"Try to keep your delusions in check"
October 11, 2012 4:40 PM   Subscribe

Chuunibyou (中二病), or "Middle-school 2nd Year Syndrome", is "a colloquial and rather derisive term in Japan which describes a person at the age of fourteen would either act like a know-it-all adult, or thinks they have special powers no one else has."

First mentioned by radio host Hikaru Ijuin in 1999, over time three types of chuunibyou were identified:
DQN (DQN系, dokyun kei)
Pretends to be anti-social or acts like a delinquent when in fact he or she is not or cannot become like either one. Tells made up stories about gang fights or crimes, or boasts and pretends to know about that subculture. "DQN" is slang for "antisocial person" or "annoying delinquent".

Subcultural/Hipster (サブカル系, SubCul kei)
Prefers non-mainstream or minor trends and establishes themselves as being special. People of this type do not really love the subculture itself but rather strive to obtain the "cool" factor by not having the same interests as others.

Evil Eye (邪気眼系, Jyakigan kei)
Admires mystical powers and thinks that he or she has a hidden power within them as well. It is this trait that they create an alias specifically for said power. This is also known as the delusional type.
While the third type is considered one of the more fringe examples of chuunibyou, a new anime series, Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai!, takes a kinder approach to the type:
There is an element of fantasy and even delusions involved with Chuunibyou, with people pretending to be wizards or even thinking that they have special powers. As a term then it describes a fascinating element of life where the imagination has a powerful hold on people, a time where you are still children but wish to grow up and be adults. ... As a series it seems to be looking at that period in life when you are both still a child, while also being told by society to grow up and start to make those decisions that will affect your life after school.
As the two main characters - a former and a current "Evil Eye" type - face impending adulthood, their fantasy worlds still prove quite powerful.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (45 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
"a colloquial and rather derisive term in Japan which describes a person at the age of fourteen would either act like a know-it-all adult, or thinks they have special powers no one else has."

Seems like this could also be called 20-year-old computer programmer syndrome.
posted by brundlefly at 4:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Subcultural/Hipster (サブカル系, SubCul kei)

My search for an ironic tattoo has ended.
posted by griphus at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2012 [33 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "they have special powers no one else has"

TEEEEEEEEEEEETSSSUUUUUUUUUOOOOOOOOOO!!!
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:49 PM on October 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


KENNNNNNNNNAAAAADDDDAAAAAAAA!
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Man, I loved teaching middle school. High school kids always think they're smarter than the teacher, but middle school was the best.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:53 PM on October 11, 2012


This is a great term.

I had a truly terrible case of Jakigan-kei Chuunibyou. Let's just say I'd read a few too many issues of X-Men and had given the manner of exactly how I would impress Jubilation Lee a little too much thought.

Thank god I wasn't on the internet yet.
posted by Sokka shot first at 4:55 PM on October 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


You are now aware this post is a big weaboo todo over the Japanese word for "sophmoric".
posted by clarknova at 5:01 PM on October 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Sophomoric with MIND POWERS.
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


/Wonders what Japanese for "otherkin" is.
posted by Artw at 5:04 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Find me an anglophone sophomore that doesn't fantasize about having magic mind powers and I'll start giving a shit about the self-important self-categorizations that Japanese pop culture adumbrates endlessly.
posted by clarknova at 5:09 PM on October 11, 2012


Definitely one of the more cringe-worthy shows of the season, but it's not without its charms. Those with a memory for anime studios may be amused to note that this is basically Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (one of KyoAni's first major cash-cow franchises) turned inside-out – do I detect perhaps a measure of the same fan-deprecating snark on display in shows like Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei or Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita?
posted by fifthrider at 5:10 PM on October 11, 2012


It's funny, the word "weaboo" was used as a substitute for a word that was being overused on 4chan, and now in turn weaboo has become insufferably overused anytime anything relating to Japan comes up.

THE CIRCLE OF INTERNET LIFE.
posted by Sokka shot first at 5:10 PM on October 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Find me an anglophone sophomore that doesn't fantasize about having magic mind powers and I'll start giving a shit about the self-important self-categorizations that Japanese pop culture adumbrates endlessly.

