Discussion: Where’s your anime and manga community?

When I first got into manga ten whole years ago, there was no one around me who liked the stuff. My last year of middle school was the first year of torment as no one at my (very small) school had any interest in it and most thought Pokemon was for little kids and losers. I gained friends interested in manga outside of my school (it was a K-12 school) during high school, but it was a rather small community that mostly consisted of me, my best friend and our crappy taste.

That all changed when I reached higher education. I was looking for a school where I could get a fresh start and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo gave me the opportunity to ditch my immature high school classmates and gain a surprisingly awesome anime club.

I found Minna no Anime (their name, in case you’re looking for a university solely based on their anime club) instantly and was so excited by the idea that my school had an anime club that I started attending right away. It was a bit off-putting at first because I wasn’t a huge anime watcher and I didn’t know anyone. Then they announced their weekly Minna no Manga meeting, that consisted mostly of hanging out and reading manga. Minna no Manga gave me the chance to actually meet some people in the club and make friends. (And read manga.) It was such a great atmosphere that I attended both club meetings religiously right away. Over my 4+ years attending the school, I loathed to miss any of the meetings. I still long for my friends there now that I’m way too far away to drive up there every Thursday and Saturday evening.

Through my friends there I learned a lot about anime, manga and the world of fans. I had so much fun, it’s kind of tempting to go back to Cal Poly for graduate studies or another bachelor’s degree or just live in the area so I can keep going. Yeah, that’s how much I love this group of crazy kids. I even made a slide show and a video about the club before I graduated.

Since I’m feeling a bit lonely with my friends, I’ve even started thinking about starting a similar club in Los Angeles, since my area suffers from lack of a nearby college with an anime club. I’m still dreaming it up, but it’d be a fun regular even for a local comic book shop or a library if either was willing to host one. (So, if you live in the Los Angeles/Hollywood/West Hollywood area, let me know if you’re interested!)

What’s your anime and manga community like? Are they a group of friends or an organized club? Where you guys hang out and what do you usually do? Let me hear about all your fun times with your anime and manga friends!

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Discussion: Where’s your anime and manga community?

  1. Your story resonates with me so well. I’m going through the exact same thing right now!

    I’m in my university Anime club. It’s not all that special, I’m afraid. We watch and talk about anime every week. But I have fun, and it’s nice to be around fellow fans!

    • Ah, well perhaps I idealized my club a lot in my head, but I really had a lot of fun there. It was also remarkably free of drama, which seems to be the biggest complaint other people had about their anime clubs. If there was drama, we rarely let it interfere in club meetings. (I used to be an officer.)

      As long as you have fun, that’s the important part. :3

  2. lys

    Oh, a manga club sounds really fun! (it sounds a little awkward too, since reading manga is an individual-oriented activity as opposed to group-friendly anime-viewing, but I’d give it a try anyway!)

    I had just a couple friends in high school who shared my anime and manga interest (and only one who was really into it like me)—our other friends knew we liked it, but it wasn’t their thing. In college, I was, like you, ecstatic to find out we had a whole CLUB for anime fans, but they met Sunday afternoons, and what with going to church with my family and having to find a ride back with all my freshly cleaned laundry and whatever food my mum wanted to send back with me, I didn’t often make it back to campus in time. I also perceived a strong bias toward fanservicey anime for boys—this led me to reject anime entirely for a while and turn to girl-friendly manga.

    And now I’m graduated and my school friends are far away. I’ve got this great big collection of manga, and no one to share it with!! I’m sure there are other fans in my area, I just don’t know ’em.

    This is why I love and hate the internet. I can meet and make friends with all kinds of awesome people who share my interests… but they’re all so far away!!!

    • Ah, well, we mostly just hung around, talked and showed each other fun stuff on the internet. It was also large enough so that if someone wanted to go off into a corner and read or do homework, there was still plenty of people around to do stuff with. Towards the end of my studies, we started calling it Minna no Social Hour. (Despite the fact that it was four hours long. :P)

      I know how you feel about the internet business. I want to hang out with anime and manga fans again! It was such a good time. I love Twitter, but when I want to go hang out with someone on a Friday night, I can’t just drive half-way across the country to be with my awesome Twitter friends! That’s why I’m thinking about starting my own club. :P

  3. My tale of a community is similar to yours. I had a few friends in HS that were into anime while myself was only a young seedling. When I attended university, I found out that it had an anime club called Anime No Kai. Getting together weekly on Fridays to watch anime for a few hours were the highlight of my week. I was just a freshmen watching animes that I would have never seen and liking most of it.

    Though it was thanks to this club that I met some of the best friends that I have ever had. We all met up by chance but it was at this anime club. Either I found them by riding the bus or because somebody was tripping on my backpack. There was this tie to the anime club that we all had. Starting from dinners after the anime club ended and attending my first con with them eventually lead to us just going out on full fledged weekly outings. We watch movies, go shoe shopping, road trips, and getting lost (while wasting my gas), near death experiences (most likely cause by what they say my bad driving), getting me to crossplay in a skirt (which was my idea) and doing who knows what. We talk about anime a little bit but we do tons of things.

