Maybe this is a little out-of-left-field, but I got to thinking about it after talking with my friend and frequent collaborator, Mike Gallagher. He’s the same long-time fan who put the whole scanlation issue in perspective for me. He was telling about how comics are so pervasive in Japanese culture that there’s instructional manga for basically every subject you could want to learn. Manga for office protocol, manga for cooking recipes, manga for baseball skills… ad infinitum. It’s amazing how certain notions can trigger memories and this topic of edu-tainment brought my mind back to my youth in Asia.
I remember reading a series of hardback, text-book style mangas at the library and watching their accompanying anime on TV. I can’t, for the life of me, remember what the name of the series was - - so please help me out here if you can - - but it’s left unforgettable images in my mind. Basically, it taught children biology by imagining the human body as something between an office building and a giant mind. There was a hierarchy of characters residing in buildings within the gut, while hard hat-wearing workers (representing blood cells) toiled in long tunnels (representing blood streams.) Each episode addressed issues of nutrition, sickness and general health, contrasting the goings-on of these body worlds with the activities of the human children who owned them outside. In one episode, specifically, the boy ate too much junk food and subsequently got sleepy. The aforementioned workers were then shown intercepting these big chunks of food as they entered the digestive track and then running disaster control to keep the chemicals they released into the blood under control.
Weird, certainly, but memorable. I don’t know, I’ve always had a special appreciation for well-done “edu-tainment” (and I emphasize well-done) the same as my appreciation for music-driven animation. Of course, it’s great to have something edify you at the same time it entertains you, but I think there’s also something appealing about using artistic abstractions to represent normally-dry scholarly concepts. I could really go on for much longer about this but, to keep it on topic, I’ll keep it to asking you Anime Vice lunatics if there’s any memorable educational anime similar to what I’ve described above. Or is there any time you’ve ever watched or read something that educated you about a subject you were unfamiliar with. Just as a welcome side product.
And one of you resourceful Anime Vice lunatics has to know the name of the show I described above. C'mon!