Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 07 – Living in a Dream
November 17, 2012 5 Comments
Rikka has always been a curious character, not because of her personality as the wielder of the Tyrant’s Eye, but because of everything that has gone unsaid. We know very little about who she truly is behind the mask that she has created, and even less about her past. The reasons for her Chuunibyou have slowly begun to make sense of course, with Rikka placing a great deal of importance in the hobby group and everyone that has gradually gathered around her since the start of the series. As I have explored in previous posts, the entire concept of Chuunibyou is both interesting and arguably flawed. As a word and means with which to describe a series of factors largely based around adolescence it doesn’t allow for the necessary complexities of this period in life when trying to explain why certain people act in particular ways. The major problem with the term is that it tries to cover too much, an instead is used to describe the weirder end of the spectrum – characters like Rikka, Dekomori, and even Nibutani and Yuuta.
One of the most fascinating elements of Chuunibyou is its scope and the scale with which it can work. The series has introduced numerous characters that could all arguably fall under the concept of Chuunibyou in one way or another. Even Yuuta is arguably still a part of this circle with his constant attempts to be ‘normal’, defining normal as the sort of high schooler that you see (quite ironically perhaps) in anime or other similar shows. In many respects Yuuta put more effort into being what he considered to be ‘normal’, than Rikka and Dekomori put into their role-playing. In a similar fashion, Nibutani has put an inordinate amount of effort into being the perfect high schooler, even going as far as to become class representative and a member of the cheerleading club. And yet, when she is with Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer members we see a different Nibutani, someone who doesn’t actually enjoy cheerleading and finds her work as class representative almost too much effort. She has made a conscious choice however to become someone who is the polar opposite of her previous incarnation of Mori Summer.
Chuunibyou as a term is therefore infinitely complex and is arguably misused when simply trying to describe people who continue to play around as if they were still children (which of course they are). It also carries an element of trying to grow up too fast or become a mature ‘adult’, when they are still in high school. For example, someone who has never head of Machiavellian politics suddenly decides that they want to read Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’. Or they develop a sudden interest in classical culture and literature, despite not really understanding what it is about. On another level there is the notion of drinking black coffee, or learning to play guitar because they are considered to be a part of ‘cool adult culture’. Isshiki picks up the guitar mistakenly believing that simply owning one will have girls literally jumping on him. His attitude and reaction to becoming a high school student is much the same as someone like Dekomori or Rikka, only we are seeing it from a different perspective. Isshiki, despite clearly not understanding the workings of a guitar or even how to play one is an acceptable Chuunibyou, whereas to many, those on the more extreme end like Rikka and Yuuta are just weird. Indeed, it is evident that the social exclusion that Yuuta had to deal with had a significant impact upon how he views Chuunibyou, and has lead to his focus on being ‘normal’.
Chuunibyou can also be viewed as a means of escaping reality, or changing who you are to suit a specific situation. Yuuta deliberately changes who he is in order to fit in, he chooses a school as far from his old school as possible and puts significant effort into hiding his past. Being a social outcast at such a young age clearly had an impact upon him, and he continuously denies the existence of his alter-ego The Dark Flame Master, even though his entire family and now Rikka, Dekomori and Nibutani know about it. He wants to change, which is good, but he is trying to force that change by attempting to forcibly burry to past and pretend that it never existed. However, as the series has progressed, Nibutani and Yuuta appear to be slowly coming to terms with who they were in the past and accepting that. Despite her objections, Nibutani continues to be a part of this hobby group, and while it is allegedly only so that she can destroy all traces of the Mabinogion it doesn’t seem that she enjoys her time with this group of eccentrics more than she does her ‘normal’ school life.
This group allows Nibutani to be herself, with the necessity of maintaining the public persona of the perfect student. Furthermore, her relationship with Dekomori almost seems playful now, with both characters freely insulting each other and playing around without any real malice in their actions. Yuuta also appears to be coming to terms with his past, along with realizing how important having a social group can be. He may have initially questioned his continued relationship with Rikka in last weeks episode, but the recent events have further underlined how lonely and socially awkward she truly is. Rikka on the other hand continues to hide her true feelings, and while there have been hints, specifically coming from Touka, we have never really seen behind the façade of the Tyrants Eye before. Rikka has created a series of psychological barriers, and through them continues to believe that her father is still alive. Everything she has mentioned from the Unseen Horizon to the Administration Bureau has a place in reality, with the names used to disguise their true meaning.
