If you were not already aware, I am part of an otaku group called OWLS, whose goal is to bring acceptance to the world using anime as a medium. For March, our theme and prompt is sanctuary, which is defined as:
A sanctuary is a place of safety and stability. In anime, there are several different places and environments that characters call “home.” For this topic, we will be discussing various locations and settings within certain anime series.
When most people think of the word sanctuary, they are probably imagining a physical place or location. However, I am going to take a slightly different approach and analyze my favorite anime of all time: Love, Chuunibyou, And Other Delusions (Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai). In this anime, the main character, and most of the other characters, suffer from being “chuunibyou,” but their delusions are actually what provide them with sanctuary.
*Warning: there will be spoilers!
What Does Chuunibyou mean?
“Chuunibyou” is a Japanese slang term that translates to something like: “middle school syndrome” or “eighth grader disease.” It refers to when children hit puberty and start to experiment with their identity. In many cases, these preteens and teens do strange things that don’t make sense to others or adults. I am a perfect example. In the beginning of high school, I was completely obsessed with the album Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. I constantly wrote their merchandise, wrote their lyrics on my arms, wore all black and had all black belongings, and frequently cosplayed as the band members. It may have seemed weird to others, but it was an important part of my identity and helped me cope with my anxiety and depression as I went through high school.
Note: If you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or depression, please seek professional help. Besides my hobbies, professional counseling was essential for helping me get through high school.
In anime, characters who are chuunibyou are usually obsessed with something supernatural, or related to the occult. Many times, they pretend or believe that have their own supernatural powers and act as though they actually live in a world where fantasy exists. A recent example is Yohane from Love Live! Sunshine, who believes she is a fallen angel, and is constantly doing things like rituals. Chuunibyou characters also tend to have a signature motto or hand gesture. Most of the time, chuunibyou characters are seen as odd by others because their behavior isn’t “normal.”
Love, Chuunibyou, and Sanctuary
Love, Chuunibyou, and Other Delusions is an anime that is entirely focused on characters who are chuunibyou. In the series, Yuuta, the main male protagonist, becomes friends with a girl named Takanashi Rikka, who is 100% chuunibyou.
Every day she wears an eyepatch on her eye and a bandage on her wrist, which apparently seal away a demon that is sleeping inside of her. Rikka is unable to have a normal conversation- everything that comes out of her mouth is about magic, spells, weapons, the spirit world, and so on. She also frequently does odd things, such as pretending to have battles in public, which, from an outsider’s point of view, just look like her flailing around nonsensically.
The other characters in the show have chuunibyou tendencies as well. Yuuta has a chuunibyou past where he believed he had the power to control flames of darkness. Nibutani thought she was a 500-year old sorceress who could commune with fairies. Dekomori pretends her pigtails are the hammer of Thor, and goes around smacking people with her hair (Favorite. Character. Ever.).
The anime tends to be very silly and comical, but as the story progresses, we find out the reasons behind Rikka’s chuunibyou obsessions. I believe that her delusions are a form of sanctuary for her.
Rikka’s Escape (Spoiler Time)
At first, Yuuta assumed that Rikka was acting chuunibyou because she thought it was cool. However, when they go on a summer trip, Yuuta finds out about Rikka’s past. It turns out that two years earlier, Rikka’s father died unexpectedly. Rikka was not aware that he had been sick and she took his death very hard.
After her father’s death, she was very confused and depressed. Then, she discovered chuunibyou. By immersing herself in a fantasy world, Rikka became able to cope with her father’s death. She used her chuunibyou persona to search for the “invisible boundary lines”- the line between this world and the spirit world. In doing so, she felt as though she was searching for her father’s spirit and that she might be able to reunite with him one day.
In this sense, Rikka’s chuunibyou delusions are her sanctuary. When she is in her fantasy world, she feels safe and secure. Chuunibyou Rikka has a goal and a purpose- she is confident in her abilities. Meanwhile, normal Rikka is scared, confused, and lonely. She is unsure of what the future will bring, and she doesn’t want to be in a world where her father will never come back.
Other Character’s And Their Sanctuary
Rikka’s chuunibyou hobbies help her find another kind of sanctuary as well. Her adventures lead her to meet Dekomori who becomes her best friend. It also helps introduce her to Yuuta who eventually becomes her boyfriend and accepts her chuunibyou ways. Rikka decides to also create her own club, which helps her meet Nibutani and Kumin. Together, they hang out and have all sorts of crazy fun in their club room. It is a place where they can escape and be themselves. It provides them all with some kind of sanctuary.
The show never dives fully into the other characters, but it can be assumed that they also rely on their chuunibyou for some kind of relief. Yuuta briefly explains that he had trouble communicating with other children his age, so he turned to his chuunibyou character to express himself. Nothing is ever really revealed about Dekomori, but she comes from a very wealthy family, so I guessing she is burdened by all kinds of responsibilities and expectations. And although other anime do not explore chuunibyou as deeply as this one, other chuunibyou anime characters probably turn to their delusions as a form of sanctuary as well.
I believe that everyone is a little bit chuunibyou. Whether you become obsessed with or immersed in anime, manga, video games, sports, clothing, books, or bird-watching. Everyone needs a hobby and a little escape from reality in order to stay happy and sane. The characters in Love, Chuunibyou, and Other Delusions take this concept a little further than most people, especially Rikka. However, although her behavior seems strange, it is an essential part of her personality and acts as a coping method.
It is her form of sanctuary.
So the next time you see someone acting oddly (obviously not violently or inappropriately), you shouldn’t automatically assume that they are a weirdo. They just may be experiencing their own form of chuunibyou and sanctuary.
(Also, if you haven’t seen this anime, I highly recommend watching it. The anime is both comical and heartfelt, with great animation and lovable characters.)
Help Spread Awareness! Other OWLS Posts:
Check out the Sanctuary posts that came before mine:
- Sanctuary According To Ouran High School Host Club!!! by Anime Reviewer Girl
- Kenshin’s Divided Conviction- March Owls Blog Tour by Lita Anime Corner
- OWLS Blog Tour: Sword Art Online – Finding Sanctuary in Gaming by Matt-in-the-Hat
- Evangelion’s Misato Provides a Home for the Lonely | OWLS “Sanctuary” by Takuto’s Anime Cafe
- [OWLS Blog Tour] We’re All on the Same Team: Finding Sanctuary on the Volleyball Court by Nice Breaking It, Hero
Bloggers whose post will be up soon: