FEATURE: How To Choose The Right Anime High School
Hello everyone, and welcome back to Why It Works. As the summer comes to an end, I imagine many of you are heading back to school, and perhaps lamenting your own school’s relative mundanity along the way. After all, how can our schools compare to the excitement of anime high schools where romance or adventure lurk around every corner? If we take anime as a guide, high school should represent one of the most exciting periods of your life, absolutely brimming with life-changing experiences — but of course, in the real world, high school rarely lives up to its animated reputation. In light of that, today I’d like to offer at least a glimpse of the anime high school experience as we all tour some of the choicest high schools anime provides.
In Japan, you take exams to enter not just colleges, but also high schools. The process of picking a high school can be easy or difficult, depending on your desires. The world of anime only enhances the consequences of such a choice. Remember, there’s a big difference between a school you’d like to see in animation and a school you’d like to genuinely attend. Sure, it might seem exciting to attend a school where half the students are giant robot pilots, but what are you going to do when the gym is crushed under a kaiju’s gargantuan toe? It’s a tough choice, and I expect you all to take this very seriously as we investigate some choice options. Without further ado, where would you like to attend this school year?
First off, if you’re looking for action and excitement, it’s still possible to achieve such dreams in a school less prone to physical annihilation. Personally, I’d be happy to attend the academies of Girls und Panzer, even if tank competitions are a girls-only sport. Who doesn’t want to attend regular tank battles after class, and watch local eateries explode in smoke or collapse under tank treads? Because tank driving is a regulated sport, you’re unlikely to get seriously injured — instead, you can just sit back and enjoy the madness, cheering for your favorite artillery squad.
Perhaps action doesn’t suit you and you’re more interested in an inviting atmosphere or beautiful scenery. Fortunately, the slice of life genre is brimming with such charming schools, like the laid-back country reverie that is Non Non Biyori. And though you may quibble over whether this technically counts as a “high school,” personally my own educational preference would be to ship off to Mars and train as a gondolier in the new Venice of Aria. I can unreservedly say I would rather be steering a gondola on space-Venice than doing math homework.
Maybe you’re not like me at all and aren’t looking for a school simply to slack off. If you’re actually interested in a school’s classes and services, don’t worry, anime’s still got your back! I’d first recommend the fascinating high school of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, a sprawling multicultural smorgasbord of neat clubs and expansive facilities. It’s captivating just to wander the strange passageways of Eizouken’s world. And if you’re at all musically inclined, I’d emphatically recommend checking out Starmyu’s campus, where musical talent is honed through intense group projects and the stars of tomorrow are forged in fire.
Of course, for as many anime high schools that’d be delightful to attend, there are even more that seem like they would come with some major inconveniences. These schools are so common that they actually form full categories, like “schools where you are likely to be murdered by supernatural monsters.” As much as I’d enjoy wandering the geometrically dazzling corridors of Bakemonogatari’s high school, I value my life too highly to become fodder for a psychological demon. Ditto for a school like Another’s, which is very extremely cursed and would most certainly kill me for attending. And you know what, let’s cut From the New World out of the running while we’re at it — I just don’t have time for a school where if you cheat in a field day event you will be erased from existence with extreme prejudice.
Those schools might seem less than ideal, but beware also of the trick schools — the schools that seem fun from a distance, but which would clearly be less fun in person. Kill la Kill strikes me as a perfect example of this sort of school; sure, it looks exciting to attend, but be realistic. Are you really going to be the paradigm-disrupting Ryuuko or one of the hundreds of kids who are sent flying with every explosion? Ditto for Cromartie High School, which seems delightful on-screen, but would likely be a parade of violence and indignities in person. And of course, there’s Madoka Magica — not because you might get trapped in a Faustian bargain, but because of its abysmal interior design. Have you seen those glass-walled classrooms? How could you get any work done in there!?
Anyway, it seems like picking an anime high school might not actually be preferable to attending a real one. Sure, you might luck out with a premiere school or fantasy dojo, but you might also be immediately murdered to emphasize a story’s seriousness or be trapped forever in a maze of geometry with no beginning or end. Pluses and minuses to all choices, I suppose, but I hope my picks have stirred some of your own ideas. What anime high school would you all like to attend?
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