"Marching Song for the New School Term", Act 1 -- Unno Jûza

posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Notes. Act 2. Act 3.


△ Sounds of a noisy middle-school classroom. Rapid-fire conversations can be heard in the background: "Hey, Kamei!" "What do you want, Matsuoka?" "Sure are looking dark-skinned there." "Something strange about being dark-skinned, pasty?" "What'd you call me, darko?" Mixed in with this, the sounds of ill-fitting shoes clomping on the floor and someone whistling the Patriotic March can be heard

△ The siren for the beginning of the school day blows in the background

△ Sounds of more STUDENTS throwing the door open, running into the classroom, throwing their bags down, and having hurried conversations: "Where was my desk again?" "Hey, Yoshida! Over here!" "H'm, that's strange. I don't remember sitting over here..."

EBIHARA (A STUDENT): Ah -- it's sensei!

△ Sound of door clanking shut


(Everyone immediately falls silent. Brief pause)

SENSEI: (Fumbling noisily with the attendance book) Er, well now, everybody. I see this class is as lively a crowd as ever. And how were your summer holidays? No doubt you had fun. Myself, I spent the whole summer holidays worrying about -- (catches himself in mid-sentence) er, mumble mumble, ahem. -- Er, now, I'm going to begin the new term by giving everyone in this class some frank advice.

△ STUDENTS begin to chatter and argue nervously

SENSEI: Er, this class is as lively and wholesome a group of fellows as one could ask for, which does please me -- but, er, there's one thing that I cannot approve of. To be, er, to be specific, you have of late been turning in some frankly unimpressive homework, and your performance in recent exams has also been poor. I can only consider this a troubling trend.

(By now, the STUDENTS are all silent again. Brief pause)

SENSEI: (Shouting at the top of his voice) I believe this is because you have all begun neglecting your studies entirely due to an obsession with playing soldiers. Now, playing war games is not necessarily a bad thing. But studying must come first. After all, you are students first and foremost, are you not? And just as a soldier's duty is to defeat enemy troops, a student's duty is to study. If you, the next generation of the Japanese people, neglect your studies now, how do you think this will affect the future? If a war breaks out at some point, and your inadequate education has rendered you unable to make fine tanks or planes to crush the enemy troops, you will be able to do nothing but sit and weep. In other words, when one is defeated in war, it is due to the enemy's superior education. Is not education, then, the most serious and important thing there is?

(Hurried footsteps from the corridor, sound of door opening)

MAINTENANCE BOY: (panting) Ah! Yamada-sensei! Phone call from your house. They say to please come home right way.

SENSEI: (surprised) Ehh? Wh- wh- what did they say has happened?

MAINTENANCE BOY: They say that a baby is about to be born at your house.

(STUDENTS raise a shout of amazement, drumming their feet and pounding their desks)

SENSEI: They what?! So the time has come at last. Truly a most serious and important thing.

(STUDENTS are still shouting, laughing)

SENSEI: Quiet, be quiet! (Quietens the students so that he can talk) Everyone, rejoice for me -- for the first time in fifteen years, a baby will be born to my family! God has blessed us with child. In war, noble soldiers die, the nation's power wanes, and it is the birth of babies which must compensate for this. It's no laughing matter! There's no-one with my wife at home right now, so I must hurry back. Keep quiet while I'm gone.

(SENSEI's footsteps, receding. Sound of a door)

CLASS PRESIDENT: 'Truly a most serious and important thing'...

(No-one laughs)

CLASS PRESIDENT: Hey, everyone! So early in the term, and yet already a truly most serious and important thing has happened. I have to admit, we have been neglecting our duties as students -- don't you think?

(STUDENTS noisily argue both sides of the debate)

CLASS PRESIDENT: What do you say, everybody, let's give something new a try. To fulfill our serious and most important duties, let's form a "Study Union".

(STUDENTS talk noisily)

STUDENT: What's a "Study Union"?

CLASS PRESIDENT: As a Study Union, everyone will stay behind at school after classes are over.

STUDENT: Stay behind and do what?

CLASS PRESIDENT: Stay behind and revise what we learnt that day, together. And not just revision. We'll also run the student council, take practice tests... and if there's anyone among us who can't keep up with classes, we'll all help teach him until he understands as well as everyone else.

STUDENT: I don't know -- I always want to run around and exercise after classes. It's important for the future Japanese nation to be fit and strong, you know.

STUDENTS, TOGETHER: That's right! Exactly!

