Chuunibyou

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Chuunibyou (中二病 / 厨二病), often shortened to chuuni or chuu2, is an often-derisive Japanese slang meaning "Middle [School] Second [Year] Syndrome",note  and refers to a kind of behaviour that most commonly appears in middle-school students but can appear in people of any age.

As a colloquial term, the exact "symptoms" of chuunibyou aren't entirely set in stone. Generally a chuuni acts like a mature know-it-all and/or thinks they have special powers no one else has, but some definitions even go as far as including being obnoxious, arrogant, and/or acting superior to the standard set of behaviors. Saegami Hyouya's Chuunibyou User Manual breaks it down into three main types:

  • DQN (Delinquent): Pretends to be a delinquent when in fact they aren't or can't become one. Makes up stories about gang fights and crimes and/or boasts and pretends to know about that subculture.
  • Subcultural: Latches on to minority or "alternative" cultural groups seen as "cool" to try to make themselves appear interesting or special.
  • Evil Eye: Interested in Magic and Powers and often believes they have special or supernatural abilities themselves (stereotypically an Evil Eye and/or Evil Hand). Generally creates a special magical persona namenote  for themselves in accordance with those believed abilities. Also known as the Delusional Type, due to high incidence of becoming a Cloudcuckoolander. Likely the most iconic form of chuunibyou, and rare outside of Japanese Media.

According to the online Japanese dictionary Jisho's entry on Chuunibyou, it's defined as "behaving in a way characteristic of teenagers going through puberty, esp. by being overly self-conscious; 2nd year of junior high sickness".

While chuunibyou is by no means limited to Japan, most places don't have an overarching term for it - in the United States, those exhibiting chuunibyou might be said to be in "teenage rebellion", a "goth phase", being "a punk", and so forth. However, the Japanese slang has started to catch on thanks to The Internet and Memetic Mutation. Some popular series such as Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions (wherein the term is left untranslated) were and are major contributors in this cultural exchange.

Visual Novels with emphasis on Action, Fantasy and/or Expospeak are known as chuunige (chuuni games), though the term is usually used affectionately.

Sub-Trope of Immaturity Tropes and Stock Japanese Characters. Not to be confused with the English phrase "sophomore syndrome", which has a very different connotation.

Trope Namers and Codifiers

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    Tropes Associated with Chuunibyou 

