Curriculumachine

curriculumachine2.gif

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, Sesame Street owes its general aesthetic to the NBC comedy variety hour Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The educators at Children’s Television Workshop borrowed the fast-paced, psych-pop style after noticing that children seemed to love Laugh-In and its zany punchlines. In the early 1970s, Japanese executives at Nippon TV must have realized this lineage for the Sesame Street formula and reunited the production staff of NTV’s popular late ’60s Laugh-In rip-off, Kyosen • Maetake Geba Geba 90pun, to make a daily kids’ show. The result — Curriculumachine (『カリキュラマシーン』) — premiered on April 1, 1974, and for the next four years, the fifteen minute educational program was shown six days a week to pre-school and early elementary school students in the early morning. Curriculumachine featured many talented members of the Geba Geba cast, plus adorable idols Okazaki Yuki and Sakurada Junko, and early Johnny’s Jimusho stars The Four Leaves.1

Visually, Curriculumachine is as close to The Electric Company as humanly possible. The opening title sequence is almost an exact copy, perfectly reproducing EC‘s lysergic video distortion techniques. The theme song (from Miyagawa Hiroshi) is equally groovy, although a bit more Pizzicato Five club-jazz than Fifth Dimension sing-a-long soul-pop. Analog synth squirts provide clever sound design, while dreamy animations, lacking any real resemblance to modern anime conventions, teach kids in whimsical ways. And yes, Curriculumachine even has its own gorilla — named Ichiro. Unlike my earlier disappointment with the Japanese adaptation of Hair, I can happily report that Curriculumachine is incredibly good and stands up well over time. (A more commercial blog would write: Click here to buy the DVD boxset.)

Children’s programming, however, very rarely pleases everyone and is always under attack for being a “bad influence” on its young viewers. Wikipedia notes that Sesame Street was not only criticized for its attention span-reducing style, but also for sometimes featuring “inappropriate” content:

For an animation on the letter “J”, the writers included “a day in jail.” This drew criticism from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Terrence O’Flaherty, despite executive producer David Connell’s assertion that kids are familiar with the word through shows like Batman and Superman, and that “when you’re trying to come up with a lot of words starting with J, you soon run short” of words they are already familiar with.

If the mere mention of “jail” was enough to sound alarms in the United States, what would child advocates have thought about these live-action sketches on Curriculumachine?

• To teach words with three syllables, a guy goes to a bar and orders a beer (bi-i-ru).
• A girl tries to make “beautiful tears” by repeatedly pounding her head with a hammer.
• A man with a noose around his neck — his execution has failed — returns to his family, who are inexplicably eating nonchalantly in his prison cell.
• To teach the difference between お (the sound “o” used in words) and を (the sound “o/wo” used to mark objects), the example sentence is “おならをする” (to fart), accompanied by a man happily farting in a bathtub.
• To teach the word “certificate of commendation” (表彰状), a man is presented with a certificate for fighting with a robber, but we later see that he had been stabbed in the back with an enormous knife during the fight. The knife still sticks out of the still-bleeding wound.
• To teach the word “gun”(鉄砲), a man points a gun off screen. The gorilla Ichiro comes out, bends the gun’s muzzle backwards, and the man shoots himself in the face.
• To teach the difference between “penki” (paint) and “benki” (toilet bowl, urinal), a city worker places a toilet bowl on a bench. Then an old couple come by, throw money into the toilet, and pray as if it is a shrine collection box (賽銭箱).
• To teach the word “rubber band” (輪ゴム), a man in a lookalike Mishima Yukio military uniform holds the rubber band to his head, apologizes to his parents, and “commits suicide.”
• To teach the the word “hose” (ホース), a girl holds a hose with water coming out. We then see that the hose leads to the inside of a man’s pants and he has been “providing” the “water.”
• To teach words with the sound pe we get a homeless guy (“lumpen”). For pi, we get “pistol,” and for pa, “pipe” (paipu).
• To teach the word “waste basket” (kuzukago), a woman separates her garbage, finds a corpse, and then wonders aloud whether it is “raw garbage” or not. She asks the corpse.
• To teach the usage of the subject-marking particle “ha/wa” (spelled は), the show provides two examples: yakuza playing cho-han bakuchi and Nazi soldiers (with swastika arm bands) handling bombs.
• To teach “stamp” (kitte), stamps are attached to giant coffins with addresses written on top.
• To teach “match” (matcchi), a man lights a wick that leads to another man’s anus.
• To teach the hiragana for the sound ta (た), a doctor shows a red-and-silver colored “specimen” making out the shape for ta. It is a tanken (dagger). We learn that a killer had used this knife, explaining why it is bloody.
• To teach the word cradle (yurikago), a bartender rocks a cradle on his bar counter, then pulls out a drink tumbler that had been inside, and pours a martini into a glass.

