Animatrix: Haven for the Woodstock Otaku

Casey Heidt
Staff Writer

Up to this point, Woodstock’s resident anime club, Animatrix, has been a small after-school social club. While it has always been dedicated to connecting with those who have a love for anime (Japan’s equivalent to cartoons and comic books), this year the new class officers want something more. Animatrix secretary Daniel Maloney, 10th grade, says, “We plan to go to MomoCon, have themed drawing contests, have cosplay and holiday parties, and really just hang out and appreciate anime.” This is a mere summary of what the club has planned for the 2013-2014 school year.

The first meeting took place on Wednesday, September 11th, in literature and yearbook teacher Ms. Sonja Ryberg’s room. Like many other pilot meetings, Animatrix president Carlie Etienne (junior), Maloney, and vice president Casey Heidt (myself) talked about the rules of anime club and what the goals of the club are. After that, Etienne taught members to draw a flag in honor of 9/11, and other club members shared their poems, artwork, and costumes to honor those who died. The first meeting had an excellent conclusion, in which almost everyone had a chance to share their names, interests, and favorite animes. Ms. Ryberg, who is beginning her first year as Animatrix sponsor, says, “The kids seemed very interested and enthusiastic. There was a large turnout, so I hope that continues.”

For the rest of the year, there are multiple ideas for various club activities. Among them are further drawing lessons from Etienne and other talented artists around the school, tournaments for card games, video games, and discussions on anime and other aspects of Japanese culture. There are also hopes for other fun activities involving homemade games like Jeopardy and Monopoly, which will incorporate aspects of some of the members’ favorite animes.

These various games are not the only way Animatrix encourages creativity amongst its members. A continuing tradition of the club is to have competitions for drawing and writing with varying prizes. Typically, there is a contest at the beginning of the year for a t-shirt design and a drawing/writing contest at Halloween. This is not even including the planned tournaments for Pokemon, Beyblade, Magic, and Yu-Gi-Oh, all favorites of Animatrix members, which are unlike drawing contests in that they do not require creativity but are similar in the inclusion of prizes.

Parties are also an Animatrix tradition. They mainly consist of various cosplay (the act of dressing up like a fictional character and acting like that character) parties scattered throughout the year, usually held at an officer’s house. Another favorite is the Christmas party, sometimes including a Secret Santa exchange. There is also the Chinese New Year party, where club members celebrate the popular holiday of Japan’s neighbor.

However, there is an event that transcends all the parties and all the tournaments and all the games. This was added into the Animatrix curriculum last year by former president and Woodstock alumni Sara Hess, who finally achieved an anime club’s ultimate goal after years of attempts; that feat was MomoCon, an extremely popular anime and video game convention that takes place in March. Created by Georgia Tech’s anime club, the con has grown tremendously and is a favorite among Georgia con-goers. For years Animatrix had been trying to bring a group to the con, and last year they finally succeeded. “MomoCon was one of the things the club members were really excited about,” says Ms. Isobel Mason, graphic arts teacher and former anime club sponsor. Club officers do not plan on repeating those sad, con-less years; MomoCon is on Animatrix’s calendar for this year, and they are expecting an even bigger group for the con than before.

However, even MomoCon is not the most noteworthy event on Animatrix’s agenda! For the first time, the club is hoping to plan a trip to Japan to study Japanese art, animation, and culture. The trip would be in the Spring Break of 2015, spreading out to be around nine days. The trip would include a tour of Tokyo, a night in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese hotel), and even a tour of the extremely famous Studio Ghibli, which has produced movies such as Spirited Away and The Secret World of Arrietty.

There is quite a bit coming from Animatrix this year, and anyone is welcome to join. President Etienne is very adamant that this is not a club for people who only draw anime, or only watch anime. Animatrix’s audience is anyone who has a passion for Japanese culture and wants to meet people who share their Japanese interests. Sophomore Jessica Osborn, an artist, writer, gamer and avid anime watcher concurs with Etienne’s hopes, saying, “Anime club: awesome, fun, and amazing! Definitely a culture shock.”  All current members will leave any anime nerds reading with a most fitting farewell; in the words of Haruhi Fujioka of the beloved Ouran High School Host Club, “We’ll be waiting for you!”


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