Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – The Complicated Nature of Chuunibyou
January 12, 2014 Leave a comment
As I discussed in previous posts about the first season of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, Chuunibyou is quite a complex term that encapsulates numerous ideas surrounding youth, adolescence and ones own imagination. At the very beginning of the first series there is a brief introduction to Chuunibyou, explaining that it is a complex idea, one that encompasses a variety of behaviour, and other social issues. What is interesting is that while there are clearly elements of the fantastical in Chuunibyou, with the role-playing of Rikka, Dekomori, Yuuta, and even Nibutani, it is also used to describe a far wider variety of ideas and behaviour.
One of the most fascinating elements of this introduction was its explanation of Chuunibyou, suggesting that there are elements of trying to grow up to fast, alongside ideas of remaining childish, and in some respects, innocent of the wider world. For example someone who has never heard of Machiavellian politics, let alone understand what they are takes a sudden interest in Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’. The very same person could start reading ancient Greek epics such as the Iliad or Odyssey, or perhaps get involved with the literature of an entirely different culture altogether. By reading such books these people are suggesting that they are refined people, with the ability and knowledge to read books in another language and understand the messages that they teach. It is about being intellectual, and spreading your mind and wings – metaphorically speaking. Furthermore there is also an element of attempting to seem far more intelligent and even superior to others in the class, as a way of distinguishing yourself from the crowd.
On a more basic level as the introduction once again suggests, those who have no idea what coffee tastes like suddenly decide that they have to drink it black. Here we have examples of people who want to suddenly grow up and mature, despite still being children, at least in societies eyes. By drinking black coffee these people are also imitating elements of American films, or more broadly speaking the movie industry in general. Drinking black coffee becomes a statement of maturity, perhaps being a tougher, or a more refined person depending on the particular image you aspire towards – it also brings with it a set of implied ideals and attitudes towards life that many people buy into or at least dream of imitating. Road movies for example often heavily feature black coffee or even smoking cigarettes as an example of ‘rugged cool’. There are also films, and television series where the drinking of coffee is both a social past time, and also something more refined, perhaps becoming symbolic of a particular kind of European café culture that many consider wonderful. By imitating these specific actions and attitudes we as individuals are in some respects attempting to gain some of that cool, grown-up vibe that such films bring with them. Like reading foreign books, by drinking black coffee it is implied that you are mature, refined, maybe rugged, and also cool.
Such actions may seem mundane when compared to the vast flights of fancy that take place with Rikka and Dekomori, but they are all a part of the same socially and culturally awkward time in people’s lives. Many teenagers want to be different or unique (and arguably this need continues well into the 20s and 30s) from their classmates – if we look at aspects of fashion in Japan, particularly the fashion that is marketed for junior-high and high school kids and teenagers; there are two distinct elements that are immediately apparent. We see the mature fashion, often mimicking the kinds of clothes those who are considered adults wear, along with the more childish, often garish fashions. But, we must not forget the underground fashions and sub-cultures that surrounding fashion such as Visual Kei, Lolita, and a more general gothic fashion. They all have specific categories designed to fit certain age ranges so that people can maintain their fashion and their sense of identity throughout their lives, often starting at a young age (in some cases 10 or younger) and continuing through to their working, adult lives.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai Ren introduces a Rikka and Yuuta who are now more at home with their Chuunibyou personalities, in particular we see Rikka being accepted by others in her class who casually bat away her more eccentric outbursts as a normal occurrence. Chuunibyou for Rikka is no longer something that causes problems, and Yuuta seems to have finally come to terms with his Chuunibyou past, even adopting his Dark Flame Master persona to interact with Rikka and wake her up in the mornings, suggesting that he no longer find it completely embarrassing, at least when in private. In the case of Dekomori, we see how easily she can change from her Chuunibyou personality to that of a refined, and intelligent ojou-sama, suggesting that Chuunibyou does not control her life and is merely another part of it. We also have Kumin who seems to trying to create another personality, going as far as to tell terrible jokes in the hope of making people laugh. This is another facet of Chuunibyou, wanting to be someone else, to change your personality and how people see you, even though it doesn’t necessarily work. Makoto also tries to change his image, with a new hairstyle and a guitar that we can only assume he still cannot play, but his attempts to be wild and completely different once again backfire, and we can assume he will return to his shaved head image from last season within the next couple of episodes.
This leaves us with Nibutani who has gone through a drastic image change from the beautiful cheerleader to a more refined, but also quite old-fashioned image that keeps within the schools regulations. Her image change is clearly an attempt to escape from her embarrassing past as Mori-Summer, one that everyone in the ‘Oriental Magick Napping Society in Summer’ knows about and something she would like to disappear. Her change of image to a perfect, refined, but also rather old-fashioned vision of a Japanese woman is merely an act, another aspect of Chuunibyou. Nibutani has created the image she thinks will allow her to escape from her Chuunibyou past and leave Rikka, Dekomori, Kumin, and Yuuta behind. In much the same way that people suddenly wanting to drink black coffee or read Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, Nibutani is taking the image she considers to be the very definition of adult refinement and constructing an entirely new personality that is merely another façade to hide behind.
Nibutani appears to be the least mature of the main cast, hiding behind a façade instead of accepting her past like everyone else, although if it were that easy no one would ever go through adolescent and have to deal with these problems. It was however nice to see the battle scene between Touka and everyone else, with the main cast all taking up poses, and playing a part in the delusions of Rikka and Dekomori. In many respects this is what Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai is about – the everyday lives of high school students shown through the visuals of a dark fantasy. The eccentricities of the main cast are merely a part of being a high school student, although in some cases they have arguably been over emphasised. It will be interesting to see how the new character – Satone Shichimiya – fits into the current relationships we have in this series, especially with regards to Rikka and Yuuta.