Here is part 2 of the ASFF "It's all in the details" special. I've got seven more small aspects about anime schools to touch upon.
8th Classes labeled 1-A, 2-C - Fact, but actually probably the lesser used of the two main options: You totally do get the class labeling starting with their grade year (1st, 2nd or 3rd grade) and class (A, B, 1, 2 class) however, and this is such a minor thing it's probably not even worth pointing out buy you'll normally see 1-1, 2-3 more than you'll see 1-A, 2-C. Yeah super small though this is another one that's true.
9th Crazy summer homework! Ahh! - Fact: I don't know about you guys, but the most summer homework I ever got was to read two books. Japanese students on the other hand will get summer homework in all subjects and it's not just one worksheet, it's a handout of multiple things. Typically just you're basic answering questions worksheet (all be it many of them), but sometimes more then just that, like perhaps writing an English speech as a good example. So when you see an anime character panicking because school begins in 2 days and they haven't started their homework, well they have good reason to panic because they are screwed!
10th The sports field is one giant dirt ground - Fact: Unlike most American schools Japanese schools don't have the luxury of multiple sports fields or well... grass for that matter. The majority of schools, mainly JHS, will just have one large all dirt ground that is the field for baseball, softball, soccer, track and any other outside sport and also is where PE takes place. So there's an always rotating schedule for the clubs and they switch who uses the ground. HS are typically a bit better equipped and you'll see more specific, all be it smaller, practice fields.
11th Punishing students by kicking them out of class - Fiction: Perhaps back in the old days this was common place, but now a days no. It would take the most extreme of circumstances for a student to be taken out of class. And just as a side point about Japanese schools, teachers have virtually no power to discipline students, perhaps back 20 some odd years ago when the more traditional Japanese values were still lingering around and people would fall in line better the way the Japanese school system functions worked, but now a days it doesn't work quite as well and there's really nothing the teachers can do to punish students who are being bad like, perhaps, kicking them out of class.
12th The nurses room is a place students, maybe not the best students, go to rest and hang out - Fact: The nurses room typically is a bigger room with about 2 beds in it and the nurse is normally the cool, kind, friendly, caring staff member who will help students and so students who aren't so serious about studies will sometimes just go and hangout with the nurse and perhaps just take a nap by making up some excuse for not feeling well. Though the nurse typically doesn't want this to happen they will sometimes depending on the situation let it slide.
13th Elementary school kids where those bright hats and weird square shaped back packs - Fact: So while almost all elementary schools don't have uniforms most will have some brightly colored, rain hat looking, hat that can look different from school to school that the kids can wear. They don't always, don't have to and not all have them, but they are certainly a very real thing that you do see. Also those weird, square shaped back packs are real and CRAZY expensive! We are talking hundreds of dollars expensive, but for some reason they've become so ubiquitous that it's almost like the kids have to have them. Not everyone will and it's pretty much more exclusive to younger kids, but like with the hats a very real thing.
14th Student pocket ID card / mini-book thing - Fact: So those little pocket books with their ID in them are very much real. Each schools has one and inside you'll find the students information, a list of school rules, a yearly planner / calendar and perhaps 1 or 2 other things. Students are suppose to carry them around all day or at the very least always bring them to school.
Session #11 Toys in the Attic (4 out of 5 stars)
Honorable Mention: Ending
Perhaps the episode with the most unique feel to it and a little different type of humor this time around, but an episode that's really entertaining to watch and stays consistently funny throughout. It's an almost quasi-horror, suspense, comedy. The way they mix up the genres in this episode is what gives it that really unique feel. A lot of sight gags this time around which seems like something Bebop typically doesn’t do a lot of. My favorite part of this episode, even with all of the good gags throughout, is the ending. Just a really cool, interesting way to end an episode. It was exciting, had a great song choice, managers to give you an absurd conclusion and has that really nice shot of space and the crew just floating in the end. It's interesting seeing the crew when they are floating around the ship because they show each crew member separate and on the screen with them is all items that are pretty much exclusively things they like and use. Kinda funny seeing how they put all of these things together with them.
Another strong opening this episode getting the creatures perspective. I liked the sound effect they used for it as well. I think it’s neat seeing how the show brings Faye into the crew. During episodes 5 and 6 you get the sense she is still an outsider and not fully adjusted with the crew and they aren’t with her, Then by episode 7 they are teaming up for bounties and by now it seems totally natural with her on the Bebop. Good job with that. Something I just picked up on that I think is funny is how Spikes theory, when they are trying to determine what it was that got Jet, is actually right. Just take away rat and add lobster. Little things like that, that help add to the great humor in this episode.
