Comic Books Magazine

Anime Club Horror (and Fun) Stories With Jennifer Fu

Posted on the 28 February 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG


There once was a time where anime clubs were pretty important, and served as a time where anime enthusiasts or just those curious enough showed up, hung out, watched whatever was on (could have been an obscure 80′s OVA for crying out loud), and enjoyed being with good company. Times have changed, and while what I mentioned could still be going on, the advent of anime streaming, and other factors, has lessened this considerably. I talked with Jennifer Fu, who happened to be a part of the MIT Anime Club for 4 years as a member and officer, a few weeks ago about her experience at MIT’s anime club, along with dreaded horror club stories because most anime clubs have horror stories. And some fun stories too. I know they exist!

(Note: Something happened to the audio around the 17:00 mark where you hear Jennifer twice. Apologies for that.)

So all right, what anime have you been keeping up with this Winter season?

Well as usual my number 1 is Space Brothers. It’s almost at 100 eps now, but it’s almost always been my #1 show for every season it’s been up and running and it continues to be fantastic. I’m sad to hear that it might be ending soon, or at least for now. Aside from that I love Nagi no Asukara, the second cour of it. I think it’s been improving a lot since first cour. It’s very dramatic and sad at times–

Just like every other Mari Okada show. *laughs*

Exactly! It still hasn’t made me “Anohana” yet but I’m hoping for it so we’ll see. Aside from that I’m behind on a lot of stuff but Space Dandy’s awesome, Noragami is really excellent, a lot better than I would have thought at first, sort of the shounen action supernatural type of thing. I also really like Inari Kon Kon, Koi Iroha, which it looks like a shoujo, it’s actually a seinen, which is kind of weird if you look at the art style and stuff, it views a lot like a super cutesy middle school girl romance but with supernatural elements, but it has a little bit of a charm, it’s kind of hard to explain, but it feels a little bit more mature, which I really enjoy. Aside from that I’m keeping up with a lot of other stuff, well, that’s not exactly true I’m falling behind on a lot of stuff like Kill la Kill and Silver Spoon S2 and things like that.

Anything you’ve been reading?

Well lately I’ve been kind of busy/lazy and just been reading the stuff on Crunchyroll and Mangabox, but a lot of the stuff has actually been really good. I really like some of those violent, survival manga, like Fort of Apocalyspe, I like that even though I don’t normally like zombies, and As The Gods Will, that one’s really good.  On Mangabox, the Attack on Titan spoof yonkoma is like really funny! More funny than it deserves to be. I also really like Billion Dogs, it sucks that the chapters are really short because that’s basically the kind of seinen manga that I really like. It’s like two teenagers trying to steal billions of yen from a corrupt government and stuff like that, I just like that kind of thing.

How did you get interested in both anime and manga?

The first anime that I’ve ever seen is Doraemon. My parents used to rent VHS tapes from this Chinese video store and I thought it was a Chinese cartoon when I was 6 or something but it was probably late elementary school when I was 9 or so, and my story is pretty much the same as a lot of other people it was Pokemon and Sailor Moon *laughs* So I got into those. Then in late elementary and middle school broke out into other anime and by high school was when I got really hardcore into it. That’s when I started drawing my own comics and getting really into it.

When I was running my own anime club, or starting it actually, I went to look around the internet to find out what other anime clubs were doing and I stumbled onto the MIT Anime Club, which seemed to be pretty big. So I want to first start with how was your experience like there?

It sort of depends on when you were looking up the information. I joined the club in 2007 as a freshman and at that point it was not at the peaks the club was formerly famous for. In the past the meetings were in really big lecture halls, it would fill up all the seats and people would be sitting in isles and stuff like that. It would be standing room only totally. By the time that I got there, it was much diminished from that *laughs* Due to various circumstances, most of which just have to do with changing the way that people view anime or the way people had viewed anime were changing, I guess if I had to explain what my experience was the club was ultimately much more intimate, much smaller, and not nearly as grand as it had been before. But it was the place where I met the best friends of my life, those were like my core friends throughout college because I just can’t socialize with people who don’t like anime I guess? And yeah, there were issues or a lot of things that, especially going into it, weren’t that great, but we made the best out of it and it was a really good experience overall.

Did being a part of the club change your attitude in regards to anime or did it relatively stay the same?

Actually what’s kind of interesting, and this is one of the reasons why I encourage people to go to anime clubs more if they can, it totally changed my perspective on anime and the kind of things that I watch. I mean I still love the stuff I loved in high school, like I love fluffy shoujo manga and really weird, kind of violent seinen manga. But with the club because the people that I were hanging out with are, I think, some of the most hardcore and have a lot of different tastes I ended up watching stuff I wouldn’t have normally watched on my own, and I even liked some of them even though they were outside of the genres I usually enjoyed. I also learned a lot more about the different parts of anime fandom because of that. So yeah, the things I like now are shaped pretty strongly by what I experienced from those 4 years. It was sort of tangential but before when I was in high school and I watched anime it was all like in my room, alone, after midnight or something like that, but watching it in a group, especially for certain anime titles, it’s a really great experience and something different, so I started to enjoy that kind of stuff more.

