Speed Racer, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop — all of these titles are Japanese animation. And if you already knew that, you might belong to the Anime & Manga Club. The group is new to Lane and brings people together once a week to vote, view and discuss various anime series.
“We tend to be very fun-loving, and I accept everyone’s level of anime watching,” Brandon Schmidt, the club’s president and founder, said. The group extends an invitation to the occasional viewer or routine streamer. A group of approximately 20 people attended last Friday’s meeting with visible enthusiasm.
The club came together in January at the urging of Schmidt’s friends. He established the club and scheduled its meetings for Fridays. The members use the first few meetings of each term to compile a list of titles for the group to watch. Once the master list is completed, members vote to decide which series will be watched each week.
Last week, members voted and watched four episodes of Princess Jellyfish, a tale about a girl who is fascinated by jellyfish, which leads her to form new friendships. To write any more would break Schmidt’s strictest rule: no spoilers. Various themes are chosen each week and are different throughout the term.
The club boasts multifaceted members, many of them artists. During the Friday, April 25 viewing, a few people pulled out their art work while they watched, which included someone with a large sketch pad and another with a plastic bag of colorful clays.
On April 23, the club had a tabling event where several members were in costume, including Morgana Tyndall, one of the club’s two vice presidents. Tyndall was dressed as a tan-and-white flying squirrel creature.
“It’s comfortable, but it gets warm,” Tyndall said.
On the table were two laptops playing anime, along with manga novels and art from several members. Monica Lopez, the group’s secretary, displayed a card game the club created.
“Artists from within the group illustrated the cards,” Lopez said.
Group members created the images and character information for the entire deck of cards. The group has also been approached to design a poster for the Lane Spring Carnival and the Student Nurses’ Association.
Along with being art-centric, the club also works closely with the Gender and Sexuality Alliance due to the content of some anime. Several students belong to both the GSA and the Anime & Manga Club.
“In this animation, there are a lot of GSA-type references, like in Princess Jellyfish you have a guy who dresses like a girl,” Schmidt said. “We’re very open-minded here.”
The anime club will be back for fall term with a few series preemptively on the view list.
Schmidt has been inspired to expand into cosplay, short for “costume play,” where people can dress up as favorite characters inspired by anime, manga and other sources to role-play.
Schmidt plans to reach out to cosplay groups in the community and the Lane Culinary Club with meetings to be held at Titan Court.