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Masayoshi Hazama is one of the main characters of Samurai Flamenco. A male model by occupation, Masayoshi has a love for the heroes of justice from Tokusatsu shows, and has always desired to be one himself. One day, he decides to get a custom suit made to finally live out his dreams as a hero. While he has no fighting experience, he gives his all when acting as a superhero, trying to instill the concepts of truth and justice into the delinquents he runs into while on patrol. He believes himself able to convince these kids of the path of justice, and able to hold his own in battle, although neither of these are particularly true. Still, he never gives up on his dreams and believes that with enough dedication he can truly become a hero like the ones on TV. And then things start to get weird...
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Before the manga became entirely about card games, one Villain of the Week was a classmate who claimed he could see the future (and arranged for his predictions to come true). When exposed by Yugi, it turned out his predictions were all prewritten, such as "There will be an earthquake". In Japan.
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys
  • Shaman King
  • In Pani Poni Dash!, Behoimi acts like a Magical Girl, though she grows out of it over the course of the series.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, Jiro Yamada (or as he calls himself, "Gai Daigoji")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 especially when he dies during battle, even those who claim to find his behaviour annoying.
  • Love Live! Sunshine!!: Yoshiko Tsushima, or, as she prefers to be called, Yohane. She believes she is a Fallen Angel who has been cursed and banished from the heavens to explain why she has extremely bad luck. Her arc in the anime is actually about her having grown out of it and wanting to leave it behind, but being unable to because the persona was that deeply ingrained into her personality by then — it can be observed in later episodes that "Yohane" now doubles as a subtle fallback coping mechanism for nervousness.
  • My Hero Academia: Fumikage Tokoyami is a mixture of all types, being quiet and reserved with Cold Ham tendencies, owning several gothic memorabilia that he is somewhat embarrassed about and having actual Casting a Shadow powers.
  • The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Shun Kaidou is a Conspiracy Theorist who has a secret identity known as Jet-Black Wing, fighting to protect the world from the Dark Reunion. In actuality, it's implied that Kaidou is Obfuscating Stupidity and only keeps up the antics as an outlet because he comes from an extremely strict household with an Education Mama.
  • Kanzaki Ranko from the THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls mobile game anime adaptation is an example of this. She is notorious among her co-idols for her obscure and difficult-to-understand chuunibyou talking style. However, despite being chuunibyou, she is innocent and sweet and others find it surprising that she is really scared of horror and ghosts.
  • In Boruto, Boruto starts acting like one when he thinks he's unlocked his Byakugan, complete with sunglasses and a smug attitude. Everyone else just finds his behavior weird and think he's making it up to get attention.
  • In Overlord, one of Momonga's former guildmates, Ulbert Alain Odle, is mentioned to have been a textbook example. No wonder he roleplayed an openly evil demon with a flair for the dramatic and the most powerful destruction spells in YGGDRASIL. The NPC he created, Demiurge, is equally edgy, which suddenly becomes a lot more of a problem in The Game Come to Life. Though, given that he lost his parents in an accident, his "chuunibyou" may have been hiding legitimate mental issues.
    • Momonga himself once went through a chuunibyou phase which resulted in the creation of Pandora's Actor, a Large Ham of a dopelganger who wears a Nazi uniform and constantly lapses into Gratuitous German. Nowadays, Momonga is deeply ashamed of this phase and finds the Actor quite cringeworthy in hindsight, especially now that he's sentient and his quirks fully come into play as opposed to being just a part of his backstory.
  • Maria Imari from This Art Club Has a Problem! is one, going on about grimoires and supernatural powers, and even wearing a medical eyepatch at one point.
  • Based on the Big in Japan Ur-Example Don Quixote, there's Zukkoke Knight - Don De La Mancha, a free adaptation of Don Quixote made in The '80s, that follows the adventures of Don Quixote De la Mancha, a man that believes he's a knight and fights against monsters that there're on his imagination as well idolizes romantically to Dulcinea, who takes advantage of him for her own purposes.

    Comic Books 
  • A famous Western example of chuunibyou is Kick-Ass, in which Dave Lizewski (AKA Kick-Ass), a sixteen-year-old high school student, decides to become a real-life superhero, despite having little-to-no fighting skills or training, and no super powers, he assumes the superhero role by fashioning a costume from a wetsuit bought on Ebay, inspiring dozens of teenagers like him to become superheroes like him (and eventually supervillains too). Another case is Hit Girl, which apart of becoming a vigilante and having real training and skills (with the same Evil Eye-type than Kick-Ass), she's also a Delinquent-type as well a Western example of a Tsundere.

    Fan Works 

    Light Novels 
  • The most famous example and the reason why this term is widely known outside Japan is Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions (mostly because of the anime adaptation than the light novel). It follows a boy, Yuta Togashi, who in middle school had chuunibyou and called himself the Dark Flame Master, which ended up alienating him from his fellow classmates. He ends up finding this behavior embarrassing, and tries to reinvent himself in High School. However, a girl with chuunibyou, Rikka Takanashi, catches wind of Yuta's past and becomes interested in him and his Dark Flame Master persona. She herself believes that she is a sorceress with the ability to see other people's destinies through her "Wicked Eye", which she keeps hidden behind a medical eyepatch. Hilarity ensues as the two begin to become friends and they start to learn more about each other's lives.
  • Yoshiteru Zaimokuza from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU has delusions about being a warlord in another life and even having a lifetime rivalry with Hachiman Hikigaya who also has a coincidence in his name just as Yoshiteru. He's recognized as a chuunibyou for all the other members of the Service Club (even being called by Yui and Komachi as "Chuuni-chan"), but Hachiman, who sees he has the "novelist syndrome".
  • Rinna Kazamatsuri from Chivalry of a Failed Knight is a member of the Shinigami, a C-Range Blazer... and a chuunibyou, who even referenced Rikka Takanashi having an Eyepatch of Power to "seal her powers".
  • 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.
  • Jurai Andou from When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is a shameless and textbook example of the Mystic type, to the point that Hatoko infamously chews him out for it. Also, depending on whether you believe they actually have powers or simply have overactive imaginations, every character in the series may also count.