Special Needle Humor Section:
• A doctor throws dozens of needles at his patient like darts.
• A doctor uses a hammer to force a needle into a patient’s arm.
• A doctor rushes in to a room to administer a giant shot to the chest (Pulp Fiction style) of a senile grandpa who has been “seeing things.”

• To learn how to use the small tsu (っ) to make geminate consonants, we learn that yakuza families are called ikka (一家).
• Cavemen kill each other with giant clubs in a race to get apples, samurai kill each other with swords in a race to get scrolls, and then cowboys kill each other with guns in a race to get whiskey. The final cowboy shoots himself in the head for no reason.
• A cute Free Design-esque song about the wind features a wind gust blowing up the skirts of not one, but two college-aged girls, letting us see their panties.
• A samurai failing to learn how to use a pencil commits ritual seppuku.
• A guard overseeing the “Lost & Found” section of a train station flips the sign to “Sales” and starts selling the items.
• A naval recruit has his hand repeatedly burned by a lit cigarette to learn morse code.
• To teach “o/wo” (the object marker を) in the sentence “to dance a dance” (odori wo odoru) , a typical helmeted student protester sits on top of a wooden barricade surrounded by riot guards (機動隊) dancing around him.
• To teach words starting with the sound ka, nurses (kangofu) hold small enemas (kanchou) and then battle it out gladiator style to try to stick the enema up the other’s skirt.
• To teach words with long vowel sounds, a cake is shown with a single candle (rousoku). As a family sings happy birthday, the mother reveals her one-year-old baby boy (a doll), then tickles his fake testicles, and the boy pisses out the candle flame.

and my favorite (featured in the YouTube clip),

• To teach the word “shoeshine” (靴磨き), a shoeshiner is sitting down while a customer comes by, drops his briefcase, opens his fly, and urinates on his face.

These examples are not really “cherry picked” out of the many skits included in the DVD boxset. There may not be a single episode of the series that does not involve smoking, drinking alcohol, or funerals/ghosts/corpses in some form. Bottles of whiskey, pipes, cigarettes, cigarette boxes, bloody knives, and pistols are all fair game for learning how to count objects. The producers got daily usage out of the classic Japanese triangle-headband outfit for the deceased (and oddly, wooden Christian coffins), as the recently deceased are always up to silly things in the pursuit of primary education. Even the gorilla is bad boy. In one scene, the violent simian appears in the nick of time to save a girl being held at knife-point, but as soon as he has subdued the criminal, he pushes the girl down and trashes the room.

Judging from the material, perhaps Curriculumachine was actually targeted towards teenagers or adults, almost like a proto-Wonder Showzen. Or with humor on the same “tasteless” par as 100%-non-educational You Can’t Do That on Television (vomit-flavored burgers, anyone), maybe Curriculumachine should not be judged as an education endeavor at all. But let’s again consider the stated goal of the show: to bring Sesame Street-style children’s entertainment to the Japanese television market. To this end, they attached professional educators to advise, picked an early morning time slot best suited for children and not adults, and then set the level of educational content at basic colors, basic addition/subtraction, and the most basic reading elements. Official materials stated that the target audience was 4-7 years old. The content was supposed to entertain parents as well, but the show was first and foremost an attempt to improve the minds of Japan’s children.

Curriculumachine

We thus come to the cognitive dissonance: why would producers intentionally fill an educational children’s show with skit after skit of black humor, violence, smoking, drinking, and death? Needless to say, today’s NHK kids shows like Pythagoras Switch do not really approach such topics. Although Curriculumachine should not incriminate the entire Japanese nation, the show’s long-run throughout the ’70s at least suggests that it was not particularly scandalous. In The Material Child: Coming of Age in Japan and America, sociologist Merry White points out that Japanese society long lacked distinctions for teenagers or adolescents. Basically anyone yet to be an adult was equally a “child” (kodomo). Perhaps this meant that anything deemed appropriate for older teens was also appropriate for four year-olds.

