Japanese Culture

Anime club attracting new members

Submitted photo courtesy of Jon Benjamin Members of Upshur County Public Library’s Anime Club gather at a recent meeting with anime-style hair. The group meets the second and fourth Monday of every month, and new members are welcome.

BUCKHANNON — A new group at the Upshur County Public Library is sharing lively discussions on popular anime series and Japanese culture.

Jon Benjamin created the library’s Anime Club three months ago, after approaching the library’s interim director, Paul Norko.

Meeting at 6 p.m. the second and fourth Monday of every month, club members watch an episode of anime together. They then discuss the story’s elements, character development and story engagement, explained Benjamin, who is an assistant professor of graphic design at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

“We also talk about Japanese culture … and with Japanese shows, how is it different (from) American television,” he said, noting it’s interesting to compare the cultures.

Though some may think the club is directed just at watching anime, Benjamin said he wants the club to have slates of discussion about Japanese culture and the story’s development.

With six members attending the club meetings so far, Benjamin said a lot of discussion is occurring while members are watching an episode.

“It is kind of nice at times to kind of have these discussions as it’s happening, as it’s unfolding,” said Benjamin.

Regarding what kind of anime is viewed during the meeting, Benjamin said he’d like to keep it targeted in the middle because the current members range from ages 10 to 18.

“It is a little tricky with anime. Like with Pokemon … it can go really young, but then it can really go real adult,” he said. “So we’re trying to hit that middle range.”

Benjamin said though he wants to choose animes that will fuel discussion, he also wants to “cut it off when it gets into that more mature topic.”

In terms of future plans for the group, Benjamin said he’d like more folks interested in exploring the genre to join.

“We haven’t really got into yet, but (I’d like) to start introducing the Manga, because anime came out of the Manga comic book trend,” he added. “So we’re going to start to talk a little bit more about that.”

He noted he’d like to incorporate arts and crafts, cosplay and games into the mix, as well.

Those interested can stop by during meetings at the library, which take place in the young adult section.