Anime-niacs actively watch Japanese animation in MacArthur

The Anime-niacs, the MacArthur Campus anime club, formed earlier this year, allows students to watch Japanese animation and also analyze cultural subtexts. Students interested in anime include President Rachel Zech, Vice President Yuliy Fedoryshyn, and Secretary Long Ho, who have combined their DVD collections to watch animated movies and TV series on Thursdays together at 10 p.m., in the Burrow Student Union.

As students curl up on couches for movies, such as Metropolis, Voices of a Distant Star, and Ah! My Goddess!, they also engage in thought-provoking discussions.

“She’s hot,” says one audience member about a woman in the movie, eliciting either laughter or groans. At this moment, the audience of about ten is already in a rambunctious mood. They have already debated over important issues such as whether they should watch Ah! My Goddess! in Japanese or English, with the anti-subtitle majority deciding they cannot both watch and read a movie.

On a serious note, the Anime-niacs screenings are a chance for analysis of cultural subtexts in relation to both Japanese and Western influences.

As the club Secretary, Long Ho, points out, “That’s just to raise awareness of Japanese society, the source of all this anime and where it comes from, their culture reflected from anime instead of just learning it straight through the book. You learn it from the anime, and it is less dry material and more fun.”

Fedoryshyn, continued, “A lot of people in our club want to study Japanese, and that is a large part of anime because the symbols represent a large number of ideologies.”

An example of a club meeting and discussion is that, “We discuss the differences in the illustrations,” Zech, explains, “Sometimes, we’ll watch a really old school anime like Vampire Hunter D, which was made in the 1980s, and then we’ll compare it to something that’s fairly new and discuss the digital aspects they add to the movie.”

The club plans to have their adviser, Asian studies professor Sho Konishi, visit for analysis, but discussions also continue online at the club’s Internet forum (http://anime.winwel.com). This forum is not just between the MacArthur students, but also at least one Boca student.

Long Ho also hopes that, “We can extend our screenings to off-campus, to anyone who wants to come, not just the students on campus. I know other anime clubs that have done that.”

The Anime-niacs are also planning activities away from just the movie screenings. Members will be attending Jacon, a Japanese animation convention in Orlando from April 15 to 17 (more information can be found at www.jacon.org).

Club officers are also planning a costume competition, a “cosplay” contest, in which members dress up as anime characters and act out a scene in order to win DVDs and gift certificates. Costume fun already invigorated the club’s Halloween screening of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie when club webmaster Joshua Winikoff dressed up as Inuyasha, the half-demon of a popular fantasy/romance anime of the same name currently airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block.

However, for these events to take place, the club has to pay out of pocket and is hoping to fundraise and receive Student Government funds.

Fedoryshyn wants students to be open; “Everyone should join the anime club, and if you liked anime and you were scared off by us in the club…I don’t know why,” he laughed, “but you will see we are friendly people, so join us, and we’ll meet you there.”

Zech summarized, “I’m really open to suggestions and ideas from the rest of the club. It’s not really very structural as far as the government goes. We’re just a group of friends and we’re all like, ‘Hey, come hang out with us.’ Give me your suggestions about if there is something in particular you want to watch.”