Waseda Shibuya 2017 Seiransai

Reflections on another video-less year.

 

In light of another recent Seiransai passing, I thought it appropriate to briefly cover the circumstances of this year’s lack of attendance.

The two readers who clicked on a piece I wrote more than a year ago might’ve harbored hopes that this year, something would’ve been different. Truthfully, something was different – I was made more aware of the event before it actually occurred. However owning to other real life commitments (mostly academics), I had things to do last Saturday and Sunday.

And indeed, I had no real purpose attending the Seiransai. I have written about my past experiences making videos after three consecutive years of attending the school festival, and I think many aspects were adequately captured. The prevalence of weebs, the nervous but excited first year students hosting their booths, the second year students that seemed quite used to it and the third year students who are looking forward to university back in Japan – probably in a top university such as Todai, Keio or Waseda.

As it is, much of the magic and wonder which one first had is lost upon repeated attendance. Familiarity breeds contempt, or so the saying goes. While I do not have any contempt to speak of – indeed, there is some fond nostalgia in familiarity – this nostalgia isn’t enough to motivate one to take action about it, particularly as one has other pressing concerns to attend to.

So, another year passes, another batch of students have their last festival before sadly graduating, and I wonder what happens to Wasedance or Hide & Seek II. It’s nice to have been a part of it in the past, and maybe visiting in the future will be a good opportunity to see how much things have changed or remained the same. But perhaps for this year, it too will pass without much fanfare here. Even visiting the school once a year – one is simply going for the nostalgia, as they are no more involved in the running of the school than a Japanese student is involved in the running of a Singaporean school. By that, I mean being with the students, studying with them, sharing their joys and sorrows – the organic component that cannot be fully replicated or expressed within a day trip to the school festival. And so, that is what disappoints those who wonder what it would be like to be in the anime high schools they’ve watched much of – and they leave with most of their dreams shattered.

It is not impossible to study in a Japanese school – Cheryl (more popularly known as Miu by those familiar with her odottemita past) has done precisely that, while some students from local universities do go on exchange programs to Japan (or more rarely, pursue a joint double degree program with a Japanese university). But by and large most don’t take these paths (due to a dearth of opportunities or ability, sometimes both), and so Waseda remains the closest they’ll come to being in an actual Japanese school environment. The emphasis on artificiality (bifurcated with the organic reality of these school festivals being a regular occurrence in most Japanese schools, at least) may seem insurmountable, but one could argue it is a unique experience in itself (although whether that is what one originally desired is debatable).

In any case, there is certainly more to life than getting the “organic Japanese school experience” which I’ve described above – and there are many reasons one might choose to attend such a school festival. Perhaps one simply needs to enjoy the festival for what it offers, and look back fondly on these memories made – glossy though the act may be.

 

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