    Literature 
  • The 2001 mystery novel Hyouka (most known for their manga and anime adaptations) is about a group of students part of the Kamiyama High School's Classic Literature Club. All of them take very seriously their duties in the Club, at the point of working more as a Mystery Club than a Literature Club, solving fictional cases made by themselves.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The titular Prince came up with his identity in his teenage years as a way to get back at his Muggle father (hence half-blood) by using his witch mother's last name. He was known to run around with a gang of people who would later become the first Death Eaters and came up with some very nasty spells. He's better known as Severus Snape.

    Video Games 
  • Hikikomori No Chuunibyou is a Steam's Indie Platform Game (with touches of Puzzle and Beat 'em Up) made in 8-bit about a Hikikomori who also is a Chuunibyou and has been obligated to go outside, passing stages using parkour-like abilities and martial-arts techniques.
  • Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII. Squall starts an introverted, cold and taciturn teenager who pushes away those who would otherwise be considered his friends. During the game Squall narrates his thoughts and feelings in silent voice-overs, during which he reveals he acts the way he does for fear of getting close to people. Squall comes to rethink his choices in life when he falls in love with Rinoa Heartilly and comes to accept the support and friendship of his comrades, becoming more social.
  • Touhou
    • Sanae Kochiya is 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).
    • Sumireko Usami is a textbook example of chuunibyou syndrome, being convinced of her inherent specialness, belief in mystical phenomena and general obsession with the occult, and superiority complex towards her peers and everyone else she meets prior to the serving of humble pie she gets at the hands of Reimu and Gensokyo's youkai. Unlike many other examples of this trope, however, she actually has very potent Psychic Powers.
    • The story of Dateless Bar "Old Adam" focuses on chuunibyou as a general theme, in the form of the adults Maribel and Renko meet that are obsessed with the stories about Gensokyo told by the former's pseudonym, Dr. Latency.
  • Gladion from Pokémon Sun and Moon has many hallmarks of this character type. He's got an angry demeanor and denies being friends with any human characters, is obsessed with strength, poses dramatically during battle, and even gets called out by Hau on acting mysterious just to seem cooler.
  • The True Final Boss of the Undertale Pacifist Route, Asriel Dreemurr, comes off as the type. Though he does have genuine power - godlike, in fact - he uses it in a way that makes it amply clear he's gunning for all the Rule of Cool stereotypes. Atrocious Alias (God of Hyperdeath)? Check. Boasting about suppressing his true power? Check. Several Impossibly Cool Weapons, such as dual swords and a giant rainbow laser? Check. An over-the-top ultimate attack, which he is shocked you withstand? Check. This is appropriate, since Asriel is literally a child (probably even younger than teenage) and is literally playing with you. In good "kid with the 'undodgeable laser gun' on the playground" fashion, he is invincible, so to defeat him, you have to convince him to stop... but not without resorting to some hax of your own.

    Visual Novels 
  • Rintarou Okabe is the main character of Steins;Gate. He is a self-proclaimed mad scientist and villain, and will often partake in strange mannerisms such as talking to himself via cell phone and laughing maniacally in order to keep up this persona. However, he does not truly believe himself to be a mad scientist, but rather developed this persona in order to entertain his childhood friend Mayuri Shiina.
  • Dangan Ronpa
    • Gundham Tanaka, the Ultimate Animal Breeder from Super Dangan Ronpa 2. An eccentric individual who talks like a cartoon supervillain and aspires to use the dark arts to conquer the world. When he's found guilty of murder, he attempts to protect himself from his execution with his alleged "dark powers", only to fail.
    • Himiko Yumeno, the Ultimate Magician of New Dangan Ronpa V3 appears to be carrying on the trend. She wears a witch hat and insists her magic tricks are the product of actual magical powers.

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