Being an Anime Club Sponsor

I give up a part of my soul to share my treasures. Hopefully for a good cause.

About a month ago, I decided to give back to the community. After all, there’s only so much that a bachelor living alone in a 2-bedroom apartment can do… other than work and going to the gym. The choices were spending the extra time to 1) do more programming than I was paid for, 2) get addicted to an online game, or 3) dive deeper into this hobby of anime and manga. Either way, I would be sitting in front of a computer screen, a sight that sickens me. Funny how different it is when comparing 9 hours of panic in the university labs to 9 long hours of labor. No, I don’t like my job but it pays the bills.

So why high school and not college? Well, my local university is well-known for their liberal arts program. There’s only a tiny bit of science and even less engineering. I still hold a grudge against those who chose the “soft and easy” majors. While I’m planning for an all-night, do-or-die session to finish a programming project with my classmates, students majoring in photography and theater are scheduling their next party and finding out how much weed they’re going to need. I know that this may be a grossly biased view based on a minority, but there’s no helping it. For every student studying to be an engineer, there’s at least ten students studying arts and humanities. Few are willing to take the more challenging fields and fewer succeed. Hence, that option is not viable.

Originally, I was thinking about the Engineering Club. Yet, my brother actively volunteers for it. We get along like oil and water. Then, I heard about the brand new Anime Club. Needless to say, I volunteered. My high school has a scant collection of manga, all shoujo works donated by a student. Back then, I remember being very confident. I was doing this for the greater good, educating the future generations of anime and manga fans. That was before I opened the door and found myself facing a roomful of hormone-pumped teenagers. This was not an Anime Club. It was hell.

There must be some hidden rule about each following generation looking younger and younger. I swear, it felt like I was in middle school rather than high school. They were so short and energetic. Must be something in the food…

Anyways, what did I see? Out of a classroom with thirty kids, only three were reading manga. There was a sizable group drawing fanart in one corner. That’s to be expected. There’s a table of Yu-Gi-Oh players. That also is to be expected. Finally, for the other twenty, they were being normal teenagers. That is… being stupid. One was karate kicking a table to “make humor”. The club president was horsing around with the vice president and they winded up on the floor… along with a shattered glass vase. Spirited Away was playing on the TV, but no one was paying attention. They had a presentation about Deathnote, but it was no more than a “This is the best anime in the world!” PowerPoint presentation. The speaker tried to comparing it to Bleach, but both series got an ‘A+’ in all three categories of art, plot, and character. How? The Yu-Gi-Oh faction had plenty of votes.

“Majority rules” is a nice idealistic concept… but too idealistic. A bad idea made worse when dealing with immature kids.

However, my time was not wasted. In my first visit, I gave a brief introduction about myself and how I developed this hobby. Then, I left the box open on a table without giving an explanation of what was in it. I wanted to see how many of them actually showed interest with anime and manga. The students who could see the contents jumped in, pulling out the popular favorites. Azumanga Diaoh and Yotsuba! immediately vanished. However, the others didn’t care or didn’t know. The highlight of my day was when one of the girls walked by… stopped and turned back… and rummaged through my collection. Turning to me with a blank look on her face, she confessed, “I don’t recognize any of these”. Mission accomplished. After giving some suggestions, we had a long talk that lasted until it was time to go. Literally, with stars shining in her eyes, she asked me if she could borrow some. That day, one student walked out with six DVDs and four books. Every meeting afterward, the box was literally attacked. I’ve already given up on having a log sheet to track what was borrowed and by who. Too hectic since they would pass it around to their friends once they’re done reading. They’ll either end up back in the box or stashed away for an overnight marathon.

I confess, I was worried that a thousand dollars worth of goods potentially lies in the hands of mere teenagers. The first week went by agonizingly slow. What if they messed up the spine of a book? What if they tore some pages out? What if a disc comes back all scratched up and cannot be read? Rei forbid, what if my 5 Centimeters Per Second was stolen and never to be seen again? If the latter happened, heads will roll. However, as it turns out, that one week restored my faith in humanity and gave me a clear reason to continue being a part of the club. All of the returned items were in good condition. There was a tiny fold on the cover of one book but I wasn’t mad. I realized what I was doing. As with blogging, I’m sharing my experiences. Like visitors reading my posts, the kids are reading my manga and watching my anime. If I value the condition far more than the experience that each viewer gains, I would be a mere collector, not a fan. I cannot be both.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful time. However, there’s still a lot of work to do. Most people get their fix from Adult Swim, knowing little other than Naruto and Bleach. Most don’t have any experience and joined the club just because it’s a place without any obligations. I don’t intend to force stuff down their throats. My goal is to provide an opportunity for them to experience the same things that made me love anime and manga. I’m hoping that they’ll learn about my experience and in the future, pass it down to the next generation of fans.

tl;dr – I’m corrupting educating the children of the future.


20 Responses

  1. Wow, such a moving post. I’m looking forward to how the club will change with all that.

    • Hopefully, it’ll change for the better with more people being involved. It’s going to be especially hard with the card players. I can’t really tell them to stop their games and force them to read/watch something. I’ll just have to find a series good enough to steal their attention away.

