University Professor Uses Bakemonogatari in Japanese Literature Class
posted on by Eric Stimson
Are light novels "literature?" With their fantastic elements, casual writing style and dialogue, and young demographics, Japanese generally do not think so. They are rarely taught in university classes on Japanese literature. But Masahiro Hirose, a professor in the subject at the Aichi University of Education near Nagoya, is trying to change that in his classes.
This year, his class ("Seminar on Japanese Literature") will be using the first volume of NisiOisin's Bakemonogatari series as a text. The seminar will teach the basics of textual analysis and critically evaluate what the book says about modern Japanese culture and society. Hirose finds Bakemonogatari, with its fantastical elements placed in a realistic setting, a good example of how "fantasy is used to reflect reality."
Hirose is a fan of NisiOisin and has quoted from Tsukimonogatari in an earlier presentation, even imitating Shinobu's distinctive tone from the anime. His class attracted attention online last year as well when it used Reki Kawahara's Sword Art Online as a text. In an interview with the Japanese news website Da Vinci News, he called SAO "an ideal text" to evaluate the present state of society through an imaginary world. His class asked students to identify which elements in the text functioned as entertainment and why, and assigned them to assess their own actions if they were also trapped in a game. Hirose confirms that he wants to shatter the divide between "literature" and "light novels"; other light novels and anime analyzed as "literature" at Aichi University of Education include Durarara!!, Little Busters!, Toradora!, The Tatami Galaxy and Hidamari Sketch.
Anime fans also found a pleasant surprise on this year's entrance exams to Kokushikan University, which used JoJo's Bizarre Adventure as a geography testing mechanism. Schoolteachers have also occasionally used anime references on their tests. Vertical plans to publish Bakemonogatari in English in December.