Session #12 Jupiter Jazz pt. 1 (4 out of 5 stars)
Top 3: Best fight and art
When it comes to a particular moment or part of this episode that stands out as the best in Cowboy Bebop not much really jumps to mind. Good openings and endings, but not standout, perhaps the music, but it’s virtually limited to the one song so without a bit more variety I can't say that. The one thing that I’d pick is Spikes fight. The animation is so fluid and you get to really see Spike landing some vicious blows. That might be the only moment, but there’s an overall aspect of this show that really shines: the atmosphere. This episode just oozes with atmosphere and mood. The setting is amazing. This is perhaps the one episode in particular that changes my mood and how I’m feeling as I’m watching. It just sucks me into this run down, old, cold town that Faye has chosen to come to. The snow, the colors, that one sax solo, the mystery, it all pulls me in. I love the background, cityscape shots in Jupiter Jazz 1 and 2. It's just beautiful and adds to the atmosphere. As much as any this is the episode that you experience, not just watch and enjoy. Even though it’s not my favorite or what I’d consider the best this might be the episode I would show to someone if I wanted to represent what Bebop can be.
Probably the longest opening, from tank to the title screen is roughly 5 minutes and the first appearance of a bebop crew member isn’t until about 5 minutes 15 seconds in. Something I’m noticing more this time is the amount of ambient outer space shots we get. I really like the look of those scenes so for me it’s a nice touch when they throw them in. Something else I also liked is how space in the bebop universe never felt like this empty, isolated, endless void. There’s always something, other ships, colonized asteroids and moons, phase gates, space stations scattered throughout the universe. For some reason I’ve always just had this anxiety of that kind of empty space, but Bebop does such an amazing job filling it out it makes it look appealing. We also get to see probably one of the most major secondary characters in the series since he gives us some background in the character, if not just for the fact that he's in multiple episodes. Gren I find to be an interesting character. At first he is quite the mysterious character, but ends up being a good sympathetic figure with the classic bitter-sweet close out Bebop seems to leave so many characters with.
In the 8th installment of ASFF I'll touch upon some of the smaller details that perhaps don't stand out as much or things you might not think about. I'll do a two part blog because I've been able to think of enough things to throw out. This will be a rapid fire version. I'll hit on a bunch of different things and keep it brief.
1st Opening Ceremony - Fact: We've probably all seen an anime where on the first day of school, or before summer vacation, all of the students are dragged into the gym, made to stand in perfect lines, wearing the complete and proper uniform and then listen to speeches from the principal and perhaps a few other people and after that leave early. This is dead on the first day of school. The first day is short and the opening ceremony is just like that. A bunch of disinterested students standing in the gym in lines with their class and just listening. You will also typically get two opening ceremonies. One for the 1st grade students, where also their parents will attend, and one for the 2nd and 3rd grade students.
2nd Choosing seats by pulling numbers - Fact and Fiction: The basic idea of each spot in the classroom is a number and the students pull a lot out of a box with a number on it and sit where it is, is something that's totally done and accurate. However virtually every teacher has their own unique way or twist on it so it's almost never just pull number, sit there. I've seen playing cards, teachers choosing at random, and many different variations of just the basic pulling numbers. So while this is very true to life, normally the teachers will add their own unique spin to it.
3rd Vastly different summer and winter uniforms - Fiction: It seems that in most anime the summer and winter uniforms are so different that they look like it could be different schools, from color changes to completely different shirts and accessories. This touches upon my first ASFF where anime tends to "fancy" up the uniforms to unreal levels. While there are different uniforms, it's usually something much more simple like, not having to wear certain parts of the uniform during the summer and lighter weight pants and skirts. It's not to the level of an almost entirely new wardrobe.
4th Summer classes - Fact and Fiction: So Japanese schools will have extra summer classes for students. The thing is, they aren't really as filled as you'll see in some shows where the turnout seems to be almost 90% or more. Also these summer classes will also sometimes just be more tutor / help sessions where students will go to a classroom and do work or study for say an hour while a teacher is in the room to help and answer questions. This will be divided up by subject so you know to study math today because the math teacher will be here.
