Anime Club Escapades: 1/18/2013 – 1/25/2013

Let me wander off into some other topic that I didn’t say I was planning to do. To put it in precise terms, I wonder exactly what gets people to come to anime club.

I’ve already mentioned that the club itself doesn’t go to great lengths to recruit new members. Instead, we take the easy way out and have a website for people to find or look for. I think it’s a nice business model because we only encounter people who are genuinely interested enough to actually look for an anime club on campus. That’s certainly how I, in a fit of boredom in my first year of college, came to attend this place and get to know all the wonderful people I know today. Well, I wouldn’t say “wonderful” in the successful, social sense. They’re all nerds.

I say “nerds” because I hesitate to say “otaku”. I certainly don’t see myself as an otaku. I’ll label myself as an anime fan, as will most other people I’ve encountered in anime club, but there is a certain subsection of the group that are irrevocably and without a doubt otakus, and I don’t identify completely with them. See, like most people who end up blogging about anime, I see myself as one of those people that commenters will label as an “elitist”. You know, the person who tries to sound smart by talking about narrative themes and meanings in anime. I don’t go as far as to completely disparage other, “lesser” anime, though I can certainly recognize that my tastes direct me away from the cheesecake (slang for female sex appeal for those who don’t know) and into a bizarre fruitcake and jell-o salad combination¬†(a term I made up on the spot to describe my tastes in anime) that’s best left appreciated rather than eaten.

I believe anibloggers can get comfortable agreeing with each other about how certain series are consensus bad or which ones are universal in their quality. They might argue about the ones in the grey area, but that’s where I think the discussion is the most truthful about a person’s taste. There are people who like it, people who hate it, and people who attempt to qualify their ambivalence or frustration towards the material in question. Maybe it’s not a matter of good or bad and it’s instead a matter of interesting or boring. For example, Tamako Market is certainly a good series (when you look at it from an atmospheric, magical realism perspective), but it is boring to watch if you don’t see it that way. I saw that particular divide during the club once episode 3 rolled around. Then there’s the series that is certainly interesting, but you can’t say that it’s good. For this season, Kotoura-san takes that slot. It’s dramatic and whiny and BLUHHHHHH, but not in a good way. Sure, that turnaround in the first episode was cute and all, but that wore away fast. Maoyuu got tiring fast because of reasons I have already explained. Everyone laughs away at The Unlimited as usual.

Maybe it’s just because Winter 2013 anime sucks. Maybe that’s the reason why attendance is a bit low for these two weeks. Or maybe it’s because it was both a Friday that was raining hard and a subsequent Friday that was the Friday before midterms. There is no way to win people over their acadamics with your Chinese Pornographic Cartoons. At least, not the serious and studious ones. My friends are none of the sort. They attend as many meetings as possible while I am one part obligated and one part devoted to provide anime to watch each week. In a way, being the proactive Vice-President in comparison to the laziness of Madarame-senpai makes it my sworn duty to watch as many anime as possible to see which ones are good or not. We staff converse with each other on Facebook and it is by virtue of my position that I end up deciding what to watch. Does that mean I have complete control over what we end up watching? Not necessarily. There’s always a snag or two about an hour before the screenings actually start. Mostly from the president himself because he decides at the last minute that showing something else would be a better idea. After knowing him for a year by now, I am fully aware that not all his suggestions (OreShura, Senran Kagura, Mondaiji) are necessarily the greatest ideas. With him, it’s always finding the thing that offends us the least.

Oh yeah, I haven’t even gotten around to the types of people who come to anime club, have I? Well, there’s several people I could talk about, and I obviously won’t label them by any name because that would be downright disrespectful (because even though I try to be fair I end up sounding condescending when I do these kinds of things). Let’s talk about this from a conceptual standpoint.

Say that there is this one person in your anime club that is socially awkward. No, not the shy type that is unsure how to respond to your questions with anything other than silence and nods, I’m talking about the guy that won’t shut up about this hobbies and interests.

Imagine that he’s a huge fan of riffing bad sci-fi movies, and subsequently bad anime, and then note how many times he is able to weasel this little tidbit into every aspect of the conversation with each chance he gets. He lacks volume control and tact, two things that could get a person berated at a movie theater, much more at some dinghy anime club screening where the consequences of being loud are a bit, well, louder. Now, we are no strangers to riffing. We do it all the time with bad anime because it’s a method of coping in the absence of anything truly good. Anibloggers do this with at least one show each season (Not this one because everything equally sucks except maybe Chihayafuru which I still need to watch). Now, imagine if you tried to do this with every show you ever watched.

