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Twelve Days of Anime: Day V – A Response to Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

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A lot of bloggers have been talking about Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai after the big plot developements we saw in the last two episodes. Most of them have been understandably resentful of Togashi’s aggressive actions (or inaction in some cases).

“People shouldn’t be forced to change just to fit in with the crowd”

That seems to be the general consensus about this show around the anisphere. This is the prevalent view in society as a whole as well, but I think, as anime viewers, we are a bit more sensitive to this issue. Anime certainly isn’t viewed in a very positive light in the western world; it might not be shunned, but it isn’t respected either. As an American, I have rejected a cultural norm to some extent in order to enjoy myself which seems to be in line with the quote above.

But at the same time, I don’t scream from the rooftops about my hobby either. It isn’t an embarrassment, but I do feel I have an image to maintain that would be damaged if I ever became “that anime guy.” I get a lot of resistance from people when I start talking like that. Everybody wants to believe that they live for themselves, but that just isn’t the case. We are social animals, and we adapt to cultural norms whether we want to or not; this habit is built into our genetic code. Of course genetic codes are not the absolute dictators of our actions. This leads to cultural variations and even whole new subcultures.

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When I’m talking with people around my university I tend to emphasize my more socially acceptable hobbies and traits and usually don’t mention my other, unappealing onesIf and when we become closer friends, I’ll actually open up and talk about my more divisive interests: anime included. This means I don’t have to lie to them or myself, but I instead shift the truth to work more in my favor.

After I bring this up, most people remember situations where they’ve done this themselves, and they recognize it as a “necessary evil” of sorts. But in Rikka’s case, this isn’t just a shift in the truth. She has to put on an artificial mask and force herself to behave normally. Now I can see where many people would take offense to this and reject any good that may come of it. That’s understandable, but I have a different perspective.

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If you trust in mainstream psychology, you might know about something called behavioral feedback. Here’s a little experiment they conducted on this subject. They had a group of participants each read a little story while holding a pen in their mouths. Half the group was told to hold the pen in their teeth; the other half were told to hold the pen in their lips. Stupid, right?

Well, if you want to try it yourself, you’ll notice that holding a pen in your teeth will force you to smile, but if you hold it in your lips, you’ll find yourself frowning. The observations on the experiment were notable because the group holding the pen in their teeth (smiling) enjoyed the story much more than their pen-in-lips (frowning) counterparts.

The conclusions drawn from this experiment as well as many other studies have showed us that what we do can affect what we think. If you walk with your head held high, you’ll become more confident. If you smile more, you’ll become happier. If you pretend to be more sociable like Rikka, eventually you will be. To put it simply, fake something long enough, and it will become real.

The theory behind all this revolves around cognitive dissonance. Our mind likes our actions and thoughts to be in alignment. If we act in a way that goes against our thoughts, something has to give. Sometimes guilt, empathy, anger or another emotion will take over and stop a reaction, but in other situations our thoughts and feelings will change to support our current response. For this reason, our “artificial” personality can quite literally become the real thing.

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“People shouldn’t be forced to change just to fit in with the crowd”

The “crowd” always has such a negative connotation. It’s treated as if it is some malevolent destroyer of individuality. In reality the crowd is culture, and it is product of human desires, not a shaper of them. Tell me that anime isn’t more fun to watch in a group; tell me you don’t enjoy blogging and chatting in the anisphere; tell me our “crowd” isn’t more fun than being alone.

We’ve created our own subculture here, but unfortunately Rikka doesn’t have that same option. Even if she did, would she be able to operate when outside of that group? You can’t hold down a job when pretending to be a supernatural creature, and so her only real option is to abandon one group for another. No matter how disappointing it may be, she’ll eventually enjoy her life just the same, if not more so than before.

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I wish I had the time and energy to add more to this post, but I’m sure it could run on forever. I hope I gave you something to think about though. My access to the internet and a computer will be extremely restricted until Saturday evening. I’ll try putting out one or two posts tomorrow night, but it might not happen.

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One thought on “Twelve Days of Anime: Day V – A Response to Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

  1. “For this reason, our “artificial” personality can quite literally become the real thing.”
    I can vouch that this is true, having done it deliberately.

    “…they recognize it as a “necessary evil” of sorts.”
    This is definitely true.

    “The “crowd” always has such a negative connotation. It’s treated as if it is some malevolent destroyer of individuality. In reality the crowd is culture, and it is product of human desires, not a shaper of them.”
    You’re right of course. But there’s a big difference between what you’re referring to here – the crowd as in “society” or the crowd as in “group”. Society, by nature, ends up being about conformity and suppressing individuality, to a certain extent. Even in societies where individuality is encouraged (e.g. the West), this happens to be the case. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it’s there. The fear of being ostracized is a legitimate one, and one that encourages conformity. But conforming to what? That’s the “culture” you’ve mentioned, with all the products of human desires (even those that aren’t necessarily “good” ones, speaking fully subjectively). And it DOES shape desires – there’s a very messy, unknown, feedback loop that operates there.
    The way you’re referring to here (vs. the rest of the post) is as a “group” of people you’re with. These are usually selected in some way, shape, or form, from relevant interests or circumstances, and can be very varied. But they exist within the “crowd” that is society, and only CAN exist given enough leniency and numbers. Of course, things are more fun in groups (you’ve mentioned we are social animals), but they’re not “crowds” in the way that is implied through common use of the term.
    Does that make sense? Apologies if the criticism appears a bit disjointed.

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