School centric anime and their importance in current day Japan


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As Goodman (2011) points out, the Japanese education system provided a clear connection for both male and female workers between success in education and the quality of the jobs they could secure (Goodman, 2011; 52). Generally speaking Japanese school children are made aware from an early age of the direct correlation between the size of a potential employer and the job security, salary, and status that employer would be able to offer. From the early Post-War period onwards, top employers would choose their new workers from top universities, which in turn chose their intake based on high school hierarchies, that in turn took students based on scores of the high school entrance exam that everyone sits when they are 15. The entire education system of Japan is based on a meritocratic structure that engenders high competition amongst students, and produces what Ronald Dore (1976) describes as a ‘very expensive intelligence testing system with some educational spin-off, rather than the other way around’ (Dore, 1976; 48-49). Read more of this post

‘Animating’ society


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Anime is a fascinating cultural artefact, with over 50% of Japanese studios producing animated works instead of live action, thus demonstrating a shift in the Japanese studio system from live action films of the 1950s and 1960s to one focussed on anime as its primary product. This shift to the animated medium means that anime is arguably one of, if not the best way with which we can explore Japan’s depiction of its own society and culture. The wide variety of anime, ranging from early morning children’s shows through to late afternoon/early evening series focussed for families and then onto edgier, often darker series for teenagers or those in there twenties is astounding. Such wide variety of series and anime’ broader appeal puts it in an important place within contemporary Japanese culture; whereas traditional culture such as Sa-do, Kyu-do and Ka-do have been refined over centuries and are the very basics of Japanese culture, anime is a relatively recent phenomenon, starting in 1963 with the release of Osamu Tezuka’s legendary Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy). Furthermore, whereas traditional culture is often focussed on the self, a form of meditation and a path to Zen enlightenment, anime provides a fascinating and important means with which we can view Japanese society and culture, along with the issues that are important at any given time. Read more of this post

The portrayal of marginal groups and foreigners in anime


 

Marginal groups are quite problematic for Japan, and while they are used in anime and manga, we don’t see them used particularly often. What is so fascinating about the use of marginal or minority groups in anime is that their portrayal and the subsequent reactions of many other characters in the series bears a striking resemblance to the attitudes towards such groups in real life. Marginal groups such as the Zainichi Koreans and Ainu are central to the creation and maintenance of a Japanese national discourse about a shared identity and culture. As Wirth (1945) suggests, marginal groups, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the rest of society for differential and unequal treatment, and therefore begin to view themselves as objects of collective discrimination (Wirth, 1945:347). Read more of this post

The role of female characters in anime – does it create or maintain inequality?


 This is a more in-depth look at ideas of womens inequality in Japanese society in relation to anime, partly based on my own research and studies. Also, this is a partial argument, the post is a condensed version of a longer article that I have recently written, and unfortunately I have left out a lot of material in order to make it work as a blog post. I will likely add more posts over time looking at other aspects of this topic.

There has been a significant amount of discussion on ideas surrounding whether or not anime is inherently sexist with its portrayals of female characters along with the whole notion of ecchi and fanservice. In general I don’t believe that anime is inherently sexist, however, this post will not be looking at this, rather it seeks to explore ideas of women’s inequality in Japanese society and how this relates to female characters in anime. Women in Japan either socially or in employment do not have true equality. We see this in social terms with reference to ideas of a woman’s place in society, associated with domestic work, cleaning, cooking, childcare and generally looking after the household. Read more of this post

Amagami SS+ 12 – Mischievous Cousins and Spectacular Confessions


Haruka’s arc, yet again brought us some brilliant drama, wonderful romance, and all-round brilliance. Haruka has always been a great character, one that is beautiful, yet brings an immense enthusiasm (and kinkiness) to Amagami, along with subtle changes in her feelings and emotions along the way. We saw elements of Haruka’s more subtle and emotional side in the first arc, with a clear indication hat, although she may be a bit on the whacky side, she truly loves Junichi. With this in mind, it was fascinating to see Haruka as nervous as Junichi about their relationship, and where they should go with it. Read more of this post

Amagami SS+ 11 – Lovely Meets Sexy


This week saw the return of my favourite heroine, Morishima Haruka, that crazy, beautiful and sexy queen of Junichi’s school. She was my favourite from the first series, with the most dramatic, and easily the best ending of any heroine. She was a fascinating character who hid her emotions behind a whacky and slightly unpredictable personality, something that became apparent when she finally confesses her feelings for Junichi at the end of her arc. Haruka kept her original personality from the previous series, but there were a few changes in this sequel, which revealed a far more sensitive side to her that we only really saw in the final episode of her original arc. This arc takes place quite soon after the original, something that was in keeping with the series, where every arc took place at a different time. I did think that the arc might take place after Haruka’s graduation, especially considering the small time jump that showed them as a happily married (and slightly crazy) couple. Hibiki and Haruka are about to graduate, and we see Haruka and junichi continue with their usual strange blend of day dreaming, and role playing, all the while dragging poor, embarrassed Hibiki along for the ride. Read more of this post

Amagami SS+ 10 – The lack of Sae in a bear costume displeases me


Sae has never really been my favourite character, being a bit too timid – not that it is a bad trait, its just that Sae was too easily lead around by Junichi during parts of her original arc. It was a fascinating change to see Sea growing as a person, becoming far more decisive and with the ability to stand out of the crowd and deal with an increased level of attention. This week continued on from last week, with Sae being elected as the head of the founders festival committee. With the added workload we see Junichi having to take a backseat for significant periods of the episodes while Sae continues her transformation into someone who is beautiful, popular and competent at her job. Read more of this post

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