Atypical Animation: Club brings anime fans together

With hundreds of registered student organizations at GW, chances are pretty good there are a few groups you have never heard of. Each week, the Life section will feature a club you may or may not have known about.

The GW Anime Society knows how to spend four hours. There is socializing time from 7 to 8 p.m., Samurai 7 for half an hour, Beck from 8:30 to 9 p.m., Basilik and Trinity Blood until 10 p.m. and then an hour of Densha Otoko to finish it out.

For many, this might not mean much. For members of GW’s club for fans of anime, a type of Japanese animation, it’s a typical Thursday.

Anime is not the average cartoon. The animation is known for spanning many different genres and featuring mature topics with nudity and violence.

The club’s structured weekly Thursday meetings are a far cry from how the GW Anime Society started out eight years ago. Back then, the group was called Project 2501 (an obscure anime reference), and it met in dorm rooms, where there was limited opportunity for people to learn about its activities.

Now, the Anime Society meets weekly in the Marvin Center and attracts a crowd of about 30 nearly every week.

Senior Carolina Harper, co-president of the club, said attending meetings is how she made most of her closest friends.

“It’s something fun that doesn’t cost money,” she said, adding that she spent last year studying abroad at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, where she became familiar with many aspects of Japanese culture that she was introduced to through anime introduced her to.

Harper is studying Japanese and hopes to become a translator, but she said anime is “an accessible medium for all students” and that the “language barrier is very crossable.” The club watches the films in Japanese with English subtitles.

Senior Erin Fitzgerald, the club’s other co-president, said the Anime Society “aims to provide an open environment where anyone, particularly freshmen, can feel comfortable coming to meet and make friends with people who have similar interests.”

Freshman Tom Nucci said he is “not even much of an anime fan,” but started to attend meetings because he likes Japanese comics. He said he keeps coming back “for the friends and the social life.”

Since Fitzgerald’s freshman year, the club has grown nearly three times in size, she said. In addition to attracting new freshmen each year, she said graduates also frequently attend meetings.

Each Anime Society meeting begins with an hour of casual social time, where members play card games, eat dinner, talk and relax. Some come with their own artwork, usually anime-inspired, and get feedback and inspiration from the group, or just take advantage of the environment to work quietly on their creations.

Members said GW’s Anime Society has a reputation for being one of the strongest and most active in the area. Students from neighboring schools such as Georgetown and George Mason often attend meetings, along with some faculty members.

The Anime Society’s largest event is an annual trip to a D.C. anime convention called Katsucon. The convention, scheduled for this month, features anime film directors and enthusiasts.

The GW Anime Society meets every Thursday from 7 to 11 p.m. in the Marvin Center.

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