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.