One the more interesting shows this anime season has been Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai!, aka PapaKiki!, aka Listen to Me Girls, I’m Your Father! It’s the story of university student Yuuta who is asked by his sister to look after her three daughters — headstrong tsundere Sora, the wise-beyond-her-years half-Russian Miu and sweet Hina — for a week. However, when the plane carrying his sister and her husband crashes, Yuuta is forced to raise the girls himself in order to keep them from being separated from each other. In one scene, the two older daughters must commute on packed trains for 90 minutes to get to their school, something which may have seemed odd to some viewers — at least the sight of young children traveling alone on public transportation stood out to me when I arrived here. It seems strange in part because Japan is usually such an overprotective place where children walk to school in a tight group called a han with the oldest child acting as the leader or hancho (incidentally where the word “honcho” comes from). But for children attending private schools in cities, commuting by train is the only way to get there. When he was in the 4th grade my son started attending an immersion school which required him to ride a train to a city 40 km away. My wife and I were nervous, but Japan is such a safe place we were worried needlessly.
Children commuting on trains seemed odd to me.