February 8, 2021-
My special assignment, of last week and the present one, has given me continued observance of what matters to high schoolers, especially in the area of graphic arts. Several of the students are talented sketch artists and cartoonists. One of the springboards for developing this talent is the popularity of the Japanese graphic medium called anime (AN-ih-may).
Anime is also valuable for the considered life lessons it offers, with myriad examples of both positive and negative life choices, presented in a manner that is attractive to teenagers. There is an atmosphere of group decision-making, with interludes of individual soul searching.
In the four episodes presented during the course of today’s classes, a young boy wrestles with his guilt and desire to make amends, for a series of events that he regards as his own fault, whilst his friends and sister refuse to let him face matters alone. An older man shows that patience and perseverence, in his time of imprisonment, result in his maintaining a robust physique, while his jailers ignore him as a worthless, spent being. An egotistical village leader learns that mocking his suffering village’s benefactors does him no good, in overcoming an invading force of militaristic industrialists. Only cooperation with the group of helpers rids the community of the bombastic invaders, and humbles the elder. Humility is also the theme of a vain sword master’s comeuppance, at the hands of a his seemingly inept pupil.
These character issues were well-conveyed by the lead teacher, and duly noted by the students. Anime is not a replacement for academic rigor, but it certainly does set young people to pondering about what matters.