Club Scene: Come Together
In our world of the Internet and DVDs, do we even need anime clubs anymore?
Anime isnít necessarily a social hobby. Itís not like ballroom dancing or polo where more than one person is needed. An anime fan could spend their life watching anime, reading manga, and talking about it online without ever meeting another fan face to face.
Yet it wasnít always that way. Long before series were being release in DVD box sets, before the local book store had a section devoted solely to manga, before you could download the latest series from Japan onto your computer, you had to rely on your fellow fans to get your anime fix. Fansubs were put on VHS tapes and passed on from person to person. (The main reason that I got into anime was because a friend showed me a raw Japanese tape of Sailor Moon Stars.) Imported Japanese comics were shared and scrutinized. Though Iím ecstatic with the availability of anime and manga for English fans nowadays, I miss the social network of people who had to scrounge and trade to further their hobby.
Because of the scarcity of anime, it was more convenient to have a bunch of people gather together to watch something rather then lend it out to one person at a time. From that need came an important part of fandom still in existence today: the anime club.
Iím lucky to live in a city that has a large number of clubs. Two local high schools each have weekly meets, which I attend now and then. I donít go to either school, so itís a little awkward for me to attend often. Both of them are really good clubs, run by the students with very little teacher support outside of the use of a classroom. The clubs are very democratic, coming to a consensus on what series to watch. The only downside to that is that the series often turn out to be something mainstream and popular, such as Trigun or Full Metal Panic.
Another local club is a provincial anime organisation that meets monthly. The people who run the club pick which anime to watch every month, so thereís little input for the people who just attend the meetings. Still, the club is free, and the organizers rent out the space for the club meetings, so itís their prerogative to pick the shows. Plus, they usually show good, if but older and more obscure titles, such as Violinist of Hamlin.
At various anime clubs, I first saw some of my later favorite series; at others, I was subjected to some truly dismal shows. However, no matter what the content, I was happy to be around other anime fans, especially when it seemed that very few other people shared my hobby.
Hopefully, when I start university in the fall Iíll meet other students who like anime, manga and pocky. This may be difficult, however, as my school does not have an anime club. Sure, I may spot someone pretending to be reading Plato, but actually reading a copy of Hana-Kimi hidden inside the cover, or doodling some anime fanart in their notes, but itíd be a lot easier if there was some place for fans of anime to come together and meet. Itís this line of thought that has inspired me to start an anime club at my future school.
And thatís as far as my plan goes at the moment. In the past, Iíve always been an attendant rather then an organizer of the anime clubs that Iíve been to. I've always appreciated the efforts of club staff for spreading the anime love, but for the first time Iím seeing how difficult it is to start a club. A bunch of little things build up to make it seem like a monumental task. How often should the club meet and where? How is it funded? Who decides what anime to watch and when? Is it wrong to exclude fans who squeal too loudly from meetings?
I donít know the answers yet, but thatís all part of the fun. All I want to do is create the best, funniest, most efficient anime club that the world has ever seen. A place where all kinds of anime is watched and appreciated, where both veteran fan and newbie can come and enjoy Japanese animation. Maybe down the road Iíll move onto bigger plans for the club, such as a manga library and showing live-action Asian movies. For now, Iím just working on figuring out the structure of the club and getting the school's support.
What makes a good anime club work? Iíd love to hear what you think, especially if youíve ever started an anime club, or are an anime club junkie like me. In the coming months, Iíll be detailing my efforts to kick start an anime club. In future issues, I hope to cover coming up with a catchy club name, recruiting members, and deciding how to decide which anime to watch.
Even in today's technologically advanced world, there's still a need for anime clubs.