Anime isn’t as well known of a medium in many high schools, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build an anime community at your own high school. So, how does one go about founding an anime club?
First, let’s clarify the main purpose of the anime club: to enjoy watching and discussing shows and film together. There is no culminating competition like in Science Olympiad, final product like the newspaper club and literary magazine, or charitable monetary goal like in Interact. There are no set members; people can come and go to meetings depending on the shows they want to watch. In short, anime clubs are not direct college-resume builders; they are completely for entertainment. That is why meetings consist of pure anime showing bliss, preferably shown on a projector if a teacher will permit. Thus, the bulk of the “work” behind creating an anime club is determining what shows to watch. Creating a simple website or Facebook group to display the airing schedule is the closest thing to a requirement of making an anime club. Of course, field trips to anime conventions are certainly welcome, but the finances compounded with secondary priority make such trips afterthoughts.
Finances and Resources
High school anime clubs do not typically need money other than to buy DVDs (which is recommended, since not only does the purchase fund the industry, but owning the actual copy allows members to borrow the show on their own). Unfortunately, most anime DVDs are extremely expensive so money is certainly welcome.
While charging members a fee is not recommended, especially in high school as students are watching arbitrarily for enjoyment, collecting money to buy pizza or other snacks to eat while viewing can slowly accumulate a decent amount of funds. Of course, the price of the anime DVD depends on the quality and age of the anime—older anime typically cost much less while newer anime such as Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works may cost a fortune. A cheaper alternative is buying a CrunchyRoll account, which allows viewing of legally streamed anime.
Trips to anime conventions are not everything a club can do outside of watching anime itself. CrunchyRoll provides some other additional activities that club members can enter as a group. CrunchyRoll frequently holds art contests in its forums with anime paraphernalia as prizes. Outside of art contests, other events that a club can hold include cosplay contests or workshops. To avoid the awkward stares that may come your way when you dress up as Naruto or Ichigo, you can hold cosplay events near or on Halloween. If you want to hone that inner anime connoisseur-journalist, you can start a newsletter or post reviews of anime on the club’s facebook page or website. Because most anime watching will probably occur outside the weekly meetings (let’s face it, anime is extremely binge-watchable), an interactive site where people can comment and post reviews and recommendations with peers keeps the high school anime community closer knit.
What to Watch
Instant entertainment is the initial goal. Deep and profound, beautiful, “slow” anime films are likely to lose an audience’s attention (especially an amateur audience without the discerning anime eye). Outrageously long anime (such as Bleach, One Piece, Naruto, HunterxHunter, and Fairy Tail) should also be avoided; these shows are for independent marathoning so that if a viewer does end up spending a month of time watching one of these epically long shows, the result of that decision is sole responsibility of that particular viewer.
You should also keep in mind what is appropriate to screen. The choice of anime may not be so important if the club has few members, but if the membership is large, you should get approval from your advisor to screen specific anime. Addicting shows such as Death Note or Code Geass might be a bit controversial depending on the audience, so make sure you are familiar with the audience’s tastes as well (this can be done through polls online). And while there are few anime that cater to every single type of viewer, there are a few shows that entertain a wide range of audience such as Fullmetal Alchemist or Hayao Miyazaki’s highly lauded films. And here are some anime for those who want some tearjerkers.
In the end, just as sharing food with others is funner than eating alone, watching anime with people is funner than watching alone.