Anime isn’t a niche interest – in fact, media reports indicate it was a $19.8 (US) billion business in 2017.
Technology has improved the accessibility to Japanese animation and now, people are – legally – watching anime more than ever before through streaming services like Crunchyroll, Funimation and Netflix.
As a result, it’s easier now than ever for people to become fans of the medium around the world.
And there are anime fans right here on campus.
Ontario Tech’s Anime on Campus (AOC) has a history on the Oshawa campus dating back to 2012, which was years before the split of Durham College and Ontario Tech’s student union during the 2016-2017 academic year. Since the split of the former Student Association, clubs have formed on each campus.
AOC president and fourth-year Ontario Tech Game Development and Entrepreneurship student, Jacky Yang, 21, describes the club as a lively and friendly enthusiast group.
“(It’s) where people who share the same interests, basically anime, Japanese animation, Japanese culture,” says Yang. “They’ll get together, participate in activities that they all find interesting and hopefully meet people who share their interests.”
Yang adds the activities at their bi-weekly meetings involve watching multiple episodes of an anime with everyone in attendance and wrapping it up with a quiz.
AOC club member and first-year Ontario Tech Computer Science student, Michael Milivojevich, 18, says people add their own commentary while recalling his personal club highlight of watching an anime.
“So, it’s more like interacting with a show and random comments. I remember one of the first meetings we had,” says Milivojevich. “Somehow the first two episodes of two different animes had some guy suplexing somebody and we all reacted when the suplex happened. So it’s just dumb things like that.”
The anime the club watches at any given meeting is dependent on a list they curate, but they are also open to someone making a request as long as that person sticks to the theme of the other anime on the docket.
Those themes can include a certain genre or a focus on an upcoming holiday. For AOC’s Halloween meeting they watched Ghost Stories. It’s an anime which is ranked high as the worst English-localized translation ever produced.
Milivojevich says it was a “s–t show” to watch.
AOC, a club with more than 50 members, receives a $500 budget from the Ontario Tech Student Union. Most of it is spent on food like pizza, he says.
In the past, AOC was focused on just watching anime as a club activity, but Yang wanted to change the format of the club’s three-hour meetings. AOC use to schedule club meetings once a month but now they meet up every two weeks instead.
That isn’t the only thing that changed.
Yang wanted to focus more on doing different types of activities that relate to anime in some way and less on watching anime bi-weekly.
For their Valentine’s Day meeting, the focus was on visual novels, which featured romantic relationships. Their most recent event featured arcade games, like Dance Dance Revolution, anime fighting games, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
AOC has even partnered with other clubs on campus.
They’ve collaborated with Ontario Tech’s Drawing club and set up a ‘How to draw’ workshop as a club activity.
“So we’ve just thrown ‘watching stuff’ out the window and now you actively take part in gaming,” says Yang. “We have a lot of people who wanted that.”
Yang adds with AOC having Ontario Tech students, a majority of it members are already enrolled in gaming-related programs or are gamers. He says with club members having a huge investment in gaming it made sense to include it as a club activity, which already has a huge crossover with anime when it comes to Japanese games.
Yang wants to do more collaboration with other clubs on campus, specifically with the Durham College Anime Club.
“I really want to make a bridge towards them…up until now pretty recently I wasn’t really clear of the rules of regarding collaborations with cross-campus clubs,” says Yang. “They’re mostly fine with it, the student union, so I would like to reach out.”