5th The big main gate and teachers locking you out if you're late! - Fact and Fiction: All schools have that big main entrance gate, as well as at least one smaller side one that the students will indeed funnel through in the morning and yes you'll have teachers standing at the gate greeting students as they enter and checking the time giving students a heads up on if they are running late and closing the gate when morning homeroom starts. But it's not like the teacher is locking the student out and they won't be able to show up for the day, I'm pretty sure that's technically illegal. You'll just have the teacher (depending on their personality and the student) joking and telling the kid to "Do their best! Hurry!" or give a little lecture to the extent of "you're late, you need to arrive sooner"
6th Cleaning the classrooms - Fact: Most people are actually probably pretty aware of this. Yup Japanese students clean the classroom and they will also clean the hallway after school. It's pretty much what you see. Probably students are lazier in real life, but hey, this is about as basic of a "what you see is what you get" as their is.
7th There's no school buses - Fact: ...There are no school buses in Japan, well preschool has buses so the kids don't have to walk to school but if you're an elementary school or JHS student you're walking to school. HS students are lucky because most HS allow students to ride a bike to school, ES and JHS students aren't allowed to ride bikes to school.
Session #9 Jamming with Edward (3 out of 5 stars)
Top 3: Best opening
This episode starts out on a strong note for me. Not having any of the Bebop crew and getting an inner monologue from a satellite, of all things, I really liked. And just seeing the satellite make a carving was a nice touch. Then pretty much having the entire episode explained to us from the beginning, with the thoughts of a satellite, leaving us to just sit back and take in the new crew member is an interesting way of laying out the episode. It almost seems risky for an opening. You don't have your main cast, the episode is laid out for you, so why stick around? Well it's because you know the quality of this show and the fact that Cowboy Bebop is always doing little switches like this to mix things up that help to keep you watching instead of pulling your interest away. The ending scene did give us a quick dose of action and one of the cooler moments I feel when Spike has to coast his ship in. Bebop does a good job of knowing when to make things quiet and cut off the music and all or virtually all the sound like they did for this part. I mean it's not 2001 A Space Odyssey, but hey pretty much nothing else is like that, but the way Bebop works in silence with it's incredible sound track helps to highlight just how great the soundtrack and the directing. It helps to show that the director really knows when to pull all the right strings and do things that you typically don't see or in this case hear.
When looking back on this episode it’s hard to find things to comment on. Jet’s description of Radical Edward is hilarious, the crew turning in a disc to get the reward and then the explanation why they don’t get any money is great and Spikes comment at the end is classic. Other than just some nice comedy and seeing Ed for the first time. Perhaps one last thing is just how well Bebop brings in the cast members. I mentioned this in an earlier blog, but it keeps things fresh having the final addition come in episode 9, yet even though Ed misses pretty much an entire 1/3 of the show she never feels like a lesser part of the crew. Testament to the show and writing to make Ed feel like she belongs.
Session #10 Ganymede Elergy (4 out of 5 stars)
Top 3: Music episode
When I first watched Bebop the Jet episodes never stood out to me, but after repeated viewings they’ve grown on me and the slower paced, conversation focused, drama heavy episodes have become ones I really enjoy. Also from an editing standpoint and cinematography this episode is probably the best. The way scenes are shot, the angels used, the cuts, the way moments will pause on characters is all just so effective in this episode and even striking at times. From a technical standpoint this episode is just great to see. Perhaps that’s the reason that even though this is a “slow” episode it never drags or feels dull. Pretty much every scene provides something interesting to look at. Also the choices of music and way it’s used here are phenomenal. Using Waltz for Zizi twice certainly doesn’t hurt and the choice of The Singing Sea when Jet is searching just gives off that old timey feel for old timer Jet. The highlight though is easily ELM during the final chase scene. What a crazy and genius move picking that great song for a climactic chase scene. And an obvious highlight is how Jet's character is fleshed out in this episode. The way, what many people might few as one of Jet's strengths with being the leader and taken control, is actually what pushed the women he loved away and proved to be a flaw was very well done and interesting to see.
It was nice to see the crew actually get a good amount of money. They pulled in 2,800,000 wulongs from the two bounties this episode. Probably one of the better hauls we see. You'll notice that fans will bring up, how it seems the crew doesn't seem to be that good at their job and the question of just how many people do they catch comes up. It's there, not often, but they do bring in the money from time to time. I forget the biggest payday we see. Was the Teddy Bomber a big one? Despite this being a Jet focused episode I liked Spikes roll a lot. Pretty much playing comic relief and being used to move the plot along at the end he just used his little time well. Ed already feels like a regular part of the crew though it's not for a little bit more until they rely on her skills. Another episode, like most of the more slower, dramatic episodes, that seems really popular with big fans of the show and I agree on this one.
The typical anime school day - Fact and again probably shouldn't come off as a surprise.
The way anime shows homeroom as very important and where you spend most of your time - Fact
First was the big picture overview of the school year and now it's time to talk about the day to day schedule of the students. Is Japanese school really 8 days a week and 29 hours long?