More realistically, however, the issue may not be about cultured conceptualizations of “appropriate” content. If Sesame Street episodes were created by Education PhDs, teams of psychologists, and advanced focus group testing to ensure the most effective and enjoyable material for children, Curriculumachine appears to have been written by four or five chain-smoking veteran television writers cracking themselves up over a bottle of Suntory Old. More than sadistically pushing “black humor” on young viewers, the Curriculumachine staff just seem completely uninterested in real pedagogy or providing children with anything familiar to their world. In fact, no children ever appear on the variety segments of Curriculumachine. The producers must have believed that the aesthetics of Geba Geba were pleasing enough that writers did not have to switch gears to talk to kids on their own level. Almost like, if Jerry Seinfeld’s routine killed in the Catskills, why would he change it for open mic night at the Apollo? The Curriculumachine gags are definitely funny: guys line up to get a big red kiss from a woman and then proceed in line to the next woman who slaps them for “cheating again.” I can dig it, but why they thought kids in Suginami-ku would be in hysterics over this, I dunno.

But since the “naughty” parts of the show feel so self-consciously “naughty,” surely the staff had confidence that children would enjoy a “He farted!!” appeal to their baser comic instincts. The skits, therefore, should not be taken as self-consciously anti-puritan, like Shinta Cho’s The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts, attempting to humanize potty talk instead of letting sensitive topics become forbidden fruits. The writers of Curriculumachine probably picked the sentence “to fart in the tub” precisely because you are not supposed to fart in the bathtub. Toilet humor must have seemed like the most obvious way to bridge the generation gap.

If Curriculumachine sees no need for self-censorship in ritual suicide, gunshots to the head, medical malpractice, and pee-pee, what are the topics that they implicitly marked off as taboo? Sex — the actual coital act — does not really come into play. There are scenes referencing hostess bars, women’s jealousy, and up-skirt peeking, but no breasts, vaginas, pederasty, menstruation, or penetration. As far as I can tell, there were no fellatio jokes during the entire run of Curriculumachine. Even on the skit where two parents are in a hospital to give birth to their son, they do not show the woman actually giving birth: the kid arrives stork-like on the scene. In another, a groom lays down his bride on the bed, ready to pounce, when someone off-screen exclaims, “Congratulations!” and leaves their new baby on the bed. The man’s expression is priceless, a nice satire on the predominance of social responsibility in marriage over the erotic. I see the meta-humor in the sexual removal, but kids just see babies born without prior causative action.

I don’t want to overpraise the proto-political correctness of Sesame Street, but the Big Bird gang’s values seem deeply rooted in the 1960s American countercultural moment: peace, love, and understanding. The death and violence of Curriculumachine are a bit of a bummer in comparison. But since the social revolution in Japan during the 1960s was more about beating fellow students over the head with big sticks in political protest rather than smoking dope on the lawn and listening to “Itchycoo Park” over and over again, maybe Curriculumachine‘s violence was a reflection of its times.

Regardless of whether we can now guffaw over the political incorrectness of Curriculumachine, I highly doubt that the show’s iffy content ever resulted in a palpable negative influence on Japanese society. Did handgun deaths or seppuku rates increase in the ’80s? Or, did Japanese adults start overindulging in cigarettes and alcohol? Okay, that last one may prove TV’s power to pass on social norms, but since close-to-home factors such as parents’ behavior, socioeconomic class, and educational environment shape the individual child more than his TV intake, this whole reflection on Curriculumachine is basically reduced to an abstract debate on the state of moral values in society. Today, we can enjoy the show as entertainment, but moreover, Curriculumachine plays a historical role in archiving attitudes towards childhood existent in an earlier age. We can agree to disagree: some may slightly recoil from the distasteful and desperate attempts at laughter, while others may see Curriculumachine as the Golden Age before political correctness devoured good old-fashioned humor. Good news is that we will all learn to count to 10.

1 If you are wondering whether Johnny’s young men have always been mediocre singers and actors, the Four Leaves suggest as such. Maybe this is idle speculation, but it’s almost as if Johnny is more interested in surrounding himself with pretty boys in a secret compound than providing the market with talented entertainers!