This guy is the pinnacle of good intentions gone awry. Almost all of his words go down the drain because his speech is unfortunately loud and nasally. This is further compounded by the fact that he’s ignorant about current anime (as in he doesn’t stay current with anime like we do). Keep in mind, most people who end up in anime club don’t actually stay current with each anime season in Japan. Some of them don’t even watch anime much on their own free time. Keep in mind though, it just makes it worse to hear these kind of things from the guy I speak of. Suffice to say, I don’t think anyone in the clubroom especially appreciates his presence. Perhaps our consideration and patience will wear thin. Or maybe he’ll grow up.

He just reminds me of my own embarrassments and beginnings as an anime fan, about maybe seven or eight years ago.

This guy is probably my age. That hurts a bit, you know, to see him represent my younger, foolish self in real time.

Addendum

  1. Expect future updates to be more of this format than anything planned or scripted. This is all drivel out of the top of my head.
  2. Amazing how a month’s worth of time can dilute your thoughts about a subject like this into mush.
  3. I’ve been stuck in the FE Awakening universe to write much i sowwy
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10 comments

  1. Well, to answer your first question, I can think of several reasons why people would come to anime club/types of people who come to anime club (this is by no means a comprehensive list):

    -Some people are relatively casual/ignorant/new fans who go to club to either (a) get ideas for what to watch because they don’t know what to look for, or (b) watch anime at all, because they don’t set aside the time and effort for it themselves other times during the week.

    -There are also the people who, learning of the campus anime club, nostalgically remember watching Toonami as a kid and decide to stop in and see what’s going on with those Chinese cartoons nowadays, maybe catching some of their old favorites in the process.

    -There are people who join the club specifically for any events/parties you may hold, and may be more interested in Japanese culture or specific aspects of the anime fandom than in the shows themselves (though that is not necessarily the case).

    -Occasionally, members’ friends will attend meetings or events to hang out with their friends and see what they do on weekends.

    -Sometimes gamers will show up and just game/talk to the other gamers but come to club because they like to have the anime on in the background.

    -Then there are the socially awkward people like the THAT GUY you mention, who may watch some anime on their own but I imagine wish to attend a social setting because they are so *knowledgeable* and *witty* that they can’t keep their genius from the world any longer (i.e. they act completely tactlessly and don’t realize that they are bothering others because don’t know any better).

    -And of course there are the “elitists,” like you and me, as well as the typical otaku/anime fans, who are brave and/or stupid enough to seek a social outlet for their hobby and just want to talk with people about anime in person rather than over the internet, or just take club as a vehicle to watch something from their backlog/rewatch something they liked/stay up to date.

    There’s a lot more variety in the anime club scene than in the anime blogger scene (which, as you note, is somewhat skewed towards the “elitist” side), which leads to quite a bit of… *ahem* excitement when they get together. Not to mention all the cliques that form between/amongst/within subsets of each group.

    I, too, am not a fan of the “otaku” label, as it carries distinctly different and stronger connotations than a mere “nerd” or “anime fan,” connotations which are much more specific and negative that portray a stereotype that I neither fit nor want to associate myself with.

    This season does pretty much suck. If I was stuck showing only shows from the winter season in club, I wouldn’t have a clue what to pick. It really helped me out when running my club that I made my own rules when selecting shows and thus could pick any show from any season of any year so long as we hadn’t watched it in club within recent memory, meaning I got to show things like Kaiji and Planetes which ended up being quite popular.

    1. Like, Winter season usually has one or two things that can at least sustain my interest (Wandering Son for 2011, Ano Natsu de Matteru for 2012), but this year the only anime I’m truly looking forward to is The Unlimited, and that’s only because I’m not watching Chihayafuru. I keep typing that damn word in hopes that I actually get off my ass and watch S1.

      We have our share of elitists both within the staff and in the club itself. We get into some warm discussions concerning what’s good and what’s bad each season. From a Vice President perspective, I try to see it as an entertaining vs. boring scale rather than quality-wise, in order to catch the most people, but there’s always this group to hear all the gripes about how we’re not showing good stuff. Speaking of choices in anime club, that’s a subject for the next post. Wheeeeeeeee~

