By SARAH HAYES of the Forum
|Photo by Bradley J. Rayford / Forum|
Genshiken, dubbed so after a fictional club by the same name, is centered around the love of anime and manga - that is, Japanese animation and graphic novels - as well as various forms of pop culture and media that are popular in Japan, from music and fashion to video games and novels. This club also celebrates the history of Japan, like its samurai and royalty. Above all, Genshiken is an anime club, part of a growing culture of American fans who enjoy watching Japanese animation and discussing it with fellow fans. Most meetings are spent discovering new anime series and discussing them among the group members.
The origins of Genshiken can be traced back to founding club members Samuel Kayser and Andrew Hughes, Florissant Valley students who shared an interest in anime. The club was originally started in 2009, but was not officially recognized as a campus club until the spring of 2010. For founder Samuel Kayser, the drive to start up the Genshiken club came from a life-long obsession with Japanese culture. His idea was to create Genshiken as a “person-to-person hub to trade information on opinions, new and upcoming events, and observing the Japanese influence” that had been a major motivation within his own life.
When it comes to the club’s workings behind the scenes, Genshiken’s guardian angel has materialized in the form of its club sponsor, Professor Paul Nygard. As someone better known on campus as the Lord Of The Rings teacher, he never expected to be part of an anime club in such a fundamental way. But when the club’s former president Jimmy Arthur came to him with hat-in-hand for his assistance, Professor Nygard answered the call and has since become the club’s most valued sponsor in its short history.
Being a part of Genshiken has been an educational experience for Nygard. “I use a couple of anime films in my Capstone course but I wasn’t really familiar with the extent of it,” Nygard admitted, “and the depth of it and the devotion that so many people have to it.” Since becoming the club’s adviser in the fall of 2011, Nygard has been watching more anime in order to further his familiarity with the medium. It’s a familiar story for club members; just going to one Genshiken weekly meet-up has led people to want to watch anime more than when they initially stepped into the meeting room.
The membership of the club is as diverse as the campus student body, all brought together by a matched love for anime culture. For those interested in Genshiken, whether as a pre-existing anime club or as someone looking to further the college experience by joining a club, Nygard’s advice is clear: just show up. The rest is up to you.
Genshiken meets every Thursday from 2-5 p.m.. in room 101 in the Social Science building. For more information, contact Professor Nygard at 314-513-4419 or at his office in the SS building.