Japanese High School Films

Iconography, Nostalgia and Discipline

Peter C. Pugsley

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Looks exclusively at high school films as valuable markers of contemporary Japanese culture

  • Includes illustrated examples from dozens of films to show how they present a distinct style that draws intertextual references from Japanese manga, anime, TV and other forms of popular entertainment
  • Uncovers the aesthetic markers of youth cultures found in the visual imagery and narrative drives of high school films
  • Demonstrates how Japanese high school films represent an identifiably nostalgic view for Japanese people of all ages

Japanese High School Films: Iconography, Nostalgia and Discipline explores how these contemporary films capture a distinct view of Japanese adolescent life, uncovering significant links with the themes of discipline and institutionalisation that underpin Japanese society. It illustrates how Japanese high school films link directly to manga, anime, TV dramas and pop music, triggering audience recognition and nostalgia through on-screen use of iconographic images, from school uniforms to rooftop recreational spaces. This book also identifies universal themes of adolescent romance, friendship, and bullying, and the spatial and temporal changes that affect every student’s journey. The casting of already-famous music and fashion celebrities as students or as teachers allows the films to capitalise on cross-generational fandom across Japan’s prolific entertainment industries. For anyone who wants to understand contemporary Japanese culture, Japanese High School Films is essential reading.


1. The Division of Disciplinary Spaces

2. Beyond the classroom

3. Iconography of the School Uniform

4. Marking a Distinct Society

5. Playing to the audience

6. Exploring taboos

7. Romance and Sexuality


Peter Pugsley is Associate Professor in the Department of Media at the University of Adelaide, Australia

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