Anime is a huge part of American culture. Kids in the ‘90s grew up watching programs like “Sailor Moon,” “Dragon Ball Z” and “Naruto” among other animated shows. They were the Saturday morning cartoons, indistinguishable from the rest. Members of the Auraria Campus Anime Club reminisce about their childhood memories when they meet every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Tivoli.
“We call ourselves an anime club, but it’s a social club more than anything,” club vice president, Jesse Rodello said. “It’s a place to hang out and get relief from the stress of exams.” Rodello has been a member of the club for four semesters. He has made a lot of friends through the club and even met his girlfriend there. “It’s a real casual club: We talk, hang out and play Magic (the card game) or a board game while anime plays in the background.”
Rodello started watching shows like, ”Yu Yu Hakusho” and “Sailor Moon” as a kid. “The ‘90s were like the golden age for anime on TV,” he said. He does feel that anime has grown in popularity since then. “I tell everyone it’s because of ‘Big Bang Theory.’ ‘Big Bang Theory’ made nerd culture cool. It introduced people to comic books. And then, when you learn about comics, you’re bound to run into someone who’s like, ‘Have you read manga?’ That’s usually the gateway drug to anime.”
Arnica Kalk, another member of the Auraria Campus Anime Club, thinks that people are aware of anime, even if they’re not watching it. She started watching “Naruto” on the network Toonami, as a kid. Older anime could always be found on networks such as Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and Toonami. More recent anime can be difficult to find. “It used to be that you had dig around the dark part of the internet to find anything current,” Kalk said, “but now Crunchyroll is like ‘here, have all the current seasons.’ That’s been really nice.” Crunchyroll is a website that video streams anime.
When club president Joshua Sinsel joined the club four years ago, it was going through a transitional stage. “We’re doing much better now,” Sinsel said. “We have between 20 to 25 members regularly. At first it was difficult to find people. I came in and did a lot of work to promote the club,” Sinsel said. The club now has an active Facebook group page for updates and discussions, as well as a Telegram group and an OrgSync.
The Auraria Campus Anime Club recruits more people every semester. Kalk said they will get a group to come in, and a few people will stay. “They find out it’s from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and they don’t come back,” she said, “You only have to stay for an hour!”