Chances are you have some concept of what it is to be an adult. We all do. It’s a cultural norm that is – to varying degrees of specificity – taught to us throughout our lives. It starts in preschool when we’re told to stop acting like babies. The older we get, the louder the pleas to act our age become. When we ignore these pleas, isn’t that the essence of chuunibyou? If chuunibyou is holding on to the behavior of imaginative roleplay beyond society’s tolerance for such, how might that apply to a man in his mid-thirties who spends all his time watching cartoons?
I grew up in Middle America in the 1980′s. I wore white gym socks with stripes at the top on a daily basis. I had a My Pet Monster and the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier. I woke up every morning at 6 a.m. to watch Woody Woodpecker. It was a charmed life.
Tiny Toons was huge when I was young. Woody Woodpecker gave way to Tex Avery. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made a splash in ’87. The Simpsons debuted. Then came Cartoon Network and with it, an endless barrage of Hanna Barbera. By that point I was 13. Ren & Stimpy was a favorite of mine. Beavis and Butthead were a thing. I always, always, loved cartoons.
Growing up in such a culture comes with some baggage. Foremost for our topic today is the nuclear family concept that children watch their cartoons, and adults do not. It’s one of those lines that you’re supposed to cross. And I never did.
Then came Toonami. And Adult Swim. And Netflix. Anime.
Then came moving out. And marriage. And kids. Adulthood?
I think therein lies the conflict. I am an adult. Society tells me that adults don’t exclusively watch cartoons. I do, though.
Rikka is a teen. Society tells her that she should stop getting lost in her fantasies. She can’t do that, because that’s who she is.
Somewhere along the lines of the first season and the OVA we’ve learned our lesson, though. There is a breaking point where social norms cannot trump personal happiness. Rikka is allowed her delusions. I am allowed my anime.