2The actual educational methods used in the show are so convoluted and arcane that they make the solutions to easy problems look impossible. I thought I was pretty good at addition until I tried to decipher their bizarre systems for counting, where fives are “katamari” and tens are “taba.” When the show teaches a word that starts with the featured syllable of the day, the other letters are replaced with dots, long syllables replaced with dashes, and the geminate double-consonant (like “tt” in “chotto”) is a dot followed by an inverted triangle. These are perhaps the old ways of teaching these things, and I can see why they’ve been updated.

(Special thanks to Matt Alt for introducing me to the series.)

W. David MARX
February 18, 2008

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

40 Responses

  1. W. David MARX Says:

    One more note: Okazaki Yuki’s dancing in the crazy genre-review counting song of the “8″ episode – between gong hits – is pretty awesomely square.

  2. Patrick Macias Says:

    Special mention should also be made of stalwart Seijun Suzuki actor Shishido Jo doing time on the Machine as “Impitsu no Jo”; a play on his “Ace no Joe” persona from the Nikkatsu Action films.

  3. joe Says:

    What’s with the dissection/analysis of 1970s Japanese culture lately. I just don’t see why a detailed commentary on this show is at all relevant.

  4. W. David MARX Says:

    Gotta get back to your roots. It’s relevant in that it’s (A) interesting and mostly forgotten and (B) a time capsule of previous social mores.

    And if you can’t enjoy a children’s TV show where adults urinate on the faces of other adults, I don’t know what you could possibly enjoy.

  5. Duffy Says:

    “What’s with the dissection/analysis of 1970s Japanese culture lately. I just don’t see why a detailed commentary on this show is at all relevant.”

    Relevant to what, dude? Maybe it’s plain old interesting.

  6. M-Bone Says:

    I think that the often insane brutality of “Ultra Seven” and the like deserves mention in this context as well. They also correspond with the low point in postwar youth crime.

  7. Mulboyne Says:

    M-Bone wrote: “They also correspond with the low point in postwar youth crime.”

    That doesn’t sound right to me. As far as I remember, perhaps wrongly, juvenile crime was at its lowest postwar in the 50s. It steadily increased and peaked in the middle/late seventies (Godspeed you Black Emperor!) or early eighties, as the bubble kicked in. It has risen again, probably from around the mid-nineties but, on some measures, has yet to reach the old peak.

    Like all statistics, it depends how you slice and dice it. You’ll get different trends depending on whether you look at crime rates, demographic ratios or total number of crimes. You certainly often hear that juveniles now commit greater numbers of violent crimes than ever before but I haven’t seen, or, more truthfully, looked for, any data to support or refute that suggestion.

  8. Aceface Says:

    Waseda’s Hasegawa Mariko thinks youth crime is decreasing.
    http://www.jca.apc.org/toudai-shokuren/dekigoto/000824a.html

  9. M-Bone Says:

    “That doesn’t sound right to me. As far as I remember, perhaps wrongly, juvenile crime was at its lowest postwar in the 50s.”

    I read in a Mainichi crime summary that poverty, etc. caused a youth theft / violent crime peak in the 1950s, another small spike in the 1980s, a dip in the 1990s, followed by another spike. I did not see data, however, so this may be misleading. Crime stats tend to be the easiest to manipulate.

    I found some murder stats online for 13 and under -

    1950s – 48
    1960s – 53
    1970s – 24
    1980s – 17
    1990s – 10

    Low base, but this is a notable dip.It is also my understanding that other violent crimes follow a similar pattern.

    Rape -

    http://kangaeru.s59.xrea.com/G-Rape.htm

    It does very much seem like youth crime was off the hook in the 1950s. The 1950s, despite the greater DISCUSSION of youth crime, seems to have been the time of greatest decline. And yet the Showa 30nendai nostalgia boom just keeps on trucking….

    In any case, I am a strong supporter of the view that a chunk of crimes are unavoidable, most are attributable to poverty and the environment that poverty creates, and there are none that can profitably be connected with popular culture.

  10. M-Bone Says:

    Incidentally, this is not comparable to the Japanese example, because it is clearly a case of pop culture “smuggling” and not official sanction, but that doesn’t make it any less jaw dropping -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tFPb6He-uo&feature=related

  11. M-Bone Says:

    “The 1950s, despite the greater DISCUSSION of youth crime, seems to have been the time of greatest decline.”

