Michael Sweezey

ANIME-te Yourself! is a unique online class for students to dive into a world of bravery, strength, superpowers, and magic. By using themes from shows like Naruto, Inuyasha, and Avatar: The Last Airbender among others, students have created characters and learned the values of teamwork, friendship, and inner strength. The class is a brave space of creativity and expression, and just like all of Orlando REP’s classes, it teaches life skills through theatre.

ANIME-te Yourself! | 5-7 grade

An anime club for self-expression! Join us for a journey through time, space, and distant worlds, as we explore beloved characters from our favorite anime series and connect their adventures to experiences in our own lives. Create your own character and develop the bravery of a ninja, the strength of a bender, and the confidence of a gem through imaginative role play and discussions with new friends!

Connecting acting techniques and theatre processes to themes from popular shows, books, and movies has been a regular part of our class curriculums for quite some time. However, none of our classes have come close to this type of immersion into a particular world. We spoke to our teaching artists, Sage and Chanel, about what was most important to them in understanding this unique class concept.

What was your inspiration for designing and running a class designed around the anime genre?

Chanel: “My first inspiration was my students. There have been so many moments during my time with the Rep where a student would be making familiar hand signs that I would recognize from the show “Naruto”, or I would share that I like anime during a get to know you activity and it would lead to questions about which animes I’ve seen, and suggestions for what I have to watch next. I also love the conversations around empathy, redemption, resiliency, and friendship that many anime and manga storylines revolve around. I thought these themes would make for wonderful lesson plan structures and classroom conversations.”

Sage: “[I was brought] onto the project because of my interest and work with social-emotional learning. Anime handles deeper themes and stronger emotions than many other forms of entertainment. The stakes are always high, and the characters often deal with tough circumstances and feelings that are not usually discussed with youth. Anime gives us a new language for discussing, exploring, and expressing our full range of emotions without judgment.”

Which TV shows have lessons been designed around? What are their main themes that you want the students to understand/take away?

Chanel: “… [S]ome of my favorite shows are “Hunter X Hunter”, “Sailor Moon”, “Naruto” and “Naruto Shippuden”, “Inuyasha”, any film created by Studio Ghibli, and “Steven Universe” –which is technically not an anime, but is a popular cartoon that shares a lot of the same themes and objectives. The lessons are all based on our love for each of these stories, and are created in a way that every student has the opportunity to plug in their own favorites… Friendship, empathy, and resiliency are huge themes in the anime genre. Inviting students to empathize with these characters is one way to invite them to empathize with others in the real world, as well can lead to conversations about their own feelings, and ways that they can practice taking care of themselves.”

Sage: “Chanel and I started by building our lessons mostly around “Naruto” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” because those are some of our favorite shows, but we spent time at the beginning of the course listening to students’ favorite shows as well. The biggest themes I’ve gotten from every anime are relationships, identity, and resiliency. We have explored several different character relationships and the emotions that come with each. These relationships, along with our interests, values, and beliefs, form our identity. Examining a character’s identity is often a great way into exploring our own.”

What would you say the students are getting out of the class? The objective?

Chanel: ”Our goal with this class has been to identify which anime we all feel we connect to the most, and create a character that would represent us if we were to suddenly exist in that story. The students are currently working on a storyline and dialogue for a crossover episode in which their created characters will meet, and go on an adventure together combining the themes and worlds of the shows they have chosen. It’s been exciting to see the range of skills and interests we have in our sessions, as students discover what they enjoy doing most through the activities we offer. We’ve done activities surrounding set design, costume design, playwriting, creating our own mangas, soundscapes, pantomime, improv, tableaus, playback theatre, improv… all through the lens of anime. It’s been a blast!”

Sage: “Aside from learning about new anime, students choose a show that resonates with them and create a new character within that show’s world. This new character is an exploration of self, and we use several different disciplines to weave ourselves into the character. Through drawing, voice work, scene work, costume design, and playwriting, students express themselves and share their experiences with each other.”

Why should students take this class?

Chanel: “…[T]he class has been a way for us as teaching artists to ensure there is a safe space for students with similar interests to come together and just talk about their favorite thing: anime! I wanted to create this class to give students the opportunity to share their passion for a beloved art form with people who share that same appreciation, and to give them something to look forward to. Every week they get to log on to a Zoom session, where the only requirements are to share whatever they are willing with us and to use their imaginations to explore something they already love. So, my short answer is: the community. It’s a good one.”

Sage: “ANIME-te is different than any other class I have taught at the REP. Because our experiences with anime are so personal, students have a lot of artistic freedom in shaping the class. We spend time checking in at the top of every class, and everyone is incredibly honest about how they’re feeling… We are learning to perform, design, write, and create, but this class feels like so much more than an acquisition of skills. We have formed a new community and are excited to connect in the same space each week.”


The class is catching on, so look out for it in our summer session! We hope your students will flex their powers of bending and magic with us at the theatre! 


Keep an eye on our camps & classes listings for upcoming Spring and Summer classes! 

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