WKU anime enthusiasts unite in campus club

Adam Sims

Students who are enthusiasts over Japanese animation, better known as anime, have a place where they can meet up, watch anime and make new friends.

Every Friday at 8 p.m., the Anime Club meets in Downing Student Union in room 2086. Over a dozen fans spend two hours watching a variety of shows, making the occasional riff and bond.

Dixon senior Talon Roy took reign of the club after the previous one disbanded. He said his goal is to find as many people who share an interest in the art.

“It was hard to find other people in Dixon,” he said. “Here, you have fans who live next door.”

The Anime Club streams four episodes of anime per meeting, each episode from a different series. Someone who is unfamiliar with anime can experience different genres, animation styles and decades, and Roy believes even those who are skeptical will find something worth watching.

The shows are usually streamed from Crunchyroll, a service that streams East Asian content. In addition to anime, the service also streams music, drama and manga, Japanese comic books.

The episodes the club watches are divided into four categories: action, comedy, free-for-all and vague vote. Club members write down shows they want to watch, and the shows are picked through a drawing. Shows can be voted off if the club finds them uninteresting.

With free-for-all, members can choose any show within the club’s guidelines. With vague vote, Roy picks three shows he feels are obscure, gives the club a synopsis of each of them and lets them decide what to watch.

At September’s first meeting, the club began by watching Fist of the North Star, a post-apocalyptic action anime from 1984. Then, they watched Food Wars!, a 2015 comedy anime centered around a cooking school.

They also watched Erased, a 2016 mystery anime involving a man who can travel back in time, and My Love Story!!, a romantic comedy about a giant student who falls in love with a smaller, shy girl.

Junior Jarius Smith of Bamberg, South Carolina, said he watches anime for entertainment and to learn voice acting techniques. He believes everyone should give anime a chance.

“It’s not quite what you think it is,” Smith said. “It’s more like cartoons for grown-ups.”

Smith, along with some of the other club members, first discovered anime through Toonami, a programming block on Cartoon Network that airs action cartoons from both the West and the East.

Over the past few decades, the Western fan base for anime has grown. Anime Expo, a convention held in Los Angeles, had an attendance of less than 5,000 in 1998, according to its website. In 2016, the convention had over 100,000 attendees.

Club member Derek Gulick, a sophomore from Fort Knox, said he has enjoyed the rise in popularity.

“I hope it spreads more so that people can talk about it without hesitation,” Gulick said. “Some are ashamed to watch it because it’s considered the nerdy thing to do.”

Glasgow sophomore Blake Howard agreed with Gulick.

“It’s nice seeing people enjoy something that a few years ago they would not admit to liking,” Howard said.

Roy said he wants to one day expand the anime club, but is comfortable with where the club is now. He would like to see more people become fans of anime, whether they are casual or hardcore.

Reporter Adam Sims can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @adamsimswriter.