The sudden loss of her father (likely from cancer, or some other similar illness) at such a young age clearly had a significant impact upon Rikka. The idea that his illness was kept from her and arguably still is kept hidden has only further influenced her slide into a dream world. Her Chuunibyou phase is not a simple act or case of role-playing, but can be viewed as a defense mechanism, with Rikka refusing to accept the death of someone who she cared for deeply. To make matters worse, her mother, someone who should have cared for both Rikka and Touka abandoned them at their grandparents and has disappeared. Not all parents are going to care for their children properly, and there is the case to be made that the sudden loss of her husband probably had as much of an effect on their mother as it has had on Rikka, although that is mere speculation for now.
To Rikka, her grandparent’s house is the enemy territory, a place that she never wanted to be, and never feels at home in. Their attempts to console Rikka and allow her to move with her life runs counter to her belief that her father still lives somewhere beyond the horizon. Rikka continues to run away from the issue and uses her delusions as a mean with which she can still have the ability to contact her father. The Administration Bureau and Priestess are enemies because Rikka perceives them to be standing in the way of her search for her father. Furthermore, her constant attempts to break through the Unseen Horizon is merely a way with which she can justify her current state and the disappearance of her father. She clearly knows that he is dead but is unwilling to accept it, using her own delusions as a form of barrier, one that can help her justify her own desires and attitudes. Part of the problem however is her Chuunibyou, with her grandfather clearly disapproving of it, and thus further reinforcing the notion that everyone she knows is out to get her.
The importance of Yuuta, and by extension everyone in the hobby group can therefore not be overstated. He is the first, and arguably only person who really sees Rikka for who she truly is. Dekomori sees her as her alter ego, and plays along with her delusions and games – this isn’t bad, and also helps, allowing Rikka to have an important friend, but Dekomori only sees one element of whom Rikka is. On the other hand, characters like Nibutani dismisses everything about Rikka because of her aversion to Chuunibyou and her wish to leave that part of her past behind her. On the other hand, Yuuta is the only one who really interacts with every facet of her personality, yes he disagrees with, and often berates her for her flights of fancy, but he also plays along with her from time to time. As the Dark Flame Master he can talk to and interact with Rikka in a way that others cannot, and even sees her when she returns to ‘normal’.
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 Dark Flame Master personality, and even encourage it, whereas Rikka is alone in her sisters apartment, and views the rest of her family as enemies. 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. She is attempting to make sense of the loneliness that she feels, and create a world where the absence of her father, and now mother make sense and fit into a world that she can control. 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. Yuuta’s appearance has become her moral and emotional support, something that Touka has clearly identified, and understands its importance. Touka continues to play her role as the Priestess in order to interact with Rikka, perhaps in the hope that she can finally break down the barriers that Rikka has erected and expose the truth to her.
During the final scenes of the episode we see a Rikka who has absolute trust in Yuuta, she views him as her true friend and ally, even having a rare slip back into her ‘normal’ personality. Such a slip helps to reinforce the notion that Rikka clearly knows that her father is dead, and that she is an emotionally fragile person who is also fundamentally lonely. In many respects by playing along with Rikka and taking her to her ‘base’, Yuuta is arguably helping her finally come to terms with the loss of her father. Even when confronted with the empty plot of land where her house once stood, Rikka still fights back, and Touka plays along with her game. She may view Rikka’s Chuunibyou as a nuisance, but understands its importance in helping Rikka deal with her own emotions. She also understands that the bonds that Rikka has formed with Yuuta may help her finally accept her loss and visit her father’s grave. Rikka may be eccentric, but there are distinctive and important reasons behind her current personality. Chuunibyou is therefore, far from being a simple case of being childish, but encompasses a myriad of different context and ideas.