Those “damn anime kids” and you
I think that teens who are nuts about anime and manga are in every library and some of us are more comfortable with them than others. An article called “What do I do with those damn anime kids?” recently popped up on YALSA‘s YA-YAAC list serv and it got me thinking about my own experience with those “damn anime kids”.
Between you and me, I used to be one of those “damn anime kids” but only for a short period. My walls were covered with Ranma 1/2 and Sailormoon posters and I dutifully attended a university anime club that my older sister had founded. I did my time working out the finer points of how to draw a perfect manga-style eye, and yes, I even did a little cosplay.
Perhaps this has made it easier for me to deal with their almost other-worldly language, their enthusiasm, and their heated debates over which manga character would win in a fight. I can draw on my own memories of what it was like to love anime and manga to help me relate to these teens, but I know that not every library professional working with teens has had the same experience as me.
So if you find yourself wondering what to do with those “damn anime kids”, here’s some teen-tested suggestions:
- manga-style art exhibit – this November will be the 2nd year I’ve done this and last year’s was awesome. We invited teen manga artists to submit their artwork (with name and phone number on the back) to the library by a certain deadline, and for the entire month of November I post the artwork in our library’s stairwell art display space. It gets loads of exposure and really helps the teens to realize that yes, they are artists. A lot of payback with little work.
- anime viewings – I’ve run once a month anime screenings for a year now with Operation Anime providing the free anime DVDs. Again, a lot of payback with little work.
- anime and manga club – our club is now officially a year old and it is my most successful program.
I do a bunch of different Japanese-themed activities with them, but you know what? These teens are so thrilled to just meet and talk with other teens who are just as thrilled as they are that–when I boil it all down–I’ve learned that what makes this program successful is that it provides a space for like-minded teens to come together over a common interest. And with my teens, it’s as simple as that.
So what’s your experience with those “damn anime kids”? Have you cracked the code and figured out what makes them tick or are you stumped, frustrated, and ready to give up? I’d love to hear your thoughts!