There is a lot being said about Millenials and younger generations. Mostly that they don’t know how to do anything or know anything about anything. While not a generalized truth—every generation thinks theirs is better than the next—it IS true that there are more people who are ignorant of certain things like how to cook, do chores, or even basic science simply because technology has made our lives easier. You’d think that Japan being as good with their educational system as they are, they wouldn’t have this issue, but when students are allowed to sleep in class because they are so overworked between school clubs, homework, and cram school, the truth is, even though all high school kids graduate, many may not even know what they were supposed to have learned, and it's hard to learn how to adult when you’re too busy juggling a Japanese-style school life.
Whether this is the reason or not, there has been a noticeable rise in educational anime in the last few years, not that there weren’t any educational shows before, they’ve just become better, more prevalent, and not only aimed at younger audiences as they used to be. We’re all busy with school, work, family, and life in general; add to that making time for anime and manga and, when are we supposed to learn extra stuff? Why, from anime of course!
Today, we’ll be covering some of the most recent educational hits that will make you the smartest otaku in the room while still enjoying your favorite medium and, usually, laughing at the same time!
Hataraku Saibou (Cells at Work)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2018 - September 2018
Hataraku Saibo follows the lives of the cells inside a certain human body, specifically, Red Blood Cell AE3803 and White Blood Cell U-1146. Throughout the series, we watch Red Blood Cell struggle to figure out the route she needs to take to circulate around the body carrying oxygen and other things, while the handsome White Blood Cell does what he does best and fights off germs, bacteria, and anything else that might harm the body they all call home. Throughout Cells at Work, we watch these two, plus a plethora of other cells with different jobs, do their thing to keep the human body healthy.
Cells at Work has been reviewed by actual doctors and even they are amazed at how accurate the basic knowledge is and how much care and attention has been paid to detail, like the fact that Macrophage’s hat looks like what a macrophage actually looks like! There are many details to learn from and, even if you’ve studied biology, Cells at Work may help you finally understand things you struggled to thanks to the anime visualizations. Add to that the gorgeous art and clever writing and you’ve got yourself a science anime class!
Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? (How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?)
- Episodes: 6+
- Aired: July 2019 - Currently Airing
This Summer 2019 anime—and its source material—takes it upon itself to teach its audience the truth about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. Following Sakura, Akemi, Ayaka, and other girls from their school, we get to see the struggles of losing extra weight and glory in achieving our fitness goals. The girls all have different fitness goals, from losing a few kilos to fitting into a specific outfit, or simply getting stronger and fitter and Machio the trainer is there to help.
Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? does an incredibly accurate job of explaining why we gain weight, how to lose it in a healthy way, and just how to properly exercise to achieve results whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or both! Also known as How Many Kilograms are the Dumbbells You Lift?, this educational anime combines cute girls in sexy workout outfits that are still well-rounded, relatable characters and lots of situational comedy and uses that combo to teach all the basics of training and a fit lifestyle.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July, 2019 - Currently Airing
On a normal day just like today, a sudden flash of green turned all of humanity into stone statues, including high school genius Senku and his more-brawn-than-brains friend Taiju who was about to confess to his crush. Thousands of years later, Taiju wakes up and breaks out of his stone shell to find that Japan is now a dense jungle and, wouldn’t you know it, Senku’s been awake for months. Senku, being a shounen manga fan and scientist, decides he will reanimate everyone and restart civilization!
“But, Lizzy, this is shounen anime, how can it be educational?” Well, similarly to shows like Shokugeki no Souma or sports shounen like Ballroom e Youkoso! among others, Dr. Stone explains how things work in its world. Luckily, it is a world based on reality and science and Senku is VERY good at science so, in every episode, we learn about the properties of different elements, chemical reactions, physics, anthropology, prehistory, and all sorts of things that Senku utilizes toward his goal of reviving civilization. There are even disclaimers at the beginning that say everything mentioned is based on science and can be done, but it’s dangerous, so don’t do it—or at least be very careful.
Of course, we’d need more than a single article to go over the rest but one cannot forget other educational anime like Dagashi Kashi—you learn so much about Japanese sweets!—, Hetalia, Bartender, Bakuon!, and sports anime like All Out! Or Yowamushi Pedal—both of which have to explain everything from the ground up to a newbie—, cute girls doing cute things slice of life shows like Yuru Camp and Encouragement of Climb, or shorts like Life is like a Cocktail, and Comical Psychosomatic Medicine, which aim towards a more mature audience and approach real-life situations and mental illness respectively with humor. And then there are all the tourism anime that focus on specific areas and teach you all about the town or prefecture, its history, foods, and customs like Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki and You Don't Know Gunma Yet.
Educational anime come in all genres, lengths, and topics. We don’t know if manga and anime creators are purposefully making their readers smarter or if it’s just a happy coincidence but as the big nerds that we are, we are loving the trend! How about you? What’s your favorite educational anime? Is there an educational manga you can’t wait to see animated? Tell us what you think in the comments below!