Wolf Children

What’s been the biggest change from when you was there in 2007 to when you left in 2011? Was there anything specific that was different compared to then? 

When I came in in 2007, I sort of hinted (earlier) that it had dwindled a lot since previous years. One of the things, or what happened to me is I went in on the first day, first meeting of the year, and then I never came back for like, another two months or something. The reason for that was at that first meeting the number of students, or actual MIT students, was much diminished but the number of people who were not students was quite high. Now, a lot of those people, they’re totally fine, but there are some individuals, who let’s just say have pretty socially unacceptable behavior. Like you sort of see some people at conventions and stuff like that and be really awkward, and lacking common sense and being rude and stuff like that, and there were a lot of people who were sort of older men who obviously aren’t MIT students. It just didn’t feel like a college club, it felt like a bunch of older guys watching anime and as I said they just exhibited unacceptable behavior. So for a 18, 19 year old girl, who was really excited to meet a bunch of nerds my age, coming into it I was kinda freaked out. So I stayed away for a while.

But eventually I started hanging out with the actual students who ran the club; I eventually became an officer. I started as a Librarian, then Vice President then President and stuff like that, and we basically shifted the focus, like before it was like let’s just show this anime and spread anime to as many people as possible, including people who are not necessarily MIT community. But we sort of shifted our focus to providing more of a social space for students because if it’s just to spread anime, the atmosphere for that had changed quite a bit since the height of the anime club. People can watch anime on their own much more easily now, at that time in 2007 it was all fansubs, it was super easy to get; now there are even more legal ways to do it. You don’t really need a club to expose you to new things, which is sort of most people’s impression. So we changed a lot of our showing formats and put on different type of events.

Previously when I first went in our showing format was 4 hrs long, you watch like 10 episodes total, in a dark room and its quiet, and there’s like a little bit of social time. We changed the format, made it much shorter, we left the lights on, we went to a smaller room, so it felt more intimate so you’re closer together, you can talk to people, just a lot of changes like that. We also made it closer to campus so its not so far to get to, and in order to focus on the actual school community, we made it MIT students and their guests. That helped bring in a lot of people who might have been scared off. So those were some of the main changes, and it’s still small, it’s not filling the entire lecture hall. And I haven’t been back there for like a year and a half so I don’t really know the status of it now. But since I left it’s been much more stable, that’s sort of the impression I kind of have. Like we get a good crop of freshman every year, and people just come in and make friends with each other. People just go and hang out with each other in the club room and share their interests and things like that. That’s sort of the change that happened.

So I guess with all the new legal streaming channels, nowadays it would be more on clubs to come up with events and start socializing instead of actually watching anime, or they should plan on watching anime, but there should be more of a focus on getting people involved?

Yeah basically, at one point we even thought about getting rid of showings, but we decided to keep them because it’s a way for everyone to meet up once a week and watch some things together and also socialize with each other. But yeah the landscape has definitely been changing, from like 2004 onwards and even more recently now that everything is streaming legally, the idea that clubs curate contact and then spread them to people is just not relevant anymore. Back in the day people used to use VHS and fansubs and it was much harder to get anime so that was the club’s rule but now it’s not it’s just not really relevant anymore. It’s the same reason people don’t go to conventions just for the viewing rooms anymore anime that’s ludicrous. Some people still go to them of course but the point of cons is to hang out with other fans and actually do things.

So with this changing landscape, what type of advice would you give to a person or a group that might want to start an anime club? Or any type of advice to any anime club that might need help right now?

I think a lot of this really depends, like if it’s at a college, trying to figure out how it fits into the college’s culture. We did some stuff with Wesleyan Anime Club and their approach is very different. It’s very successful for them, it wouldn’t work for us. They put on a lot of grand social events that were really awesome but it’s not really what we would really do. So it has to be tailored to the type of people. You sort of need to understand what people are trying to come to club for, and nowadays it’s always not just watching anime, it’s mostly to find people who have similar interests to you, to make friend groups and stuff like that, so tailor events to that sort of thing. For example we started going out to lunch just as a group. It has nothing to do with anime but just the fact we get to go to Japanese places and it’s an excuse to get off campus because we never get off campus. Or we’d do events, one of which is karaoke at the end of the year, and this other event called Brain Reset where we show a bunch of really crazy anime. And things like that that’s a little bit different. Brain Reset has always been really good for us because it’s right before exams and we just use it to unwind. So I think it’s just know your audience and provide utility to your users because showings aren’t just going to cut it any more.

Ok, last question: anime club story time!  I know you have some great and terrible ones, so feel free to share!

