I am a big advocator of not wearing outdoor shoes while indoors. This was ingrained into me as a child by my family and my elementary school. Whenever you walked inside, you take your shoes off, it’s just common sense. My reaction to one day discovering that one of my friends and many others wear their shoes indoors was much like in the video above. I don’t think I need to point out the practical aspect of changing shoes when coming inside; instead I want to explore the significance of shoe lockers in anime.
I’m sure many of you have noticed the rows upon rows of shoe lockers near the entrances to all schools in anime. While they are mainly used to store shoes, the writers of anime seem to have taken a liking to using this area as a setting for events in many stories. The consequences usually range from broken hearts to broken school buildings. Listed here are some of the things I’ve seen shoe lockers be involved in.
Love letters (or in the case of Tenma from School Rumble, love scrolls) are the most popular use of shoe lockers in anime. Seeing as Japanese schools don’t have full-size lockers, shoe lockers are the next best place to give someone a letter without having to face them. These usually end up failing and if it’s not part of some comic relief, will usually mean that the letter writer will end up with a different lover.
Everyone passes through the school entrance, and everyone has to stop to change their shoes. This makes the shoe locker area the perfect place to meet up with people since they’re all gathered there anyways. Many revelations happen near the shoe lockers in anime because of this.
For the same reasons as above, the shoe lockers make a perfect place to look for someone. It works great for stalkers because they have so many lockers to hide behind, but it’s dreaded by the stalked.
One of the interesting things about Japanese shoe lockers is that they always seem to be unlocked in anime. Anyone is free to open any locker and do what they wish to the shoes inside, including shredding them, putting sharp tacks inside, or throwing them away. These tactics are employed against characters that the viewer is supposed to feel sympathy for, like Yuuko in ef -A Tale of Melodies-.
Shoe lockers can also be used as a way to carry out an evil scheme. Kurumi from Kimi ni Todoke gets Ryuu and Sawako to meet up using a letter placed in a shoe locker and makes it look like they are going out.
Many anime are popular because of their visual appeal, and shoe lockers really help in that aspect. How many times have you seen a scene showing two rows of shoe lockers with the light from the setting sun streaming in from the entrance to the school? Apparently all schools in anime have an entrance facing West.
Creating a bomb threat is by far my favourite use of shoe lockers in anime. In the first episode of Full Metal Panic Fumoffu, Sousuke discovers that someone has broken into his shoe locker and promptly proceeds to disarm it the military way.
Shoe lockers have proven themselves to be more than just a place to put your shoes when it comes to anime. It’s interesting that something so insignificant can have such a big impact in so many series. The next time you watch an anime set in school, make sure to keep an eye out just to see how many other ways they can be used. If you spot anything interesting, feel free to share.
This post is part of the Guide to Anime project. For more guides on various topics related to anime, check out the project page.