Japanese art form of anime gaining devotees at high school

Adrianna Collins, (center) secretary for the Huntington North High School Anime Club, spells out “Senbonzakura” during an anime-themed spelling game on Wednesday, March 16. Club Treasurer Trystin Godfroy (left) and President Janessa Dodson moderate the game.
Adrianna Collins, (center) secretary for the Huntington North High School Anime Club, spells out “Senbonzakura” during an anime-themed spelling game on Wednesday, March 16. Club Treasurer Trystin Godfroy (left) and President Janessa Dodson moderate the game.

Originally published March 28, 2016.

The Japanese art form known as anime has expanded its influence out of the Land of the Rising Sun and is now appreciated by many Americans.

Anime is a Japanese interpretation of the word “animation.” It refers to any animated movies or TV shows created in Japan and that feature a unique, stylized form of artwork.

One of the fans is Michael Ness, a senior at Huntington North High School, who started the school’s student-run Anime Club in 2015. The club serves as an outlet for students to share their love of anime.

“We meet on Wednesdays after school,” says current club President Janessa Dodson. “The first week of the month is typically finishing a movie from last week at the end of the month. The second week is shows. And the third week is games.”

Dodson says that all movies and TV shows are recommended by the club members. The cabinet’s responsibility is to ensure that all shows are appropriate for school activity, since a lot of anime is geared more toward adults.

“We have a lot of people that are like, ‘let’s watch this!’ And we’re like, ‘can’t watch that…’ even though it’s popular,” Dodson says.

Dodson says her interest in anime began, like most people, when she was young.

“I just love it,” Dodson says. “I love it as an art style that focuses on interacting with the audience, and it’s supposed to teach lessons.”

Dodson says that the most popular titles among club members are “Sword Art Online,” “One Piece,” “Fairy Tail,” “Bleach” and “Madoka Magica.” Dodson adds that there is an unwritten rule that club members aren’t allowed to discuss these shows during club meetings, because the debates tend to get heated.

“We can’t watch them in club,” Dodson says. “When the previous club leader was here, we had a trivia day and we’re arguing back and forth.”

Vice President Nathan Brown serves as a moderator for the club and ensures that everyone gets a say in what shows are featured.

“People like to get loud obviously,” Brown says. “I’m the only guy in the cabinet. I help make decisions of what we’re going to watch. Because having a cabinet full of females, they’re like, ‘Oh, we can watch this?” And I’m just like, ‘But the guys might not like it.’”

Brown originally was not into anime, but later became more interested after he started watching “Pokemon” as a kid.

“I had friends in middle school who always watched it,” Brown says. “And I was the type of person who was like, ‘I’m just going to go home and watch normal TV.’ But then I started watching anime mainly because I was into Pokemon.”

Brown had cousins who steered him towards other shows that were similar to “Pokemon.” And his interest in anime continued to grow.

“Then I started watching ‘Full Metal Alchemist,’” Brown says, “And eventually got into a lot of anime — just huge, wide varieties.”

“Full Metal Alchemist” (FMA) is a popular anime about two brothers who injure themselves trying to perform an alchemy ritual to resurrect their deceased mother. The brothers, in later years, devote their studies to discovering the “philosopher’s stone,” a relic that they believe could reverse their mistake.

Club Treasurer Trystin Godfroy says she also got into anime through FMA. She was originally introduced to anime by her brother.

“I remember watching it as a kid,” Godfroy says. “There was this show called ‘Toonami’ on Cartoon Network. What got me back into anime was ‘Full Metal Alchemist.’”

The Anime Club is currently planning a trip to Ikasu Con, an anime convention in Fort Wayne.

“I’m supposed to keep track of funds,” Godfroy says. “But at the moment we have no funds because we have no fund-raisers. And doing so has to go through the office.”

The club is considering charging admission for its monthly movie viewings. Club members will get in free, and everyone else will be charged admission.

Dodson says that the club is currently planning a trip to the cherry blossom festival in Fort Wayne, which is free.

“The only thing we’d have to do is make plans to meet up there and just spend the day there, because there’s a lot of things you can do there.” Dodson says.

The club attempts to raise awareness through word of mouth. Dodson says that they also gain awareness by fliers produced by Kenneth Butler, Huntington North’s graphic design teacher

“A lot of people will tell their friends,” Dodson says. “Butler will sometimes talk to our auditorium director. And we all print out fliers and put them up all over the school.”