Chuunibyou
Childish delusions of grandeur


(permanent link) added: 2012-10-22 13:03:24 sponsor: Prime32 (last reply: 2012-11-07 17:32:14)

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"Are you familiar with the phrase 'chuunibyou'? Children are most prone to it around the end of the eighth grade. It's an adorable, yet dreadful disease resulting from newfound self-awareness mixing with an overly active imagination, that results in the peculiar behaviour that we're all quite painfully familiar with. Like the guy who only read weekly comics up until yesterday, then suddenly starts reading foreign books in the original language. Or someone who has absolutely no idea what coffee tastes like, but still tries to develop a taste by drinking it black. And then there's those who believe that they possess special powers, and become obsessed with occult stuff overnight..."

The Japanese phrase "chuunibyou"[[note]]中二病 ("Middle School 2nd-Year Syndrome"); sometimes shortened to "chuuni" or even "chuu2"[[/note]] refers to a type of behaviour (only jokingly called a "disease") usually associated with teenagers around the age of 14, though adults can display it as well. A chuunibyou's immaturity and overactive imagination cause them to become convinced that they are somehow more competent, intelligent or just special than the people around them, leading them to adopt exaggerated "cool" behaviours.

Because Evil Is Cool, some chuunibyou choose to follow an Evil Overlord or Anti-Hero theme, performing such unspeakably evil acts as... dressing in black. Some chuunibyou stop using their real names (finding them too boring) in favour of dramatic pseudonyms or titles, most of which sound utterly ridiculous to an adult.

Three main types of chuunibyou have been identified, though a single person can fall into more than one category:
  • DQN (antisocial): Someone who enjoys presenting the image of a dangerous delinquent or criminal, but is actually completely harmless. Compare Miles Gloriosus and Jerkass Fašade.
  • Subcultural: Someone who considers themselves superior to others because of their uncommon interests, more interested in their exclusivity than their content. Roughly analogous to Hipster in English.
  • Evil Eye: Someone who claims to have magic powers (which may or may not involve an actual Evil Eye) and knowledge of the occult, cultivating an aura of mystique or even claiming to be involved in The Masquerade. The type most likely to be identified as chuunibyou in fiction. If female, may be a Strange Girl.

Despite their absurd behaviour, chuunibyou characters can have a strange appeal, in-universe and out, for their childish innocence, and are generally portrayed positively (Real Life reactions are another story). Stories about chuunibyou usually rely on Narm Charm and Insane Troll Logic when Played for Laughs, or Break the Cutie when Played for Drama.

Other tropes which are common among chuunibyou include: A Darker Me, Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality, Cloud Cuckoolander, Conspiracy Theorist, Her Code Name Was Mary Sue, Know-Nothing Know-It-All and Large Ham. Compare and contrast Emo Teen and the "wannabe" variant of Goth.


Examples

  • Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! centers around chuunibyou and ex-chuunibyou, and is largely responsible for spreading awareness of the term outside Japan (with even the official translation leaving the term untranslated).
  • Don Quixote, on the other hand, is largely regarded as the Ur Example of chuunibyou-focused stories.
  • Rintarou Okabe of Steins;Gate styles himself as "The Mad Scientist Kyouma Hououin", frequently mutters dramatic-sounding plans and orders into his phone (while it's turned off), and blames anything that goes wrong on meddling by "The Organisation". He's explicitly referred to as a chuunibyou by his friends.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, Jiro Yamada (or as he calls himself, "Gai Daigoji")[[note]]"Jiro Yamada" is about as unremarkable a name as "John Smith".[[/note]] is a Hot-Blooded Real Robot pilot who thinks he's in a Super Robot series, shouting out the names of attacks from his favorite anime while in combat. He also serves as something of an inspiration to the rest of the cast, even those who claim to find his behaviour annoying.
  • In Touhou, Sanae Kochiya exhibits traits of the "Evil Eye" type. An unusual example in that she really does have supernatural powers, she's just way too enthusiastic about them (and occasionally lapses into If Jesus Then Aliens).
  • In Oreimo, "Kuroneko" is this, wearing Gothic Lolita dresses, threatening people with curses, and enjoying shows because they're hard to understand. It's a while before the audience even learns what her real name is.
  • Shaman King contains examples of the DQN type - Wooden Sword Ryu and his gang are the Japanese Delinquents Who Don't Do Anything, who act scary but never break any rules and can be so considerate at times that it verges on comical.
  • In Bleach Ichigo has a minor case of DQN, and snaps at Kon for acting friendly while looking like him because it "ruined his image". It's largely forgotten after the school setting goes Out of Focus though.
  • In Pani Poni Dash! Behoimi acts like a Magical Girl, though she grows out of it over the course of the series.
  • Kick-Ass revolves around chuunibyou who attempt to become Super Heroes
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