Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Host An Anime Club

Note: many of these tips are not just useful for anime and manga clubs, but for teen clubs in general.

On Thursday, November 8, Andrea H. and Peter B. attended an Anime Club Facilitator Training session at the Ridgedale Library, presented by the Anime and Manga Leadership Team at Hennepin County Library. The training covered a range of topics from how to start up an anime club and anime–related activities to working with teens on the autistic spectrum. HCL's Anime and Manga Leadership Team members are: Alicia A., Katherine D., Jan D., Joanna R. and Stephanie W.

Why should the library host teen anime clubs?

  • It ties in with the anime, manga and related materials in our collection
  • Anime culture is very enthusiastic--enthusiasm is the key to successful teen programming
  • It’s a fun way for teens to learn about leadership
  • Anime fandom is almost freakishly diverse--teens of different ages, ethnicities, class, genders, and abilities will hang out together

Hennepin County Public Library staff have found that word of mouth and personal invitations work best when starting a club. Flyers, websites, and contacting schools with anime clubs also work, but not as well.

They recommend starting with an interest meeting (don’t forget the free snacks), then building on that. It takes 6-12 months to get a club off the ground.

Hennepin County teen anime clubs are for grades 6-12. Since anime fans are getting older, they have recently started an adult anime club.

The anime club space should be flexible to work with a variety of activities. There should be tables for crafts and comfy chairs for DVD viewing. A screen or at least a clean white wall is a must, along with a DVD player or laptop and speakers.

Decorations make the space special. Teens can help hang wall scrolls, posters, string lights and paper lanterns.

A clock is necessary to keep everyone on track. Have a code of conduct & hang it on the wall. Let the teens collaborate on rules, and they will be more likely follow them and even self-regulate. Don’t forget emergency supplies like tissues, a first-aid kit, and a fire extinguisher just in case.

If you put out some white kraft paper and crayons/pens/markers, teens will start drawing. The resulting artwork can double as decoration. Whiteboards and dry erase makers are handy for games.

Snacks are very important. Hennepin staff usually serve a combination of healthy options and Japanese treats, which can be purchased at United Noodles or Cost Plus World Market for a reasonable price.

Other things that cost money:

  • Games and craft supplies
  • Prizes
  • Staff time
  • Bowls, dishes, etc. for snacks
  • Licenses to show anime

Libraries have to pay for public performance rights to show videos to a group. Hennepin County, like St. Paul, purchases rights to multiple titles through Movie Licensing USA. However, they find their selection of anime lacking and sometimes contact the license holders directly. Fees are usually about $75-100.

A physical DVD is not necessary for public performance rights. The following sites have streaming anime:

If an anime is rated TV -PG or TV-14, they are usually OK for 12-18 year olds. Anime News Network is a good site for reviews. Once you get to know the older teens, you can ask them for recommendations. They can be quite protective of the younger members.

Possible anime club activities:

  • Anime live chess
  • Name that anime soundtrack tune
  • Karaoke
  • Board games-Clue, Chutes and Ladders, etc. altered to fit anime themes
  • Create your own bento boxes
  • Make your own cat ears
  • Chopstick pickup relay race
  • Anime jeopardy
  • Iron Cosplay -- whoever makes the best costume from a selection of random stuff wins a prize
  • Anime Prom
  • A party to celebrate the Japanese lantern festival or O-Bon (sometimes called “Japanese Halloween”)
  • DVD summit-- teens help pick DVDs for library
  • Discussion of different genres of manga
Finally, give yourself time to reflect  and decide what worked and what didn’t. Staff have to be flexible and give teens input in the club’s direction. At the end of the year, put up some kraft paper and have teens write what they thought was the best part of the anime club.


Christopher Kokal and Carrie Swyter from the Minnesota Autism Center gave a short but informative talk on working with teens on the autism spectrum.  I would recommend these speakers for a Customer Service Improvement Day presentation.

Anime clubs are a good way for autistic teens to learn socialization skills. Structure, visual cues (clocks, printed agendas), warning times for completion of tasks, and tandem games can keep them on task and working well with neurotypical teens.

Supplementary Materials:

Anime Club Presentation

How to Request Screening Permissions for Anime

List of Popular Anime

If you are interested in being part of an anime club team at our library, please contact andrea.herman [at]

--Andrea H.@Central & Peter B. @Dayton’s Bluff

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