I know I've said this many times before and in my first blog post I made a big deal about pointing out how I'm just giving a very general summery and this is in no way 100% truth for every single school. I feel that this might be where my general example covers the least amount of schools just because every school varies in so many ways and has their own style for how things work, but I'll try and give the best picture I can so you can see if school days are really how they are made out to be. I'm pretty much trying to draw the average of all the schools I know and if I can think of any extreme examples I throw those in.
So when does the day begin? 8:00? 7:00?!! Morning homeroom typically starts about 8:50... yup. When I was a high school student my first class started at 8:20 so lets just say I was a bit surprised when the very first moment of stepping into a school the very first notion of the long Japanese school days was already way off what I expected. Some clubs, even in JHS, will have morning practice a few days a week though and that typically starts around 7:45-8:00 so that I would considering an early start, but that's for just the clubs that have a few morning practices during the week.
This is a good time to mention to that homeroom is SUPER important for Japanese schools. You're homeroom is everything. Compared to America where homeroom is the 5 minutes you sit trying to finish your homework from the previous day. Homerooms in Japan are a big deal. You probably get this feeling from watching anime where homerooms do everything together, are always together, it's where you're best friends are and you might not even know students outside of your homeroom. As I said last time Japanese schools have a ton more events and basically this closeness is because you are always doing something together with your homeroom. You have a festival, or cleaning, or trip, or activity day, or school competition. Also there are a number of special classes (JHS has homeroom, moral and integrated studies to name a few) that take place on a daily basis almost. These are classes where the homeroom teacher comes up with special activities or lessons for the students. Also students stay in their homerooms almost all day and only leave for a few specific subjects. So homerooms are everything in Japan.
While touching upon homeroom lets just mention homeroom teachers. Seeing as how homerooms are so important you can probably guess that homeroom teachers are big. A completely not exaggerated way to explain them are as second parents. Especially for JHS students your homeroom teacher is a major part of your life and can have a huge effect on you. If anyone has seen Kimi Ni Todoke where the teacher is always involved with the kids it's kinda like that. I'll just give one good example of just how important. So lets say a student isn't the best kid and maybe gets in trouble with the police one day for stealing a candy bar from a store, something like that. So it's 11:00 a night, who does the policemen call first... the parent... heck no! The homeroom teacher. That's right. This may not be the case 100% of the time, but I've heard many, many cases where this is how it happens.
Ok back to the school day. I've seen schools have 4 - 45 minute classes, 6 - 50 minute classes, 4 - 90 minutes classes, but the most common schedule I see is 5 classes, either 3 or 4 before lunch and 1 or 2 after lunch that are 50 minutes long. Break time between class is 10 minutes and lunch and recess are about 15 minutes a piece. So when does school get out? 4:00? 5:00? Average day maybe homeroom ends about 3:30. Ok so when I was in high school it started at 8:20 and finished at 2:45, had 8 - 40 minutes classes, 5 minutes between and 30 minutes for lunch. I don't know how this stacks up for the rest of you, but my school day and a Japanese students school day are pretty close in length.
Of course though you have clubs and committees. Japanese schools LOVE committees! There's a group of students whose job it is to replace to toilet paper in the bathrooms. I'm sure they have other responsibilities, but that's all I've ever really seen them do. So after school the majority of students will attend club and if it's the day their committee meets, they will attend that meeting. The time clubs finish depends on the month pretty much. Longer summer days clubs finish maybe 6:30 (now this I can see being a really long day), shorter winter days clubs maybe finish at 5:00. After clubs the only other thing for some students would be heading off to juku if they attend.
Lastly the famous notion of Saturday school. So do all Japanese schools have Saturday classes every week? No. Most? No. Half? No. A small fraction and it normally has a special circumstance to go with it? Yes. I know one school (a high level private school) that has Saturday class every week, but it's a half day and the students also have half days on Wednesday. The other school did 2 straight months of 6 classes a week, but that was so that they could start summer vacation earlier and save election because of the earthquake. Saturday school use to be the norm, but that was phased out in the early/mid 90's. I'm honestly not too sure about exactly when it was. My guess as to why it seems many American's still believe it to be the case? When the Japanese economy has booming in the 80's, it was the norm so when America looked at Japan and had news reports on this nation that was doing extremely well people would say "hey, they are thriving, how come? They have school 6 days a week! That must be why" because that's what was reported and then when they stopped doing it no one was taking an interesting so in America no one was aware and they just kept with the notion that it's still that way.
And well that's your very basic layout of a school day.