Chuunibyou Idols – Which Came First, the Chuuni or the Idol?

With as many idol anime as we have now, there is also a plethora of idols with an array of different, colorful personalities, and one of them is the ever-popular “chuunibyou” attribute.

In Love Live Sunshine, Yoshiko is a normal girl who then went on to become a chuunibyou to shine, went on to become “Yohane”. In Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls, Ranko is actually a shy, withdrawn girl who has trouble conveying what she wants to say, and opted for chuunibyou-style cryptic messages. In Aikatsu, Yurika is a shy, normal girl who in order to stand out with the rest of the idols in Starlight Academy, created a persona — a vampire character.

dat fang

All these characters, as you can probably notice by now, have one thing in common — they are shy and withdrawn. Because of that, they have to rely on their “chuunibyou forms”, their more confident selves, for self-esteem and to also stand out from the rest of these dazzling idols.

Due to their personalities, or the lack thereof, being idols doesn’t seem like something these girls would be able to accomplish, something that is always brimming with grandeur and brilliance. So how do they match that grandeur and brilliance? By creating an alter-ego, of course. Creating a persona literally from scratch means you can go beyond the wildest imaginations — a fallen angel, a vampire and so on; anything to match an idol’s brilliance. And what’s interesting is that in the world of idols, it can also be an excellent way to market yourself by presenting your gimmick or “character” to your fans.

So what does this tells us? Chuunibyou is an element that influences an idol heavily — on how they interact with people, on how they interact with the world. Idols like Yurika and Ranko basically socialize with their friends through their self-created chuunibyou personae, because they are too quiet, awkward and shy otherwise. They created their chuunibyou personae out of necessity — they are idols first before they are chuunibyou, but the latter an important parts of themselves nonetheless as it helps them connect with people, and more importantly, their fans.

As a kid, Yoshiko already realized she is bland. Her solution? Chuunibyou. Yoshiko is a little bit different compared to my other examples. She is the least shy out of all of them, and really only struggled to find her “idol image” because of her blandness. She doesn’t create her chuunibyou persona as it was something she has had since childhood. By the time she grew up and become an idol, she made use of that side of her to help build her image as an idol, not without some reluctance on her part at first of course; since “grew up” and “chuunibyou” don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. In Love Live Sunshine, Yoshiko’s episode focused on her struggles with her identity, but in the end found a group of friends in Aqours who will accept her for who she is; as “Yohane” — the fallen angel. So for Yoshiko, she is a chuunibyou before she is an idol, but the former still become a major part of her identity that distinguish her from everyone else.

To that end, this is a particularly interesting question — Which came first, the chuuni or the idol? There are idols who created their chuunibyou personae out of necessity while there are idols who were already chuunibyou long before they become idols. And despite whichever the answer is, it is no exaggeration to say that chuunibyou has already become inseparable to them. An integral parts to themselves as a person, and as an idol; chuunibyou to them, is a way of life.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

2 thoughts on “Chuunibyou Idols – Which Came First, the Chuuni or the Idol?

  1. I think the popularity of Chuunbyou idols came as a result of the popularity of these characters. While they existed in anime for a while, they didn’t become popular until recently with some notable examples such as Kuroneko from Oreimo, Kobato from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and of course most of the cast from Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!. It’s quite obvious that Chuunibou came first before the idol aside from the character development since the merging of the chuunibou and the idol didn’t came until 2011. I think that Kanzaki Ranko is the first chuunibou idol when Cinderella Girls mobile game started in 2011.

    Aside from the history of chuunibou idols, it’s not surprising to see that aspect coming first before the idol. An idol becomes popular mostly because of their personality more than anything besides appearance and singing talent, which in turns give interesting character development.

    • I haven’t done proper research on this, but the root of chuunibyou characters definitely go deeper than that. But yeah, early 2010s is when this archetype got really popular, and it was only a matter of time until the attribute crossed over to idols.

      “Aside from the history of chuunibou idols, it’s not surprising to see that aspect coming first before the idol. An idol becomes popular mostly because of their personality more than anything besides appearance and singing talent, which in turns give interesting character development.”

      Which is always something I find fascinating about idols. Skills in singing and dancing are of course important, but other aspects like the way they market themselves, gimmicks, etc… are always pretty interesting to look into.

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