  2. Ah, fun. I had a similar experiecne with a ‘film and animation’ club I started (didn’t call it ‘anime club’ and therefor got none of the crazy narutards, hehehe) we showed anime as well as live action and I prattled on about the deep secrets of everything we watched, and sometimes I brought in 13 episode series like Gunslinger Girl, Boogiepop Phantom, Marimite, and Genshiken to loan out. It was just a tinge disappointing when the kids would say something like ‘i liked it’ and then completely not have anything to talk to me about, but I was at least glad that they did like it.

    I should do something like this somewhere sometime soon, becasue my next semester is all online and I am going to loose my damn fucking mind if I’m at home for 6 months.

    • There was one person who wore a Naruto headband. However, she wasn’t a fan of the series. It’s just something she picked up since she thought it would fit with the “Anime Club”. Otherwise, nothing more than overly energetic teenagers being their normal selves…

      I had maybe one or two deep discussions so far. I get worried that I’ll be too intrusive if I ask for their opinion when they return a series. I figure the best way is to have something start between the students before I weigh in. It appears to me, the limiting factor is experience. If they had more of it, they’ll be able to hold a conversation longer. Otherwise, there’s only so much material in three series. However, to dive deeper and invest more time into this hobby is something that they’ll have to decide for by themselves.

  3. You are a real hero.

  4. A very inspiring post! Despite the negativity of anime fans on the Internet, you are one soul that manages to shine. You’ve managed to put a smile on this man’s face.

    • The negativity is unlikely to disappear. However, it is my hope that the students get a chance to combat it. If they can prove that they’re not the stereotypical fan engrossed in Deathnote and Naruto, then my mission is successful. If they can think for themselves and come up with well-structured opinions, then my mission is successful. If they reach out to others in a similar fashion to spread their thoughts and views, I can rest easy about the future.

  5. Best anime blog post I’ve read all week.

    Good selections overall (I’m especially pleased to see Kino’s Journey in the box!). Many of the titles on offer here probably don’t feature on the regular watchlists of today’s sharingan’d high schoolers, so I’ve every confidence that your act of generosity will help raise standards at this anime club.

    Make Shinkai fans of this rowdy lot and you’ll have my enduring respect.

    “What if they messed up the spine of a book?”

    Probably the single biggest obstacle to my imitating your noble deed. Few things on this earth upset me more than the merest crack on the spine of a paperback.

    • It is my goal to spread the Shinkai experience. Although, as noted before, I’m quite hesitant to loan the DVDs. They have the most sentimental value out of my entire collection. That and distribution of 5 Centimeters Per Second was discontinued by ADV. It’ll be hard to replace them.
      As with the spine and wrinkles, it’s annoying but inevitable. I tell myself that the more worn out it is, the more people have experienced it. Also, it’s the cover and pages within that matter the most. As long as the book doesn’t fall apart, I won’t be as picky.

  6. Incidentally, what are those two hardbound books I see in the box?

    • They’re actually special edition Tom Clancy books that the library was about to throw out. They aren’t popular anymore. Signs of the times changing. I feel so old when I stand in the room.

  7. It’s good to try and further develop/expand people’s interests in anime. But always make sure to come at it the right way too. Stuff like keeping expectations low and avoiding knee-jerk impressions regarding your target population will help with that. And always remember to periodically think about why you do this to keep the motivation going. Keep it up. :3

    • I try to keep my expectations low but apparently, not low enough. Lots of work to do but most will be done by the students themselves (I hope). Otherwise, it’s all for nothing. Absolutely meaningless if they had someone spoon-feeding them opinions when they’re perfectly able to do so themselves.

  8. […] prétention) mais plus pour y apporter ma contribution d’une façon ou d’une autre [->], je n’espère pas changer certaines personnes mais si ça peut faire en sorte que certaines […]

  9. rofl, the food! Very nice post, and kinda awesome that this endeavor was a positive one. It’ll be interesting to hear about how things go down the road… can these teens really hold their interest for the long haul ^^

    • I don’t think I can win them all over. But for a few, possibly. As you know from some of my posts on melative, not all of my experience was positive. Just some obstacles on the road.

  10. With all of the negative posts about anime clubs popping up in the aniblogosphere, you’ve really outdone yourself in writing such a great post.

    Most “anime fans” have only watched mainstream shows and/or Miyazaki works, so it’s nice to see that you’re helping them see other sides of the anime world. Naruto fans may stay Naruto fans, but at least they know Kino’s Journey, CLANNAD, etc. are great too.

    P.S.: Jesus, you have Munto 2?! I didn’t know people actually watched that before Sora o Miagete Shoujo [insert ten more words here] came out this year…

    • No harm being a Naruto fan as long as you know there’s a bigger world out there, which is something I’m trying to do by introducing series that they unlikely would encounter.

      Munto 2 was something I got because the cover and summary looked interesting. I have yet to finish all of it along with the Extras but seeing how winter’s been slow, I should have time.

  11. It is very nice of you :) It is good that you are spending your time on such an activity. I hope many people will benefit from it :)

    They were so short and energetic. Must be something in the food…

    haha XD

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