Why I'm watching School Rumble and Death Note for my job

I am hosting an anime/manga club at my library.  I'm relatively new to the scene.  When I transferred to a new library, I knew I wanted to build a teen program.  When I saw that the manga collection had very high circulation, I knew I had to provide a space and a program for these fans to get together.  The success of anime and manga clubs at other libraries (and the willingness of those librarians to share their expertise) was all the encouragement I needed to take this on.

I had no idea what I was getting into.

For starters, I'm watching cartoons again.  (Granted, the themes found in anime are geared toward young adults and adults (science fiction, history, tragedy, love, coming of age, sex), but I'm watching cartoons again.)  I'm cosplaying. (So far, I've only played the part of Captain Hammer, but still.)  I'm trying to keep track of the ins and outs of the industry (licensing and distribution, the lexicon, the CONs, the people –seiyu, mangaka, otaku–), to keep various Japanese words straight, and to learn enough about potential club activities to support the teens in building the club they want.  It would be like a whole new world, except for the part that Japanese animation has been in the U.S. market since the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Program time.  From the outside, it looks like a bunch of teenagers (ranging from grades 6-12) watching TV, munching on pocky, and playing games.  But here's the thing.  They are also building skills that they need.  That's right - I said need

It turns out that my kids own this club.  It is theirs, and they are getting to know fellow enthusiasts, share knowledge and have fun.  Sense of belonging in their teenage years?  Huge.  When four, ethnically diverse high school boys made cat ears using felt, needle and thread, they were supported and encouraged in learning a new skill.  Confidence?  Awesome.  Next week, when I help them decide how to spend $150 of the start up funds, they will be able to make choices based on their interests and set goals.  Exploring and developing potential? Good to do.

The hardest part for me so far is committing to reading manga.  I've checked several out, but haven't really tried to read any yet.  I watch my kids come into the library and leave with 8-10 books each week, and continue to come back for more.  I think I just have to pick a series and stick to it.

1 comment:

Dulcey said...

The public school's circ of manga is as high or higher than the fiction. It seems that they check out 5 or so at a time in a series, and work their way through the series? Anecdotal evidence based on shelving.