Anime Clubs and Conventions Provide Fun, Community and Lifelong Friendships

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By Melissa Gonzalez, gonzalezme@mnstate.edu

As a local convention comes to town for the weekend, current and former students reflect on their experience with the MSUM Anime Club.

Anime Fargo, a local anime convention, is in town from Sept. 20 until Sept. 23, and is in its fourth year. The first convention, organized by anime fans in Fargo, was held in September of 2014.

The convention showcases panels, video game rooms, cosplay contests and other opportunities for anime fans to come together in a shared love for anime.

Nicole Bojarski said the community feeling drew her to Anime Club when she came to MSUM her freshman year.

Bojarski, a sophomore majoring in graphic communications, is now the president of Anime Club and says that joining the club helped her come out of her comfort zone.

“It got me a bunch of friends, it got me to get out of my shell a little bit, because I wouldn’t have been president of a club. I would be in my dorm playing games right now if I wasn’t part of it,” she said.

Bojarski isn’t attending Anime Fargo this year, but plans to visit Minneapolis in the spring to attend Anime Detour. The “Detour” convention is another opportunity for club members to find community and make new friends; a group of MSUM students visits every year.

“It’s just a cool feeling to be there. All the panels were pretty fun and interesting to go to and to go and meet strangers who have similar things they like. It’s nice, you know?” Bojarski said.Students can watch anime every Tuesday evening. This semester the club is watching “Recovery of an MMO Junkie,” “Hinamatsuri,” “Steins;Gate” and “Beatless.” The officers keep in mind the length of the series they choose to ensure members can finish a couple of shows within a semester.

Brittney Berthiaume, alumna and former Anime Club member, came to MSUM in 2009 and attended the club. She graduated with degrees in graphic design and graphic communications.

Even after graduating, she has the club to thank for some of the close friends she has after 10 years.

“It low-key changed my life because of how I interacted with my now, my future friends or my current friends. That is the group that I hang out with and we, of course, have different interests besides anime; but we were able to meet through that common interest.”

Berthiaume was a member throughout her time at college and enjoyed those nights where she could decompress, be free from homework and share her passion for the stories she watched.

“Anime Club allowed us to connect through anime, but also through cosplay and what kind of games we were playing, what TV show we were watching,” she said.

Cosplay, a term shortened from costume-play, is a common activity that anime and other convention goers engage in. Cosplayers dress as characters from their favorite TV shows. The costumes are hand-made, commissioned from other cosplayers or bought pre-made.

She blended her skills and passions together and developed a brand name, BBDesign, to use for selling her minimalistic-style fan art and showcasing her cosplay endeavors.

Berthiaume has attended Anime Fargo since the first year and is attending this weekend as a judge for the cosplay contest and to sell her artwork.

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