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5 Reasons high school is a popular anime setting

Genshiken
Genshiken
Promotion image/Cover art for volume 1 of Genshiken

Anyone from long time anime fans to casual observers can place high school as one of the most reoccurring anime settings. A seasoned anime fan could easily explain that the high school setting can play host to anime ranging from slice of life stories to over the top sci-fi and supernatural occurrences. So the question is… Why is high school such a common thread?

1. Remember that?

No doubt, high school endures as a popular anime setting because it is an easy way to rope viewers into a an experience they can relate to. The majority of anime fans have either experienced, or are currently going through, their school days in a similar setting. Rows of desks, long hallways, and the bustle of activity make for a familiar but dynamic scene. Not everyone has the same experience, but so many have a connection to what is rendered in high school anime.

2. No strings attached

High school makes a prime setting because it focuses on a time when an individual usually has a lot of freedom. An anime character, like a real life counter part, may or may not have a part-time job, club activity, or some commitment that shapes daily life. Since there is the potential for so much variation, a closed setting could still showcase limitless possibilities for story and character development.

3. Ideal setting for character growth

A critical component to story telling is watching the story’s protagonist grow. High school houses a plethora of adolescents who are making the transition from childhood to adulthood. Anime often takes advantage of the teenaged populace and their well documented challenges to growing up. Watching a character find their purpose or define who they are never gets old.

4. A grand arena for conflict

It is quite convenient to know that just about anybody can relate to resolving issues with friends, Struggling with bullies and rivals, or even reconciling long standing inner turmoil. Invariably, high schools are made up of a wide range of personalities and some of those set off sparks that lead to interesting conflict. Who hasn’t felt the betrayal of a once friend, resented a teacher for unfair treatment, or avoided that awkward classmate?

5. An easy recipe

Simply said, a high school experience makes for an easy setting. Writers can take for granted that the masses are familiar with the setting and don’t need to work on explaining it. Some settings, such as in sci-fi and fantasy, need to be defined along with the story being told in order to keep it grounded. High school is a prepackaged concept that allows creators to dive right into the story.