Just to be clear, here: chuunibyou is never claimed to be something that happens solely to Japanese teenagers. Just happens to be their term for this important, albeit embarrassing, stage of early adulthood.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:15 PM on October 11, 2012


which describes a person at the age of fourteen [who] would... act like a know-it-all adult...

As an older sibling, I can confidently say that this basically describes all older siblings at the age of fourteen. Especially if the parenting styles grew more lax after experimenting with the first born... you should have had to follow all the same rules I had to follow, you snot-nosed little brats!
posted by XMLicious at 5:20 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh my.. that is.. just.. an embarrassingly perfect description of me at 14.

Though for some reason, I never admitted to being 14. I told everyone I was 15, I was 15 for two years because only I (and the girl I was in love with who also told everyone she was 15 for two years) could really understand the subconscious prejudice that people have against 14 year olds.

Take any random day the summer of my 14th year. Most likely I am in all black, wearing a trenchcoat, hanging out at a coffee shop reading Nietzsche all day and spending all night online trading baaaaad poetry with others. The worst part of all this: I thought that I was ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE.
posted by mediocre at 5:34 PM on October 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Just happens to be their term for this important, albeit embarrassing, stage of early adulthood.

Precisely. I knew a guy back in middle-school who fit the description to a T– fancied himself an "evil overlord" in the budding, was seized by impossible enthusiasms, ("Hey! Let's build a helicopter in my garage!") styled himself a 'genius hacker' on the basis of a little Javascript knowledge, the whole nine yards.

It's nice to see the issue addressed head-on, especially in a medium that is, let's face it, often glutted with wish-fulfillment shows targeted at precisely that sort of personality. (I'm looking at you, CØDE:BREAKER...)
posted by fifthrider at 5:36 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


adumbrates

I'm not certain you are aware, but a singularity has been generated by your use of this word. By using such a my-perspicaciousness-is-significant-and-to-be-admired word in an argument against people who find themselves impressive that makes you come off as so densely dilettantish that your snide hand waving against Japanese self-obsession has caused the smug in your immediate vicinity to collapse in on itself.
posted by mediocre at 5:48 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


man i wish i could laugh at japan without feeling racist and like i'm polluting the worldmind by speaking english

i have The Knowledge though :(
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:51 PM on October 11, 2012


Laugh at 14-year-olds instead.
posted by baf at 5:52 PM on October 11, 2012


that too is problematic
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:54 PM on October 11, 2012


Heh, I watched the first episode. It's cute. They've got a serious-business animation budget, too. (Although the first episode always looks good, so.)

You're not wrong with the Haruhi parallel, there, fifthrider.
posted by Sokka shot first at 5:58 PM on October 11, 2012


More on-topic.. I am generally not a fan of anime. But "Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!" has so many good ideas. I would love to see a version of this with less anime story conventions, live action, and American. If done right it would be the perfect mix of out of control teenage emoting and standing-atop-mountains-screaming-at-the-heavens-as-lightning-flashes-behind-you-and-the-wind-blows-in-your-hair delusional adolescent drama. It would be hard to mix the delusions in without having them come off as Scrubs-ish fantasy sequences, but I think it could be done. Perhaps by acknowledging the delusions as de facto reality to the teenagers, but adults or people not aware of the immediate importance of whatever is going to destroy the teens world only see whiny kids.
posted by mediocre at 6:40 PM on October 11, 2012


Actually, the show itself pretty much summed up my feelings about thinking of myself at 14 best in about 1.5 seconds.
posted by mediocre at 6:51 PM on October 11, 2012


The nice thing about reflexive use of uncommon vocabulary is the tendency to communicate concepts like "vainglorious" without stuffing eighteen hyphens into your adjectivals. Give it a shot the next time you make an eponysterical stab at satire.
posted by clarknova at 7:13 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's funny, the word "weaboo" was used as a substitute for a word that was being overused on 4chan, and now in turn weaboo has become insufferably overused anytime anything relating to Japan comes up.