    I would have to thank anime and ANK for gaining such wonderful friends. We have our differences in anime (which I learn via interacting with them and the club) but it a thing that brings us together but doesn’t keep us together. I have learn a lot about anime from them and even learn about the immense anime community online. Still I have made some wonderful friends and even though we are all walking different paths with one as a full time teacher, another about the graduate, while myself and others are still in pursuing our education. We still know that Friday is a holy day that is close to our hearts and close to my very own.

  4. I was lucky enough to have not one, but TWO Anime clubs near where I live. They were at opposite ends of a highway bus of which I was smack dab in the middle of. One was at a College, which had their clubroom in a claustrophobic cramped room, and had their weekly meetings at a random classroom elsewhere. The other was at a University which had more diverse and experimentive tastes.

    I kept trying to bring the level of sophisication up to the College club by bringing some Anime from the University. Until I arrived, the College group didn’t even want to try watching subtitled Anime. Not to mention that they always had trouble getting a video projector, and tended to pass the time with inane activities, such as imitating Naga’s annoying laugh. I haven’t gone to the College Anime in years, but I imagine it’s still there, only managed by different people now, much like Genshiken.

    In contrast, the University seemed lightyears ahead. Their first few screenings of Nadesico were on a tiny TV screen, barely legible to anybody who wasn’t leaning in close. Then they moved to an auditorium with a movie theater quality wide screen where they’d show their Anime. They had a library of multiple fansubbed Anime, which they removed once they were licensed. They were among the first who did showings of shows such as Gundam Wing, Flame of Recca, Ruronin Kenshin, Kodomo no Omocha, Photon, Berserk, Magic Circle Guru Guru, Cardcapture Sakura and Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

    To this day, I still prefer the fansubbed version over the licensed versions.

    However, it seems that they were too sucessful in their attempts to make Anime widespread. Since practically anybody can download Anime via bittorent, there’s hardly any real reason to go to a dark room with a bunch of people when you can view whatever you want in the privacy of your home. Not to mention that you don’t have to suffer through the same theme opening/ending multiple times, or suffer through shows you don’t like at first, but gradually warm up to.

    Gad, I miss those days. Back then, I didn’t have the advantage of Youtube, and could only borrow a few videos, so any theme lyrics I liked, I had to copy myself in the dark, and later commit to memory. They did a purge of their VCR tapes, and I’m sorry to say I missed out in getting their Yawara! episodes.

    The founders are still involved with the club, and continue to check out the clubroom to see if it’s in good hands.

    • That’s kind of lucky, although it sounds like you didn’t stick with that college anime club long.

      The university club sounds a lot like mine. We have a big stadium seating-type room with a huge screen and projectors. Fantastic way to view anime. It seems, however, that your club relied almost completely on fansubs and while mine only subbed for the club’s personal use (and only one-two titles per year as it takes a ridiculous amount of time & someone had to pay for the R2’s from Japan.) Then again it seems like your time at the club was also many years ago, whereas my club attendance stopped less than a year ago.

      • Oh, I still go to the Anime clubroom once in awhile, to take advantage of their library. Since I was a repeat and devoted member, I get the added incentive of taking out three Manga volumes and two DVDs from their library, which, even though they weeded out their VHS collection, still have plenty of commercial DVDs worth checking out.

        Also, the only time they did some fansubbing of their own was so they could show the last episode of Sensei no Ojikan (Doki Doki School Hours) since it hadn’t been translated yet. If they ever did any other fansubbing, I certainly didn’t know about it.

        The fact that they were fiercely devoted to removing any Anime that was licensed from their schedule was probably what diminished their audience. They had to cancel showing Death Note the same week it was announced, and had to scramble to find something of its calibar to replace it.

        I would like to know more about the history of the beginnings of Anime fansubs in the 70s-80s when it was still in its infancy. The only thing I know is that audiences used to have a printout of a script with timesheets, which they were expected to read along in time with the show they were watching.

        I would like to use this information for a story about a revisionist history of Anime, where American animation companies were conspiring to keep Anime a secret.

        • I see. We don’t really have a library like that. Series are usually club donations, but we do have a librarian that keeps the club series with them for the year.

          We didn’t use fansubs at all except for the very very few that we subbed ourselves, only for ourselves. We usually voted against doing that too, which kept it from happening more often. We did have fansub of the week, which was only a first episode of a fansub, but it was mostly to get a taste of new shows. Or really ridiculously bad shows like Kamen Maid Guy.

          I don’t know much about fansubbing like that. I know that it happened, but that’s about it. Sorry, I can’t help you.

  5. Aaron

    honestly there is no community where I live the internet is the closest I get to a community that and maybe one or two people I know but our tastes are vastly different so it’s hard to have some kind of consensus

    • There are places on the internet that can be a community. For example, the Twitter manga community that I’m a part of is a fantastic group of people interested in all sorts of manga.

      You kind of have to deal with the fact that no one’s going to like everything you like, accept people’s recommendations and whatnot. That’s just life. ^_^

  6. Pingback: I found Jesus… in a manga « MangaBlog

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