This one is going to be a purely theoretical post folks. I haven’t been in high school for a minute now and I have never ever been to Japanese high school but I did attend quite a few different ones in several countries so I have a good overview of some of the basics. Really this post should have been titled Are Anime High Schools better than the high schools I went to. Not as catchy….

I wasn’t a huge fan of high school and I wouldn’t go back if I had the chance. University, now that’s a different story. Ironically, I have spent a huge chunk of my adult life watching other characters attend high school and it makes me wonder if I would have had a better time in an anime high school.

anme cafetaria
and these aren’t even the hot kids…

Well obviously being surrounded by the average attractiveness of anime characters as opposed to actual gawky teenagers is bound to be a plus but what about the rest. Is anime high school really that different and would it in fact be better than my high school experience?

One thing my experience does have in common with anime is that for most of my high school career I wore uniforms. And I have to say, most alterations I see in anime wouldn’t have flown in my schools. Out shirts had to be the official school shirts if we wore a t-shirt underneath it couldn’t have any patterns or colours that could be seen through the shirt. And forget wearing your shirt open over a t-shirt. That’s crazy. School skirts had to be anywhere from to the knee to an inch over, no longer and no shorter and we could only wear certain colour socks. Those colours being black white or grey. On the other hand, no one cared if we were blonde. Cause a lot of us were just blonde.

There are a lot of popular anime characters that would have been sent home to change if they had gone to my schools so that’s another point in favour of the anime schools. Now you might think that it’s a point in favour of anime schools but I have never seen anyone at all bullied over their clothes or hair. Not once. We all had the same so it would have been ridiculous. I’m a bit of a clothes horse and I enjoy playing with my appearance a lot. Part of that may be due to the lack of freedom of expression I had in high school but I honestly think I sort of won out on this one. I never once felt self-conscious about what I was wearing or how my hair looked. And I still don’t. It’s probably debatable but I think real life comes out on top of this one.

then again some of those anime uniforms are real cute

Also, I have never ever had to clean a classroom. Not once. Which is kind of odd when I think about it. We had to put away the equipment we used as part of clubs but never actually clean classrooms. The closest I got was helping to sort the recycling because I was part of the green club. In a way, it probably would have been useful for me to learn to clean up a bit better when I was a kid but I’m sure I would have hated it at the time so I’m going to give that to my schools!

Lunch seems to be a big thing in Japan. I have seen frequent scenes of students basically mobbing the cafeteria to buy a particular item and the fact that it could run out. My parents hated cooking so until I started doing so for myself, I always bought my lunch. The idea of having to fight a mob to do so sounds just horrible. It’s something I have never had to do in real life. We would just quietly wait our turn and I have never even heard of food running out. Then again, that’s probably because there was only one option, with extra treats that could be purchased, ad generally speaking it was not appetizing enough for anyone to want seconds. Anime school lunches often look like scrumptious meals I would pay good money for right now. And I’m a bit of a food snob… As such, lunchtime is a draw.

Ok so how about the buildings themselves. Now, most schools I’ve seen in anime really look pretty much like any high school I’ve attended. I guess there’s some type of architectural universal constant when it comes to high school buildings. However, I have never seen a school roof with my own eyes. I’m more or less sure most of my schools did in fact have rooftops but not only did students not commonly go there but it honestly wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time. When I think about it, it does sound nice to go chill out on the rooftop from time to time. Point anime again but also half-point to my schools because no students I know ever got injured falling off the roof…

anime rooftop
can they plant trees on rooftops? shade would be good

I did go to a few schools with pointy roofs. Those probably wouldn’t have been so practical as a hang out spot.

Huh, so far it’s a draw, isn’t it? I have to admit, I’m a little surprised. However, if we take into account the variety and fun factor of all those school clubs, real life doesn’t stand much of a chance on that issue. And it’s a big one. School clubs are one of the best places to make life long friends. I wish we had had some more creative ones.

Oh wait – I never got into a physical fight in school. I think I may have seen one or two but they were always broken up by teachers pretty instantly. I should say I went mostly to all-girls schools. But generally, the student body was not prone to violence and any tsunderes we had were of the sarcastic type rather than the hitting people type. That’s a big plus for real life.

Also, our school councils didn’t have anywhere near as much power as they seem to in anime. At most, they helped to organize and decorate certain school bands. They certainly didn’t oversee the budget of school clubs or give trip permissions. That would have been an insurance nightmare. Not to mention that some high schools do promote themselves on the strength of their extracurricular options. You can’t have a bitter nonathletic nerd who somehow became vice president dismantling your champion volleyball team. We had a champion volleyball team. I was not on it. Never even went to a game… The first time I learned anything about volleyball was when I watched Haikyuu…

can you blame me?

