Delving Into the World of Science and Anime


Photo courtesy of Reo Sato

Reo Sato participated in a photoshoot last June for professional photos to use for his job applications. He used this photo when applying for a teaching position at UPA.

His eyes dart around behind his black-rimmed glasses, with his dark hair pulled back in a bun. Reo Sato sits on the four-legged stool in front of his chemistry class, sharing his knowledge of the subject with his students.

Little do they know that he was almost five years old when he moved from Japan to the Bay Area where his father had received a job offer as a software engineer. Sato did not know a word of English when he started kindergarten.

Now, whenever he introduces himself as a chemistry major from UC Irvine, mouths drop and students stare at the “nerd” in front of them.

But Sato refuses to believe only nerds have the ability to understand chemistry.

“Apparently people have this idea that chemistry is really hard,” he said. “That it is beyond the comprehension of regular people and that you have to be really smart to understand it and like it. I never thought that was the case.”

In class, Sato strives to ensure all his students understand and appreciate the subject, even if they do not study it in the future. He also takes the opportunity to connect further with them through anime.

In high school and college, Sato enjoyed watching anime in his free time. From his perspective, storytelling is the heart of anime, but unlike a regular TV show or cartoon, anime stems from Japanese culture.

Each year, anime characters have the opportunity to come to life at conventions around the nation. At the Los Angeles Convention Center in July 2018, Anime Expo garnered the attention of anime fans, like Sato.

“There are anime events all over the world,” Sato said. “People can express themselves the way they want to. Sometimes you can have a girl dressing up as a guy character or even just reimagining that character as they see fit. It’s a vast world.”

He attended two days out of the four-day convention, absorbing the atmosphere of the performances and eyeing the people who cosplayed.

“Cosplaying is expressing your love for a certain character or show by dressing up and acting like a character,” Sato said. “It doesn’t have to be exactly the way it’s depicted in the show. When people actually get into [dressing up], they spend so many hours on it. It’s crazy. People will go to great lengths to get all the details of the costume right.”

Although he does not partake in dressing up, Sato enjoys looking at the costumes.

“I liked anything that had to do with the ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ [show], especially Alphonse [as] he is in a suit of armor,” he said. “There is a lot more work and effort put into making this costume.”

Sato’s students often approach him not only for help with chemistry, but also for recommendations or opinions on certain anime shows.

“One recommendation I would give is ‘Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood’ because there are very niche genres that people will like or not like, but this is like your very basic, adventure story where you get to know all the characters and get a feel for who they are,” Sato said. “If I find a chemistry related one, I might show it in class, but I have not encountered anything like that yet.”