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Love it or hate it, cram school, or juku in Japanese, is one part of Asian academic culture that looks like it’s here to stay.

Although most cram schools tend to advertise before entrance exam season begins and towards the end of the Japanese school year in March, recently more and more children are starting to attend summer study courses as well.

Gearing up for summer vacation, Waseda Academy put out two promotional commercials highlighting the determination of spirited youth, which have left Japanese viewers so moved they couldn’t help but shed a few tears while watching.

In the first commercial, young Takashi’s mother laments about all the strange things that her son does, saying that children are “strange beings”.

Some of the strange things she finds her third-grade son doing include shutting himself up in small spaces, jumping down from high places, not being able to concentrate, putting sand in his pocket, hiding his mother’s things, and eating things that aren’t his. Not being able to understand what compels children to act in certain ways that worry or cause her trouble seems like something that most parents can relate to.


From what seems out of the blue, Takashi tells his mother he wants to go to cram school as part of his plans to become an astronaut some day. Following his admission we get a glimpse of Takashi’s version of the same scenes, and a totally different story emerges.

▼ “Strange Beings”

It ends with a heartwarming narration by Takashi’s mother, saying that no matter how much she may not understand her son, a “strange being” and all the strange things he does, she’ll always support him no matter what.

The second commercial takes a slightly different approach and tells the story of two friends in their third year of junior high school. It features quotes and re-enactments of scenes from the short story Run, Melos!, a short story by Osamu Dazai that was later made into an animated feature by Bandai in 1992.

Both girls, Rin and Mariko, are in the track and field club at school. Part of the same class and club, they’re always together and they know everything about each other… or so it would seem until the high school “entrance exam” wall begins to rise up between them.


The commercial skillfully reflects the bittersweet part of adolescence and the desire to want things to remain like they always have been, even though it’s inevitable that they can’t stay that way forever.

▼ “Run, Melos!”

So, those of you watching at home or on your lunch break, were you able to make it through both with dry eyes? Or did these commercials move you as much as they’ve moved Japanese people? Let us know in the comments section!

Top image: YouTube
Insert images: YouTube (1, 2), edited by RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]