Anime Club Escapades: 06/07/2013

With the showing of Perfect Blue and The Garden of Words in club this week, this year’s session of anime club has come to an end.

Following these events comes news of sorts: I am officially next year’s president of the anime club. I imagined the transfer of power to be of more… flair, I should say. The rituals and feelings I had imagined would conspire between the former president and I would end up being more along the lines of “Here’s the equipment,” as he hands over a cart with the club’s projector, speakers, and cash box, followed by “Oh, I’ll still be around next year so keep in touch if you ever have any questions about club logistics.” Quite the expressive send-off for such a quiet individual. Sometimes I think that he’s much better off without such responsibilities piled on him.

I don’t worry about that sort of thing, especially in the case of the president I so lovingly named Madarame-sempai. His departure from the depths of club authority is an event to be celebrated amongst the rest of the staff. It should be of no surprise by now that none of us really liked the things he wanted us to show in the club, and that we were secretly at odds with him. Most times it was in the form of secret chat backtalking on many different sources of online communication, but that’s a topic I intend to stop divulging into with my fanfare-less inauguration. Hell, I was responsible for downloading all the anime and the showing were coming from my own laptop. I was basically president once that happened; I just didn’t have it in me to just unseat Madarame-sempai right then and there. When I think about it now, maybe I should have put much, much more effort into doing just that.

What do I mean by this, exactly? That answer unfortunately delves into a much bigger problem this club has been facing over the past few years: there is a trend of losing membership over the course of the year until there’s only a small group of dedicated members; about ten people give or take remain by the end of the year. This year has regrettably been no different in terms of how many people have chosen to stay over the weeks. It’s always been in my interest to retain a much larger population of anime fans than this, so my purpose as the next president shall be to find ways to actually do that.

I’ve been searching for advice and suggestions from both my friends and whoever else comes to club, but most of the times it’s either complaints or criticisms. In the case of how out anime club turned out, such criticisms often become tinged with both frustration and indignation. There’s cases like the woman I spoke of earlier in another post, and there’s other people who attempt to help by giving more complaints. “We spend too much time watching anime.” “We don’t spend enough time actually talking with people.” “No one feels involved in the selection process.” “No one feels involved in the club in general.” “We actively chase people away by imposing our taste on them.” “There’s no incentive to come back.”

It would be certainly be more hopeful if these people actually gave me suggestions as to what I could actually to do fix all these issues, because I feel that the things that I’ve already come up with are not enough to get the results that I want. To give a bit of a roadmap, here’s a list of issues with the club that I wish to work on:

The club is barely publicized, if at all.

Remember how I said that I sort of like how this club is more of a cult rather than a popular thingy? Because of how people only find this club if they actually search for us? My attitude towards this has evolved quite a bit from the last time I addressed the issue, and that’s because I had forgotten that people eventually fall off. To add to that, since we don’t publicize at the beginning of every quarter, it becomes harder and harder to find people who actually want to stay, much less people who know that this club exists. This raises an interesting point about myself: I want more people to attend the club meetings, but I’m also quite comfortable with the turnout we had been getting for most of the year, which teetered around 20 people. What should be better for both myself and the good of the anime club? The conclusion that I have come to is that it wouldn’t hurt to being more people in, assuming not many will stick around despite new effort.

To rectify this, more effort must be placed into tabling, designing posters, and corresponding with other clubs. We also have plans to redo the website to fit our new regime better. Tabling in particular is the best thing we can do in order to publicize the existence of the anime club. The only problem with the tabling issue is that, as you may have noticed with the previous tabling effort, we don’t have much in terms of publicity material. We need relevant merchandise, graphics for banners and posters, and the audacity to advertise the club whenever free. There’s also the issue of communicating the actual purpose of our anime club, which honestly is a thing I have to work on over the summer.

The club meeting experience is sorely lacking in social interaction.

I think this is the biggest problem with the club right now. As it stands, unless you know people in the club prior to being in the meeting, no one is compelled to make friends in the club. Madarame-sempai also made the barest of efforts to actually talk to people he didn’t know. To be completely fair, none of us really did either. It’s a bit imperative to realize that the entirety of your club staff is about as social as a pet cactus, but in our case it’s a trend that’s happened a bit too late. To socialize, one has to be willing to open up, and to open up means one must start talking to other people. To socialize. As of now, there wasn’t a lot of that going on unless it was between close friends or on the quarterly trip down to the Little Tokyo district.

There’s quite a bit that we can do in order to turn this around. Instead of sitting inside the clubroom, we could stand outside and greet people as they come in. Instead of starting on anime immediately when clubtime starts, we could make announcements, spawn discussion about current events related to anime, or just make small talk. I know for certain that, during the first meeting of next year’s anime club, that I want to go over the anime that we’re going to be showing for the duration of not only the quarter, but also the year. Furthermore, I wish to scrap the idea that we have to show current-season anime, no matter how good it may become. I want the viewing experience to be comprised of stuff that people either haven’t watched before, or haven’t watched before amongst a group of people.

What do I mean by the latter, though? The rationale that I often hear from people who choose to quit coming to anime club is that they can watch the same anime on their own time, since they were already watching it on those terms. Either that or the anime that we end up showing do not match their interests closely enough. Such reasoning isn’t stupid, but it is dishonest in terms of the real reason they don’t want to come: there’s no sense of “togetherness” in the anime club. Given that I cannot expect to gain everyone’s approval through the selection of anime alone, what should I be doing to make sure that anime club members feel like, well, members? I have ideas as to how to best do this, but I’ll leave that topic to another post in the future.

“Don’t come to the anime club just to watch anime.”

After thinking about it for a while, this is the motto I’m sticking to for building up the anime club in my mind. Anime club meetings should be about meeting the people who share your interests, which is anime, without seeming insane or weird in the eyes of your peers. At the same time, anime club meetings should be about interacting with the many different kinds of anime fans out there. Not everyone does cosplay, or buys anime merchandise, or reads manga for that matter. Most of us really only watch anime and nothing else. We can’t even agree on which anime we think is the best! How amazing is it that, while we may like a certain medium as a group, that we have wildly different opinions on how to approach it? As an anime fan, a blogger, and a college student who presumably seeks intelligent discussion, I wish to tap into that with my peers on a weekly, face-to-face basis.

This is a very long-winded statement that basically translates as “I want to make more friends next year,” but pshawwww who in the right mind admits to that? On the internet?

Addendum

  1. This post brought to you by the Hataraku Maou-sama! ED “Tsuki Hana” by nano.ripe. Best ED animation of the season, by virtue of having nothing to do with the anime in question.
  2. With that, I don’t think I can accumulate enough motivation to make another post. See you suckers in seven weeks or longer.
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