      The rest of the staffies give THAT GUY the not-so-subtle cold shoulder every time he comes by (we meet and set up about an hour early to chillax), and though I’m proud of my stoicism I also get on-edge when he ends up talking to me about something. We don’t outright kick him out, and truthfully he was a lot worse about his tactlessness at the beginning of the school year than he is now, but we still joke around about suffering his presence. It’s mean, to be honest, but inevitable. I’m personally giving him the benefit of the doubt for sticking with us for this long. There is absolutely no way that he didn’t notice us badmouthing him behind his back at times. Maybe that’s a bad way to go about this. This social connections thing is precarious and high-risk at times. :(

      1. I dropped Chihayafuru early on because I just couldn’t get into it, even if I could see why other people liked it. It just wasn’t my thing. So that leaves me in a spot where all I’ve been enjoying out of this season has been Japanese Robin Hood Batman (Bakumatsu Roman) and a bunch of those short 3-5 minute shows, now that Maoyuu and Kotoura’s initial appeal has started to wear thin. Luckily there are still plenty of carryovers from previous seasons to keep me going, namely JoJos, Hunters, Space Bros, Shinsekai, and Psycho Pass.

        Yeah, I’ve definitely got a different scale for “shows that I like/are good” vs. “shows that would be good to show in club.” Texhnolyze, for example, is one of my favorite shows, but I would never ever ever ever show it in club because it is one of the least accessible anime out there.

        Dealing with THAT GUYs can be tricky/dangerous for sure. Sometimes what you think is a not-so-subtle cold shoulder goes completely over his head, due to the fact that the reason he acts the way he does is because he’s not good at picking up on social cues. Or sometimes they do notice and take very strong offense to it (thankfully this hasn’t happened to me). It’s a really fine line to walk, because they ARE being disruptive and you need to deal with it somehow, and you need to do it in a way that’s unsubtle enough that he will understand, but held-back enough that you’re not being too mean about it. I know I’ve been in a number of situations where I’ve had to tread pretty carefully, both in talking to and about certain people in club.

        1. We’d still be watching most of those carryovers (we’re still watching JoJo’s contrary to the few vocal opposition), except people found PP, SSY, and R;N boring as hell. Which is why we ended up watching Chuunibyou, Tonari, and Magi instead. Well, at least we were also watching JoJo’s too.

        2. To be fair Robotics;Notes is pretty boring.

        3. Did not mean to imply the opposite. Robotics;Notes had Frau going for it, then they ran out of flags to trip. Now it seems like nothing happened with their relationship at all. dafuq Production I.G.

  2. They don’t have an anime club at my uni(or as they call them: Kots √† Projets). Or I just didn’t see one. I’m not sure I would like watching shows with a bunch of people. Like you say, you have to look for something that everybody will like(entertaining rather that boring, plus all the variations of taste) which I can imagine quickly becomes complicated.

    I’d rather watch shows on my own and then discuss them with friends or on the anisphere. That way nobody whines when I put in my Ghost in the Shell DVD.

    And yeah, THOSE GUYS are everywhere. Thankfully, there are enough students to pick from that I don’t necessarily need to put up with them. The benefits of a malleable social context(I don’t even know what that means).

    1. I first went to anime club to see what kinds of people go to anime club, and in that anime club there were people who go to anime club for reasons other than to see what kinds of people at anime club go to anime club to see what kinds of people go to anime club. Truth is, people are waaaaay different about anime in anime club than I am. I expected a bit more conformity, like, you know, because the anime-watching population is already small in and of its own. I came to appreciate the complexity and the differing opinions if it meant being social and vocal about my own views as well. Not vocal in the sense that I can spew out opinions on the internet, but where face-to-face conversation truly tests your beliefs versus your social integrity. IMO It’s a better gauge of what you are and are not willing to say about anime, but I really just go to anime club because some anime are best enjoyed as a group. Try watching a comedy anime or an overblown drama anime and you’ll laugh at all the reactions.

  3. The line between anime and otaku culture has always been a bit too blurry for my tastes. There’s nothing wrong with that per se because obviously there is a lot of overlap between the two, but it’s just not my thing.

    What I’m trying to say is that I like anime. That doesn’t mean I like cosplay. That doesn’t mean I like otaku culture. That doesn’t mean I like J-pop. Hell, it doesn’t even mean I like manga. It means I like anime.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone, but people who go around idolizing Japan as if it’s the promised land get on my nerves. Unfortunately, from my experiences, anime clubs tend to attract this very demographic.

    I only wish I could find a group as diverse as the one you describe.

    1. There are things to love and hate about how diverse my anime club is. Just as there is ample reason to retreat into the internet in search for like-minded people. Ones who would bother to blog about their Chinese Pornographic Cartoons instead of doing schoolwork or party or whatever it is the college kids are pigeonholed into doing nowadays.

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