Anime, or Japanese animation, has a strong fan base around the world including here at Santa Rosa Junior College. The anime club meets every Thursday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone can walk in or leave at any time.
To decide what anime to watch, the club uses what club president, Victoria Rose, calls a fun box. A member writes down a suggestion. It can be a show, writer, director or even a studio. The club then views a clip to decide whether to watch it or not.
Anime has grown from a niche subgroup to a full blown phenomenon. It is not a genre but a medium. Anime crosses a vast number of genres, club member Nick Linchner says, “One moment you’re watching a story about vampires and then the next you’re watching something about magicians using the power of love to save the world and the next you’re watching a show about giant robots fighting off an evil alien force.”
Anime also likes to blend genres together. It’s not uncommon for a single series to have elements of comedy, action, horror and fantasy. Club President Vicky Rose’s favorite show is “Gin Tama,” a science fiction historical comedy. Anime also had continuing plot lines long before western shows began to pay attention to continuity. Club member Michael Look says he likes “really good story based characters or a really good plot” when looking for a series. The continuing story draws in people week to week.
“The very look of anime is very different than the exaggerated and characterized western cartoons,” Look said.
Many people discovered anime by watching “Pokemon,” “Sailor Moon” or “Dragonball Z” back when they aired in the ‘90’s and early 2000s. “Most people who get into anime first get into anime by watching a shonen which they probably watched on Cartoon Network,” said Rose.
The club doesn’t only watch anime. According to Rose they also hold bake sales about three times a month. The club takes trips to comic book stores to read manga (Japanese comics) and even to visit Japantown in San Francisco. The club also helpws people connect to Japanese culture. “A lot of people in our club haven’t had a chance to look at actual comic books from Japan or even DVDs and Blu-ray,” Rose said. Every Tuesday the club hosts role-playing games, such as “Dungeons & Dragons” for the club members. They also have meetings on holidays.
“When I look at anime, I see a world of pure imagination,” said Linchner. Anime continues to draw a fan base because of this. There’s a wide variety of material for people to be drawn to. Look calls the anime community “a niche community without being niche.” The anime club allows people to come together and meet new people and find new series to love.