Silver Chips Online

A shared portal in Blair

Anime club transports Blazers into an enthralling culture

By Abir Muhuri, Online Entertainment Editor
May 29, 2014
On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, eager students huddle around a Promethean board in Room 132. Japanese teacher Yoko Zoll quietly scribbles away, grading while members prepare to present a colorful PowerPoint on Japanese sports. Students settle down and pay attention to the slides. On Tuesday afternoons, Room 132 is a world of language, life and culture: a portal from Blair into everything Japanese.

During today's session, club president sophomore De'Jia Long-Hillie introduces her presentation on sports days in Japan. While showing a video on Japanese sports competitions, she remarks jokingly about the spirited spectators. "This is very different from cheerleading in America," she comments. While Long-Hillie scans the slides of her presentation, explaining Japanese vocabulary and introducing famous athletes, Zoll pauses when she sees the famous 2014 Olympic figure skating champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, on the screen. "He got the gold medal only at 19," she says proudly. As students debate and argue about their interests and Japanese characters, Long-Hillie jumps in once to explain terms and words with Kanji and English letters written together. In order to explain the kanji character for baseball she shows two character meanings fusing together. "Combining the [written] characters for fielding and hit you get is Yakyu or baseball," Long-Hillie says. And of course, a Japanese sports day scene is bound to show up in any anime movies. "Really in any slice of anime, there'll be a Sports Day," she concludes.

Anime club is not exclusively about presentations. It's a way for students with varied interests in all things Japan-related to meet and exchange their passions, knowledge and vast eagerness to learn more. "This club is half-Japanese culture and half-anime," Long-Hillie says. "We're a community of interests and a small niche." At times, Zoll comments to give a cultural note or a fun fact about the topic at hand.

Besides discussion and debate, club members get active through games, crafts and competitions. The Origami Sumo Wrestler match is a playful example. While Long-Hillie explains the process of folding perfect paper sumo wrestlers, junior Michael Allens helps the students who are having a hard time. "All the corners [go] into the middle," he explains, showing students the correct form by folding his own model. For the students falling asleep or not participating, Long-Hillie encourages them, guaranteeing a piece of chocolate for the winner of the match.

After all the students finish their paper dolls of mini-wrestlers, it's time to put their creations to the test. With a cardboard wrestling ring set in place, Zoll comments on the funny-looking figures. "Yeah, a sumo wrestler has a tail," she giggles, causing students to erupt in laughter. Students flip their origami crafts in the ring trying to beat their opponents, one after the other. Competition makes the games a heated matter, but all in good spirit.

As the club comes to an end every Tuesday, members catch up on the latest anime. While the topic of anime doesn't seem to run the club sessions despite being the club’s name, students still love to watch and re-watch their favorites together. One member mentions the latest anime she has watched. She tells Allen, "Don't watch this anime—it is the saddest thing."

As students exit the club, Allen elaborates on what drives club members to meet every Tuesday.
"We're here to be social with people with like interests," he says. "We meet people and go out to conventions." Anime Club is for people who pursue their interests as a shared passion, always eager to delve deeper and learn more. After all, Long-Hillie's chocolate reward pales in comparison to the reward of bonding with one another over anime.


http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/12483