    Should have been 1970s.

    I wonder how many Curriculumachine box sets are going to get sold because of this essay?

  12. Aceface Says:

    BTW,nobody mentioning UgoUgo Lhuga?

    This was supposed to be a kid’s program too,you know.

    http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=PzLjpGnEPWI&feature=related

  13. Aceface Says:

    「カリキュラマシーン」、今になってよく見てみたら、前武といい、いずみたくといい、吉田日出子といい、みんなガチの日本共産党支持者ばっかじゃんか。
    そこになぜか統一教会の桜田淳子...

  14. Mulboyne Says:

    Trevor Ryan has a paper online (PDF) about juvenile crime in Japan. He has a graph on page 27 (of 36)which uses arrest data taken from the National Police Agency website:

    http://www.law.usyd.edu.au/anjel/documents/ZJapanR/ZJapanR19_11_Ryan.pdf

    Arrest data will be different from conviction data but the shape of that graph is fairly similar to the one I saw a couple of years ago which looked at the latter trend.

  15. josh lambert Says:

    fascinating post. i’ve been reading up on some similar questions in terms of american comic book history (pre-code crime and horror comics being some of the ghastliest stuff ever produced especially for little kids; though, of course, no one imagined they would be educational). for what it’s worth, my current favorite apposite source is gershon legman’s “love & death: a study in censorship” (1949), a wild example of cultural criticism (by a guy who, incidentally, also seems to have been an influential origami enthusiast). another good one is robert warshow’s occasionally reprinted essay about his son’s obsession with horror comics, which is ultimately, like your post, honestly ambivalent about this sort of stuff.

  16. M-Bone Says:

    “which uses arrest data taken from the National Police Agency website”

    An uses it very, very irresponsibly – the numbers from before 1965 do not include theft and burglary and (shock) as soon as they do include those numbers there is an increase. If we look at murder and rape – two areas that appeared consistently in the stats, we see a dramatic peak around 1960 followed by an equally dramatic plunge in the 1970s. This is the same thing that went on with foreign crime stats – they included visa violations and suddenly it looks like there are 1000s of foreigners in Japan to rape and pillage.

  17. Mulboyne Says:

    M-Bone, unless Ryan borrowed money from you and has yet to pay it back, I wouldn’t be so harsh on him. He hasn’t manipulated the data, simply taken it straight from page 22 (of 147) from the NPA PDF he cites:

    http://www.npa.go.jp/safetylife/syonen20/syounen15.pdf

    Also he uses the chart to talk about recent trends, it was me who referred to the shape of the graph in the early postwar period so I’ll take the blame if it doesn’t make my point. I can see (now) that the data before 1965 excludes theft & burglary but I don’t, however, see where the numbers increase from 1965 after it is included. It seems to take until the 1970s begin before the trend changes and arrest trends start to rise so it isn’t clear what effect the exclusion has.

  18. M-Bone Says:

    I was being hardass because I thought that was a peer-reviewed essay. I turns out that it was a student prize winner and it is a hell of a student article.

    It does, however, use the stats poorly.

    You are right that there is not an instant (although quickly after, this seems like a reportage problem) jump in the stats. The second PDF in question, however, reveals that burglary and stealing are now (unsurprisingly) a full 67.1% of all youth crimes (with shoplifting making up close to 40% of the total).

    Even if the earlier ratio is slightly different, the addition of those numbers after a certain point makes the earlier stats useless for comparison. There is one graph but the numbers are not measuring the same thing.

  19. W. David MARX Says:

    I don’t know if I want to encourage more youth crime stat speculation in the thread of this particular essay, but if TV was actually a cause of violence, wouldn’t there be a lag between programming and crime? Those who watched Curriculumachine at age 5 (in ’74) wouldn’t have started committing crime until age 15-18 – thus in the mid-to-late 1980s.

    I have been doing a lot of research about the history of Japanese street fashion recently, and it seems like the police in Japan considered almost everything “youth delinquency” back in the day. Almost every since youth subculture before the late 70s faced police crackdown for the flimsiest of reasons.

