MORRIS – Sparkly clothes, as well as modern hair styles and an occasional costumed teen, can be found twice a month gathered in the basement of the Morris Area Public Library, where teens gather for Otaku Clan – a local anime club.
A stranger to the world of anime may think they stumbled into a group of non-English speaking students as talk of Naruto, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and Tsuritama is the typical dialogue around a table where local teens sit and draw anime, while a movie plays in the background.
Anime are Japanese animated productions and is the abbreviated pronunciation of animation in Japanese.
While commercial Japanese animation dates back to 1917, the characteristic anime art style came about in the 1960s with the works of Osamu Tezuka – an artist many of the young people who attend anime club are well aware of.
“I like anime, it’s really cool, the characters are cool and the stories are cool,” Mikayla Schlappi of Morris said. “And the people who are here are all cool.”
While anime has the stereotype of being a “girl thing,” the female members of the club said they wish more boys would be vocal about liking it.
“Whether here at the club or online, it’s female dominated,” Julie Petterson of Morris said.
Rose Nowak, teen coordinator at the library, said girls seem attracted to it because it typically promotes strong women characters.
“The cultural icons they have to look up to do not have much merit,” Nowak said. “Anime offers strong women and women warriors that show them they can be more than a pretty face, they can be themselves.”
While some may think of kids who are the artsy type, or the type who like to dress up in costume as socially awkward, Nowak said that stereotype isn’t true.
“A lot of the kids who attend are artistic, they draw and write,” she said. “They just want a place where they can come and be who they are.”
The club consists of about 25 sixth- through eighth-graders from the area who have been attending since September when the club started.
Allison Centennial, an eighth-grader at Nettle Creek School, said she had been invited by friends, and since she likes anime and drawing, she thought it would be a good thing to do.
She said she also enjoys spending time with her friends.
Trevor Triplett, one of the three boys present at a recent Wednesday night meeting, was attending for the first time.
“People were talking about it so I decided to come,” he said. “I’m a Japanese freak, I love Japan and everything that comes from there.”
He said watching anime movies gives him a certain feeling that he doesn’t get from regular TV shows, Naruto being his favorite anime.
Nowak said she’d love to see more kids involved, boys and girls.
“The kids here are very accepting,” Nowak said. “If a new person comes, within an hour they are talking like they’ve been one of the group for longer.”
The club offers an anime movie, a table with paper and markers to draw, and a snack.
There is no cost to come to the club. It is open to members sixth through 12th grade.
Otaku Clan current scheduled meetings:
• Noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on Feb. 15, March 15, April 19 and May 17.
• 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays March 5, April 9 and May 7.
For information on the anime club, call the Morris Area Public Library at 815-942-6880.