Creating an Anime Club
After school activities, extracurricular activities, student activities, or whatever else your school calls them, are either the bane or joy of teachers everywhere. If you end up with an activity you like, it’s great, and if you end up with one you don’t like, then that is a little less enjoyable. So what is a teacher who is an anime fan to do? That’s easy- start an anime club, which is easier said than done in most places. In my experience the majority of the principals I have worked under want the non-sport after school activities to be academic in nature, and one even wanted the students to earn credits doing them. (Apparently it is a thing in the Ontario curriculum.) I’m sure some of you are wondering, is it even possible to make anime fun and educational at the same time? Well, read on and find out.
Figuring out if the students are interested in an Anime club
The easiest way to jumpstart an after-school club is if the students are actually interested in a club. This means two things:
1- Finding out how many students are interested in anime and a club. This is not as hard as you may think as anime becomes more mainstream: just the other day I saw a student wearing a Naruto headband around the school. I wouldn’t come right out and ask if the students are interested in anime during class, (I had an administrator who was not happy that anime came up during class even when it was to tell a student to stop watching it and get back to work.) but it might come up during those out of class moments. For example, catching students watching anime during lunch. This was a personal favorite of mine, as I would tell them how good or bad I thought an episode was, with the occasional spoiler and seeing their reaction. Or it might be seeing which students cosplay on Halloween, of which there were a surprising number in Mongolia.
2- Letting the students know that you enjoy anime, which lets them know that there is a teacher who might be willing to supervise the club. If the students know there is a teacher who can supervise it, they are more likely to ask if they can start the club.
What are you going to do in an Anime Club?
The answer is of course obvious, watch anime, but the administration is probably going to want more than that. The obvious choice is that you are going to have the students review anime, which is exactly what I did, and here is the form that I used.
Anime Club Review Form
1- What is the name of the anime?
2- When was the anime released?
3- Which animation company released it?
4- Who was the author/creator?
5- Was it an anime original or was it based on something else?
6- Are you watching the subtitled or dubbed version?
7- Write a spoiler free summary of the anime/manga
8- What did you think of the plot?
9- What did you think of the music?
10- What did you think of the voice acting?
11- What did you think about the animation?
12- What did you think of the anime overall?
Other possible questions
13- If it was an adaptation, was it a faithful adaptation?
14- Has the anime aged well?
15- Do you think the anime should be considered a gateway anime, why or why not?
16- List any western cultural references used in the anime
17- Would you recommend this show to others why or why not?
18- Is there anything in the anime that is lost in translation?
19- If there was one thing you could change about anime what would it be?
20- Should the anime get a sequel or continuation, why or why not?
Feel free to modify the form to fit the needs of your own anime club. I didn’t use all of the questions all the time, but it was a good starting point. Also keep in mind that you don’t just have to watch anime- there are a number of other activities that you can do in an anime club.
Club Newsletter or Blog
Finding Anime to watch
These days I think the issue is less finding anime to watch and more which anime can I show to a high school anime club. There are a variety of legal streaming options some of which are free, (crunchy roll), plus there is the DVD collection of any of the members of the club. The bigger issue as I see it is making sure that the anime that you show will not be of concern to the administration. I think the bigger issue will be the fanservice in anime rather than the violence. For example, I think that Nanoha and Nanoha A’s would be perfect for an anime club except for the fact that they have transformation sequences that might ruffle some feathers, yet this is a sequence that is only one small part of the entire work.
With all of the legal and illegal streaming options out there these days, one problem is going to be getting students to actually come to the club, as they can watch anime just as easily on their own. Another problem is going to be which anime to pick, because some of the titles the students may want to watch may not be entirely kosher for school activity (Tokyo Ghoul). Then there is the issue of subconsciously imposing your own viewing habits onto the students, and that might make some students less interested in coming. In my case this was The Disastrous Life of Saki K, which the students wanted to watch, but I couldn’t stand and had them watch Studio Ghibli movies instead. Some of the students really enjoyed the Ghibli movies, but others stopped coming. The final and most obvious hiccup is going to be having the students write reviews, aka do work, which could also drive students away from the club.
This is where I could go on about safe spaces and giving kids a safe place to enjoy and express themselves, but I’m not. Not because it’s not important, but that I think the anime club gives the students a chance to relax and enjoy their youth. Not everything needs to be academic, or geared towards college admission or other post-graduation endeavors. The club will give the students a chance to relax and have some fun. If the club reached a large enough size, it could run its own local anime event/convention, which would be a fun learning experience for the students. While it was not run by the anime club, I did see an anime themed event used to introduce the 5th graders to the middle school they would be attending in the fall.
If the anime club idea doesn’t fly, you could change it to an animation club, where you look at animation from around the world. This would include Disney and the other American studios, but it would also bring in things like Wallace and Gromit, the famous British animated characters. While it does reduce the amount of anime the club would watch, it does allow them to compare anime to other animated works from around the world. (I had a principal who liked this idea.)
I hope that this gave you a few tips, and tricks on starting or improving your own anime club. While it might be tricky, I think that an anime club would be a worthy addition to many schools as long as the students are interested. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comments section below.
www.abc.com/parents/ (its old but still useful)