Week 15 – The Last Big Assignment

You ever get to the end of a school term, look at all the things you need to get done and pinpoint the exact moment you can just relax. Typically the work will persist up until the very last moment but then you have those terms where things are going pretty smooth. It’s the moment you’ve got one last big project that’s kinda stressing you out, followed by the remainder of the term that’s a breeze. That’s what I’m dealing with now.

Particularly, this past week was highlighted by the completion of a presentation for my Japanese Culture class. It contained the typical happenings of any school presentation. A little bit of anxiety despite a solid script and lots of prep work, accompanied by near-universal praise from friends I’d shared the presentation with.

The assignment was to do a five-minute presentation on a topic tangentially connected to one of the three main subjects of our class. The three chapters were Kabuki, tea, and Bushido. I chose Bushido, as it allowed me the opportunity to discuss samurai related works of fiction through the lens of Bushido.

Bushido is the code the samurai lived by, while samurai are specifically defined as soldiers part of a military caste in feudal Japan. The definitions of both Bushido and samurai tend to specify Japan’s feudal era, which was puzzling. Most anime and samurai films I know tend to follow ronins, samurai who wander alone.

Given that a lot of our lessons on Bushido discussed its impact today, I wanted to tackle how Bushido evolved past the feudal era. As such, I created a timeline of Japanese animated films and shows, arranged not in the order of when they released, but the eras of Japanese history they were set in.

My inspiration was a YouTube video in which this guy arranged a bunch of anime set in high school to see how they evolved the idea of the genre. It was a highly unusual method of analyzing the genre, and it was so out there that I had to try and replicate that style of thinking to a radically different subject.

Of course I was worried my professor would not exactly get it or that the message would be lost on people, but the reception before the presentation was positive, so I was feeling confident. It was after I finished it that problems arose.

See, we each got 10 minutes: five for the presentation and another five for questions and answers. The professor asked me to elaborate more on what I had learned in class and how that factored in. A lot of my friends were worried that he wasn’t impressed with our presentations. My friend Nate went before me and despite so passionately discussing the culture of tea, he had the impression that the professor was expecting more.

In response to my teacher’s question, I think I responded well. I used the remaining time of my Q&A to explain that I left the effect of Bushido on the modern day out of the presentation to leave it up to the viewer. I did explain though that based on what I learned about business culture in Japan and overworking, I think that Bushido’s impact isn’t perfect.

If my teacher is unsatisfied, there isn’t much I can do, but I put a lot of effort into presenting a topic I was passionate about. There is value in that, and to anyone nervous about presentations, consider that the passion you put into your presentation will leave a greater impact on the audience than only sticking to what the syllabus tells you to do. Be creative.

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