The Ryerson Anime Club (RU Anime) acts as a safe haven for over 200 members, all lovers of the Japanese animation style.
Nobody knows this better than club president Jarone Rodney.
Rodney, a third-year contemporary science student, joined the anime club in his first year after being introduced to the club by a frosh leader. The club served as an outlet for Rodney and the other members’ love of anime. For Rodney the club was important in his first year in school.
“There’s going to be people who come to university who like anime, who don’t know anyone else who likes anime,” Rodney said. “And sometimes people shun people who like anime. It’s important to build a community and so people can make friends.”
He sees it having similar effects on anime lovers also looking for people to share their passion with.
Rodney said a lot of the strongest relationships he’s built at school have been through the anime club.
For the uninitiated, the club can be seen as something that’s almost taboo.
“There’s a stereotype that people who like anime are nerdy and have no social skills. I think this originates from anime not being westernized,” Rodney said.
To Rodney, the club and anime are much deeper than that.
“I like the uniqueness it brings. There is so much random unexpected stuff. I love the art style and the stories the medium can tell,” Rodney said. “I think other people (in the club) see the same things.”
The club, which has over 900 fans on its Facebook page, hosts events like drawing classes and cosplay events, but often members just hang out to watch anime shows and movies. Members have fostered some of their greatest friendships at Ryerson through the anime club.
RU Anime has existed since 2011, but as an art-form it has existed for well over a 100 years.
The first professional works are attributed to animators Oten Shimkoawa and Seitaro Kitayama who were active in the early 20th century.
Anime grew in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Director Hayao Miyazaki entered the scene in 2001 with his film Spirited Away, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Since then his films became widely popular not only in Japan but also North America.
Nate Tannis, third-year biology student and executive for RU anime, is a fan of the film. Tannis and Haley Breach, fellow anime executive and a graphic communications management student, have similar stories to Rodney.
“Sometimes (anime) is seen as a bad thing, even though it’s not,” Breach said. “When I saw that Ryerson had an anime club I saw it as my chance to be open with something that I like.”
Breach says that anime gets a bad rap because of the darker, more sexual sides of the animation style.
“Especially with the internet, you can see anime that is very perverted. Girls with big boobs, stuff like that. But you see that in western culture as well,” Breach said. “People skip all the good stuff in anime.”
Breach instead watches anime for the art.
“The thing about the art really draws me in. For me anime is really different. The story themselves are so good, and the stuff that goes on are really cool,” she said. “You don’t get the random stuff you see in anime in western movies.”
“I like in different anime there’s different art styles. Things look different from anime to anime,” Tannis said. “I also love the action sequences, there’s so much you can do with anime.”
The club hosts events on an almost every week in Oakham house. You can also subscribe to their newsletter on their Facebook page.