Tomorrow evening, I’ll be hosting my regular Bad Anime Night. For those new to the concept, Bad Anime Night is almost exactly as it sounds. Friends and guests gather round the television, as one bad anime title after another is shown. It’s a night of cheering, jeering, and sights that can’t be unseen by all in attendance. It’s an event that grew from three guests in its initial month, to twenty booked tomorrow.
It’s these evenings that I can’t help but notice the social aspects of anime. For many, anime is a singular experience. It’s something we partake of in the comfort of our living rooms, or in front of a computer monitor. Over the years, this has become the norm, as anime migrated from tape distributors to retail shelves, and now to streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Hulu. Outside of conventions, we’ve seen fans become islands, each claiming their own territory on the web in forums and social media.
However, this wasn’t always the case. In days before even my time, anime was a fairly social activity. Fans couldn’t exactly make their way to the nearest Best Buy to browse their selection. Translation companies didn’t exist, and the very idea of buying an anime tape seemed laughable to many. Instead, fans had but two real options to exercise:
- Be part of an anime club
- Know somebody who had access to material from other anime fans
Either way, this would meeting in some semi-public place, and interacting with others before and after viewing. In some cases, it was a party atmosphere. In others, it was a place for discussions among the masses. In all cases, though, it was a social activity. people would meet and have fun. They’d discuss shows, and form friendships among one another. It gave many a reason to return month after month, aside from the anime itself. It’s an atmosphere that, over the years, has become a relic among anime fans. While many speak of the old anime viewing clubs, there are few that can really express nostalgia for these days, when the industry was little more than a pipe dream.
Through Bad Anime Night, I’ve tried to revive at least some of the magic of the old clubs. By bringing people together, I hope to inspire the very fraternity that those before us enjoyed. While the titles shown be terrible, they’re a vehicle to inspires conversations, and encourage people to get to know each other through humor and merriment. It’s certainly expanded the circle of anime fans in my friends, and it’s allowed those who have reservations on the medium to find their own enjoyment in a welcoming environment.