If we waste any more time on weeaboo, we'll be bankrupt by the end of the month!
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:16 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did someone just say "weeaboo"? Cause I think just I heard someone say "weeaboo."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:19 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


You really just reinforce my point the more you address it, clarknova.
posted by mediocre at 7:24 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The basic conceit is a strong one, as is the fundamental conflict between someone all too ready to leave their adolescent fantasies behind and someone else clinging desperately (and thus, harder) to them. I agree that you could readily transplant it out of the medium we see here, and further agree the current example would be stronger with fewer anime-isms.

But, you know, Ano Hana wound up surprising me, so this could, too. I'm certainly paying attention now.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:37 PM on October 11, 2012


a person... would either act like a know-it-all adult, or thinks they have special powers no one else has.

In the States, we call this "Republican candidate."
posted by Foosnark at 8:00 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


man i wish i could laugh at japan without feeling racist and like i'm polluting the worldmind by speaking english

i have The Knowledge though :(

Your superpower is knowing the streets of London?
posted by ersatz at 8:03 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your superpower is knowing the streets of London?

Actually, that is pretty damn close to a superpower.
posted by clarknova at 8:26 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh my god. I'm in stitches; it's like both halves of my adolescence have been given form and forced to interact.

The best part, so far, is that it doesn't mock the syndrome or its immediate aftereffects, but appears to embrace it as a necessary part of adolescence, one which someone may even come to remember fondly in time. Lord knows I sometimes with I could be as passionately absorbed in my inner world and private dramas as I was back then...
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 8:58 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're just acting that way because they're worried about what might happen to them the following year.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:23 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to say, overall, anime does a very poor job at disabusing 14 year olds of the idea that they are special. I swear, just put them at that desk by the window and BAM.
posted by maryr at 9:28 PM on October 11, 2012


(BAM = robots.)
posted by maryr at 9:29 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Symptoms of chuunibyou mentioned in Hikaru Ijuin's radio show:

-Start to drink coffee although you don't like the taste of it
-Still up at 2am because you can't fall asleep
-Punch a wall/door in frustration
-Get angry at a band getting popular, saying "I knew them before they got popular!"
-"Adults are dirty."
-Think you can do anything well if you try hard enough
-To your mother, "Respect my privacy!"
-Carry a Zippo lighter with you although you don't smoke
-"I'm me, not someone else"
-Become really enthusiastic about environmental issues and immediately fall into despair
-Your mother:"Where are you going?" You: "Outside."
-Write words to a song but can't write the song itself
-Become addicted to Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy and plan to be a game programmer but all you can think of are events or items for the sequel
-"What good does algebra do in life?"
-Don't know anything about law but criticize JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) anyway
posted by perkinite at 9:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had over half the symptoms of chuunibyou that perkinite mentioned at age 14. I carried a lighter, and wanted to do sequels for Final Fantasy games.

Sigh.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:05 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Strangely, the posthumously shamed UK TV star, Jimmy Savile, seems to have specialized in touching up only 14 year old girls.
posted by w0mbat at 12:09 AM on October 12, 2012


Yesterday's Married To The Sea seems spookily precient…
posted by Pinback at 1:48 AM on October 12, 2012


I have to say, overall, anime does a very poor job at disabusing 14 year olds of the idea that they are special. I swear, just put them at that desk by the window and BAM.

While anime is a medium, not a genre, there are certain trends that appear in different anime genres that are much like this - the magical girl and harem types are definitely guilty of this. "I was just a normal first-year at X School, living a boring life, when one day, a mysterious transfer student appeared ..."

This is why it's kind of a relief to see a series that addresses the phenomenon of kids tumbling headfirst into a fantasy world, and not because they come from broken homes but because on the contrary, they see their actual lives as painfully boring and uneventful. And no one is more boring than the adults around them who exhort them to stop playing around and grow up.

