Further thoughts regarding that great pi sequence from Buono!’s “Honto no Jibun” PV:

I think the greatest thing about this video is not that pi shows up, but
that learning is portrayed as fun and cool. The whole video is set in a school, and never is it presented as a place that is undesirable in any way.

The protagonists are shown delighting in academic-related pursuits, even in an extracurricular setting; the pi scene appears to take place outside of class, as the only students in the scene are Miyabi, Airi, and Momoko. And even though Momoko falls asleep in the earlier scene, it’s not particularly portrayed as her falling asleep because the class is boring. We see Miyabi, Airi, Chisato, and Maimi throw crumpled-up wads of paper at her to wake her up. They’re not asleep! They’re trying to get Momoko to wake up so she can see what’s going on in class! I mean, heck, I fall asleep in class all the time, and not because it’s boring.

Here, learning is cool; math is cool; expanding pi to 144 decimal places is unbelievably the awesome and not just the domain of unpopular nerds.

I must say, this is quite a contrast to the American music videos I’ve seen that depict students in classrooms. As an example, consider the music video for Britney Spears’s “… Baby One More Time”:

I think the opening speaks for itself: Students are impatiently tapping their feet and twirling their pencils, eyes fixed on the clock as they wait for the bell to ring and signal that class is over. The teacher is portrayed as a rather intimidating figure. And once the bell rings, everybody immediately packs up and leaves. Students are running down the hallways ’cause they just can’t wait to get out of there.

Obviously, school is no fun.

This is truly a stark contrast to the attitude toward school shown in “Honto no Jibun”. I don’t know how representative these videos are of the respective cultures that produced them, but it seems to me that just from these two videos, we see a big difference in the cultural attitudes toward education in Japan and in the U.S.

I really can’t imagine a song being popular in the U.S. when its music video celebrates learning and having fun inside the classroom, and I haven’t yet seen an example that demonstrates otherwise. And I certainly can’t imagine pi showing up in any form… except maybe as the obsession of some poor nerd who gets picked on by the protagonists of the video.

In Japan, though, this kind of thing apparently has no difficulty being accepted. “Honto no Jibun” sold almost 30,000 copies its first week and was the fifth best-selling single of its week.

Furthermore, I wonder how attitudes toward education have changed in the U.S. over time. I’m thinking of Thomas Dolby’s extremely geeky “She Blinded Me with Science” from 1982, which, while British in origin, was a top 10 hit in the U.S. (though it doesn’t relate to education or the classroom directly):

Ah … the ’80s … what a wonderful decade.