Chuunibyou- A Disease or Sanctuary? (OWLS March Blog Tour)

If you were not already aware, I am part of an otaku group called OWLS, whose goal is to bring acceptance to the world using anime as a medium. For March, our theme and prompt is sanctuary, which is defined as:

A sanctuary is a place of safety and stability. In anime, there are several different places and environments that characters call “home.” For this topic, we will be discussing various locations and settings within certain anime series.

When most people think of the word sanctuary, they are probably imagining a physical place or location. However, I am going to take a slightly different approach and analyze my favorite anime of all time: Love, Chuunibyou, And Other Delusions (Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai). In this anime, the main character, and most of the other characters, suffer from being “chuunibyou”, but their delusions are actually what provide them with sanctuary.

*Warning: there will be spoilers!

owls-logo

What Does Chuunibyou mean?

“Chuunibyou” is a Japanese slang term that translates to something like: “middle school syndrome” or “eighth grader disease.” It refers to when children hit puberty and start to experiment with their identity. In many cases, these preteens and teens do strange things that don’t make sense to others or adults. I am a perfect example. In the beginning of high school, I was completely obsessed with the album Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. I constantly wrote their merchandise, wrote their lyrics on my arms, wore all black and had all black belongings, and frequently cosplayed as the band members. It may have seemed weird to others, but it was an important part of my identity and helped me get through high school.

In anime, characters who are chuunibyou are usually obsessed with something supernatural, or related to the occult. Many times, they pretend or believe that have their own supernatural powers and act as though they actually live in a world where fantasy exists. A recent example is Yohane from Love Live! Sunshine, who believes she is a fallen angel, and is constantly doing things like rituals. Chuunibyou characters also tend to have a signature motto or hand gesture. Most of the time, chuunibyou characters are seen as odd by others because their behavior isn’t “normal.”

Yohane Chuunibyou

Yohane, a popular chuunibyou character (from Love Live! Sunshine)

Love, Chuunibyou, and Sanctuary

Love, Chuunibyou, and Other Delusions is an anime that is entirely focused on characters who are chuunibyou. In the series, Yuuta, the main male protagonist, becomes friends with a girl named Takanashi Rikka, who is 100% chuunibyou.

Every day she wears an eyepatch on her eye and a bandage on her wrist, which apparently seal away a demon that is sleeping inside of her. Rikka is unable to have a normal conversation- everything that comes out of her mouth is about magic, spells, weapons, the spirit world, and so on. She also frequently does odd things, such as pretending to have battles in public, which, from an outsider’s point of view, just look like her flailing around nonsensically.

daa5a0cd9f13d6fdc0743fac4421e7e8

The other characters in the show have chuunibyou tendencies as well. Yuuta has a chuunibyou past where he believed he had the power to control flames of darkness. Nibutani thought she was a 500-year old sorceress who could commune with fairies. Dekomori pretends her pigtails are the hammer of Thor, and goes around smacking people with her hair (Favorite. Character. Ever.).

The anime tends to be very silly and comical, but as the story progresses, we find out the reasons behind Rikka’s chuunibyou obsessions. I believe that her delusions are a form of sanctuary for her.

Rikka’s Escape (Spoiler Time) 

At first, Yuuta assumed that Rikka was acting chuunibyou because she thought it was cool. However, when they go on a summer trip, Yuuta finds out about Rikka’s past. It turns out that two years earlier, Rikka’s father died unexpectedly. Rikka was not aware that he had been sick and she took his death very hard.

After her father’s death, she was very confused and depressed. Then, she discovered chuunibyou. By immersing herself in a fantasy world, Rikka became able to cope with her father’s death. She used her chuunibyou persona to search for the “invisible boundary lines”- the line between this world and the spirit world. In doing so, she felt as though she was searching for her father’s spirit and that she might be able to reunite with him one day.

tumblr_mfb1p903ig1qzd219o2_500

Rikka and Yuuta looking at the “invisible boundary lines”

In this sense, Rikka’s chuunibyou delusions are her sanctuary. When she is in her fantasy world, she feels safe and secure. Chuunibyou Rikka has a goal and a purpose- she is confident in her abilities. Meanwhile, normal Rikka is scared, confused, and lonely. She is unsure of what the future will bring, and she doesn’t want to be in a world where her father will never come back.

Other Character’s And Their Sanctuary 

Rikka’s chuunibyou hobbies help her find another kind of sanctuary as well. Her adventures lead her to meet Dekomori who becomes her best friend. It also helps introduce her to Yuuta who eventually becomes her boyfriend and accepts her chuunibyou ways. Rikka decides to also create her own club, which helps her meet Nibutani and Kumin. Together, they hang out and have all sorts of crazy fun in their club room. It is a place where they can escape and be themselves. It provides them all with some kind of sanctuary.

