With the Japanese animation -- anime -- industry spreading across the globe, many American students have become enthralled with this form of Japanese pop culture. The Associated Press even covered the topic in 2006, discussing anime's appeal among American teenagers and pointing out that as many young women love anime as young men. With so much student fervour for anime, teachers, parents and the general public may be curious to know what effects anime has on American students.
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Increased Social Interaction
Lawrence Eng, a researcher with a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, studied the effects of anime fandom on IT students. He found that one great benefit that anime has on students is increased social interaction. IT students, Eng says, have generally been victims of a stereotype that casts them as antisocial and unapproachable. When IT students become anime fans, they're immediately accepted by all of the other students who like anime, as well as a community of fans on the Internet. This applies to any student who otherwise has difficulty making friends.
Potential for Behavioral Problems
Some students with a propensity for behavioural problems get ideas from anime. The anime "Death Note," which features a notebook in which the protagonist can write down the name of someone he wants to die as well as the method of that person's death and actually kill that person, has caused a number of problems in American schools. In Oklahoma in 2009, two students wrote the names of other students they didn't like in a "death note" they made, along with how they'd like those students to die. Similar incidents occurred in Virginia, South Carolina, Washington and Alabama in 2007 and 2008.
An Interest in Art
Many students interested in anime pursue an interest in art. These students are often interested in designing their own anime characters and creating their own manga (Japanese-style comic books). While some art teachers may be frustrated with these students' desire to draw only in the large-eyed, cartoonish anime style, an increased interest in art is an opportunity to introduce these students to other types of art. Teachers can explain that even anime artists must be able to draw lifelike drawings to be able to convey movement and poses realistically.
An Interest in Japanese Language and Culture
Perhaps the most educational benefit of students' interest in anime is the frequent interest in Japanese language and culture that these students develop as a result. Many Americans who spend time abroad in Japan or who pursue careers in Japan can point to a love of anime as the original impetus.
Teachers and parents should encourage an anime-loving student's interest in educational pursuits whenever possible. Sign a student up for a Japanese class offered by a local university or community centre if the student's school doesn't offer Japanese. Teach a unit on Japanese history or culture. Ask a student to research traditional Japanese culture.
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