By PHILLIP CHAN, Contributing Writer
Boston, Easter Weekend. The Hynes Convention Center is filled to bursting with colorful costumes and anime fans of all ages. Japanese pop culture enthusiasts from all over New England gather each year in Boston to make new friends, buy and sell anime-related merchandise, discuss their hobby and share ideas. This is Anime Boston.
The University of New Hampshire Anime Club got the opportunity this past weekend to host a panel at the famous convention. Anime Boston is the sixth biggest anime convention in North America and is by far the largest in New England, with total attendance reaching 25,493 people in 2014. Space and time at AB is very limited, so competition for a panel spot is fierce.
Titled “How To Anime Club,” the panel served as an informational lecture and Q&A to members of the anime community who want to create their own local anime club, or to better an existing one. The UNH Anime Club lectured on the importance of club structure, community involvement and the merits of doing outside activities as a club.
The club tested the panel at another anime convention in Manchester last October. After an overwhelmingly positive response, the club submitted the panel to Anime Boston.
Despite the success at AAC, hosting a panel at Anime Boston seemed like a long shot at the time according to Events Director Daniel O’Brien, a UNH Senior.
“We were kind of very pessimistic on us even getting a panel at all, especially since there is very limited panel space and it is a massive convention. But we actually got a decent-sized room, which actually was pretty surprising,” O’Brien said. When the time for the panel came, the room filled to capacity at 125 people and convention staff was forced to turn latecomers away.
A surprisingly large and active group, the UNH Anime Club is uniquely qualified to lecture on how to build a successful anime-based community. Within only a few short years, club membership has grown rapidly.
“When [I] first joined freshman year we had like maybe 10 members, if that, and now at this point we’re up to maybe 50, 60 members. We have an active attendance base of around 30 to 40,” O’Brien said.
The club hosts various community events pertaining to anime and general geek culture. Among other things, the club has held costume contests around Halloween, commandeered the Memorial Union Building Theater for the release of Super Smash Bros. 4, and hosted a Retro Game Room filled with old-school videogame consoles.
Club Officers attribute the club’s success to a focus on respect and inclusiveness, aspects that they emphasized in their panel.
“A lot of it is basically about respecting each other and having that strong community tie,” said Club President and junior Emily Berube.
The UNH Anime Club meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building, room 237.