Watching anime as homework sounds like an otaku dream come true.
Picking which classes to take at college can be tough sometimes, but when you see a class called “Reading and Writing About Magical Girls,” suddenly the choice becomes a lot easier.
That exact class was held last semester at the University of South Carolina as an English 101 course, and after finishing it the professor provided an in-depth analysis of the class over on Reddit. Here’s an abbreviated list of the objectives of the course:
● Understand the basic tropes and methodologies of the magical girl genre.
● Use the genre to introduce basic tenets of feminism.
● Question whether niche interests like anime can elaborate on theoretical questions of aesthetics versus politics in a meaningful way.
● Connect the magical girl genre to larger questions of political importance.
● Teach students how to write (this is, after all, an introductory level English course).
Whoa, wait… politics? Aesthetics? Feminism? I thought this was just going to be a class to watch anime!
To be fair, the class is still an introductory English writing class, so the point is to get students excited about writing and interacting with media. Writing doesn’t always have to be about dead people and old books, it can be just as alive as we are! And if magical girls can get students writing and interacting, then hey, why not?
Here are some of the materials used in the course, taking episodes from all fine works of magical girl anime, as well as some American cartoons:
Little Witch Academia
Sailor Moon: “A Moon Star is Born!”
Cardcaptor Sakura: “Sakura and the Blacked Out School Arts Festival”
Revolutionary Girl Utena: “Nanami’s Egg”
Bakemonogatari: “Tsubasa Cat, Part 2”
Puella Magi Madoka Magica, in its entirety.
The Powerpuff Girls: “Equal Fights”
Steven Universe: “An Indirect Kiss”
And here’s just an excerpt from the class syllabus:
Mon. Sept. 26 – Reading: “Beyond Bodice-Rippers: How Romance Novels Came to Embrace Feminism.”
Wed. Sept. 28 – From Bakemonogatari: “Tsubasa Cat, Part 2”
Fri. Sept. 30 – Reading: Sianne Ngai: “The Cuteness of the Avant-garde”
I don’t know about you, but anything entitled “The Cuteness of the Avant-garde” immediately has my attention.
Here’s how netizens responded online:
“I never thought this day would come in my lifetime.”
“I thought this was a joke but it’s a real class?!”
“I wonder what the teacher would do if a student said, ‘I have to leave class early or I’ll be late for my magical girl duties!'”
“I want to major in Magical Girls.”
“Why wasn’t this class around when I was in college?! No fair!”
Many others also lamented that their college didn’t have a similar course, or that they were simply born too late to be part of such a glorious age of anime being taught in school. With the professor getting rave reviews online and most people being enthusiastic for the class rather than cynical, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before similar courses start popping up all over the rest of the world.
We have seen a similar anime class held at one university in Japan though, where the workload required watching 20 anime per week and being able to speak fluent otaku/fujoshi. Maybe that could be the 500-level class or something?