Ask Sensei (Happy 2018 Edition)

For academics, the end of the term is pretty much the storm before the calm before the storm. Once we’re done grading final exams and establishing grades, our lives are suddenly quiet until the beginning of the next term. (glances at Shiraishi-kun’s empty chair) We might almost say “too quiet,” until we remember that everyone needs some time off now and then.

This time, Joel asks via Facebook, Do you prefer simple comedic anime or more philosophical ones? You have to choose only one. Well, naturally when faced with such a choice, my instinct says to choose both. And often we do get to choose both when it comes to anime. But if I had to choose only one, I think that I’d probably go with comedic anime. More philosophical anime series are higher stakes, with the potential for a higher reward, to be sure. But it seems to me that comedy shows have a better chance at succeeding at their goal, or at least are less likely to fail at it. My experience (which may certainly differ from yours) is that it’s easier to get me to laugh than to get me to think. More philosophical series have a variety of unpleasant ways to become shipwrecked, including my simply being unable to get what they’re laying down (coughEvangelioncough), whereas I generally find that the worst outcome for a comedy series is that it fails to be funny, at least for me.

From Instagram, animu_stuffs asks: Is there any place you really want to go in the world? Maybe somewhere that you just loved the idea of as a kid, or a friend from another country whose culture is completely different from yours.”

With my interest in travelling to and around Japan, I have lately begun to think about other places in Asia that would be convenient to visit if and when I’m ever in Japan longer-term than my usual two-week stay. For some reason the only two places that keep coming to my mind are Hong Kong and Taiwan. Now multiple family members, friends, and acquaintances who have visited Hong Kong assure me that it’s really quite boring, unless you like shopping. Yet for some reason I cannot shake my curiosity about both places, especially with their proximity to Japan.

And again from Instagram, a_negative bids me to “Name your top 5 anime in 10 seconds. Go.”

inhales very deeply



A few of you have asked particularly thought-provoking questions (not that I don’t appreciate the not-very-thought-provoking ones also), particularly Pallav and Joshua via Facebook. However, since I’m typing this on location in Glorious Nihon, and want to balance continuing to publish this column regularly with keeping track of my friends who are here on location with me, I will save them for a future column.

So I will end by wishing all of you the best for the coming year of 2018. May your study partners show up and your exams and papers have little to no red pen on them. Hope springs eternal even for you, Shiraishi-kun.

Or perhaps I should say, especially for you.


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