Saturday, November 25, 2017

chuunibyou 中二病

What does chuunibyou mean in Japanese?

Literally, chuunibyou 中二病 translates to "middle school second-year syndrome," as in a disease someone around 13–14 years old would get. It's also romanized chūnibyō.

Sometimes, an anime character is said to have chuunibyou, to be a chuuni 厨ニ, but what is chuunibyou? Is it even a real disease?

Not really. The term chuunibyou 中二病 refers to thinking, acting, or talking like you live in a fantasy game, or in the world of a manga, with magic, secret organizations, super powers, and so on. Something which is extremely embarrassing and cringe for anyone older than 13 years old, and that you'll absolutely regret doing in front of others later in your life.

Dark Flame Master, also known as Togashi Yuuta 富樫勇太, example of chuunibyou 中二病.
Character: Dark Flame Master
Anime: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 中二病でも恋がしたい! (Episode 1)

The Meaning of Chuunbyou in Japanese

The word chuuni 中二 is an abbreviation of a school year:

  • chuugaku ninen
    Middle school second year. (Japan.)
    Eight grade. (U.S.)
    • 13–14 years old.

And byou 病 means "sickness," or "syndrome." Together, they form chuunibyou 中二病, translating to "middle school second-year syndrome," or "eight grade syndrome."

Syndrome Symptoms

The term chuunibyou doesn't refer to an actual sickness acknowledged by medical experts. Instead, it's a slang that refers to a certain type of person that tries really hard to be different from others, ending looking weird or pretentious.

Basically, people, in general, are very boring, and if you're a kid in middle school that doesn't know that, you'll end up feeling like you're less special than others, even though you're pretty much like everybody else.

Consequently, you'll do things to boost your ego, to make yourself appear more special than you really are, and more special than your peers, because you're having an identity crisis through puberty, and not being special doesn't make sense for you.

To have a better idea, this includes things like:

  • Listening to foreign bands.
    • Listening to obscure bands because they aren't popular.
      • Claiming you've been listening to a band before it was popular.
  • Being an underachiever, but claiming "I can do it if I really tried."
    • I have yet to use 100% of my power.
  • Drinking bitter coffee.
    • Because, in Japan, it's thought that only adults like bitter coffee, and you want to appear to be more mature than you actually are.

In other words, anything from acting like a delinquent to being involved in subculture for the sake of appearing different is considered chuunibyou.

In anime, chuunibyou characters often have "delusions," mousou 妄想, that they're a fantasy character, because fantasy characters are all special and unique, with cool, distinct abilities and names, so if you want to be special, you want to be a fantasy character.

It's pretty normal for kids to play around having imaginary fights where someone pretends to be the hero, someone else pretend to be the bad guy, and then they just imagine themselves casting magic, swing swords, and so on.

The kind of stuff they've seen in games, anime, and shounen manga, like ninjutsu. But do note that chuunibyou characters aren't necessarily otaku オタク, they just have been influenced by manga.

The problem is: this isn't LARP or D&D. It's embarrassing to act like this in public. The older you are, the more embarrassing it is, so most kids normally stop doing this stuff by the time they reach high-school.

If you do something embarrassing in your first year of high school, everyone is going to see it, and remember it through all three years of high school, so this would be a pretty good time to stop doing embarrassing things.

If you don't stop here, everybody will know you have chuunibyou, middle school syndrome.

アイツ絶対「中二病」だよな~ 高二にもなって全く・・・
Manga: Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Chapter 3, 漆黒の翼こと海藤瞬)
  • Context: Saiki talks about the token chuunibyou character.
  • aitsu zettai "chuunibyou" da yo na~~
    He's definitely chuunibyou, [isn't he?]
  • kou-ni ni mo natte, mattaku
    高二にもなって 全く・・・
    [Even] after becoming a high school second year [student], [good grief]...

