July 3rd, 2020

Unfamiliar Ceiling

Displaced Anthems

This is one of my latest doodles from the art club at the Japanese junior high school where I work. I stayed late to-day to help the students clean up. Instead of janitors, in Japanese schools students and staff are expected to clean. On Wednesday, a group of girls in the art club were humming the tune to "The Star-Spangled Banner" so to-day I printed Francis Scott Key's lyrics for them to learn it. They seemed pretty tickled when I sang it for them.

The school where I work is very big so I keep having to make self-introductions to new classrooms even though I'm coming to the end of my fourth week now. One of the questions students often ask me is what anime or manga I like. I change my answer regularly to gauge the popularity of different titles. Everyone's heard of Neon Genesis Evangelion, only two girls had heard of Haruhi Suzumiya, some people knew Urusei Yatsura and Ranma 1/2, not one soul had heard of Cowboy Bebop, not the students or the Japanese teacher. Everyone likes Kimetsu no Yaiba. Though I still wonder if it will be known by students three years from now.

To-day one boy approached me to share his love for Evangelion. I'd heard for decades how popular the series was in Japan but it always seemed incredible that this weird story about traumatised kids in giant biomechanical robots enduring grotesque alien nightmares could have the kind of wide range appeal Star Wars has in the U.S. But it seems too.

Star Wars is well known, too. In fact, every day I leave school while the school band practices "The Imperial March". I reflected to-day on how integral that tune was to my youth and now here it is prominent in my life in Japan. It's weird what things persist in life.