Origin of Chuunibyou
Yes, the 14 years old disease (１４歳病). When you become a 2nd grader in middle school (chuuni “中二”), you suddenly want to wise up and talk big. It’s that adolescent phase that everyone goes through, but some pathetic people can never grow out of it, especially for otakus, this lasts forever until the grave. So, from the chuuni to the grave; start listening to foreign music, drinking black coffee, alcohols, eating dark chocolate, smoking cigarettes, reading philosophy, world literature, Einstein, and so on. And, the worst one is to get political out of blue and comment, “This country is so fucked up. We gotta do something!”
I was reading one of the greatest articles by Rev. Gendomike, That Summer, I waited, a diary of one summer when he was 14. And he goes on to confess in his article that he tried to impress a young beautiful Sunday School teacher by showing off how biblically knowledgeable he was. A typical Chuunibyou patient!
So, how did this epidemic start? A conventional theory tells that Chuunibyou was first stipulated by Ijuin Hikaru, a fat Japanese comedian, in the late 1990s. But I differ respectfully. My theory is that it was first stipulated by Fyodor Dostoyevsky!
In his greatest masterpiece novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Kolya Krasotkin, a middle schooler, wants to brag about his knowledge in political philosophy to Alyosha Karamazov, a young Christian monk he has long been looking up to, a kind of Sunday School teacher or youth pastor in today’s sense. So, he talks about Voltaire and all these intellectual stuff to Alyosha just to get his approval. Yes, to show off how politically knowledgeable he is! And finally, Kolya confesses to Alyosha, “So the thing is…, I…I’m helplessly a socialist.” But Alyosha laughs him off, “What, you’re a socialist? You must be joking. Like how old are you? You’re only 13!” But, Kolya gets defensive, “No, I’m not a brat at all. In fact, I’m going to turn 14 in a few weeks!”
Yes, 14 years old! Exactly the age of Chuuni, the most pathetic pedant! Kolya is the first Chuunibyou patient recognized in our human history. Yes, maybe Ijuin was the first one to name it. But the symptom was first recognized by Dostoyevsky!
Yes, me too. When I was a chuuni, I also started listening to the Beatles, just to be different, to do away with my immature past, or in a more conceited way, to be a chosen one, a revolutionary, or an activist who was going to change the world. So, I identified myself with John Lennon, just like that middle-aged teacher asked a janitor from that classic teen film The Breakfast Club, “What did you want to be when you were young?” And the janitor answered, “I wanted to be a John Lennon!” A typical chuuni! And I remember some of my other classmates started listening to punk rock, and imagined themselves as anarchists. “I…I’m hopelessly an anarchist (I’m so cool~, don’t you think?).” I wonder if they still see themselves as anarchists today.
Yes, like Gendomike, I also had a crush on a young beautiful music teacher in my school years (when I was 17), and I really wanted to show her my protest lyrics I wrote as a future John Lennon. “I…I’m helplessly a lyricist.” But that chance never came, since I was a generic student falling behind school dudes already swarming all over her. So, I couldn’t fulfill my chuunibyou desires like Gendomike, showing his original novels to his beautiful teacher to get her approval. “I…I’m helplessly a novelist.” But I continued to write lyrics as if I was going to be the most famous chuuni star!
But unfortunately, probably the most famous, notorious, and the worst chuunibyou from Japan was Sakakibara Seito, who murdered children for his new founded “religion” in Kobe. That was back in 1997. He really damaged the image of chuuni, just like Miyazaki Tsutomu did to otakudom. But his existential sentiment of “self of transparent existence (透明な存在のボク)” resonated strongly in many young hearts, including mine.
And who exploited this Chuunibyou sentiment most successfully in American history? Barack Obama! So many chuunibyous were dragged into his charismatic pseudo-messianic campaign in 2008. Because his hope was so 2-D! There’s an interesting book by Bernard Goldberg called A Slobbering Love Affair, which gives you a great insight into how the whole nation at that time was infected with Chuunibyou. In fact, I met many chuunibyou activists around that year. Most of them were in college years; socialists, Marxists, anarchists, feminists, environmentalists, gay rights activists, animal rights activists, libertarians, and so on. Even atheists were there! “I…I’m helplessly an atheist.” But I really doubt that he can still count on them this time since a lot of these young activists have grown out of it because of the long and winding recession. But I hope they still keep their dreams. Like John Lennon sang, “You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.”
By the way, the best recent Chuunibyou anime would be Steins;Gate. The main character, Okarin, is so chuuni. He calls himself “mad scientist” doing his own research on time-traveling in Akihabara. “I’m helplessly a mad scientist.”
Here, the word “helplessly” is the key. Helplessly = madly (狂気の). So, yes, “I’m helplessly a mad scientist” means “I’m madly a mad scientist! (俺は狂気のマッドサイエンティスト！) ” So, Kolya’s choice of words “helplessly” is the same with Okarin’s choice of words “mad (die-hard, 狂気の).” “I’m madly a mad socialist! (俺は狂気のマッドソーシャリスト！) ” “I’m madly a mad anarchist! (俺は狂気のマッドアナーキスト！)” This kind of rhetorical exaggeration is so chuuni! So is the writing style of Dostoyevsky!
But when Okarin debates Christina Makise on science, he is totally beaten down to death, just like Kolya completely lost the debate to Alyosha. After all, he’s just a chuuni. A pedant is no match for the real expert. But later on, his Chuunibyou delusions would be…well, let’s stop the spoilers right here. So, Steins;Gate is indeed an existential anime, because Chuunibyou itself is very existential. Let our existence engage!
Oh, yes, I forget. Utena is also a chuuni; she imagines herself as a prince who is going to revolutionize the world.
14 Years Old Cult (１４歳教)
So yes, we are “the herd of eternal youth.” That’s what Hitler called it with contempt. The herd of Chuunibyou patients. But who cares! Let them laugh at us, “You still keep dreaming.” So what! We are otakus! Nothing wrong to be dreamers! Don’t they also celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday?
Even Christ got chuunibyou when he was 12, trying to impress the rabbis with his knowledge in the Torah. Well, that’s two years earlier than usual, but the Chosen One like him must have been more mature than his age group. But, Bar Mitzvah is 13, the same age with Kolya, so it’s probably natural for that age group to suddenly wise up. So, we otakus are more Christlike than these ordinary Christians who have been looking down upon us! So, whoever dismisses chuuni is actually an antichrist! Therefore, Mark 10:15′s real translation would be like this, “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a chuuni will never enter it.”
So, should we start the 14 Years Old Cult, just like Inoue Kikuko started the 17 Years Old Cult? Chuunikyou (中二教、廚二教)? In America, it already started in 1995 in D.C. unofficially. And the year of our Lord 2012 is the 17th year anniversary of our religion. Yes, our religion turns 17! How prophetic! Chuuni, banzai! Thus,
Chuunibyous of the world, unite!