Examples of Chuunibyou

Examples of things chuunibyou characters do include:

  • Pretending that you can cast magic.
    • Pretending you've been cursed by something.
  • Using sticks, umbrellas, or other long, narrow objects as if they were swords.
  • Pretending that there's an evil, global, organization, called "The Organization," conspiring into things everywhere.
    • Pretending that you're part of a good, global, cool-named organization fighting the evil organization.
  • Covering your arms in bandages, even though you haven't broke a single bone.
    • Claiming those bandages are a seal, which contains your true power, which may be an evil power, or a demon arm, or something like that.
  • Using an eye-patch, even though your eye is perfectly fine.
    • Claiming that eye-patch is a seal, which contains your magic eye.
      • Using colored contacts to change the color of your eye, because it's a magic eye.
  • Claiming to be a reincarnation.
    • Claiming someone else was a friend you fought together with, or a foe you fought against, in a previous life.
  • Having a pretentious naming sense.
    • Using foreign words, katakana words, English words, and so on to name your imaginary skills.
    • Using complicated kanji instead of normal, everyday kanji, which appears pompous.
    • Using gikun 義訓 so you can do both things at the same time.

Wearing Bandages to Seal Your True Power

Bandages are often used by chuunibyou characters to seal within their arms some evil, demonic power, that must never be let out.

  • houtai
  • fuuin

Sometimes, the character's true, real power is just too strong for him to control, so the seal is there to protect those around him from himself.

"Jet Black Wings," Shikkoku no Tsubasa 漆黒の翼, also known as Kaidou Shun 海藤瞬, and the power sealed within his right arm by bandages.
Character: Jet Black Wings, Shikkoku no Tsubasa 漆黒の翼
Anime: Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan, 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Episode 1)
  • Context: within the right arm of Jet Black Wings dwells the Black Beat that he stole from the Dark Reunion.

For reference, an actual power within arm being unsealed by undoing bandages:

Hiei 飛影, removing his bandages to unseal the power within his arm.
Character: Hiei 飛影
Anime: Yū☆Yū☆Hakusho 幽☆遊☆白書 (Episode 58)
  • Context: Hiei unsealing the Dragon of the Darkness Flame, or Jaou Ensatsu Kokuryuu-ha 邪王炎殺黒龍波, literally "Evil-king, kill-by-burning, black-dragon-wave."

Wearing an Eye Patch to Seal Your True Power

Similar to bandages, chuunibyou characters also wear "eye patches," gantai 眼帯, to seal some sort of power within their eyes.

Sturmhut シュトゥルムフート, also known as Hanadori Kabuto 花鳥兜, and his acquaintance from a previous life, Cerberus, both wearing eye patches.
Top: Sturmhut シュトゥルムフート
Bottom: Cerberus ケルベロス
Anime: Boku no Tonari ni Ankoku Hakaishin ga Imasu. ぼくのとなりに暗黒破壊神がいます。 (Episode 1)
  • Context: when Sturmhut removes his eye patch, the "Dark God of Destruction, Miguel Offenbarung Dunkelheit Wahnsinn Äußerst Gefallener Engel Abgrund Nachfolger," Ankoku Hakaishin Migeru Offenbārungu Dhunkeruhaito Vānzuin Oisāsuto Gefarenāengeru Appugurunto Nāhaforugā 暗黒破壊神ミゲル・オッフェンバールング・ドゥンケルハイト・ヴァーンズイン・オイサースト・ゲファレナーエンゲル・アップグルント・ナーハフォルガー, awakens.
    • The name is spelled 暗黒破壊神ミゲル・黙示録・闇・狂気・究極・堕天使・奈落・後継者, with everything after Miguel as gikun 義訓. The meanings are:
    • mokushiroku
      Apocalypse. (Offenbarung)
    • yami

      Darkness. (Dunkelheit)
    • kyouki
      Insanity. (Wahnsinn)
    • kyuukyoku
      Ultimate. (Äußerst)
    • datenshi
      Fallen angel. (Gefallener Engel)
    • naraku
      Abyss. (Abgrund)
    • koukeisha
      Successor. (Nachfolger)

Having a Magic Eye That Holds Your True Power

A "magic eye," magan 魔眼, or "evil eye," jagan 邪眼, or jakigan 邪気眼, is an often weirdly colored eye that has some sort of magic power, or is cursed, or something like that.

