Running a club isn’t necessarily hard. What really gets me about this position is the amount of time and effort it takes for us to keep our members’ attention for the entire quarter. Having a big club as opposed to a small circle demands a lot more organizing than I was initially prepared for, and requires more attention than my officers were willing to give at first. Suffice to say, none of us knew what we were really getting ourselves into.
Nor did it occur to us that being staff of an anime club (or any club, for that matter) meant that we had to be, well, staff. And do staff things. Talk to people and shit. Perhaps I’ve driven this point home many times over by now, but none of us on the staff are naturally inclined to hold a conversation with complete strangers, much less prepared to market an accessible image of the anime club to incoming freshmen. But we have to. That’s what it takes to uphold any kind of organization: in order to promote our organization we must put ourselves out there. Convey some sort of image, a personality perhaps, that brings people in. The same kind that kept me and my staff around when we were freshman. Right now, I’m in a position that demands I do the same thing, or at least something of the same vein, in order to bring people in. I basically need to become sempai and notice people.
This is an extremely simple task. It would also be an easy one if we were talking about anyone other than me. My old Boy Scout leadership tips and my experience with dealing with people via the debate team kind of wore off through many years of neglect. “Uh”s and “um”s come far more naturally to me than any other verbal tic I am self-conscious of. I’m overweight and out of shape, with a dramatic slouch that illustrates my many years of servitude to the plastic box of infinite internets. I think you have the right idea by now: my self-confidence is pretty shot at this point.
Not as shot as my staff, though. What surprises me about myself is that I seem to have skilled more points in the Getting Shit Done skill than the rest of my buddies, who are content with merely complaining about status quo issues and forgetting about them the next day. Working with other people in an organization has taught me many things about the apathy of my peers, and this anime club is obviously no exception. my staff exacerbates this issue precisely because it’s an anime club. There’s an unspoken consensus between us that gaining membership would be ideal for the survival of the club. The unspoken caveat to this idea, however, is that no one really wants to go the extra mile of “what the fuck how do we do this”. Even then, this doesn’t address the bigger elephant in the room: the anime club staff kind of don’t like people in general.
I guess this pertains to myself as well, though. I certainly didn’t appreciate having to work under Madarame-sempai when he was president, and the less-than-minimum effort he put into his position only made it harder to step into his shoes. I didn’t like how some members of the club last year were oblivious to the fact that they could be chasing people away. I didn’t like how other members pointed this out and then proceed to not help the issue at all. I didn’t like how my staff were even more negative about these people than I was. With the way things were in the beginning of this year, I imagine that finding more people, while seeming like a good idea, rubbed us all the wrong way.
I wonder at times if we should just ditch the idea of having a legitimate campus organization and just coop up with staff-only screenings of anime at an apartment during convenient weekends or something. It’s certainly made the rounds with my friends at times. Yet we don’t actually do that because there’s still hope for this club. Quite frankly, however, I have an insufficient amount of framework to build this club upon and that has been the main reason as to why I fret so much over my position. What do we do during meetings? Watch anime. Now what. Oh, there’s that one thing where we go to LA for a day and hang around the Little Tokyo district. Okay. That’s only once a quarter. What else to we do? Well? Is there anything else we can do? Is there anything that’s within our power to do? …Is there nothing else? Is this the reason why people up and leave in the middle of meetings without another word? Are we not good enough?
My answers to those questions fluctuate between each person I answer them to, especially during PR events like tabling or leadership retreats. My campus houses a shitton of organizations, with many of the prominent ones being fraternities or volunteer groups working for a higher cause like cancer research, protecting marginalized groups in society, or caring for mentally disabled children. These are the kinds of organizations that are promoted and revered by the public eye. What the fuck does an anime club have to compete with that? I can’t exactly obfuscate our activities in a “Society of Modern Visual Culture” kind of way, nor can I really ignore the crippling social stigma held against anime culture and otaku in general. It also doesn’t help that many of these people who come to anime club are so close to the mouth-breather neckbeard Naruto-fan stereotype that it just doesn’t surprise me anymore. God forbid anyone who approaches me during a leadership retreat and gushes over how Attack on Titan or Sword Art Online is “so fucking good do you watch it pls watch it”.
Wow, that was depressing to type.
Not everything was bad this month. We’ve asked members and attendees of the club this month about what we could do for club-related events, conveying the idea that we care about their opinion about how the club should be run (and because we actually care, mind you). Attendance has been stable (high at first with people tapering off) so at least we’re not fucking shit up. We had a party during Halloween and people brought food and we watched Shiki so that went well. Sixteen people showed up for the LA trip and we definitely had a blast then. We’re planning cooking lessons in the future since some members have know-how and are willing to teach. A game night may be imminent. If anything, we’ve certainly been busier and less grumpy about anime than last year. I suppose that’s a plus.
So, uh, yeah. The lineup for this quarter. We’ve been watching Baccano!, Azumanga Daioh, Detroit Metal City, Girls und Panzer, and Yakitate!! Japan. The new season is well under way and all, but our club has been up to different things and then some. Since we’ve had issues picking current-season shows for the entirety of last year, we’ve decided that watching older, already-completed series would be a much, much better idea.
So yes, I’ve been using this club as an excuse to re-watch Girls und Panzer. Suck it.