Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Academic Anime - Anime in the Classroom Summary

This was more of an open-discussion panel after having to completely change my content at the last minute. There was another group hosting academic panels that weekend, and even though I attempted to contact them via e-mail and Facebook, they never responded to me. Showed up to one of their panels and oh look, they were saying everything I was going to say. On the positive, this ended up working out a lot better then expected, and now I’m wanting to expand this into a 2 hour panel. Everyone was getting really involved with the subject and it was a great experience! Here is the summary from the panel that occurred at AnimeFest 2011.

Should we have anime in the classroom, yes or no?

Pretty much everyone said yes. One man said yes, if it’s used appropriately. Most of us at a convention would argue yes, but there are equally as many who say it shouldn’t. So I asked everyone to provide their thoughts on why it shouldn’t be in the classroom. And we came up with a good list:

Not everyone is into anime – lack of popularity
Not as available to teachers
Subject matter can deter greatly - pron
It can be distracting
“Just for kids”
Copyright infringement
Shallow content
Emphasis can change from one teacher to another
Presentation of content
Serialized stories can be easily taken out of context (think Naruto or DBZ)
Textbook and conservative values
Benefits of implementing versus the cost – Requires changing the current curriculum

Two more that I contributed were that anime is considered non-genre by many academics, as well as not art.

Many of the responses were geared towards social reasons, along with academic acceptance. Our vision of animation here in the West is strongly focused on cartoons and it being only for kids. We grew up watching Disney and Loony Tunes. Japan has had some version of animation in their lives since the Edo period with manga and has a few hundred years on us on growing into anime from an academic stand-point. We’re getting there in the West, but it will take some time. In many ways our history of animation and comic books mimics the Japanese history, but we’re still quite a young country with a lot of growing to do.

From here it became a great discussion on how people have used anime in their own school work, as well as the need for change in our school system. It was quite compelling to hear that people really did take this topic as seriously as me, thinking I was one of the few crazy ones that did so. One individual mentioned that a friend of theirs was influenced by the Phoenix Wright games that he wanted to be a laywer. I myself fell in love with Princess Mononoke and that helped propel me to want to study film.

I wish I had expanded this to a 2 hour panel, as we didn’t even cover a 1/10th of the material that I had brought in to discuss. This was an amazing experience and I was really glad to see so many people participate. I’d like to give a special thanks to the gentlemen, whose name I didn’t catch, for wanting to discuss how we should apply anime into the classroom to give it, it’s greatest chance to succeed. That is a brilliant topic that I wish we had more time for. Next round I will be sure to use it and give you full credit, as soon as I find out your name!

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