So whether it means striking a combat pose and waving one's arm in front of the subway doors just before they open, or pretending a retractable umbrella is an extradimensional weapon, these kids are going to keep maintaining the fantasy until one day they give in and grow up. In the near future, they'll look back and shudder with embarrassment, but maybe later on in life they'll appreciate the vividly imaginative kid they used to be. And I say this as someone who, at 14, brought his AD&D books to school, believed I was in the company of an invisible wizard, and was prone to sit in a conspicuous part of the cafeteria with the DM Guide open, my dice out, and furiously scribbling who-knows-what.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:45 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's true that the non-harem "romance" do this much less often. There are true slice-of-life anime as well. And I don't mean to say that it's a Japan-specific phenomena - at some level every drama's protagonist is going to have to prove themselves exceptional at some level or why are we watching?

But anime seems to take place in this age group at a far greater rate than American shows. I've been walking around the lab this morning thinking about why. I mean, there's the obvious demographic targeting, but that certainly a lucretive market in the US as well and I feel like those shows tend to skew a bit younger or older - or take place in another reality altogether. (Monsters High is the current trend judging by Target Halloween costume availability.) But I think that 14 year olds are just not thought of as independent by most American standards. Crucially, one of our biggest symbols of young adulthood and independence is driving. That comes at 15-16. Even in cities, American television almost never depicts teenagers on public transportation (aside from a school bus). We do so much driving here that most of our shows require a car to get from plot A to plot B. It's hard to save the world when you need to get a ride to the mall to do so.

(Although, in retrospect, how *did* the Scooby Gang get around Sunnyvale? There was no van. Or pony sized dog. Hm.)

I think I'm getting off topic, though. I just mean that there are an awful lot of anime/manga that provide some truly excellent fodder for the "I am secretly special" fantasies that we're all particularly susceptible to at the awkward age of 14.

To this day, I totally imagine have some sort of magic powers when I press a button to pop open my umbrella or the wind blows my coat out behind me on gusty days. Bless you, Susan Cooper, for managing to set subtle invisible magic in something akin to the real world.
posted by maryr at 7:38 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maryr, the soft fwoomp of a properly crafted unbrella bursting forth from its constraints is one of the most satisfying sounds there is. If the little squee of happiness it gives me, combined with the 'hey, where'd that come frim' expansion of the umbrella isn't a kind of magic, I'm not sure what actually qualifies.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:58 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty much nailed it on the hipster definition.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:10 PM on October 12, 2012


"You are now aware this post is a big weaboo todo over the Japanese word for "sophmoric"."

Not for any definition of "sophomoric" I've ever heard. The Columbine killers had a bad case of chunibyo. "Meet the Spartans" has a bad case of sophomorism. I don't really see the two as being synonymous.

"Find me an anglophone sophomore that doesn't fantasize about having magic mind powers and I'll start giving a shit about the self-important self-categorizations that Japanese pop culture adumbrates endlessly."

Huh? It's exactly the point of the word that it expresses a universality. It's just one of those words, like shaudenfreude or deja vu, that expresses a universal condition, and we just don't happen to have an English equivalent. Rejecting it on those grounds is...kinda surreal. "Yeah, we don't have a word for that in English, but since it perfectly describes something that occurs frequently in English speaking countries, I don't like it."

"The nice thing about reflexive use of uncommon vocabulary is the tendency to communicate concepts like "vainglorious" without stuffing eighteen hyphens into your adjectivals."

The irony is thick in here. Yes, you're right, using specific terms, even if uncommon, is great for conveying concepts in a short amount of time. Which is why we're discussing "chunibyo", a short Japanese word that conveys a large concept in a short amount of time. I'm not saying you should use it, nor that anyone should use it when speaking English (I hate weaboos dropping Japanese into their English probably just as much as you). However, getting angry because English speakers are just talking about a foreign word without a good English equivalent...well, I don't really understand where that anger could come from.
posted by Bugbread at 2:52 PM on October 14, 2012


Wow, that's a pretty specific definition. I have always just used the term to mean, "jackass kid." To me, it summarizes all the stupid shit Japanese kids do in the transition between carefree elementary school kids and high school entrance exam victims. The sudden pressure to actually learn something, which hasn't been present for the first 7 years of their education, pushes kids into all sorts of juvenile rebellion.
posted by donkeymon at 3:41 AM on October 15, 2012


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