CLASS PRESIDENT: All right then, let's gather at someone's house after dinner instead. Our family business has a big meeting room, so I'll talk to my father and get permission to use that.

STUDENT: You think it'll work?

CLASS PRESIDENT: I'm sure it'll work!

STUDENT: But what about students as bad as Ebihara? No matter how much you teach them, they won't improve.

CLASS PRESIDENT: Don't worry, I'll make sure even they benefit. I've got another plan up my sleeve that should work on even the worst students. Here's what we do...

(A sound signifying a change of scene)

(STUDENTS being noisy)

(In the background: bicycle horns, whistling passers-by and other assorted street noise)

CLASS PRESIDENT: Noisy outside, isn't it? It's a bit hot, but let's shut the window anyway.

(Sound of window being shut)

STUDENT: Ah, I've got it! This is it, right? x is 5 and y is 3, and z is 12.

CLASS PRESIDENT: Let me see. x is 5, y is 3, and z is ... 12. All right! your answer is correct. Here, have a caramel.

STUDENT: (happily) Oh, thanks! This makes five caramels for me. (He pops it into his mouth and chews) Oh dear, Ebihara's crying! What's the matter, Ebihara, can't you work it out?

EBIHARA: (sobs) I can't figure it out no matter how hard I try.

STUDENT: Tsk, let me have a look. What the-- you're only up to number 2!

EBIHARA: I know that! And I've only had one caramel so far!

STUDENT: Well, that can't be helped. You get one caramel for each problem you solve. And didn't you spend the whole algebra class today drawing pictures of aeroplanes? That's no good to anyone.

EBIHARA: Who are you calling 'no good to anyone'?!

(CLASS PRESIDENT's footsteps)

CLASS PRESIDENT: Here, you two, no fighting.

STUDENT: D'you see, I told you, Ebihara can't keep up. He's still on number two, utterly stuck. Give him a hand.

CLASS PRESIDENT: All right, I will! Ebihara, how far have you gotten? Ah, this is no good. You're forgetting the formula. That's why you can't solve the problem. I told you this just before, don't you remember? Look, if you factorise a squared minus b squared, what do you get?

EBIHARA: Err... a squared, minus b squared... it's... err... uh...

CLASS PRESIDENT: Hurry up and remember, Ebihara! Don't you want a caramel? Look how lovely a color it is!

EBIHARA: I do want a caramel! If I had that one, maybe I'd remember the formula...

CLASS PRESIDENT: No, no, there's no way I'm giving you a caramel if you don't remember the formula first. All right, here, to help your motivation, I'll throw in a bonus. A bonus chocolate! Don't you want a chocolate?

EBIHARA: I want it, I want it, my mouth's watering so much it's almost full! Ahh, I can't take it, it's poison to my eyes. I'll have to tear them out... a squared minus B squared is... err... a minus b squared... no, no, a minus b plus caramel-- no, that's wrong. Err... umm... ah, I've got it! The product of a minus b and a plus b!

CLASS PRESIDENT: Good work, Ebihara! That'll do. Now don't forget it again. Here you go, one caramel and one chocolate.

EBIHARA: Thank you! (cheeks bulging as he chews) Ah, they're so delicious, my cheeks are going to fall off!

CLASS PRESIDENT: Now that you've remembered the problem, hurry up and finish the problem. Come on, look here. a minus b is over here as well, so you can divide both sides by a minus b, right?

EBIHARA: Ah, you're right. So divide by a minus b and then we have... er... 3a minus 2b equals a plus b? All right, what do I do next?

CLASS PRESIDENT: Oh, come on. That's it, that's the answer.

EBIHARA: What? This is the answer? Well, what do you know! That was easy. Heh heh heh, algebra's kind of fun, isn't it?

CLASS PRESIDENT: Ha ha ha, Ebihara's saying algebra's fun! Ha ha ha!

STUDENT: I bet he enjoyed the caramel more, though!

CLASS PRESIDENT: This is truly a most serious and important thing! Banzai for the Study Union!

(STUDENTS laugh merrily together)

(In the background, the sound of people singing "Punish the unjust in the name of heaven..." , a farewell song for soldiers on their way to the theatre, draws nearer)



『家庭コント 新学期行進曲』 (Katei Konto Shingakki Kôshinkyoku), broadcast from JOAK September 30, 1938, written by Unno Jûza (海野十三) (1897-1949)

Aozora Bunko version entered by Tsuchiya Takeshi (土屋隆) and proofread by Tanaka Tetsurô (田中哲郎)


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