Considering how often school councils seem to turn evil, I’m thinking that giving them very limited powers is a good thing. However, since I was on the school council, I would have appreciated a bit more power my way. It would have totally gone to my head. I would have been cartoonishly evil by week 2! I’m not sure where we landed on this one. Another draw? Sheesh, I was sure anime was going to run away with it but it’s pretty even split when you tally it all up.

I say that but being surrounded by anime characters should count for 2 points instead of just one. Still, anime just squeaks by with the victory and only by bending the rules. The nonexistent rules I decided just now would be rules… those rules…

Are you shocked? I’m shocked! I’m thinking I forgot something. Help me out… Was (is) your high school objectively better than an anime high school? If so, why?

school rini







25 thoughts

  1. I’d only return to my secondary school if I had a ton of explosives with me and all the guys who bullied me and made my life a misery were tied up inside it.

    The thing about schools in anime for me is how the kids can leave the classes on a whim without being challenged by the teachers. That is when they actually have lessons – most of the time they are in clubs or having lunch, and if they ARE in lessons, the main protagonist can get away with staring out of the window and not paying attention to the teacher.

    Plus all the rest of it with student councils, clubs, school nurses, cleaning the school, and all the other stuff they have in Japan was nothing like my school at all. Best of all, we didn’t have school on a Saturday either! 😀

  2. Even though a lot of Japanese high schools (and just Japanese schools in general) in anime do show characters hanging out and chilling on the rooftops, this is very much dying down IRL due to safety concerns. There are still stairs to go up there in most schools, but the doors are usually very securely locked. It was one of the things that surprised me when I first started exploring the schools I taught at in Japan.

    As for the uniforms and how well/strictly they’re adhered to, it totally depends on the school. The ‘worse’ the school (in terms of geographical area and general academic ranking), the more likely students are to make their own little individual alterations. In general though, from my experience, the average middle and high school tends to value rules and uniformity very highly, so even minor alterations often just aren’t tolerated, even right down to the allowed hair fringe length!

    1. That’s what I figured. Fringe length wasn’t necessarily regulated in schools I went to but if it was too long, teachers would sent you home. Basically it had to not be in your eyes.

  3. Honestly, I too wouldn’t want to relive 4 years of high school again – IRL or anime style 😅 I much prefer, if I had the choice, redoing eighth grade: that was the best year of my life. I tried writing a memoir about it but for some reason got lazy and never finished.

    The only incentive I’d have going back to my high school years is to stop myself from making some bad decisions in the field of crushes 😓

  4. Interesting. Unlike your parents, mine love to cook and I grew up spoiled eating fresh food. Now as an adult, I suck at cooking or maybe I should just make more time for it. I have been learning though. It is fun.

  5. “I wasn’t a huge fan of high school and I wouldn’t go back if I had the chance”…I can tell you…me either😢
    That said if I would like to attend a school in an anime series it would be: the one in Natsume’s Book of Friends😊

    1. When given the choice between going back in time to high school or eating a cupful of glass, I’d ask “What kind of glass — safety or stained?”

      Wouldn’t matter. I’d take a shot at the glass in either case.

    2. Oh yeah! A little school full of nice people would work! Although my schools had a lot of nice people as well.

      1. I have bingewatched through the show’s first two seasons and I absolutely loved it! I’m hoping to write a very special review for it, so I hope I will be able to make good on that promise😅😅
        Well…my school honestly was full of bullies, hence I don’t like to remember my school days very much 😢😢
        Glad to hear though that your school had nice people: you deserve that😊😊

          1. Haha, well I will do my best, and hope you will love it too. I know how much this show means to you so I will take great care with the post: no pressure….😅😅😅How is K? I haven’t heard from her for so long. If you talk to her, give her my best 😊 I hope she’s okay😊

  6. The only good comparison I can make for my highschool experience is sound euphonium considering that band was my entire life in highschool. With that fact in mind, I can’t help but think that it’s kind of close for me.

    1. Me too. And you know Sound! Euphonium is pretty close to my experience too. My uniform was better though. I can’t pull off brown

  7. You never cease to amaze me with the random topics you manage to make interesting. As for myself I don’t know if anime high school would have been better than real life highschool for me. The main issue being the lack of sports especially american football as they were a huge part of high school life for me.

    1. I watch a lot of sports anime so for me anime school have TONS of sports. Like all of them seem to have nationally ranked teams.

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