“It is my fate to bear the burden of endless battle with the harbingers of darkness.” Rikka is a Very Important Person.
Japanese has a new word, since a year or two ago. (OK, perhaps it only reached the world a year or two ago.) “Chuunibyou” – Middle School Second Year Syndrome – is the dreadful condition where someone discovers their individuality and free will before they discover the difference between reality and fantasy. They may dress all in black, including nail polish and lipstick where appropriate (or even if not), and hand in self-written poetry about death instead of their regular English essay. Or they may wear colored contacts and claim to have supernatural powers. They may declare their undying love for an anime character, complete with elaborate plans for the wedding. They may join some unconventional religion and try to convert everyone around them. Usually they get over it, and look back with considerable embarrassment on their actions.
The anime Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai – falling in love despite teenage delusions – is a romantic comedy without excessive display of panties and such. The main character is a high school freshman who is going to a high school a distance from home to avoid being recognized, because he spent his middle school years claiming to be the superhero Dark Flame Master, something that embarrasses him no end. But no sooner has his normal life begun, than he meets a girl in his class who wears an eye patch and a bandage on her arm to seal the supernatural powers inside her. And she knows his secret. Hilarity ensues, but despite all the awkwardness, they eventually become very close.
The anime – loosely based on a light novel with the same name – is warmly recommended for those who want a VERY Japanese love comedy without the usual pantsu glimpsing. There is some drama, but it is nothing that should scare large children. And the crazy antics and imaginary battles are wonderfully animated.
Naturally I find it interesting in terms of my own writing as well, since I like to write Young Adult novels, which for some reason is rarely about young adults but about middle and high schoolers. My attempt this year – which still badly needs a rewrite – stars a freshman in high school who takes anime way too seriously, joins a foreign religion, and believes that he is channeling the spirit of a Go player who died over 300 years ago. While I don’t go so far as to say he is deluded, I do have a side character present an alternative and more psychological explanation.
In contrast, my next story features a girl who everyone thinks is delusional or just trying to sound important, but who really spends every night in a magic world. The story is told by her cousin once removed, who comes to live with her and her mother (his real cousin) because there is no high school anywhere near the island where he grew up. The boy thinks the girl is crazy, especially when she starts reading from an invisible book. But then he starts dreaming about the same magic world…
One interpretation of the Jewish creation myth in Genesis is that humanity as a whole suffers from a kind of chuunibyou, having woken up to self-awareness at a point where we were still not ready for it. This seems to be the view favored by sci-fi writer and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, in his book about Perelandra (a mythical planet Venus where a new Adam and Eve are created in a tropical paradise.) In that book, the first humans reject the primordial temptation and grow up to their full human potential, which seems to be a kind of demigod. So in this view, the current humanity is in a kind of arrested development, stuck in a youthful delusion that we seem unable to shake off.
But now we’re getting pretty far afield for one entry. More another day. Or perhaps not. Every day is a special day at the Chaos Node.