In this 2nd special anime school fact or fiction I’ll be talking about things that are Missing In Action from anime that are very run of the mill for real life schools. Typically when anime fans talk about anime schools they will say that either anime isn't a real depiction of Japanese life based on what they see or assume what they see is real to life, but what about all the stuff that people might not even know about. There are some things that are inaccurate because we just don't see them. So today's plan is to fill people in on some of the stuff that's MIA from school life anime. Let’s start with a basic necessity for most schools, the stove.
So most Japanese schools south of Hokkaido are a bit different, there’s no central heating and no insulation. So if it’s 30 degrees outside it’s not much warmer inside. What do schools do about this? Well in November each classroom will be equipped with a gas stove that stays there until March roughly. This is the classrooms single heat source, but it does a good job of heating everything up. For this being such a prominent feature of most classrooms during the winter time with students congregating around them I have a hard time remembering a show where you actually see them. So our first MIA is the classroom stove.
Next on the list is juku or cram school. Most people who watch anime are probably aware of this, but it seems to be left out of most shows. It’s hard to put an exact percent on how many students actually attend cram school, but it’s the vast majority. They typically go a few days during the week for a couple hours at a time. For something that is such an engrained part of the Japanese school experience it seems odd that cram school is pretty much left out. It’s probably easy to guess why with each episode having only a limited amount of time why bother putting a part about cram school in, though the lack of it really being mentioned seems strange. A fair number of students will actually enjoy cram school more then regular school and some will actually focus more on cram school. So despite it being ingrained into Japanese school life it just never seems to show up and makes it an easy choice for an MIA.
The 3rd topic today is more of a JHS focused event, it’s the chorus contest. With most junior high schools you have the sports festival, culture festival and chorus festival. It’s a big three, but most anime fans probably only know of the first two. In fact typically the culture festival and chorus festival for JHS are back to back events each taking up one day instead of the two day only culture festival. These are a really major event for the homerooms that work in a similar fashion to the culture festival where students vote on a song to sing and then practice for weeks. The students will gather together at an event hall near the school and have a competition with random teachers as the judges. The student’s families will even come and watch. So while it might seem like there’s a “big two” for school events, for most JHS it’s actually a “big three” and that’s why it’s the 3rd MIA.
Coming off a mainly JHS focused MIA the next will be a mainly HS focused MIA; the school lunch room. Yes, you will find a lunch room in HS in Japan. We are typically made to see students eating lunch in the classroom or perhaps the roof, but another major place that we’re not accustomed to seeing is the lunch room. The majority aren’t that big and it’s not like in America where pretty much everyone buys food and eats it there, but they are still used and simply they are a part of the schools. Why don’t we get dramatic lunch room moments, well I can’t say and that would be why it’s our 4th MIA.
Finally now it's our last anime school MIA. This is one that I feel it's easier to understand why it's never shown and that's the AET/ALT (assistant English/language teacher). They are not in every school, but many schools will have one cycle through during the year. I guess it might be difficult to voice the foreign character and make it accurate, but I don't recall ever seeing an anime that has an AET in the school. I could see it leading to good comedy so I am curious why it hasn't been tried. This leads me to make it the final anime school MIA today.
To change things a bit, I'm honestly starting to run out of ideas, haha. I probably have one, maybe two more blog ideas for this so just throwing this out. If anyone actually has something they'd like to see, please mention it. If not, I'm pleased with how this turned out and it's had a good run. Hopefully the last few will be enjoyable.