Shoujo-tachi wa Kyoua wo Mezasu – Choosing Your Path in Life
January 9, 2016 Leave a comment
I’ve always had a soft spot for anime that focus on school life, its just one aspect of the anime medium that fascinates me. Many may complain about its almost never ending presence, perhaps justifiably so, given the numerous generic, even poorly constructed series that have been released over the years. But even then, the actual school setting remains one that interests me; it is arguably one of the most important aspects of anime, and the stories that anime portray. Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu uses this familiar setting to explore ideas of careers, and what one wants to do after high school, and important question in Japanese society where success is expected, but conformity remains central to its social fabric. The careers form that we briefly glimpse, and the importance placed on choosing a path after high school are very important aspects of school focussed anime.
During the school period depicted in anime, the central cast can do, and be whatever they want – they could hold dreams of going to space, becoming the worlds biggest super star, acting, or becoming good at sports. In many respects this is precisely the image of school that such anime portray, it is a space full of potential, imagination, and passion. Just look at any sports anime, or other club centric series and you are shown a story of personal growth, and fulfilling ones potential. Sports anime are particularly good at this with their focus on competitions, and the underdog finally rising to become king, but, and this is an essential element of such stories, only after a lot of hard work, effort, and numerous disappointments. Success is not achieved easily in anime, and when it is, the inevitability of those characters fall form grace is inescapable. The career’s form represents the end of this period, and the acknowledgement that regardless of what you can, and have achieved during high school, you need to choose a career path, either straight into work, or through university and into a good company at the end of your studies. Admittedly we rarely, if ever see the final results of characters choices, but the message remains the same, choose, and choose wisely, because your whole career and future as a hardworking, and dedicated member of society rests upon what could be quite an easy choice.
Shoujo-tachi wa Kyoua wo Mezasu, like many other school focussed anime series deals with the idea of achieving your dreams, of becoming something different, even unique. Houjou Buntarou represents the sort of character who is unsure of his future, even when he has a clear talent for writing, and friends who seem willing to support him in whatever he chooses. It was nice to see him moving from school to a part-time job, even interacting with others in the street, and finally returning home to an empty house. Many other anime often present the main characters as if they are in their own special world – they neither know, or interact with anybody else outside of school, and its easy to believe that their town is entirely empty. It was also nice to see his interactions with Kai Atomu, and particularly Kobayakawa Yuuka (Hello HanaKana), a clearly very talented actor, and a very energetic person indeed. As with so many other anime, parents aren’t visible, and you get the picture that these characters have to decide on their futures themselves, without any outside assistance.
Kuroda Sayuki offers Houjou the chance to try something a little different, and wants to use his writing ability in creating a visual novel. Her character is the classic cool beauty, somebody who is a little odd at times, but nonetheless is passionate about her interests. This series approaches the creation of visual novels, anime, and every other part of Japanese popular culture often described as otaku culture in a different way from Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata. In that series case (as with a number of other similar anime), the slightly more bizarre elements are glorified, with Aki Tomoya going on long monologues, or rants about the brilliance of specific fetishes and other aspects of his passion. In the case of shoujo-tachi, it feels a lot more subdued, and while Kuroda continuously mentions things like ‘flags’, and ‘routes’, it feels far less glorified in its approach. Ultimately this is a visual novel adaptation, and the OP certainly points towards a number of visual novel staples, but in general I rather like the series approach to the idea of creating something that could be come a career.