It is not always easy to find something to enjoy in the sea of media that has become available by now. Drama, Anime, Live Action, News, Variety Shows, a whole lot to choose from, freely available on the web. I tried them all out, Drama, Live Action, and Variety Shows are my least favorite. Anime, News, and Learning programs, videos and news about people and their lives are, what I enjoy most. Now you might ask what one can actually learn from Anime about Japan, social problems, customs, etc. Not so much if you aren’t paying any attention and just take them as source for entertainment. Take も～っと！おジャ魔女どれみ, a somewhat old Anime, about apprentice witches.
In this Anime the problems of 帰国女子 (きこくじょし), 帰国児童 (きこくじどう), or 帰国生 (きこくせい), returnees to Japan, is the main theme for the first couple of episodes. A new witch is joining the established group, a native Japanese girl whose parents transferred to America, where she was brought up. She has lots of problems to adapt to the live in Japan she knows little about. She is also bullied by one of her classmates. And to make matters worse, she doesn’t obey her home room teachers commands. In the end she hates her life, and wants to return to America, because she can’t take it anymore. This is not only a problem in Anime, but also in real life, of returnees of all ages. I read numerous articles about the struggles, the ill-treatment, the ignoring, being shut out of groups and group activities, and the problem many had to face when time has come to apply for a job.
A life no one would wish for, but something that makes a Japanese person equal to a foreigner, who might suffer from the same problems. Being ignored, or being told that he or she is not Japanese, which must really hurt if the person is native, or not being spoken to just as if the person in question isn’t able to speak Japanese at all. In case of the above mentioned Anime everything turned out fine, and the girl got accepted by her class and her surrounding neighborhood. Which probably can’t be said for those who still suffer the consequence of not being raised in Japan. But such are the things one can learn from an Anime.
Easier to learn from are news or educational programs of course. What I like to watch are 社会ニュース (しゃかいニュース), society news, about the general public. One of the hot topics right now is the bullying in schools, and the suicides due to the horrible treatment, the children had to suffer from. This is also one of those thing I took the time to read and learn about. And it still makes me shiver to think how some of the reactions have been to one fighting video, of a child who then committed suicide, and claimed that it was only a game and nothing more in a youtube video. Horrible.
It might seem that my interests are only bad news and problems in society, but not so much entertainment, or good news. Or that I prefer to look just at the problems in general but this isn’t true. I just try to look at the whole picture, and not only on the fun stuff, and the easy life, which in my opinion is nothing more than ignorance. If I claim to be interested in a country, then I can’t look away and pretend not to notice any problems with everyone living a perfect, just because it has nothing to do with my own life. I do in fact look at the funny sides of Japanese life, from newspaper columns about the multitasking abilities of Tokyo’s citizens, for whom loosing their mobile phone is a catastrophe. The article about the questioners, about little gifts, or funny T-Shirts are other examples for what I enjoy and learn about the most.
Here is an example of what I enjoy watching the most whenever I can. The show is called 多摩探検隊 (たまたんけんたい), and in the following episode it is all about a product called のらぼう. Not only did I learn something about this product, but I was also impressed by the ability of 三橋さん to read ancient Japanese. And then had to laugh heartily when … but see for yourself.