Today, we’re happy to introduce to KaRue3, a college student attempting to balance her anime watching, hiking, Geocaching, and maybe (just maybe) making room for her studies. When you’ve finished enjoying her post below, check out her YouTube channel, where she shares videos about her various interests—especially anime.
I never intended to become a leader. Growing up in the evangelical community, most of my friends were devout followers of Christ. I was as well, but I often felt estranged from them. Even today I cannot pinpoint why I felt that way as a child. Today though, I realize that my harsh criticisms of Christianity set me apart. I know that I offend some or even make others uncomfortable with my thoughts. It is for that reason that I typically remain silent on most issues unless I am speaking with close friends.
It is also for that reason that I never did intend on becoming a leader on my college campus. You see, I attend a Christian university in the Bible Belt of America. Almost all of the students here take their faith very seriously and would like to remain in fellowship with other believers in Christ. I respect that, so I refrained from volunteering to be any type of leader. Not even a tour guide for prospective students.
Then because I was lonely, I applied to start a club for one of my passions, Japanese animation. For years I had watched show after show and film after film, rarely ever speaking to another fan because they didn’t exist where I lived. I simply thought I would create a fun place for anime fans to come together and watch some shows as a group, then go back to our dorms. Nothing major. It started simply; we watched the film Patema Inverted after the film Upside Down had been referenced in our required chapel time. The group was small then, about three people, and I was worried that it wouldn’t grow. After all, college students typically have better things to do on Saturday nights than watch some anime.
Little by little, the word about some group on campus that watched anime and gave away merchandise spread throughout the school. We began to have a few more people show up each time, and sometimes those who didn’t like or weren’t into anime joined us just to see what it was all about.
What we were able to watch became a topic of concern after the first few meetings. I did NOT want to do Ghibli films very much at all. Not out of a personal vendetta or hatred for the company (I own almost every Ghibli film after all); the reason is because, for risk of sounding elitist, they are very basic. I wanted to introduce the group to the diverse culture of anime. The problem is, the rules at the school I attend. In order to even attend the university I had to sign a Lifestyle Covenant saying I would renounce alcohol, sex, homosexuality (even media that promotes such behavior), and environments where sin is upheld.
When it comes to anime there are definitely themes that are explored that go against the Lifestyle Covenant. With anime being animated, it is still seen as something kid friendly in the United States. I was afraid that if someone walked by and saw something of the more PG-13 nature, they would freak out and tell administration. This was also an issue because not only would I as a club organizer be in trouble, but so would my sponsor. Luckily for me, my sponsor said she trusted my judgment on what content to use and said she would fight for me if anything was ever brought up at administration meetings.
The issue was still pressing. I didn’t want to have to make someone vouch for me and put their reputation as an employee at risk. (This has been a definite issue in the past at my school.) What I did to make up for this was watch for pretty much the entire semester nothing but children’s anime that was still mature for older viewers. For example, we watched a highly underrated children’s show called Oban Star Racers. For movies, we watched many of Hosoda’s works as well as a couple of Pokémon movies, and of course some works by Yoshiura.
As for the next semester, choosing movies and series is definitely going to be difficult as I have burned through most of my G-rated content. However, I found out that the club is in great standing with the Student Government, so hopefully the PG-13 rated content of this next semester will be well received.
Now one thing I should mention about my university is that club presidents receive $100 of funds per year to use on whatever they need for club materials. I took these funds and used them to purchase a large amount of anime merchandise at Hastings. It was with these items that I made the club interactive and more welcoming. Each meeting I set up some sort of game, and the winner would receive one of the items I purchased. Sometimes it was manga, other times a cheap figure. Everyone seemed to enjoy these giveaways, so I was more than happy to utilize all of the prizes I had purchased.
It was around the end of the first semester of our club that I realized a major problem; our assets were too low to continue at the current pace. I could no longer supply a prize per week for our club activities. I hated this; what would make the club engaging if not that? I worried about it for a few days before bringing it up to some of the club members the next meeting. I wanted to know how much the lack of free giveaways would ruin everyone’s experience.
To my surprise, everyone in the group began to throw out ideas for earning money. From car washes to bake sales, even a small yard sale, everything was discussed. It was after this meeting that two girls from our group took me aside. One, a student not from our university (we accept all kinds, even rival schools), offered to bring refreshments to every single meeting as a way to make up for not having giveaways. The other asked me what price would get the club enough funds to move forward.
Both of these girls were from low socioeconomic status families, and could not afford extras. Yet, here they were offering their time and money to help out with an activity that they enjoyed. I declined the offer of funds, but did accept the refreshments as long as she promised not to spend too much.
After that, many people came together to help out with the bake sale. People I knew from my classes made cookies, club members helped organize the sale, a cafeteria worker made me two dozen Poké Ball cookies, and one of my classmates who was not even affiliated with the club made Sailor Moon cupcakes out of her own pocket. It was crazy how much people wanted the club to keep going at its current pace, even if they were not in it or even had no interest to join.
The bake sale was a huge success. Through word-of-mouth and work from everyone involved, we were able to raise enough to fund not only the end of the semester, but the next one as well. Through all of this, I was organizing, planning, getting new members involved, putting together extra meetings, managing a budget, and supplying all of the anime we watched throughout the semester. As obvious as it may be to everyone else, I didn’t even realize that I had become a leader. I thought I was just doing my duty to ensure that everyone felt welcome and enjoyed themselves at the club meetings.
Now one can attribute what happened as God’s way of giving me some kinship or providing me with a way to learn more about my own faith. I don’t know the answer—all I know is that it was completely unexpected. Currently, I have a mass schedule for this school semester including a trip to see the new Ghost in the Shell film, campus wide Magical Girl and Pokémon theme nights, and an outing to a local comic and manga shop. As I said in the beginning, I never intended to become a leader.
If any of you would like to create your very own anime club, I have a few pointers for you.
- The supplies you will need as a base starting point are few: with an HDMI cord and a laptop you can hook up to any standard TV and stream anime. I personally use my own collection, but as a starting place, this setup is great!
- Find a faculty member who likes or supports anime (preferably a teacher or professor). You will need this person to not only be your sponsor, but also be willing to bat for you if the administration is against it.
- If you go to a conservative school like mine and are asked about content or its “spiritual benefits,” look no further than this blog. There are tons of articles on here about spiritual and religious themes in all sorts of anime. You can use these as examples to prove your point.
- You must be willing to be outgoing and talk to people you would not normally talk to. You needn’t be a social butterfly, but someone who is approachable and able to hold a conversation with people is a must.
- Someone you know has something you can use. Ask around and see if there are material at your disposal to use. The things I was able to acquire for club uses came from the most random of places; a defunct gumball machine came from a corner of campus, a friend of mine was a professional baker and made those awesome Sailor Moon cupcakes, yet another friend donated some manga to me for club uses. Don’t be afraid to ask people for what they may have, you’ll never know what you may find!
*Featured image is a screenshot from Genshiken, an anime about an otaku-filled college club.
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