Your butt is falling asleep from the hard plastic chair you have to sit in while you try to listen to the finer details of today’s lesson on acute triangles. Eyelids droop around the classroom due to the drudgery of math. The sleepiness is contagious, and you soon find yourself drifting off. You dream about your high school crush eating lunch with you in the cafeteria – corn dogs and crinkle fries. In the middle of lunch and when you’re about to kiss your crush with a mouth full of dog on a stick you wake yourself up with your own snoring. The math class is still there, with its dry erase board, outdated computer terminal, bespeckled instructor and bored class. Somehow, you are surprised that you did not wake up into an anime dimension fantasy complete with familiar yet fantastic princesses, dragon to slay with your giant mecha suit of armor and a world to save with your newly awakened superpowers.Anime characters may act surprised when they are magically transported to some shadow dimension, but we know that they have to expect it the whole time because it has happened so many times to fellow classmates and peers. If I was an anime private school student that had a tendency to drift off into sleep or faint away at the slightest over expenditure of energy I would definitely want a dimension jumping friend.
This Wizard of Oz scenario is seen frequently in very successful and great animes such as El-Hazard The Magnificent World and The Vision of Escaflowne. The Judy Garlands of anime, Makoto and Hitomi, are transported to magical worlds that lie in the shadow of our own world. Though everything is totally alien and scary at first they soon realize that the new world that they are trapped in has mirrored elements that uncannily resemble real world counterparts. In El-Hazard Makoto unwittingly takes all of his real world problems with him into the magnificent world, including: drunken teacher, maniacal archrival and his enterprising sister. The kidnapped princess that he must impersonate mirrors Makoto. This cool plot device always keeps the critical issue clear: "Was it a dream or illusion?" Every episode of Escaflowne would open with this question. The familiarities prevalent in the other dimensional animes would suggest that they are dreams, especially when the Dorothy’s click their heals home and they wake up only minutes after they left with their loved ones at their bedside.
It is a good skill to be able to escape the everyday blahs into massive fantasy. Too bad it only happens to anime school kids, and none of us delusional otaku that really need to escape into something more life changing than a videotape.