The Anime Society brings anime-loving fans together
Josh Falcone – General Assignment Reporter
According to Brian Bickford, the Anime Society is a place for like-minded people to come together to share and celebrate all that is Japanese culture. Bickford, the president of the club, said the Anime Society gives those interested in this sub-culture an opportunity to share their passion.
“The club is basically just about getting a bunch of people together who really appreciate Japanese animation and other things of that nature, to learn more about Japanese culture, Japanese animation,” Bickford said. “And meeting and interacting with people who also share that same kind of passion, because I guess the interest has a big following but it is not that big as opposed to sports or other cultures and languages. So I guess it is a good place for people who don’t know too many people that like the same things they do to get together and just experience the same things that everyone in that sub-culture likes.”
The club looks to advance a better understanding of the cultural and historical context of anime while at the same time attempting to analyze its impact on society. As for what an actual Anime Society meeting entails, Bickford said that the group does something early in the semester to introduce or reacquaint those that attend the groups meetings. “We actually do a lot of different things in our club meetings, like usually in the beginning of the semester we have a welcome back night,” he said, “like an ice breaker thing with card games, board games or something similar. We also do Jeopardy or Scene It and add a lot of Japanese animation themed things to the questions.”
While the Anime Society’s meetings include card and board games, they also include workshops, Bickford said. “We have workshops, like in the past we have taught people how to make Japanese origami, we have taught people how to draw,” Bickford said, “and we have taught people how to make costumes based on characters from animation.” In their last meeting this past Monday, Bickford said the club hosted a speed drawing game. “We get a bunch of people and they are given a topic and they have a minute to draw it,” he said.
The Anime Society will also be hosting a workshop for cosplayers who would like to learn how to create their costume on their own, Bickford said. “This semester we are doing a cosplay workshop,” he said, “Where we show people how to make their own costume with different materials, and where to get it, and where it is the cheapest.” Bickford said later on this semester the club will be hosting an auction in a meeting. “Near the end of the semester we usually have an auction night, where we have everyone take things they want to sell and sell them. Everyone buys what they think they like, everyone bids. It is a fun night,” he said.
An exciting event that the club usually takes part in is a convention, Bickford said.
“Every semester in the spring, we attend a trip to a convention in Boston called Anime Boston, and we are doing that this year over spring break.” he said. “And it is basically a convention that is similar to what our club does, just like experiencing Japanese animation and Japanese culture, thousands of different people go there too.”
According to the Anime Boston website, the event has been held since 2003 and is the keystone of the North East Anime Convention circuit. The three-day event will be held in the Hynes Convention Center from March 21-23. The main focus has been Japanese animation and comics, but it has expanded to include Japanese music, history, and tradition.
The Anime Society has been an important part of Bickford’s time while attending Southern, he said. “The club is important to me personally because it’s exactly like a club that helped me when I first started in the same way in that I had a special interest in this kind of stuff but I didn’t know anyone else who did, I didn’t have any friends who did at college and I didn’t have any friends at all for that specific reason,” he said. “Then when I found out the club was a thing, I joined it and I made a lot of friends that had the same interest as me.”
This is something that he has hoped will continue to happen with others who share an interest in Japanese culture, Bickford said. “That’s what I’d like to make this club be about, just a place where people with an interest that is not too common can just come to a place where we all can relate to them and then share experiences,” Bickford said. “It’s like, we like this too, we can be your friends and then we all become good friends with each other for that reason.”