What is Chuunibyou? [Definition, Meaning]

Did you ever play games of imagination as a kid? Running around outside, pretending to be superheroes or fantastic creatures in a made-up world with your friends… Games like these could provide hours of entertainment for children. And some people don’t lose that sense of imagination and creativity as they get older. This, essentially, is how a chuuni is developed. A chuunibyou is a somewhat derogatory term to describe a person who believes that they have special powers that are unique to them. Chuunibyou roughly translates to “8th grade syndrome,” as most people experience this stage around that age group, although some will continue it on until they are older.

A person categorized as a chuunibyou will believe that they are different or more important in some way than other people, specifically in their age group. There are few ways that this can manifest itself. Usually the type of chuuni you become depends on what it is that you admire most, and thus want to emulate.

There are several anime that provide examples of what a chuuni is like. Let’s look at a few of them to help describe the three main types of chuunibyou.

An Antisocial or Delinquent

The first type of chuunibyou is known as the DQN-type. This person may act like they are a criminal or that they hate being around people when really they don’t. They are often too kind or tame to actually act in that manner. However, they will usually tell exaggerated and made-up stories to pretend they fit in with the mindset.

Essentially, this chuuni-type is seen by others as somewhat of a poser. They are trying to pretend to live a lifestyle they are incapable of actually living, and it is apparent to everyone around them. Yet a DQN will continue to tell stories and boast of their made-up exploits naively. This type of chuunibyou tends to self-proclaim that they are one kind of person when they are actually not, like Rintarou Okabe from Steins;Gate.

Steins;Gate

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: Apr. 2011 – Sep. 2011

“Mad scientist” Rintarou Okabe rents out a room in Akihabara to invent “future gadgets” with his lab-mates Mayuri Shiina and Hashida Itaru. They frequently work on an invention called the Phone Microwave, which turns bananas into a green gel. While the Phone Microwave doesn’t seem all that promising at first, the team soon discovers that the device has the capability to send emails into the past and change the course of history. How will Okabe handle this responsibility, to hold the key to changing the present and the future?

Although Rintarou Okabe is a bit old to be categorized as a chuunibyou, he displays the characteristics of one nonetheless. He claims that he is a mad scientist, and often tries to make himself out to be a villain or crazed madman. However, he is actually rather immature, especially as he acts like a chuuni while being much older. He often talks to himself on his cell phone, using words that don’t make a lot of sense. Okabe is definitely a man who has let his sense of reality get distorted, particularly about his own personality!

Steins;Gate Trailer


The Hipster

The second type of chuunibyou is the hipster or subculture type. What matters most to this person is their ability to appear cool or different from others, based on their likes/passions. They may not even actually enjoy the things they become attached to, but if they perceive that other people might think they’re cool for liking something, the hipster chuuni will attempt to get into it as well.

From the perspective of this type of chuunibyou, finding something that few people like is the ultimate way to impress other people. They will tend to avoid the mainstream, and often shrug it off when others bring it up. Their attachment to something less popular becomes the sticking point for proving that they are indeed special. However, in some cases this type of chunni may follow a more popular subculture to try to get in with that crowd, as in the case of Tomoko Kuroki from Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! (WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Unpopular!)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Jul. 2013 – Sep. 2013

Tomoko Kuroki was nervous about high school before, but after playing 50 different simulated school lives and dating 100 virtual boys, she thinks she’s ready! However, she soon finds out that all her preparation means nothing in the real world. Tomoko is introverted and awkward, understanding none of the social graces a high school student needs. With her brother and her best friend helping her, Tomoko attempts to make it through her first year of high school.

Tomoko tries to emulate many of the things she has learned in video game simulations, magazines, etc. to become more popular in high school. While she is not a hipster in the more traditional sense, she does fit in with this chunni type because she is closely following the specific subculture in order to make herself popular with that group. And since stereotypes are not always true in real life, her attempt to translate what she has learned often puts her in awkward scenarios… In one scene, she attempts to make conversation with her lunch friends by quoting what she has read out of a magazine!

WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Unpopular! Promo


The Mystic or “Evil Eye”

The third type of chuunibyou is the one that is most commonly associated with the term, often referred to as the mystic type or “evil eye.” What makes this person stand out is their belief that they are special because they have some sort of supernatural power. It is the most common type because the person acts so erratically, usually wearing strange clothing, saying unusual things and behaving as if they were out to save the world. Thus, people notice this type of chunni more. The evil eye chuunibyou relies on their powers to differentiate them from everyone else.

Chunni of this type are underestimated in the seriousness of their syndrome. While the mystic type may not seem as serious upon first glance, they are often the most invested of the three types. A person’s superpowers come to define them, more so because others are far less likely to believe in them. Though there are many examples of the evil eye chuunibyou in anime, one of the clearest is Maria Imari from Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!

Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! (This Art Club Has A Problem!)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Jul. 2016 – Sep. 2016

In Mizuki Usami’s art club, there is a huge problem – she is the only one who seems to take it seriously! Their club president is constantly sleeping, and the eccentric Collette rarely shows up to activities unless she is doing something strange. To make matters worse, Uchimaki Subaru is the only member of the club who regularly shows up, and he is obsessed with drawing his perfect waifu. Usami must deal with the club activities, often distracted by the rest of the club members’ antics, as well as her annoying crush on Subaru.

Maria Imari is a supporting character in this anime, mostly due to the fact that she is not actually part of the art club. Yet she is clearly the strangest character in the show! Wearing bandages that cover her arms, Maria believes she has special powers because of an anime that she and Uchimaki both watch called Black Dragon Eye. Maria often likes to pretend that she has the abilities of the characters from the show, and will pose dramatically to emphasize this. Collette sees Maria as a mentor, due to Collette’s own desire to be a superhero. Even by the final episode, it is clear that Maria will not be growing up anytime soon.

Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! PV 2 (TBS)


Final Thoughts

Chuunibyou may appear in three distinct types, but there are a lot of variations in the way the term is used to describe people! Did you see yourself in any of these types? Did you have any other suggestions for chunni characters in your favorite anime?

As always, we at Honey’s Anime love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

by Meghan May Dellinger

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