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