Rikka Dekomori Kumin In The Club Room

The girls being silly in the club room

The show never dives fully into the other characters, but it can be assumed that they also rely on their chuunibyou for some kind of relief. Yuuta briefly explains that he had trouble communicating with other children his age, so he turned to his chuunibyou character to express himself. Nothing is ever really revealed about Dekomori, but she comes from a very wealthy family, so I guessing she is burdened by all kinds of responsibilities and expectations. And although other anime do not explore chuunibyou as deeply as this one, other chuunibyou anime characters probably turn to their delusions as a form of sanctuary as well.

Conclusion

I believe that everyone is a little bit chuunibyou. Whether you become obsessed with or immersed in anime, manga, video games, sports, clothing, books, or bird-watching. Everyone needs a hobby and a little escape from reality in order to stay happy and sane. The characters in Love, Chuunibyou, and Other Delusions take this concept a little further than most people, especially Rikka. However, although her behavior seems strange, it is an essential part of her personality and acts as a coping method.

It is her form of sanctuary.

So the next time you see someone acting oddly (obviously not violently or inappropriately), you shouldn’t automatically assume that they are a weirdo. They just may be experiencing their own form of chuunibyou and sanctuary.

(Also, if you haven’t seen this anime, I highly recommend watching it. The anime is both comical and heartfelt, with great animation and lovable characters.)

Dekomori and Rikka

Help Spread Awareness! Other OWLS Posts:

In order to help spread our message, please read other OWLS posts. Here is the entire blog tour for March, and for February (which was about Yuri!!! On Ice).

Check out the Sanctuary posts that came before mine: 

Bloggers whose post will be up soon:

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “Chuunibyou- A Disease or Sanctuary? (OWLS March Blog Tour)

  1. Matthew says:

    Nice post and excellent job. I never seen this anime and I thought it look silly but cute at the same time. Now after reading this, I feel like I should see this and learn more about this chuunibyou.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Arria Cross says:

    Oh wow. What an interesting interpretation of our Sanctuary topic. It’s funny but it makes sense. There is sanctuary in your passions or using your own words “obsession”. In fact, it’s so relatable to people like us who identify as otaku because we’re really passionate. We like to immerse ourselves in our passions, even letting these passions bleed into our daily lives, and in most cases, help us form our own identities. Also through these proudly “weird” passions, we have met like-minded individuals who give us a sense of belonging that we may not find in other circles because they just don’t understand. Great and interesting post, Rai. Awesome. Keep up the great work. Cheers!

    Like

    • Rai says:

      Yes, I think what you are saying is part of why this is my favorite anime. It is just so relatable to me, as someone who drowns themselves in geekiness to escape. And you are also right about helping to find other like-minded people. That is how I came across Owls 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LitaKino says:

    Fantastic piece Rai 😄 I actually started this anime last december only the first episode now you have made me want to pick it back up now describing about Rikka’s ways of immersing herself in a fantasy world. she represents well how in any hobby we have we want to escape of those things that are stressing us out, distracting and feel the need to not worry about it all.

    Like

  4. katrinasade says:

    I will be adding this show to my que instantly! It sounds great from your post. I love that you’re a MCR fan. I myself listened to Helena nonstop when if first came out and to this day if it’s on I stop everything and listen. You are so right about finding yourself in your teen years, or even later into young adulthood. The perspective of chuunibyou is so relatable I think for everyone at some point. I didn’t where an eyepatch but I certainly went through a point in my life where I needed to cling to my books in order to find sanctuary. I was very obsessed with Harry Potter for example. Like I may have stolen the last book from a young child in order to read it when it first came out because my book store had sold out kind of obsessed… Lol but I digress. I think music, art, books, fantasy, etc are things that we all find sanctuary in. I think it makes everyone feel better to think there might just be some magic in the world ❤ Awesome post Rai ❤ It was thoughtfully written while at the same time causing me to reflect on my own ideas. Perfection.

    Like

    • Rai says:

      It IS a great anime! And yay, an MCR fan :3 Even though I no longer do any of that stuff, MCR is still very dear to me because they were my escape for so long and helped me find my identity. And yes, books are a wonderful form of sanctuary for many people, especially the Harry Potter series. JK Rowling created an entire world of her own that so many people could engross themselves in. I believe that is why it is such a beloved and successful series. I like your idea about being able to find magic in these things. And thank you for the compliment on my writing :3

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ma. Venus Gamboa says:

    So true. One thing we could probably learn from this series (haven’t watched it so I’m basing from the background you’ve written) is NOT TO BE JUDGEMENTAL.

    People have their own unique situations and you’re right. Being a ‘chuunibyou’ might be their psyche’s way of coping up with it. Interesting post!

    Like

  6. Remy Fool says:

    You bring up a good point. Sometimes people have to act in a certain way or do specific activities in order to cope. Acting like a chuunibyou isn’t any different from playing a videogame to unwind after a long day at school and before tackling homework. People have to mindful of that.

    What do you think of Yuuta forcing Dekomori to not be stuck in her world of fantasy? Was it out of line?

    Great post!

    Like

    • Rai says:

      I know that Yuuta was very emotional at the time so it is understandable why he yelled at Dekomori… but it was out of line in my opinion and it honestly broke my heart to see her cry. At the same time, however, it was important to the story to see that Dekomori was able to act normally.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s