By ISABEL HALLORAN
Red Bank Charter School Intern
Four teenagers – Angela, Monteleone, Sam, and Alberto – gather in a small room at the Red Bank Public Library and sit at a long table.
Across from this table is another lined with manga (pronounced MAHN-guh), Japanese comic books that often have a fantasy or sci-fi theme to them. These books are read from what we in the United States consider back-to-front.
Stephanie Chadwick, teen services librarian and group leader, welcomes the participants to the monthly meeting of the Anime Club and introduces the activity for the day: playing a game she calls “anime-opoly.”
The game is played just as you would play Monopoly, she explained later. “Think of it as another themed Monopoly game: Star Wars Monopoly, Disney Monopoly, etc.”
Using a Monopoly game board as a model, “I had the kids create their own board spaces that were anime-themed,” she said. “So they made their own names for each space. For example, instead of Atlantic Avenue, someone wrote, ‘The Soul Society,’ which is a place in the anime, ‘Bleach.'”
After discussing a name for their game, the teens decided on “Animopoly.”
They then began to plan out the game. They chose dominant colors, and then the name of a manga they thought represented that color. For example, for the color pink, they selected “Chobits,” which is a manga meant for girls. In Japan, the mangas are split into two groups: girl and boy mangas. The girl mangas are called shojo, and boys mangas are called shonen. “Chobits” is a girl manga because it represents romance, while the boys’ mangas contain a lot of violence and fighting.
After the kids picked all of the colors, they chose places from their favorite mangas and entered them in the spaces where Monopoly would have street names. Then they drew a picture to go along with that place.
As they drew and colored their Animopoly pieces, they watched an anime television series called “Inuyasha,” and snacked on some popcorn. As the Inuyasha theme song played, Angela, 14, sang along to the catchy tune.
“InuYasha” is about a 15-year-old girl from Tokyo who is transported to the 15th century after falling into a well. Like other animes, “InuYasha” has a lot of traditional parts to it. For example, some of the characters wear kimonos, and the background music is also classic Japanese music.
What makes anime unique compared to other types of art?
“Japanese character art is similar to graphic novels,” Stephanie said. “Anime has a lot of Japanese culture behind it. There’s a wide variety of stories, and different types of anime or manga. Manga is the book form of anime; it’s written like a graphic novel.”
The Anime Club takes on a different activity every time it meets, Stephanie said.
“In past classes, we’ve done Pokemon Pictionary, made bookmarks, and even cherry trees for the Teen Festival,” she said.
The teens said they enjoyed themselves, talking about the anime and their favorite types of animes or mangas, while drawing their streets for the board game.
At the club’s next meeting, the members will finish creating board spaces and their own anime-themed game pieces.
The Young Adult Anime Club, which is open to kids in grades 6 through 12, meets again on December 14, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Red Bank Public Library. If you are interested in anime, go check it out. It looks like a great experience.