Karin, a third year student at a well-known university, is so attached to galge (a dating simulation game where the players are offered to choose their preferred characters, sometimes referred to as visual novels – though this is somewhat misleading -). Although Karin has played many galges, there are certain factors that affect the level of interest to a certain title.
Karin likes to read (or play) galge in general, but, titles like 11eyes, Seinarukana, and Dies Irae give a distinct experience. If galge in general depicts romance in realistic settings not too different to our everyday, these titles sometimes bring their players as if they are in another dimension, such a superhero-like dimension that makes the protagonist have an unusual way of life.
Describing what chuuni is might be difficult the same way Galbraith can’t define exactly what moe is, but there are some things that can be used as reference points. One of them is chuunibyou.
The term which has been made popular by the anime made by Kyoto Animation, Chuunibyou demo koi ga shitai! (Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions), is fairly easy to describe. According to Pixiv dictionary, chuunibyo refers to the attitude of “second-year middle school” children who are immersed in their beloved imaginary world. This imaginary world can be self-made, or can be derived from the media they consumed, watched and read. This behavior may be related to how teenagers seek their identity at that.
In Chuunibyou demo koi ga shitai, this attitude is shown by the main character, Rikka Takanashi. She is described as having a chuunibyou “syndrome” which is shown by her antics such as wearing an eye patch, swishing around an umbrella, and inviting her friends to “play” in her fantasy world.
Chuunibyou can be simplified to be “self-absorbed”, but that concept (muchuu in Japanese) does not refer to a context in which liking something imagined becomes self-identification. Muchuu can be more appropriately illustrated with someone who plays internet game (or galge) for several hours, not aware that they have spent 20 hours playing. To be regarded chuunibyou, there must be a process of self-identification, which means someone associates themselves with the imagination of their creation.
What is chuuni exactly?
Using Google search engine actually gives relatively recent results (after Chuunibyou was aired) and are usually related to visual novels (including results from KAORI forum!). In Japanese, the search results also refer back to the chuunibyou term. And referring to entries in Fuwanovel forum dated to 2013, it is possible that the term Chuuni has only recently developed and became popular among visual novel players.
11eyes, Seinarukana, and Dies Irae, which are considered chuuni games, at least have something in common. Immanuel, another galge player, describes another key factor that allows him to get a sense of chuuni in the games that he plays.
“If there are elements that are impossible or non-existent in everyday life, that means they are elements of chuuni. There are elements of magic, adventure, or fantasy world in the game, “he said in a telephone interview with KAORI Newsline.
Indeed, none of the games that has been mentioned above take “real life” setting. Unlike White Album, KoiChocho, and ToHeart, where the protagonist goes to high school and lives a normal human life, in games like Seinarukana and Dies Irae, all the protagonists live in a fantasy settings that are far unlike everyday life.
Although their main characters are high school teenagers, they fight something mystical, with magical powers. Seinarukana and Dies Irae also use another world where the main character has the task of saving the world.
In 11eyes, even though they have high school teenager as the main character, they fight something mystical with magical powers. Seinarukana and Dies Irae also use alternate worlds where the main character has the responsibility to save that world.
But the explanation is still not enough to answer what is Chuuni. Another gamer, Anto, can describe main characters that feel chuuni, but it is rather difficult for him to explain exactly how the chuuni content can be felt.
“Perhaps because the series has plot elements that are typically used in the fantasies of teenagers who have Chuunibyou syndrome. For example, in Kuroshitsuji, there are angels, demons, and magical contracts. Besides that, there is a “dark and gritty” feel in the plot. “
Does science fiction contain elements of chuuni? Imanuel said no. “Even though Steins;gate is SF, but it’s still pretty close to real science and is still possible. Well, chuuni stories are really impossible, just fantasy.” But other than containing fantasy and imagination in a story, Karin feels there is another important factor that can’t be missing and distinguishes ordinary epic stories from chuuni story.
The opening film from the visual novel Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin.
“You really have to feel becoming the protagonist, feel ups and downs. If possible, you must become depressed by the galge you play, and you feel like, “If only I were Kageaki” (the main character of Fullmetal Daemon Muramasa, Red), and you feel the characters you play are like you and keep feeling that way even when you go back to college. “
Another interesting point is, Chuuni doesn’t have to be obtained from materials originating from Japan. According to Immanuel, Mahabharata and Ramayana can be chuuni material, depending on how one enjoys them. On the contrary, Anto doesn’t understand “how can a story like Star Wars can be considered chuuni.”
At the time of this writing, Karin was playing Senshikan and although she would still be obsessed with the pleasures of Chuuni, she had to deal with a problem regarding Facebook profile because the name she used is considered chuuni.
“It’s a bit sad to lose the Ikaruga name, but as long as I can still post pervy images, it’s okay.”
By Kevin Wilyan | The writer is a senior editor at KAORI Nusantara | Translation by Adyatma Putra Pratama | This article was originally published in Indonesian at KAORI Nusantara on 23 February 2015 | This opinion is the personal views of the author and does not represent the views and editorial policy of The Indonesian Times or KAORI Nusantara