Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 06 – A mans hair is his life!
November 11, 2012 Leave a comment
As we have seen throughout Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, the delusions and general role-playing of Rikka and Dekomori have played a large part in moving the story forward. Their pretend fight scenes become the centre of the episode, with other elements seemingly moving around them as if these daydreams have a gravitational pull. But, it is what happens around these trips into the fantastical that provide the backbone of the story, fleshing out its characters and allowing the delusions to exist. Interestingly, this episode lacked the grand fantasy realm or otherworldly visions that have become common place in the series so far. Instead it focussed on the club and the characters that take part in the strange rituals that only characters like Rikka, Dekomori and Kumin could dream up.
At the same time this episode further reinforced the notion that Chuunibyou is far from the simplistic idea that the main characters would have you believe. The more extreme elements as shown by Rikka, Dekomori and even Yuuta form the most well known and probably most well publicised ideas surrounding Chuunibyou. But, it remains an infinitely complex issue, which arguably cannot be summed up in one word. The term itself continues to lack social and cultural context, missing out the impact that surroundings, attitudes and lifestyle has upon the individual. Instead of looking at Rikka, Dekomori, Yuuta or Nibutani as individuals, they are lumped together under the catchall umbrella term of Chuunibyou. Much like a haiku, Chuunibyou has condescend and reified the complexities and subtleties of society, and while it does help to describe an intricate web of ideas and attitudes, it is only ever the more extreme end of the spectrum that gets noticed.
There are other characters in Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai who partly conform to the various ideas and elements of Chunnibyou. Makoto has already demonstrated his willingness to buy a guitar and join the light music club under the mistaken notion that owning a guitar will somehow make girls fall over themselves to get close to him. He, much like Yuuta has delusions of grandeur, seemingly believing that within a few months he will have a beautiful girlfriend and hordes of admirers. Whole Yuuta’s delusions may have been as extreme as Rikka’s, on a base level there is little to choose between his own dreams and those of Makoto. The extent of his day dreams are further demonstrated when he receives a love letter and completely loses it. We know that during his middle school years he was on the baseball team and had a shaved head – so in many respects he has yet to have a girlfriend or be friends with any (a large assumption, but based on his reactions this seems fairly accurate). The whole purpose of buying a guitar was to become popular, but the appearance of this mysterious letter from an unknown sender was clearly too much for Makoto. Furthermore, it becomes clear that the guitar is merely a prop, shown by his confession at being unable to play anything at all.
Makoto, much like Yuuta, and even Nibutani has tried to create a new persona when entering high school, one that is as far removed from his middle school days as possible. In this respect, the idea of using a guitar as a prop doesn’t seem particularly odd, and there are many other people in the real world that will do the same. That his high school life is put in jeopardy by his foolishness is almost inevitable, but once again, in his moment of extreme pressure Makoto further emphasises the complex nature of Chuunibyou. He sticks his neck out and accepts full responsibility, while also suggesting that he will shave his head under the mistaken notion that men take full responsibility for their actions. Taking responsibility for ones actions are important, but Makoto demonstrates an element of pride, while also wondering if he looked cool while admitting his own failures. 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.
In a similar fashion, the split personalities of Nibutani and her continued attempts to destroy all trace of her time as Mori Summer shows us another side of Chuunibyou. Like Yuuta she is embarrassed by her past, but her extreme reactions to Dekomori, along with her presence in the hobby club start to question her assertion that she wants to be rid of her past. Furthermore, by being a part of the hobby club other students are beginning to ask questions and we are beginning to see the mask that she has created crack and splinter. As a character she seems far more ‘real’ and alive when with the hobby group, and while her façade may provide her with the air of a ‘perfect’ student, it comes across as forced. He constant fights with Dekomori, and their bickering nature seems natural, it is the real Nibutani rather than a fake exterior that has been produced for the sole reason of blending in.
As we have moved forward with the story it seems that this hobby group has become a natural part of school life, and while the characters are all eccentric and a bit extreme they are no less normal than any other. In particular, Yuuta and Nibutani seem to have become used to the strange chanting and ridiculous speeches of Rikka and Dekomori. They may complain and occasionally berate them, but there is no real venom in what they say, almost as if they are merely going through the motions rather than truly believing in what they say. A wonderful example is when Dekomori comes into the room just before Makoto has his head shaved and she immediately starts fighting with Nibutani. There is an almost ritualistic element to their little scrap, and it comes across as more of an elaborate game than anything destructive. Furthermore, despite their constant bickering, both Nibutani and Dekomori and joined in the shared hilarity of Makoto with a shaved head.
This ability to switch between bickering and shared humour suggests that this hobby group and the crazy characters that are involved with it have been naturalized. Nibutani, despite her assertions is gradually becoming used to these characters and much like Yuuta isn’t quite as averse to Chuunibyou as she claims to be. In this simple space they can be themselves, without having to maintain their public face or personality. It is as important a space to these characters as it is to Rikka and Dekomori, with Kumin seemingly going along with everything because she finds it entertaining. On the other hand, the hobby group and particularly her relationship with Yuuta have become essential to Rikka. We have yet to see her parents, but the complete lack of any family life points to a rather problematic family relationship. In this respect Rikka’s chuunibyou makes more sense, with her imaginary universe as an essential part to her everyday life in order to fill the gap left by an absent family.
Particularly in the last two episodes the relationship between Rikka and Yuuta has been growing, with Rikka placing far more faith in his abilities than someone may normally do. On several occasions we have seen Yuuta act rather harshly towards Rikka, such as throwing the tshirt she made for him on the floor and even thinking about leaving her alone. His experiences in her sisters flat and the absolute loneliness that she seems to endure on occasions clearly cannot be ignored. In particular, the revelation that she only has two mobile numbers appears to have had a deep and lasting impact on Yuuta, and despite his often harsh attitude towards Rikka in public, he continues to be a part of her social group. This relationships importance is further underlined during a scene where Rikka wants to hold Yuuta’s hand after receiving what must be a text message. This point is hammered home by the appearance of Touka right at the end of the episode pleading to Yuuta to accompany them during the summer holidays suggesting that both she and Rikka need him.
As with the previous episodes this one once again demonstrated the complex nature of Chuunibyou, along with the danger that many face when thinking about it in overly simplistic terms. 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. With the case of Rikka we are beginning to get a broader picture of the context within which her Chuunibyou exists. It is not simply the case that she is childish, but rather he imaginary world takes the place of friends and family that don’t exist in any meaningful way. She may have a wonderful sister in Touka who clearly cares for her, but family and work related circumstances don’t allow them to interact on any meaningful level. Similarly, characters such as Nibutani, and now Makoto are all far more complex than their public personas would lead you to believe. In many respects we are seeing the creating of a group of eccentric, but wonderful characters that help to create a space of social and emotional stability that their everyday lives may lack. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai therefore, continues to be a series that is less about a mental illness and more about a term used to describe a series of (often) interconnected circumstances that make life a little more interesting than it otherwise would be.