Animation fascination hits campus

By Christine Cheung

If you remember the line "Transformers… robots in disguise," then you’ve been an anime fan for years. Surprised?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be Japanese, under 12 or into hardcore porn to be an anime fan. Anime is for everyone–including anyone who attends this year’s Anime Festival, Otafest 2000: Otaku No Festival from June 17-18 in Mac-Ewan Hall.

Founded by the U of C Dedicated Otaku Anime Club, the festival returns for its second year. Otafest Public Relations and Sponsor Directors Steven Choy and Mike Youngberg excitedly provide reasons why everyone should be a dedicated anime fan.

"The general audience, when they think of anime, they think of sex-type videos and little children’s stuff, which is most commonly seen here in North America," says Choy. "What we’re trying to do with the festival is promote the industry and the hobby–show the general public what is out there, that there is something more to it than standard general stereotypes."

Choy and Youngberg believe North America’s own taboos and censors formed distorted preconceptions of Japanese anime as children’s movies, like Pokémon and Sailor Moon. Unknown to many, anime includes many different genres, such as westerns, science fiction, comedies, melodramas and horror.

"In the realm of Japanese animation, it’s more of a mass medium rather than a genre. So really, there is a whole bunch of different classifications within anime that appeals to all different ages," Choy says.

What appeals to many is anime’s ability to become a lifestyle, which is not surprising with 55 per cent of all Japanese box office revenue generated by anime films. It’s easy to see why people get caught up in the Pokémon dolls, fan fiction, kits or models and know more anime facts than you can throw an anime car freshener at.

"It’s not just a movie," warns Youngberg "You go see a movie or a couple of episodes of the show, then you find out there’s a comic, and then you find out there’s toys, so then you go out and get the toys and the list goes on…"

Bigger and better are the promises for the upcoming festival and Choy attributes this to the increase of seven festival sponsors.

"One of the largest changes is the support from everybody. It’s been phenomenal; the businesses, the theatres," Choy says.

In addition to showing more than 80 hours of anime in four viewing rooms, the Festival will bring back panels like Anime Auction, and an introduction to Japanese culture and Japanese language. The newest addition to the festival is the Fan-artist’s Showcase, featuring amateur and special artwork, and drawing lessons.

This year’s focus will be on more G-rated films, the ever-popular unaired Sailor Moon episodes and the big anime trend this year, comedies. As well, the festival will boast rare anime.

"This year we tried to concentrate more on fan subs, which are things you can’t really buy or rent–rare, hard to get anime," says Youngberg "It’s really good to come to the festival because you can’t rent this stuff yet. It might be out in a year, but if you want to see it now…"

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