It’s pretty important to be able to keep abreast of what is popular with our students and what isn’t. Who wants to be the teacher that brings in a bunch of stickers with a character the kids think is uncool and outdated? Whether when considering who to put on your worksheets or what kinds of prizes to bring, this quick cheat sheet will keep you in the know and help your kids think that you’re way more hip then you have the right to be.
First, here is a quick overview to a few ‘Classics’ that you can stick with which have weathered the test of time.
Dragon Ball— With the remastering of DBZ about to start playing on TV again, DBZ is guaranteed to be pretty big. Younger students love it for the ridiculous attacks and it’s a bit of a nostalgia trip for the rest of us. You should know Goku (our loveable hero with a power level over 9,000) and Vegeta (the cranky widow’s peaked anti-hero). Chances are that you probably know at least a little about DBZ if you spent any time in the 90s.
One Piece— Your kids will either love this perennial Shonen Jump pirate story or they’ll hate it. It’s a mixed bag for the older kids. But, so long as you know Luffy, Ace, Zorro, and Chopper– you should be good to go. One Piece goods are everywhere, seriously. Pick a rare character to be your favourite and the kids will be even more impressed.
Sailor Moon— With the new anime (finally) given an airdate of July of this year, Sailor Moon and all of the other planets are going to be everywhere. Sailor Moon goods are already popping up across gatcha machines across the country. The big down side with Sailor Moon is due to a lack of merchandise for the past twenty years, if you want to get anything Sailor Moon related for your kids, you are going to have to pay for it due to the price mark up. Sailor Moon says: Not cool, retailers!
Disney/Pixar— Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Pluto, and one Disney character you may not be so familiar with– Duffy the Bear. Duffy is a mascot character at the Tokyo Disney parks that you can buy outfits and accessories for. He looks just like a regular bear but has a mickey shape on his paws. In terms of Pixar– the hot Pixar properties are Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Learn to draw a good Mike or ‘Little Green Man’ and you will be the jouzu-est teacher on the block.
Video Games— Pokemon, Monster Hunter, Mario, Dragon Quest… these are still popular. A blast from the past, right? There’s a good chance that you won’t know too many of the newer pokemon or much about Monster Hunter besides that it has cute cats and pigs for mascots but that’s okay. They’re cute and what’s what matters. Also, who doesn’t love a blue slime?
Doraemon/Anpanman— These are classic characters for little kids but learn how to draw them and even your most jaded SHS kids will appreciate this nod back to their youth.
Cute— Kitty-chan, Rilakkuma, Sentimental Circus. You don’t have to know about the characters but if it’s cute and pastel coloured, your kids will eat it up.
What’s Hot Now?
Yurukyara— Those crazy mascots. What will we they get up to next? Currently, Funasshi is the king of the Yurukyara with his crazy shouting and running from explosions. Other popular yurukyara’s include Barysan (a previous winner of the Yurukyara grand prix), Nishikokun (I don’t even…), and the current reigning champion of the yurukyara Grand Prix– Sanomaru. A local yurukyara how is starting to gain a bit more country-wide popularity is Koriyama’s own Gakutokun. He’s pretty easy to spot in UFO catchers in Tokyo right now!
Attack on Titan//Shingeki no Kyojin— Kids flying through the air with swords fighting giants who eat people. What isn’t to love about this overtly gory anime and manga series? Erin, Mikasa, and Levi are the top three favourites– especially Levi with the girls. Include Levi on your next handout and you’ll be deafened by the squeals of delight.
Puzzles and Dragons//Puzadora— The whole swap-three style game brought to brand new levels of popularity here in Japan thanks to the incorporation of cute characters you have to breed and raise. It’s like Digimon meets Bejewled and your kids are eating it up. Thankfully, many of the characters are just blobs and easy to draw.
Kuroko’s Basketball//Kuroko no Basuke— The plot of this anime/manga, as told by Wikipedia: ‘The basketball team of Teikō Middle School rose to distinction by demolishing all competition. The regulars of the team became known as the “Generation of Miracles”. After graduating from middle school, these five stars went to different high schools with top basketball teams. However, a fact few know is that there was another player in the “Generation of Miracles”: a phantom sixth man. This mysterious player is now a freshman at Seirin High, a new school with a powerful, if little-known, team. Now, Kuroko Tetsuya, the sixth member of the “Generation of Miracles”, and Kagami Taiga, a naturally talented player who spent most of middle school in the US, are aiming to bring Seirin to the top of Japan, taking on Kuroko’s former teammates one by one. ‘ Two characters to know here are the blue-haired titular charcter Tetsuya Kuroko and his red-headed partner Taiga Kagami. Tetsuya #2, Tetsuya’s cute dog is also worth knowing.
Silver Spoon//Gin no Saji— From the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, this is a new slice of life manga/anime that focuses around a boy from Sapporo transferring to an agriculture high school in the country. Comedy, love, life, and valuable moral lessons are probably contained within the story– in addition to newfound respect and cool points with your kids.
Free!—An anime about a boy’s SHS swimming club. You maaaay want to avoid including goods and prizes with Free! as the characters are typically depicted in speedos or the like but it’s good to recognise what the characters look like (half naked anime boy on a student’s bag probably means it’s a Free! Character) so that you can talk to your kids or comment about it. At the end of the day, we all just want to relate and find something that we can connect to our kids with.
Kumamon— That big black bear is still seen everywhere but it so decidedly uncool wit the kids anymore.
Nameko— I’m not sad to see those phallic looking weird mushrooms fall from grace…
Stitch— He’s still here and there but he’s reached the point of over saturation with most students so he’s seen as a little hokey with most students.
These are just some guides as to what is trendy with our kids. Each school and each individual kid is different. Pay attention to what straps, stickers, and pencil cases your kids have to help you learn what your kids like the best. And even if something that you love isn’t ‘cool’ with your kids, MAKE it cool to your kids. After all, I’m working on making Mameshiba the most popular character out there one student at a time.