Amidst all the angst of the past few entries, I may have neglected to mention that exams are underway. This week and the next are exam weeks for Semester 1 of the 2012/2013 academic year, and therefore nothing else is on my mind save for books, school and… lots of angst.
But come now, you say. Exams sound like the least interesting thing one can ever blog about! I certainly won’t be combining exams with anime, will I? Such a horrendous combination!
But remember, I’m still in a bad-tempered sadistic mood (one that you should endure for the next 2 or so years). Of course I want to torment the life out of my readers. This entry shall precisely be about anime that depict school and exams. Don’t pretend you hate such themes. Look at how popular Harry Potter was.
In most semi-realistic anime, the characters will be seen at some point in time in school. Even for stories like Pretty Cure or DNAngel, there were still a few episodes that had the characters dressed in school uniforms and trotting around in Home Economics classes. These of course would not be counted as true authentic school-based anime, which would strictly contain things like Ouran High School Host Club or Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (admittedly not your ordinary school, but the main setting revolves around a kind of education system).
I must say I have not watched many school anime, even though I watch a fair number of realistic anime that depict their characters in school quite often. School is a hotbed for many comedy escapades, such as dealing with schizophrenic teachers or asinine classmates — and the occasional failed Chemistry practical lab experiment. Wikipedia has an extensive list of anime and manga that involve at least one major scene in a school (try searching “school anime and manga” on Google if you do not believe me).
Because I happen to be feeling generous today (this is a surprise, being both sadistic and generous at the same time), in this entry I shall give you not only some of the better-liked school-based anime out there, as well as some of my favourite school anime tropes.
1. School Anime
Freezing is an anime released in January 2011, about the invasion of Earth by an extra-terrestrial force known as the Nova. In order to combat the Nova, genetically engineered soldiers are created, with the women known as the Pandoras and the men the Limiters. There happens to be a school known as West Genetics Academy which trains the Pandoras and Limiters to fight the Nova. There we go, science fiction and school! And for such a dystopic setting like in Freezing, we’ll be so contented with our mundane exam life. At least we’re not being physically exerted fighting aliens.
Kids on the Slope
Kids on the Slope was released April 2012, set in the summer of 1966. Our protagonist moves to live with relatives in a new town, and in school he meets a devil-may-care kind of boy who teaches him the fun of letting loose and playing jazz. Consider this a jazz band school anime.
Nichijou was released April 2011 and garnered lots of fans due to its wonderful opening, Hyadain no Kakakata Kataomoi. Fufufu. But this anime is just as wacky as the song would suggest. It follows a group of high school students in their daily lives amidst the odd things going on, such as a robotic girl made by an 8-year-old female scientist and a boy who rides a goat to school with his butler. Talk about Chuunibyou come to life!
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
This is an ongoing anime released October 2012, about the dormitory of a high school that is affiliated with a prestigious Suimei University of the Arts. A boy who was kicked out for keeping a stray cat stays in the dorm and must take care of a girl who happens to be a world-famous artist but cannot even take care of her day-to-day needs.
Sket Dance was released April 2011, about a high school’s campus support club that is dedicated to the general improvement of campus life. However, as is usual for voluntary humanitarian school clubs, it is treated with contempt. However, this anime is not all about laughing at kind-hearted losers. It also has some hints of darker stories about the 3 characters in the club.
2. School Tropes
Eating Lunch Alone
You know that scene in school anime, when some guy eats his bento on his own in the classroom, shunned by the rest of his peers. Because any ordinary student will be eating lunch with all his classmates. Perhaps this has something to do with Japanese socialisation culture, but this trope presents itself in anime as diverse as Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, where Yuuta always ate alone in his middle school years, and Bleach where Uryuu Ishida refuses to eat with the other characters.
But hey, I like eating lunch on my own.
Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy
The usual American unrealistic school romances, except they happen in anime too. The time when this nerdy new girl with no friends has a crush on the resident Chick Magnet, and the outcome is either that they get together for some strange reason or she realises he is a total jerk. Usually a makeover by the girl would do the trick. Just look at any shoujo anime out there, notably things like Shugo Chara! or Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. Or even Naruto. It’s everywhere.
The homeroom class where either the teacher is weird or the students are. Things like Great Teacher Onizuka, To Aru Majutsu no Index and Beelzebub. You wish your class was just as fun. Or maybe not.
The kind of school with a fantastically large campus, a wonderfully large student body, but for some reason every class is taught by the same teacher, who also happens to be the school nurse! Perhaps they think we don’t notice our teachers’ faces because we’re too busy sleeping in class. No anime examples here, but just look at just about any anime.
I’m sure you’ll have more great school tropes to share, or your own pet school anime. If you haven’t tried school anime yet, do take a look at one or two this exam season and compare them with your own school life!