set of feelings, emotions, along with social and cultural changes into one handy word. It is trying too much, and as we see with Rikka, while she may be the classic and more extreme case of Chuunibyou, there are distinct and important reasons behind her imaginary world and curious actions. She may find it cool or interesting, but there is also a fundamental element of escaping from reality, using her imagination to create something fun so that she wont think about the problems in her life. In this context we can see Yuuta slowly changing and beginning to come to terms with his past self as the Dark Flame Master. He may continue to deny its existence to his class, but this episode helped to demonstrate that he is willing to use that persona in order to play along with and help Rikka. While Rikka may see the hobby group as her social space and a place within which she can be herself, her relationship with Yuuta is far more important. Their relationship makes her happy, and his continued existence near her, along with helping her choose something supposedly simple like an email address demonstrates how important he has become to Rikka.