As a new student at Villanova this year, I was searching for a club that could fulfill my interests and be a place where I could meet new people and expand my social circles. Since anime interests me, I naturally settled on joining the VU Anime Club. What I have found in attending this club for the first half of the semester has far exceeded my initial expectations. The Anime Club at Villanova has not only given me an outlet for my interests, but it has also become a place where students of all ages can find acceptance and friendship.
As its name might suggest, the club revolves around anime, or Japanese animation. Although it may be a fairly niche interest, I have noticed that its members are very passionate about the medium and truly care about sharing these passions. Currently, the club meets two days a week, on Monday and Friday nights. Initially, the club was meeting in-person. However, due to COVID-19, it has been moved online temporarily, with the hope of meeting in-person once the situation calms down.
The club gathers to watch anime at 9 p.m. on Monday nights. At the start of each semester, everyone is allowed to suggest a show that they want to watch with the group. The club then votes and narrows that list down to three shows, which are viewed over the course of the semester every Monday. These days are incredibly fun, as watching with peers and experiencing the shows together allows everyone to express themselves. It could be through laughing at a hilarious joke or crying at a somber moment. Regardless, everyone is offered a chance to simply be themselves.
The club offers so much more than watching anime. Club socials are hosted at 7 p.m. on Friday nights. These events take many forms, whether it’s through games of anime-themed Jeopardy or having a video game night. While the structure of the event may vary, what remains unchanged is the chance to meet people with similar interests and create friendships. There is a sense of unity and acceptance within the group that I believe is central to the identity of the club.
This concept of acceptance is embodied by the club’s president, Jude Dizon.
“The purpose of the Anime Club, to me, has always been about acceptance and expression,” Dizon said. “With this club, I felt compelled to break out of my shell, share the things I love and show my eccentricities.”
To Dizon, the club is about so much more than simply anime itself. It is about freedom of expression and pursuing one’s passions without fear of judgement. He wants to provide others with this opportunity.
“I became involved in administration because I want to give others that same experience,” he said. I want this club to be a place where one can be comfortable in being passionate.”
Other leaders of the club have a similar ideology.
“The club works to foster a sense of community between its members by creating a safe space for students not only to discuss anime, but to openly express themselves without judgment,” club secretary Frances Lau said. “Anime Club made me feel included on campus, and it is where I can feel free to express my interests, anime-related or not. Being part of its administration allows me to hopefully create that same experience for others and to share the amazing diversity, story and art that exist in Japanese animation with other students on campus.”
This tight-knit community which Lau describes is perhaps a smaller extension of Villanova as a whole, a community centered around unity where everyone cares for each other.
“I believe that, if people enjoy something, they will want to grow and prosper,” Michael Maher, the club’s treasurer, said. “I enjoy this club, and I want others to enjoy this club.”
Each year, the club hosts its own anime convention known as NovaCon. NovaCon is open to the entire school and features panel discussions, shops to purchase art and DVDs and even visits from professional voice actors and actresses.
The club’s vice president, Debbie, finds this aspect of the club very important to her.
“As a business student, I especially love planning our convention, NovaCon,” she said. “It’s basically like running a business, and I find that very exciting. It has given me experience with contacting professionals, such as the voice actors and writers we invite for the panels.”
One does not have to have any experience with anime in order to join the club. It is open to anyone with any level of anime expertise, from years of watching to just a passing interest. If you feel like you want to give anime a try, do not hesitate to join. You may be surprised at the level of community found there. It is a place where people build each other up and are proud of the culture they have created.