Otaku Club Embarks on Anime Adventures

By Allison Jarvis Contributing Writer

    The Otaku Club was founded five years ago to explore Japanese culture and for students to watch anime together. Rowan Burns, the current president of the Otaku club, and fourth year Early Childhood Education and Psychology major, describes some of the events that are arranged for the club’s members.

   “We go to two conventions every year,” said Burns. “We host a lot of events. We do a tea party now, ‘Host Club’ style. We’re planning that right now.”

  Every semester, the club arranges to take twelve members, including E-board, to a different convention. They travel to Another Anime Convention (AAC) in the fall and Anime Boston in the spring. At conventions, you will see people dressed in cosplay of their favorite anime, as well as games and panels where guest speakers like creators or voice actors are invited to speak and answer questions.

   “I enjoy walking around and meeting new people and seeing the cosplays,” said Burns. “A lot of people, if you’re in cosplay, will ask for your picture. A lot of professional photographers will go to these events to do sessions.” Members of the club are encouraged to go dressed in cosplays if they choose to, and the officers always make sure everyone has time to get into their cosplays before going into the convention.

   Besides going on trips to conventions, Otaku club now has a new event where they host a tea party in the landing themed around the popular anime “Ouran High School Host Club.” The officers of the club dress in uniforms and the landing is decorated with table cloths and tea lights. Tea and coffee and snacks are served and the “Host Club” anime is screened on the projector. “We tested it last year and it was a big hit,” said Burns. “People just came in and they watched anime and had snacks and talked and hung out and it was so much fun.” The tea party is now being hosted once a year every spring semester, to try and line up with the Japanese cherry blossom season.

    When the club isn’t going to conventions or hosting tea parties, they spend time together and watch anime. Once a month they have a “voting day” when members will shout out their favorite animes, and then the club will collectively vote on the lineup of showings for the month. “It’s very much club member participation based in that sense,” said Burns. “We don’t just have officers picking stuff, we’re really asking people what they want to watch.”

  Attendees are always exposed to something new and different. The shows range from light-hearted to  heartbreaking. “We’ve had [shows] where people cried in club ‘cause they’re so sad!” said Burns. Content warnings are always given before a screening, should there be any heavy themes that might be hard to handle, so that the Otaku club can be a safe and inclusive place.

    While attending Otaku club meetings is a fun way to pass the time and of being exposed to and learning more about Japanese culture, the club is also a place to spend time with  like-minded friends. “I like being in the room with so many people with shared interests, but in a more relaxed way,” said Benjamin Hayes, sophomore Special Education major and club member. “I’ve definitely gotten a lot closer with other members…  who I otherwise probably wouldn’t have connected with.”

   “Anime’s such a weird niche interest, where you either like it or you hate it,” said Burns. “And there are so many people who just adamantly hate it. And it’s hard to find those spaces where people aren’t thinking you’re weird for enjoying it.”

   The Otaku club meets in Thomas Auditorium every Friday from 4-6PM. If a student should have any questions, they can contact Rowan Burns at nikole.burns@maine.edu