Ok, great and terrible ones! I think talking about the more colorful individuals who used to frequent the club, it’s a little gossipy but I just sort of want to illustrate — I just really like talking about this so I’m just going to go ahead. Now a lot of the people who came to club were actually pretty cool and had really great taste and stuff like that, but we also had people who you would consider like con-creepers.


anime club dude

This may or may not fit the tone of what’s being described here.

*laughs* Yeah so, there was one guy who brought giant trash bags full of soda cans to screenings. I guess he was trying to collect and get deposit on the cans or something like that, like he would take soda cans from other people who are not finished with their drinks right in front of them, that was like super rude. We had people change their clothes in the middle of showings,  peaople leave pizza crusts on their seats, it was super nightmarish *laughs* There was snoring during anime, making gross lewd comments and it’s not even funny ones like, “dur-hur hur hur, this fanservice anime’s sure is fanservicey!” And it’s like, “ok…guys–” I’m probably just going to leave it at that because some of the stories get a little…crazy, and I probably shouldn’t get to far into this.

I don’t know if I’d call this good, maybe interesting stories, but since we’re MIT Anime club and Japan really likes good colleges because education is still important. It gets a lot more attention than some other clubs — this is not really club related necessarily but there have been a lot of opportunities that have been specific to anime and MIT. For example the director of Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, and Wolf Children has come to MIT three times and twice to premier two of his movies, like, the actual US premiers, which is pretty cool. Being able to watch the latest movie before anybody else can, have Q & A’s and autographs and stuff that’s super awesome. Similarly we had the CEO of Krypton — who, you know, produces Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku and friends, I guess — he came and did sort of lectures and stuff that were really interesting.

And I guess, specific to us, there’s apparently a Japanese television production studio nearby I think in NY, and for various reasons they came to talk about MIT and do a TV special on it, and they found out there’s an MIT anime club. So they asked us if we wanted to be on Japanese television and we did and it was a really interesting experience and also super scripted! *laughs*

So we were on JP TV twice. The first time was the better time I guess. It was for an MTV show about colleges and stuff like that. They talked about MIT and then they visited the club. So what they wanted us to do was we would be in our club room and then the camera would come and walk in and we had to, “Act natural, act like you’re just hanging out in the room!” and then I’ll turn into the camera and say, “Oh hi, how are you? Welcome to MIT anime club!” It’s super fake, but it was really funny though. And then they were like, “Does anyone here draw?” So all right, I draw, and they’re ‘like, “Why don’t you draw something and pretend you’re in the middle of drawing something” and they’ll show to the camera and go, “Oh wow you’re drawing something that’s so cool! Wow, it looks so good!” And stuff like that. It was just really funny. I also thought it was really funny that despite that they also totally focused on all the white people — I’m Asian — they think it’s more interesting like, “Whoa, white people who are into anime that’s so cool–”


*laughs* Yeah, so it was just really funny and really awkward. But that was the good experience. Oh, we ended up watching the footage for it and it was very obviously scripted, but it was actually kind of fun, it wasn’t that bad.

The second time was when the same studio or production came by. This was a very different show. The first one was from NHK, the second was on TBS. So as far as I could gather of what it was, I think it was two Japanese comedians totally dressed in manzai wear, with like really tacky suits and giant bow-ties, it looked really hilarious, and they basically came in to mock nerds who like anime. It was super light-hearted, it wasn’t intended to be mean or anything, but it was really funny awkward. So they came in, and they asked us about what kind of anime do you like, what is your dream, and things like that, and then they asked like who our favorite anime characters were but not in the normal way, like basically what anime characters do you fancy? So some of the guys felt really awkward about it, except this one guy, one of my clubmates who was super innocent and he just answered everything like really happy and cheery. I think he liked Sora from Kaleido Star, so they were like, ”This is the character that you like,” and he’s like, ”Yep!”

“Do you wish that she was your girlfriend?”


“Do you like her because she has wings?”


“Do you want to have wings?”


So it was like super cute but it was super awkward! *laughs* The director was totally there to make fun of us and they asked everyone, “Do you have a girlfriend? Do you have a boyfriend?” And I was just like “Ohhhhhhhh” it was so bad! After that everyone was like, “Yeah I don’t want to watch the footage for this, it’s so embarrassing and stuff.” I thought it was pretty funny and also super awkward. And then the lady who contacted us and worked on it the previous time apologized to us *laughs*. It…it was good times. Probably something a lot of us tried to forget, but it hides that it was really funny.

I’m surprised there’s no outtakes online.

Yeah, I dunno! The first time we did it they sent us the video. The second time we did it, like after a while they didn’t send us any video so I was just like, “Huh, do we want to see the video? Eh, I’ll just go and ask.” And so I asked about it and they were like, “Oh yeah, we’ll send you that.” And they never sent it to us and we sort of lost contact, so I think that they were also probably just like, “Yeah I feel really bad about this!” But hopefully the people in Japan who were watching in Japan got a laugh out of it!

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