Chuunibyou

by Martin Schneider

The term Chuunibyou/中二病 often gets mis-explained, perhaps because it encapsulates a real, complex and somewhat vague concept into a single word.

Anti-Chuunibyou pills / Pro-Chuunibyou pills (100% sugar).

How to best explain… unfortunately it just translates to “Junior-High-School-Second-Grade-Syndrome” which tells you everything and nothing.

But hey, maybe like this:

Think back to your teenage years.


Chances are that objectively, they weren’t all that great. We all had our bullies, our weird/nosy/strict/whatever parents, our confusions, not to mention all those new hormones that were making our head spin at times.

In those years… have you ever felt different from the rest of the world? As if you were the only person thinking straight? Have you ever felt a bit depressed over it?

Maybe you wondered if there might be something physical or metaphysical in you that actually makes you different. Maybe you felt you were born in the wrong century, an old soul from the Victorian era. Maybe you wished you had superpowers. Like super strength to punch that bully in the face. Or invisibility to just evade everyone and anyone. Or telepathy to understand that crush of yours.

Congratulations, that was the preliminary stage of Chuunibyou.


Maybe you then went one step ahead and started to dress and act to express that, at least a bit. A bit dark. A bit emo. A bit goth. A bit edgy.

Maybe you started being impolite to people. Maybe you started to keep others away. Maybe you began answering their concerned questions with “You can’t understand me.” or “You normies have no idea.”

Maybe you started a diary. Not just any diary, but a diary where you wrote down all your weird ideas and teenage philosophies. Maybe you even wrote a bit of sad, portentous poetry in it.

Congratulations, that was light Chuunibyou.


Maybe, just maybe, you then proceeded to “furnish” your mental space with your own private little fantasy. By picking the most appealing of your wild ideas, and then running with it. Daydreaming, asking yourself “Well screw it, WHAT IF…”

What if I actually had psychic powers? What would that mean for me in daily life? Where would they come from? How would I control them?

You’d think up answers to those questions, making that fantasy ever more detailed and complex. And intentional or not, you would base some of those answers on the popculture you consume. Also, because superpowers are boring without enemies to use them on, you’d invent villains. A setting. Maybe a whole cosmology.

All a bit darkish, a bit brooding, and of course waaaay cool and serious. More Batman than Superman, so to speak.

Mind, you wouldn’t have been fully delusional. You wouldn’t have jumped off a building firmly believing you can fly, or something.

But you’d still have that elaborate fantasy setting going on in your head, centered around yourself. And you’d enjoy daydreaming about it and in it. And yes, sometimes, just sometimes, you would slip some of it into the things you say and do. Because it’s fun.

Congratulations, that was Chuunibyou.


And finally, a tiny handful of people get it bad enough that they let it show quite regularly for a while.

It’s a real thing. People do that. Boys more than girls it seems. It’s certainly not everyone, but it happens. Heck, I firmly believe that (although they are quite different in their details) neither the emo nor the goth movements would ever have happened without this dynamic. And interestingly enough, the peak of Chuuni behavior tends to be around 13 to 14 years of age.

Also known as junior high school, second grade in Japan.
Hence the name.


As for anime, well, anime does what it always does.
It exaggerates and codifies.

Anime exaggerates it to the point that Chuuni characters seem delusional and flamboyantly act out their fantasies, plus it codifies things into specific standard tropes. Namely into the charas thinking that they have a demon/power/whatever sealed into either one of their eyes, or one of their hands.

There are variations of course, but that’s the core of it.


Yep, this is about you, poster boy.

That being said, it’s important to remember that not all anime series make fun of Chuunibyou.

In fact, there are more anime series that play it completely straight and deliberately cater to Chuunibyou, instead.
The most by-the-book examples of that genre would be series like Black Bullet (actually most anime with “Black” in the title), Guilty Crown, Kekkai Sensen, Big Order, Machine-Doll wa Kizutsukanai, Towa no Quon… heck even Fate is playing on that. Or Tokyo Ghoul. Oh right, Code Geass. And so on, and so forth.

Basically every “darkish” anime series where teenagers have superpowers and struggle with them or are shunned/feared for it? Yep, that’s totally direct or indirect Chuunibyou service.

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Pub: 19 May 2023 17:11 UTC
Views: 743