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January 14, 2010 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-14

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thebx

com Thursday, January 14, 2010

D The Michigan Daily I

michigandaily.

THERE'S A
LOT OF
ANIME THAT
DELVES INTO
PHI LOSOPH ICAL
SU BJECTS,
LIKE WHAT
IT MEANS TO
BE HUMAN.
-KEN CHILDERS
LSA SENIOR,
ANIMANIA M

weekend
essentials
Jan. 14 to Jan.17
AT THE MIC
Artist Stephanie Row-
den will be speaking
tonight at 5 p.m. at
the Michigan The-
ater. Rowden's work
includes several instal-
lations and projects
exploring the medium
of radio. Recently, she
has assembled an
audio documentary
describing friendship
in old age. The lecture
is part of the Penny W.
Stamps Distinguished
Visitors Series and is
free to the. public.

Steven Heise is the president of Animania, the University anime student group with more than 800 members

AN MANIACS
By Emma Jeszke I Daily Arts Writer

CONCERT
Detroit alt-rockers The
Hard Lessons return
to one of their home
bases, the Blind Pig,
tomorrow. Expect
the Lessons' snappy
garage-rock to be
particularly charged:
Lines for their last
show wrapped around
the block.And as if
they needed any more
local cred, Ann Arbor
indie-poppers Light-
ning Love are opening
- a perfect pairing
of the playful and the
punk. Tickets are $10,
doors at 9:30 p.m.

As the semester kicks off and your free
time is taken up by whichever hobbies,
student groups or jobs you've committed
to, you may not be aware of a certain group
of fervent individuals quietly residing in all
areas of campus, trickling into the far-out
corners of Ann Arbor. This avid bunch,
often secluded though very aware of the
larger community it belongs to, has one
common love: anime.
Everyone has come face to face with this
Japanese-culture obsession at one point or
another. Maybe you were the bandwagon
"Pokemon" fan trying to make money off
a Charizard card, or the die-hard Saturday
morning "Sailor Moon" addict. You may
even have a personal obsession with
anime to this day, and if you do, you're not
alone. Even if you simply have an anime-
loving friend, you've been exposed to the
medium.
"I've pretty much grown up with anime,"
said Ariel Roberts, a School of Art & Design
freshman. "My mom is Japanese, and we
had Studio Ghibli films like 'My Neighbor
Totoro.' My middle name is Mei, after the
younger sister in the movie."
So where do those struck with this
passion find an outlet for their anime love?
At the University, there's Animania,
a student group that holds monthly
screenings of anime for students and
townies and holds Ann Arbor's anime
convention.
Animania: serving Ann Arbor anime
addicts for nearly 25 years
Animania is not only one of the largest
student groups on campus, with over 800
members on its e-mail list, but it's also one
of the most distinct. Embracing Japanese
culture, the officers and staff of Animania
get together and plan monthly screenings
of Japan's most underground anime for
the general public's viewing pleasure.
The group's goal is to show people the
multifaceted nature of anime as an art
form, hoping to expose audiences to films
they may not find among mainstream
releases.
The club, founded by a small group of
of Ann Arbor townies in the late 1980s,
has been affiliated with the University for
about 20 years.
Among Animania's founding fathers is
former Ann Arborite Tim Eldred, a comic
artist most notable for his graphic novel
"Grease Monkey," which was selected by
the American Library Association in 2007
as one of the best books for young adults.
Eldred began his anime addiction as a
tween in the 1970s with television shows

like "Speed Racer" and "Star Blazers."
"I didn't catch onto the fact that it was
from another country," Eldred wrote in an
e-mail interview. "I just loved the energy of
it. I could watch it every day after school
and the tone was more mature than the
usual Saturday morning fare.'
When Eldred stumbled upon the Ann
Arbor anime scene, there was only a
very small anime group present in the
city, consisting of fewer than ten regular
members. The group was struggling and on
the verge of losing its organizing member.
Eldred was corresponding with him at the
time, and both were mutual pen pals with
other anime fans across the country.
"I agreed to take over," Eldred wrote.
"This was the late 1980s, and I had built
up a big video library of anime via tape
trading on VHS, so I had plenty of stuff
to show. I started up a newsletter, came
up with the name Animania, and we had
monthly screenings in the house of one of
our members."
After Eldred took over the group,
membership soared. Eldred explained that
within just a few months there were too
many members to be accommodated in
the house where they had been holding the
screenings, so they moved to a community
building in an apartment complex.
"A few months later, we were outgrowing
that, so we booked a meeting room at the
Michigan Union," Eldred wrote.
The group continued to flourish through
the 1990s, regularly attracting 300 to 400
people to the monthly screenings and
organizing a trip to the Anime Expo in Los
Angeles. It was also asked by the staff of
U-Con, Ann Arbor's gaming convention, to
bring its following to the autumn event.
But the University wouldn't allow for a
proper convention with U-Con. University
policy dictated that there couldn't be any
private vendors in University buildings.
So Animania birthed its own type of
convention - or non-convention, rather.
Con Ja Nai - literally translated from
Japanese as "not a convention" - is an
event now held annually by Animania. It's
an all-day affair on the first floor of the
Modern Languages Building, including
four screening rooms for anime and other
activities including games, trivia and
discussion panels. The first Con Ja Nai in
1994 had an attendance of roughly 1,000
people.
But times are tougher for Animania
nowadays, and attendance at monthly
screenings and Con Ja Nai are at an all-time
low. Steven Heise, president of Animania,
thinks this has to do with the group's lack
See ANIMANIACS, Page 3B

FILM
The genius blaxploita-
tons 'poof "Black Dyna-
miiM/ hits Ann Arbor
for one night only,
a midnight showing.
Saturday at the State
Theater. The Sundance
hit is a throwback to
e genre's ultra-cool
extravagance, featuring
trademark elements of
gr ous sex, kung-fu
fightin and excessive
levels of badassitude as
,Michael Jai White fights
through hordes of her-
in peddlers. Movies
h ven't been this funk-
ta tic since the '70s.
sON STAGE
Associate Profes-
sor and Chair of the
Department of Jazz
and Contemporary
Improvisation Ellen
Rowe will be per-
for'ng Friday, Jan.
15wih her quartet
at the Kerrytown
Cofcert House. The
group will be playing
original pieces from
Rowe's new album
Wishing Well. The
performance starts
at 8 p.m. and tickets
are $5 for students.

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