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25 March 2013 @ 07:17 am
Japanese Classrooms: Can't Unnotice  
So as mentioned on friday, AnimeMusicVideos.org's Viewer Choice Awards are going on right now.

This is the first year in which i'm made an attempt to participate in the semifinalist nominations. It hasn't been an entirely successful attempt, but despite that i'd watched a little over 100 AMVs by the time the nominations closed.

Somewhere along the line i noticed something i'd never really consciously noticed before. There are a lot of anime involving kids in high school. Some of them are entirely about what goes on in the high school, but even those that aren't usually feature at least a few scenes at school. So i have just seen a ton of bits and pieces of various classroom scenes from all kinds of anime.

And at some point something clicked in my brain and said "they're always facing to the right aren't they?"

When students enter the classroom the windows are always across from them. This makes sense because the hallways are on the inside and the outside is on the, well, outside.

Most shots of the classroom are either from the hallway side of the classroom looking out the windows or from the middle of the classroom looking forward at the teacher. This also makes sense.

It even makes a certain amount of sense that you'd want to put the teacher at one of the ends of the classroom, instead of having their back to the door.

But the teacher is always on the right side as you enter the classroom, with the desks facing from left to right. Always.

In fact if i try to imagine an anime scene in which all the students are facing to the left my head starts to hurt, it's such a foreign idea. Which makes me wonder if i'm just too immersed in the art to have a neutral perspective, or if there's some underlying reason for it all.

A couple quick but non-thorough google searches seem to indicate that others have noticed this pattern, but no one has come up with a really good explanation for it.

It's possible that the orientation is built into the school designs (perhaps only one of the walls is designed with the necessary space/structural capacity/whatever to place blackboards on?) and since a lot of Japanese high schools were built to specific government blueprints they'd all tend to be the same. Of course that just raises the question of why they designed them that way. Or perhaps there's nothing specific about the design, but each school tended to set up their classrooms the same way. Or perhaps the actual classrooms _aren't_ all facing the same way, but manga artists (and thus anime artists) settled on a particular orientation for some reason.

Possible causes:

1: It's specific to the blueprints, but it was just chosen randomly and it's all one big giant coincidence.
2: Something relating to feng shui or some other cultural tradition or superstition, either in relation to the design of the room or the way people face.
3: There's something in general human psychology that favors that orientation (either based on what you see as you walk in, or from the perspective of the students or teacher.)
4: There's actually some practical reason to have windows to the students' left or the teacher's right that just isn't apparent immediately (but remember it seems independent of which direction the windows are facing.)
5: There's something about the layout of manga panels that favors people facing to the right (either based on the direction in which manga is read or the positioning of speech bubbles or something else.)
6: There's something more artistic about having most of the people in the scene facing right rather than left. (One of those golden mean or rule of thirds type things that artists know but i generally don't.)

Are there any other possibilities i'm missing? Or anyone have any insight into the actual reason?
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squee is a universal languagenaye on March 25th, 2013 04:37 pm (UTC)
Quick comment to say that this might be anime specific (though I have no idea why). I can conjure several images of dorama I've watched where the students have been filmed facing left - also with windows in the back/no outside windows. School anime... only one I can recall any of is Suzumiya Haruhi, which does exactly what you mention here.

Weird.