Thursday, December 17, 2015

TWELVE DAYS OF ANIME 2015 "It's up to you"

Sound! Euphonium did a lot of things right and many of those things had to do with its characters. I feel like I've seen pieces of a lot of these characters before but the band conductor, Taki-sensei, really stuck out to me because finally, that felt like the teachers I had had in high school, in college, that I had never seen in fiction before



Well, the crazy-in-a-good-way teachers, I had plenty of crazy-in-the-bad-way teachers (primarily in high school, one or two oddballs in college), and he especially reminded me of the head of my department in college. After going into college being unsure of precisely what I wanted to do, I switched to photography my second semester of my freshman year and he seemed like a nice, quiet guy, and I would have a chance to get to know him better in the fall since he was teaching my 2000 level course.

My first day of class, for that class, it was the second day of the school, a different teacher came in instead, one I had had for my 1000 level course, and she said well, some of us might be confused by this, but that teacher had passed away back in June. I'm still in shock the university never emailed me that my teacher had died and the department was in a small pickle. They had just finished hiring a new teacher at the end of the semester to fill an already existing gap in a different area and I hadn't been aware but he had also been tapped to be the next head of the department, the plan was just not this fast. So two teachers split up the sections for my class and he went off and started changing the program faster than the students expected and slower than he would have liked.

So none of us knew him at all and the fact that he was changing the program, as he was brought on to do, made a lot of folks dislike him but I never really did, there was too much of an explanation behind all of his changes for me to really get mad. He was a bit eccentric, like many many photographers I've met and all of the other teachers, but one thing that surprised me the most was even though he was fairly strict in grading, in my senior portfolio class (in photography your portfolio is your thesis except it actually gets you jobs) it was clear that most of the "class" was in our hands. He never seemed to have any doubt that my class of 12 could all be very good photographers someday, the question was if we'd be at that level by the end of the semester and thus ready to graduate. 

Like Kumiko I wasn't fully at that level when I started (which was common enough they actually launched a junior portfolio class that same semester) but partway through I found my rhythm and like Kumiko this still meant that the class was a bit of a struggle but I now had a path and a goal*. Coming from behind put me in an interesting position where I could really see his, almost a philosophy, at work. There had been three other folks in the same boat as me and while one girl was also pulling herself up after me, the other two weren't. My lone male classmate seemed to be in a funk (and we had both struggled with simply being able to make photos due to a lack of car and everything that entails) but the last girl, she was just not getting it. Some of her photos were good, some were not, but she didn't understand that the ultimate goal of this class was to make a collection of work, an ensemble, not simply stand alone images. She was the one who cried in class (my teacher told us the first day that someone always cries, it worries him when it doesn't happen, and that part of the purpose of this class is to see if you break and if you do, how you put yourself back together) and even contested her grade to the point where she took advantage of him being out of town on graduation (it was an accident) to walk, she was that confident that the school would rescind his decision and let her pass. 

She was my year so she couldn't have known the program before it started changing, it made some sense when upperclassmen complained, I mean you'll complain if your comfortable setting changes, and she was immature in a few other areas (look, calling food photography easy/not important when the two food photographers, including the best photographer in the class, are in the room is super dumb and I totally called her out and gave her flack for it**). So when I saw Kumiko's band start to come together it felt familiar in a way, I have never played in band but I knew some of these people for better or for worse. People always have the potential to achieve great things, what changes is how you get to it, mentally and in a real life kind of way, and both of these teachers understand that your biggest motivator has to be yourself. You see it in sports series too, someone might have a rival but usually they're still competing with themselves, as self-centered as it sounds that really is the most important thing in the end, how you feel about your own work. So I'm really looking forward to the second season and the movie to see how these characters keep growing, like the rest of us it's clear that they aren't done yet!   


*although I do think I startled my teacher, really the whole class, more than Kumiko did since it appeared that I got way better in a single week, I did get a bit of satisfaction with that moment. I'd also to make it clear that as absolutely hard this class was it was one of my favorite in college since it was the best critique I've ever gotten, lots of it, positive and negative and all meant entirely sincerely (which is as rare as that sounds!)

**the other girl and I later agreed that if she was going to do that she could've had the decency to say wedding photography since at least that girl wasn't in the lab at the time

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