I should talk about what happened during that publicity thingy that I mentioned last week.I arrived about 10 minutes late to the outskirts of the Student Resources Building, one section out of a long line of booths that were also set up for the same purpose. That purpose? Well, the event was based around inviting prospective freshmen (high school seniors at this point and time) to tour the campus and get to know more about the variety of campus organizations that were also present and available. Naturally, since we technically qualified as a campus organization, we were also given the chance to publicize our club. In our case, we needed to find the poor saps who sought salvation from their shitty high school anime clubs. Was it a success? Well, yes and no.
I’ll first explain why it was a success. The beginning of our long and arduous journey of having to converse with strangers for five hours did not start well. Rather, it’s fair to say that even though I was ten minutes late it hadn’t started at all. President Madarame-sempai was already at our assigned table, but something was missing from the table. Want to know what that something is?
The table was completely bare except from the campus-colored tablecloth and the dinghy plywood club sign in front. If that wasn’t bad enough, there was also nothing to give out to the passersby. What do I mean by that? Flyers, business cards, goodies, anything to attract people to the table and anything to give to them in order to remember the encounter. We were perhaps woefully unprepared for this situation. I myself was rather woeful in other contexts. We needed to think of something fast, before the real rush of people begins.
So, I suggested to sempai that he prepare flyers and bring the raffle merchandise from his room in order to spice up the tabletop a bit. Since there was now an additional person to man the table (namely myself), it allowed him enough leeway to abandon the table and prepare as much stuff as possible. I wish I had taken pictures because we did a decent job sprucing up an empty table with miscellaneous anime merchandise, manga, and random origami stuff I made on the spot. It was pretty cool.
Not that I was truly expecting many people to stop at our location, though. We were competing against other, more prepared organizations that had their shit together long before we even thought of the concept. The table to the left of us was a club that informed people on safe sex, which had all the necessary handouts as well as a rather appealing “spin the bottle” wheel that landed on a quiz category, which the people manning the table ask a sexually oriented question to demonstrate their knowledge of sex things. The table on the right of me was a variety dance club that showed off their moves every once in a while in tandem to a fitting piece of music that came up every now and then. Blaring Jpop right next to them would have been extremely rude.Nevertheless, decorating the table proved to be quite effective and we were able to hand out over 20 flyers (which I think is pretty damn fine). Granted, most of these people are high school students and are as likely to forget about the flyers as they are to perhaps choose another campus to waste four years in. The important thing in this case is that people know that our club exists. I’ve told you before that our presence on campus has always been near nonexistent and the side-remarks now and then along the lines of “I didn’t know we had an anime club” continue to haunt us in this day and age. At the same time, is publicity and membership all that important in terms of having a quality club experience? Well, yeah. If I thought otherwise I wouldn’t have attended in the first place. A club can always have more members. A club should always welcome new members.
I do have to wonder, though, if we did it right.The reason why I think part of this exercise was a flop was because I fear we didn’t send the right image of our club. We had anime-related merchandise and manga on the table to make it more visually appealing, but we almost never talk about manga, nor are we buyfags. Additionally, it doesn’t help that me and sempai as a combo don’t necessarily advertise well. I’m pretty sure I can do it sufficiently, but it’s clear that we’re inexperienced at working in tandem because we cut each other off and have awkward pauses at times. To be fair, I’m sure they didn’t notice because they’re way more nervous about this whole college thing than we are about seeking new and fresh membership for our club.
I also had to remember that the target audience is high school students. That apparently means their exposure to anime is basically no less than the Big Three, Fairy Tail, and maybe possibly Soul Eater. When that realization hit me I became quite aware how niche my fandom, and the aniblog fandom, really is. I mean, when I was part of my high school anime club (for a brief time during 10th grade, I might add), I was pretty well aware of series such as Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Samurai Champloo, and even lesser-known-at-the-time stuff such as Clannad and Claymore. From personal experience, I assumed that everyone else was at least familiar with anime that mostly comes out from the popular streaming sites (or, heaven forbid, Crunchyroll). In retrospect, I really should have expected that most people who would come to an anime club would not necessarily be updated on the latest shit to come out of Japan. Hell, I remember the first week I came to this club as a regular member and the room was totally packed with people. Once it became apparent that the main focus was not about the popular shounen anime, however, about a quarter of them left immediately. Immediately, I tell you. I’m worried that something similar will happen again.We iterated during the event that our main purpose is to watch the latest anime to come out of Japan, barring things that are way too long like the Big Three and others such. However, I feel personally that our purpose can be reworded more as “introduce you to the wonders and marvels of Japanese animation”. The people who attend club are much less a fandom and much more a hive of unpolished thoughts dying to be shared to other people. And if we do end up alienating people as a result… well… while it is our fault for not making that point clear enough, I really don’t feel like accommodating for people unwilling to graduate from the preliminary levels of anime appreciation. And if anyone complains about fair treatment, We’ll just address that as put aptly by the anime doctrine of Shugenics,
“We’re not discriminating, we’re distinguishing.”
- I have to admit that Hare Hare Yukai took high schools across the nation by storm when I was in 10th grade, which was 2008-2009, so knowing about that one was common knowledge. These days in 2013 I think they’re raving over things like Sword Art Online. Think about that for a while.
- I asked every single one of them if they knew what JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was. None of them knew. NONE. OF. THEM. Mark my words, once they get here I’m going to indoctrinate the shit out of them about the variety and wonders of this thing they like called anime. And they’re going to have OPINIONS about them and it’s going to be infinitely more interesting at anime club.
- Or, at least that’s what I’m hoping will happen once the time comes.