Chuunibyou, or "Mid-school 2nd year Syndrome", is a colloquial term in Japan which describes a person at the age of fourteen who thinks or acts like know-it-all adult despite being a kid, or has special powers no one else have. Some tend to go as far as becoming obnoxious or arrogant, looking down on adults or older people.
Such thinking or act is mostly seen in teenagers as part of their adolescence. However the problem is that there are people who still act like this even after reaching adulthood. Although it uses the word "syndrome", it does not actually relate to any medical condition or mental disorder.
Chuunibyou can also be written as 厨二病 in Japanese, where the word "厨" roughly means "-fag" in chan sense.
Hikaru Ijuin(hikaruijuin @twitter) is said to be the first person to use this term as it was heard in his radio programme Hikaru Ijuin's UP'S (伊集院光のUP'S). During an episode which was aired on 11th November 1999, Ijuin mentioned, "I'm still contracting 'chuunibyou' myself". In the following week, Ijuin started a corner called "If you think you've caught a sickness? It's Chuunibyou" in which Ijuin reads "cases" contributed by his radio listeners in his radio.
Ijuin originally described chuunibyou as the things people normally do during their 2nd year in middle school. As the term grew popular, it became a slang among Japanese internet users. Other terms such as "High School 2nd year Syndrome" (高二病, kounibyou), "Pre School 2nd year Syndrome" (小二病, shounibyou) and other similar derivatives started appearing and also became an internet meme.
It was then that Ijuin himself tweeted a message regarding this issue by saying, "I've no interest in the word anymore because it lost its original meaning when I first describe it.". Masakazu Amahisa and Katsuki Tanaka's "Bakadrill" also featured an article related to this term.
Boushi Chino's "Chuunibyou after Age 50" (50歳からの中二病, 50-sai kara no Chuunibyou) in Kadokawa's "Yomazu Kirai" (読まず嫌い) used a quote from the novel Don Quixote as a sub-header to summarize his article:
"The protagonist perceived the world through coloured glasses. When people talk to him, they will not deny his delusions and play along, but that makes him go deeper into his fantasies."
The Three types of Chuunibyou
According to the Chuunibyou User Manual(中二病取扱説明書), there are three types of people who have chuunibyou traits:
DQN (DQN系, DQN kei)
Pretends to be anti social or act like a delinquent when in fact are actually shy people due the fact they cannot become like one. Tells make up stories about gang fights or crimes. "DQN" is slang for "antisocial person" or "annoying deliquent".
Subcultural (サブカル系, SubCul kei)
Prefers non-mainstream or minor trends and establishes themselves as being special. People of this type do not really love the subculture itself but rather to obtain the cool factor of not having the same interests as others.
Evil Eye (邪気眼系, Jyakigan kei)
Admires mystical powers and thinks that they too have a hidden power within them. It is this trait that they would create an alias specifically for said power. Also known as the delusional type.
the following examples are provided from the Fundamentals of Otaku Terminology (オタク用語の基礎知識, Otaku Yougo no Kisochishiki):
- You started listening to Western music (Classic/Baroque/etc).
- You started drinking coffee that does not taste good.
- Desperately stating you know a band that has gone gold before it even did.
- You think you could do anything if you tried.
- Scolding your mother by saying "Give me some privacy here!".
- Just reading about society makes a you fully aware of history, making you say "The USA is horrible".
If you admire idols, celebrities, some foreign culture, or start acting like one of them, it may be labelled as a variation of chuunibyou, but it is called "identification" in psychology, and that means a defensive mechanism (a psychological reaction trying to stabilise one's mentality at least temporarily) of the same kind as when you subliminally intake an admired person's definite skills or achievements. Things like clothes of popular people becoming fashion and such all go the same way.
Chuunibyou Characters (Your Milage May Vary)
People Using Chuunibyou in Related Works