Anime vs. Reality – The Childhood Friend

I’ve gotten some lists full of random tidbits for you all to enjoy, and now I want to get more into the “anime” side of things. Are things really the way they are portrayed in anime?

As for the post theme, I want to dedicate it to one of the first graders (JHS, so grade 7 equivalent) at my main school who plays this song on the piano extremely well.

The guys are all obsessed with playing Megalovania from Undertale, and they pretty much all just play the exact same DUDUDUDU part over and over. A few of them can actually play more of the song than just that though.

The Childhood Friend

Alright, we all know it. This trope is as old as anime, right? Typically in the school setting, the childhood friend is someone that usually has grown up really close to the main character, they always walk to school together, and stuff like that.

Usually the childhood friend is a romantic rival in more romance / harem style anime. The childhood friend usually has that “lifetime friend status” that they use to one-up other characters, able to bring up memories or claim that they know the main character the best.

Well, I can’t really confirm or deny the personality aspect of the childhood friend, but I can confirm or deny the possibility of the childhood friend, as well as give you all an idea of how frequent it would actually be in real life.

At School

So first off, I’ll mention that here in Japan women and men tend to self-segregate. Naturally there are groups of friends with both that will meet and hang out, talk, et cetera. But in general, if you see a group of people walking or eating at a restaurant or whatever, it’ll be either entirely guys or gals.

This is probably less so as they get older, and highschool might be a little different, but it’s absolutely the case in junior high school. Guys and girls all tend to clump up in-between classes and chat, mess around, and all that stuff.

All that said, guys and girls will still talk to each other here and there. It’s not as common, but I know a few students who frequently chat with the other gender in class. Also, when you put a student on the spot with a question in class, it doesn’t matter what gender, someone sitting near them will likely help them come up with the answer. Or maybe they won’t, and leave the person to their fate…

So how can the childhood friend situation survive if guys and girls never really talk to each other at school aside from the odd time in class and possibly during club time?

The Commute

The answer is, the commute! You may or may not have realized it (I certainly never really thought anything of it), but anime sure does show students commuting to and from school an awful lot, doesn’t it?

That’s because they do!

School buses? What’s that? Maybe some fancy private schools have access to that, but the majority of students, elementary to high school, have to either walk or bike to school. So while in Canada you’ll see convoys of school buses before and after school, in Japan, you see hordes of students walking or biking to school!

It’s always obvious when it’s a school day, that’s for sure. And some students have to travel quite far to get to school. Some students at one of my schools that I’ve seen walking must take at least 45 minutes to get to school. (I used to walk 50 minutes myself, in high school, but I was an exception by Canadian school commute standards…).

Surprisingly, not that many students bike, I’d say only about 10% at my schools, but the reason for that is probably because this is car country where bikes aren’t as popular. In Tokyo, EVERYONE has a bike, but out here in Nagano, not so. Factor in that they can’t ride during rainy season, or during the snowy winters, and a bike becomes a little less convenient. I’m sure most of the students HAVE a bike, but most choose not to ride it to school everyday.

Anyways, the entire reason I even began writing this post is because while you don’t typically see guys and girls mingling at school, you do see them commuting together! Every morning I see the same groups of students walking to school. Sometimes the groups run into each other and join up to make giant groups, but sometimes it’s just pairs of students.

Students that live really far usually have a friend or two to walk with. And sometimes that friend happens to be of the other gender. Which means I get to see the childhood friend situation play out every morning on my drive to work, when I see these “couples” walking to school together. There are only a few of them, but still!

So that whole “they usually walk to and from school together” aspect of the childhood friend trope? It’s absolutely true. Which is pretty neat.

I can’t speak for the personality side, or vouch for how often the “couples” actually interact with each other once they get to school. They probably don’t interact all that much, because they’re at that age where any interaction could lead to teasing and rumours, even if they walk together. It’s almost like the commute to school is this loophole. Or maybe it’s just understood that their parents probably make them walk together because its safer or something, which is possible.

Remember these kids commute to school from elementary school, and some of them walk pretty far. So it’d make sense for parents from the same neighbourhood to have their kids walk together. And then that tradition just sort of sticks through until junior high school, and possibly even high school (if they go to the same school and all that).

Anyways, I thought it was really cool to see the “childhood friend” play out in reality. Junior high schools are typically within a block or two of an elementary school (sometimes they are in the same building), so it’s not unrealistic to assume that these students have been commuting together everyday since.. childhood.

I’ll try and keep an eye out to see if I can witness any tsundere childhood friend action or something haha. I doubt it, but then the occasional interaction is inevitable. It’d definitely be known to the other students who walks with who in the morning, which would make interaction between the “couples” less embarrassing as it’s understood they are friends so to speak. So in theory, these childhood friends (so to speak) are more likely to speak with each other at school.

Once again I hope you found this Japan content interesting. I haven’t been watching so much anime as of late, so my posting has dropped on that side of things, but I have been enjoying writing these Japan posts.

Speaking of, I’ve got a few more Japan post ideas ready to go, and of course I’ll keep thinking up new ideas too, so stay tuned.

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “Anime vs. Reality – The Childhood Friend

  1. We don’t have school buses in the Uk either (except for some upper class ones) and and I definitely had friends that I would walk to school with that weren’t in my normal group of friends. I’d say it’s surprising how many similarities there are with UK, but then they also drive on the correct side of the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True they do drive on the left side also.
      I used to walk a long ways to school but only ever walked with my friends, although I suppose some days my group would end up running into another group and we’d sort of join up for that walk.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Around the Network | MoeGamer

  3. There are school buses where I am, but if a school doesn’t hire them out specifically, they’re just public transport buses that happen to have their route go by the school because it benefits both the students and the bus company.

    I sort of lost faith in the whole childhood friend trope because I had some when I was…what? 3? 4? Then we all separated when the boys went to a private school, the girls went to a public school and even then, what was left of us drifted apart after what you would call elementary school. We didn’t really walk to school together or anything, but my mother babysat them (and one of their siblings) for a time.

    After thinking about my relationship with a guy I’d seen around for ages though, it turns out I had gone to basically every school he had, but he was sort of in the background or in a different class…how I didn’t really notice him more (I only really thought about this after I thought I had a crush on him), I don’t really know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember when I was a kid in elementary school a new school opened up, and so half the kids at my school were just gone from one year onwards. Didn’t get to see any of them much until high school.

      School is such a weird time. Like the whole “oblivious protagonist” trope was me in real life in high school. I can think of four different times that I was told by someone that a girl liked me, only for me to have this huge realization about it. Naturally I would always manage to mess things up with the girls after that point anyways though.


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