    みんなガチの日本共産党支持者ばっかじゃんか。

    Aceface blames it on the Commies. Sakurada Junko doesn’t actually show up in many sketeches, so maybe the Unification Church was reluctant about letting her hang out with such Reds.

  20. M-Bone Says:

    “committing crime until age 15-18 – thus in the mid-to-late 1980s.”

    In that case it would have been due to “Fist of the Northstar”.

    I like this idea of people being programmed by a show and going bad a decade later.

  21. W. David MARX Says:

    A good research topic would be trying to chart the mechanics of how “political correctness” was brought into the Japanese children’s programming world. Why don’t NHK shows of present use murder and funerals as ways to teach kids how to read?

  22. Curriculumachine - The Slightly Adult Precursor To Pythagoras Switch » TV in Japan Says:

    [...] over at Neojaponisme has written a doozy of a post about Curriculumachine, a Japanese children’s series from the [...]

  23. Aceface Says:

    “Aceface blames it on the Commies.”

    Well,I was surprised since JCP’s youth cultural programs are more like NHK/Mombusho lines and definitely not like “Curriculumachine”…
    (I know,because I grew up being mouth-fed them.)
    Maybe they were not card carry member or perhaps good ol’comrade Fuwa expulsed them.

    “Sakurada Junko doesn’t actually show up in many sketeches, so maybe the Unification Church was reluctant about letting her hang out with such Reds.”

    She became one of the moonies in the late 80′s.Perhaps her exerience in CM persuaded her to the way of crusading against the international threat of communism.

  24. joe Says:

    I guess rather than relevant, I should have said interesting, which I just don’t think this is.
    That being said….
    “if you can’t enjoy a children’s TV show where adults urinate on the faces of other adults, I don’t know what you could possibly enjoy.”
    hehe, touche.

  25. M-Bone Says:

    “A good research topic would be trying to chart the mechanics of how “political correctness” was brought into the Japanese children’s programming world.”

    For manga, this has been done to death (in Japanese). A number of women’s groups began crusades – mostly in the early 1990s if memory serves me correctly. Most rested on the idea that violent pop culture causes violent crime. TV is badly understudied in Japan and more or less untouched outside.

    One interesting thing to consider – Japan has relatively few violent video games compared to the USA while comic book and kids TV violence is more or less taboo stateside.

  26. M-Bone Says:

    “I guess rather than relevant, I should have said interesting, which I just don’t think this is.”

    I actually hadn’t heard of “Curriculumachine” before this and I thought it was fascinating.

  27. W. David MARX Says:

    I was asking around amongst Japanese people about the show and most knew it for the groovy visual sense, but almost no one remembered the un-PC content. Some of the Amazon reviewers, however, comment that the skits are a bit “不味い.”

  28. Mulboyne Says:

    It’s a fairly popular pastime to play “spot the drug reference” in British children’s TV programmes from the 60s and 70s. These were supposed to be in-jokes that even the TV executives didn’t get, let alone the kids. Your point about this programme seems to be that there was no subtext, rather that it was all thought appropriate.

    Like M-Bone, I’m also curious about when parents groups first took issue with a children’s television programme in Japan. There must have been something to stir people up before Crayon Shinchan.

  29. Matt Says:

    A number of women’s groups began crusades – mostly in the early 1990s

    Japan is beloved by many for its perceived softer stance on portraying sex and violence in its entertainment, but it seems there has long been resistance to it from certain domestic quarters.

    Case in point: when the manga ハレンチ学園 (“Harenchi Gakuen,” or “Shameless School”) became a nationwide hit in 1969, the Ministry of Education, school PTA groups, and the mass media hounded author Go Nagai to the point of him briefly leaving Tokyo. I believe he eventually responded by ending the series with a machine-gun massacre of the entire cast of characters in their high school…!

  30. M-Bone Says:

    “Case in point”

    Good point. I think, however, that this was a rare thing at that time (just like the flare against Gaki Deka a bit later). Go dropped Harenchi and went on to do WAY worse things (like Violence Jack) in the 1970s. Violence Jack is flat out shocking at points. Parts of it seem clearly designed for children (child protagonists). Maybe it was Go’s revenge.

