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The Portrayal of High School Life in Anime

The majority of anime are aimed toward teenagers to young adults, so high schools appear time and time again as a setting. How is the experience of high school portrayed in anime? Is it optimistic, pessimistic or somewhere in between? Does it depend on the genre? Are there any particular titles that break the mold or explore aspects of Japanese high school life in a different way? As a background, some mention of how Japanese schools differ from the West would be useful. A title of interest might be Flowers of Evil.

  • I've often seen Japanese high-schools in anime as being a rather cordial and pleasant environment compared to how American schools are often portrayed. Japanese schools seem more bright, more airy, more inviting. Usually they only get presented in a negative light when the main character we follow is having a strong negative response to their environment. They believe that their lives are a cage wrapped around them and they want to escape. Or they think that their fellow students and teachers are all beneath them, are idiots, and this is a waste of their time. But besides that, the schools seem pretty enjoyable, especially in the lighthearted, comedic, slice-of-life shows like "Azumanga-Daioh," "Lucky Star," "Genshiken" (although that's technically a college I think), and "Pani-Poni Dash." – Jonathan Leiter 2 years ago
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  • In Japanese and Korean culture, high school is considered more of a pivotal moment in one's life, both socially and educationally. Because of this, compared to Western culture, school life is actually riddled with studying for grades and club activities as students have the intent of getting into a prestigious university to further their lives. It could be said that anime depicts much of its settings in high school to give the essence of the lighter side to a busier lifestyle. You could also say that since high school is a pivotal moment in a person's life, the anime takes place in high school since the story is a turning point in the lives of the protagonists as well. – Baek 2 years ago
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  • That's a really good point, Baek! The cultural implications of high school ought to be mentioned in the article as well. Thanks for your feedback. – Jordan 2 years ago
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  • High School life series have become a common theme in most anime. Many people question as to the reason why. In my opinion, the reason is because they are attempting to appeal to that type of demographic. People try to find the legitimacy within a high school life anime, but isn't it possible that the theme is done that way specifically for the point of having a "get-away" type of feel to it, making people wish that their high school life were actually like that or creating some form of fantasy within the viewers life about what high school could be like. Whats more, there are even some series that take an interesting twist and instead focus on college lifestyle like "Golden Time" which definitely got a lot of people's interest. – Kmo 2 years ago
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