Starting an Anime Club in a library that has never had one before? Hey, I am Anime Club, and so can you!
As with any program, the first few weeks … or months might have lower attendence than you would like. That’s okay. In less than a year, Anime Club became my highest-attended teen program. We have a core group of teens who often bring different friends, and then teens who are discovering the program. Since I’m not exactly an anime expert, I rely on the suggestions of other teen librarians (there are really good threads on this on the TSU Facebook page. Just search “anime” and reap the rewards!) and of the teens themselves. My teens skew a bit younger, and they’re very aware of what is and is not library appropriate.
Anime Club is actually a very easy program to run; it just requires a bit of prep work. If you’ve decided to start one, I recommend contacting Crunchyroll and applying for a library Premium Membership (here). Whatever isn’t on Crunchyroll is generally covered by Funimation, and you can contact them for permission to screen their shows. The nice bit about these special memberships is you don’t have to watch ads (hooray!) and sometimes you can get exclusive streams.
Another very important part of Anime Club–at least for my attendees–is snackage. We bulk-order Pocky and those little panda cookies from Amazon. I tried doing more esoteric Japanese snacks and the teens were not into that at all. Some clubs have done candy sushi, which I plan on trying this winter.
Generally, to prep for Anime Club I try to check out some new shows and scan them for any … interesting sexual content. Even if shows are rated TV-14, I’ve still seen a lot of animated nudity. It totally depends on your teens and what they are comfortable with. Even in pretty safe, cutsey shows, there will be a lot of giant boobs. Everywhere. A few weeks ago, things were totally hectic with summer reading, and so I just picked Food Wars to try. None of the teens had seen it, but the literal foodgasms blowing off people’s clothing came out of left field and I was frantically switching to another anime.
It happens. You will be surprised by people getting naked, bouncing boobs, and epic cleavage. Mostly I try to make a joke about it and ask why that happens so often. The teens always tell me: “It’s anime. It’s weird.”
If you don’t have sky-high numbers at first, it’s okay. It’s like any teen program–it takes time. At least half of my teens have told me that they’ve tried to start an Anime Club at their school, but their peers don’t think it’s cool. When they come to the library, they exchange phone numbers and read each other’s fanfic and debate their favorite anime very seriously, because they’ve been connected to others with a shared interest. It is geektasically awesome.