  31. W. David MARX Says:

    It’s a fairly popular pastime to play “spot the drug reference” in British children’s TV programmes from the 60s and 70s

    Yeah, I am glad you mentioned this, because it’s a totally different ball game. There are basically no hidden jokes on the show (maybe the Mishima outfit in the suicide gag) and just pretty straight-forward adult humor. P. Macias’ pointed out that The Electric Company‘s Easy Reader is a “junkie” addicted to reading. If it were Curriculumachine, they would have just introduced the word “Junkie” to teach you “ja.”

  32. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    I believe he eventually responded by ending the series with a machine-gun massacre of the entire cast of characters in their high school.
    ¡¡ GNARLY !!

  33. Matt TREYVAUD Says:

    Business Jump have been publishing new manga under the Harenchi Gakuen name since last year, too..

  34. Jen Says:

    Well, suicide rates have gone up consistently from the 1970s to today, but an obaachan at a hotel I lived in for a while taught me this children’s song from her youth that was all about a samurai committing seppuk. Since it has historic and cultural significance and value, I think it has always been a fairly normal topic in children’s entertainment.

  35. greg.org Says:

    I’m a little surprised at the extended consideration given to the idea that a TV show causes [sic] crime; never mind the often moralistic or censorious motives behind the proponents of such ideas [from comic books to TV to video games]; the whole idea on its face just seems over-deterministic.

    Early on, Sesame Street producers found that, especially for pre-school age kids, the show was modeling behavior. So they got rid of Don Music banging his head on the piano when he was frustrated because parental reports and their own research found that some kids were picking it up.

    But what criminal behavior is Curriculumachine accused of modeling? Hostessing? Smoking? Drinking whiskey straight from the bottle? having an affair with the OL? Was there a sense in JP that kids need[ed] to be shielded from such things on TV the way they/we were in the US?

    The casual violence of another warped, 70′s kids show, Kure Kure Takora, makes me think that these protective inhibitions just weren’t operative at the time.

  36. Mulboyne Says:

    The PTS apparently complained about nipples and breasts in まいっちんぐマチコ先生. Here’s the opening scene:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEvNZdYtXCA

    There’s a comment in the wiki entry:

    社会の反響

    非常に人気のあるアニメであったが、毎回乳房の露出があるという性質上PTA等からの苦情も多かった。1982年には京都で「マチコ先生に抗議する会」まで結成された。そのために放送が打ち切られたという。原作者は、後に「友情の大切さを描いたつもりだったが、PTAの人たちに理解してもらうことは難しかった」と語っている。

    しかし、お色気を除くとむしろ人間関係の密さの印象の残る温かい作品とも言える。本放送時には現実の世界では中学校で校内暴力など、暴力的な非行が多発していたが、当作品にはそれは出てこない。小学生の他、非行の少ない中学校の生徒にとっても、当作品で描かれた教師と生徒の仲のよさは案外現実の学校生活に近く、それが人気の一因だったかもしれない。

    当時の国会でも取り上げられ問題になった。

    山口県では放送がなかったが、これについては当時、山口放送(当時日本テレビ系列・テレビ朝日系列クロスネット)は山口県教育委員会と関係が深く、かつては同県の教育長経験者が社長を務めたこともあり、いわゆる「エログロ低俗化」を拒絶する体質があった事(一例として、『11PM』や『ミセス&ミセス』の打ち切り)や、テレビ山口(当時TBS系列・フジテレビ系列クロスネット)も編成上放送枠がなかったためとの見方がある。ただし、山口県内では、福岡放送など近県のテレビ局を視聴していた世帯も多かったため、山口県内でも視聴できたところは多い。

    愛媛県では何度も再放送を行った。

  37. Mulboyne Says:

    Longer shower scene here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdlx6_lSW68

  38. W. David MARX Says:

    Japanese pop culture is the story of women-dominated public interest groups complaining about pretty common sense things and male-dominated content companies completely ignoring them.

  39. Julián Ortega Martínez Says:

    At the beginning, I was reminded of the Maya numeration system (where a dot represents 1 and a bar represents 5).

    Very interesting… and funny.

  40. I Let My Fists Do The Talkin’ » Blog Archive » NeoJaponisme on Curriculumachine Says:

    [...] NeoJaponisme article does an amazing job of explaining the show so best to just hop over there and read the whole thing. Curriculumachine sounds amazingly terrible in the same way Pythagoras Switch is amazingly [...]