A character that wears an eye patch probably has one of these.

With chuunibyou characters, since they never remove the eye patch, it gets hard to confirm whether they're just lying and have normal eyes, or that they do, in fact, have special eyes with special colors bearing special powers.

Takanashi Rikka 小鳥遊六花, lifting her eye patch to show her "magic eye," magan 魔眼. It's actually a colored colored, because she's chuunibyou 中二病.
Character: Takanashi Rikka 小鳥遊六花
Anime: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 中二病でも恋がしたい! (Episode 1)
  • Context: Rikka doesn't have heterochromia, she simply wears colored contacts.

For reference, an actual magic eye:

Ciel Phantomhive シエル・ファントムハイヴ, lifting his eye patch to show his left eye with a glowing pentagram on it.
Character: Ciel Phantomhive シエル・ファントムハイヴ
Anime: Black Butler, Kuroshitsuji 黒執事 (Episode 20)
  • Context: the pentagram on Ciel's left eye is proof of his contract with a demon.


Kumoko 蜘蛛子 holding her magic eye, covered in bandages, because she has chuunibyou 中二病.
Character: Kumoko 蜘蛛子
Anime: Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka? 蜘蛛ですが、なにか? (Episode 7)
  • Context: Kumoko goes full chuunibyou when she learns that she can get a magic eye.

Doing Cool-Looking Poses

Being the edgy anti-heroes that they are, chuunibyou characters couldn't be chuunibyou characters without all the over the top posing, gesugao ゲス顔, and pretensions of being an evil mastermind.

Covering your face as you talk is a particularly popular way of appearing cooler than you really are.

Megumin めぐみん, doing a cool, scheming pose.
Character: Megumin めぐみん
Anime: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! この素晴らしい世界に祝福を! (Episode 2)
  • waga na wa Megumin!
    My name is Megumin!
    • waga
      First person possessive pronoun, specially used by grandiose characters, and characters with delusions of grandiosity.

The Evil Organization

The "Organization," soshiki 組織, also known as "They," yatsura 奴ら, is an evil organization planning world domination from the shadows behind the curtains, whose conspirations happen to involve high school students for some nefarious reason.

  • In Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan, the Organization is also known as Dark Reunion, who targets its former member, Jet Black Wings, in an attempt to steal the Black Beat sealed in his right arm in order to create a new world.

Naturally, the Organization operates at global level, if not at interplanetary level, multi-dimensional level, or time-travelling level. They're powerful enough that neither the police, the army, the galactic federation, nor Doctor Who can stop them.

For the record, we aren't talking about SCP here.

The only entity capable of fighting against the Organization is an institution which the chuunibyou character is affiliated with. It's up to the chuuni, as an ally of justice, to be wary of the organization's movements and report back to central command whenever possible.

Okabe Rintaro 岡部倫太郎, on a cellphone turned off, reporting that he's been caught by an agent of the Organization, Makise Kurisu 牧瀬紅莉栖, example of chuunibyou 中二病.
Left: Hououin Kyouma 鳳凰院凶真
Right: Makise Kurisu 牧瀬紅莉栖
Anime: Steins;Gate (Episode 1, Stitch)
  • Context: Kyouma, on a cellphone turned off, reporting that he's been caught by an agent of the Organization.

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  1. Thanks so much for all your hard work on this blog! It has quickly become one of my favorite internet go to haunts for my Japanese learning! You do a really great job of making everything clear and easy to understand all while being funny and relatable. Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

    Btw, I just wanted to say that your English is very good too, your site pretty much reads like it came from a rather well read native speaking internet denizen.