Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Don Quixote was a Chuunibyou

Anime references keep popping into mind while I do homework. This week, as I read part of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, I thought of chuunibyou, inter-anime fandom references, and anime parodies.

Don Quixote is the original chuunibyou. As I tweeted recently, other than age, our delusional friend fits all the requirements: 

1. He’s immersed himself in literature on chivalry, a concept that was already archaic by Quixote’s time (ca. 1600). Over in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!  (Love, Chunibyo, and other Delusions), we learned that Yuta became caught up in anime and video games, which inspired his delusions (I heard that we get a little more of his backstory this season, but I haven’t started it yet, so shhh).

2. He’s given himself a grand name (as I was reminded by someone on Twitter). “Don” is a fancy title, and “Quixote” is not this common man’s real name. Don’t tell him that, though. He’s the Dark Flame Ma- err, the knight-errant Don Quixote de la Mancha, whose heart belongs to the beautiful Dulcinea del Toboso! And if you forget it, he’ll happily remind you with his lance... so long as he hasn’t been jousting any “giants” lately, in which case his lance needs some repairs first.

Rikka (right) uses her summoned weapon to engage the Bureau's
top priestess in epic battle!

Or rather, she swings her umbrella at her big sister, who responds by
hitting her with a ladle. It's just a matter of perspective, really.

3. Like Rikka, Don Quixote has renamed those around him to fit his fantasy. There is no “priestess” in his story (at least, not the chapters I’ve read), but his childhood crush is now a grand lady, princess, or queen, depending on which way his delusions most recently turned. His horse is “Rocinante,” whose grand-sounding name declares his past state as a hack. Thankfully, Quixote’s fantasies don’t have him riding a chimera, so he hasn't forced any wings on his noble steed. The poor horse is in bad enough shape as it is. 

As I read Don Quixote, I identified it as a parody, and my mind went to magical girl parodies. When the author, Cervantes, referenced texts I’ve never read, I thought, chivalry or literature fans of Cervantes’ day probably loved that! It reminded me of the Death Note references in Watamote, or the Gundam references in, well, almost every anime that features otaku. Those bits delight fans. Even those of us who haven't actually seen anything from the Gundam franchise enjoy the reference, because it's part of our world of anime fandom. I assume that chivalry nerds felt similarly when they read Don Quixote.  

In class, my professor confirmed that Don Quixote is a parody, and that it’s episodic. He defined the two words. I didn’t jot down the definitions. My online adventures through streaming sites, forums, and blogs had already educated me on those literary terms, so that they’re a common part of my vocabulary.

This is just the latest example of how anime has supplemented my education. 

I already told Tumblr that Baccano! and Durarara!! made it seem easy to track with storytelling my professor warned was a little “confusing” and “tricky to follow.” Puh-lease. Louise Erdrich masterfully crafted Love Medicine from multiple perspectives and out of chronological order, but it took no more concentration to digest than Baccano! did. In fact, the anime was the more mind-bending of the two.


  1. I wish I could have equated more homework assignments to anime when I was in college. Probably would have improved my grade XD. Also, it would be interesting to see what geek culture was like in the past.

  2. Ah, Don Quixote: the only original thing written since Homer and my favorite novel. I also happen to be a fan of chivalric literature, but the sad thing is that one can't find translations of most of the works the priest mentions when they sort through Don Quixote's library. That might be a good thing: most of the works were considered worthy of the flames after all!

    I keep hearing mentions of Chuunibyo, but I have no idea whether I should watch it. From what I have read, it sounds decently amusing but no more than that! I love how you connected Don Quixote with it!

    1. Thanks! Yes, it's amusing. I've only watched the first two episodes of this season, though. While this show can be fun, I have much bigger priorities on my watching list.


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