Published on February 22nd, 2016 | by Marissa Lieberman
Serving Your Tween Anime Population
In public libraries, anime clubs have become a more mainstream and expected part of teen programming. In my first library job, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start a successful young adult anime club. While we occasionally did planned activities, it was clear that the teens were mainly interested in having a space to relax, watch anime, chat and eat snacks. They were also instrumental in planning our annual convention. Over those five years, I watched as teens of different ages and backgrounds became friends while bonding over a shared interest; they would often talk about school, life and other things that demonstrated they felt comfortable in the environment created for them. Before relocating to my current library job, a state away, I handed the torch to two former teens who continue running the club.
Teen to Tween
One of the first programs I started as a full time children’s librarian was my tween anime club, geared for children in fourth through seventh grade. While the teens were happy to veg out and watch anime, eager to try obscure series and re-watch mainstream shows they were already familiar with, I noticed this wasn’t the case with my tweens, especially the younger ones. I knew after our first meeting that I would have to restructure what I had done in the past to fit the needs of my new population, and it took some trial and error before finding out what worked with my new group. Here are some of my favorite activities that I’ve done so far. All of the activities are low cost and easy to adapt to meet the needs of your young anime fans. I also love including raffles, prizes or little giveaways when I can.
- Candy sushi is a fun activity that I have done with a variety of age groups and has been a big hit with my tweens. Rice Krispy Treats, Swedish Fish, Fruit Roll-ups and any other candy you have on hand is transformed to look like sushi.
- Cookie or cupcake decorating is another popular activity at our library. We’ve made Poke Balls and Dragon Balls out of both cookies and cupcakes, which simply required red and white and yellow and orange icing respectively. I also purchased Naruto, Pikachu and generic ninja cookie cutters, which allow for more intricate cookies.
- Using old Shonen Jump magazines and other discarded comics and magazines, we used Mod Podge to decoupage wooden boxes, stones, glass jars and other items I had in the craft closet.
- Game show programs are a personal favorite of mine, and I love creating anime-themed programs based on Jeopardy, Minute to Win-It, $25,000 Pyramid, and Trust Me: I’m a Game Show Host. Questions and challenges can easily be adapted to reflect the knowledge and interest of your patrons. See my previous post on Anime Game Show Programs.
- As I did with my teens, I immediately brought my anime club regulars on board to help plan our annual comic and anime convention. Doing so provides them with unique leadership opportunities, as well as the ability to share their knowledge and passion while helping to create a large scale library program. See my previous post on Tween Convention Volunteers.
Being younger and just beginning their foray into the world of anime and manga, I noticed that most of the their exposure was limited to Pokemon, Dragonball Z and Naruto–all excellent series–but they were not as interested in experiencing new material. It has been three years since I first started the tween anime club, and my fourth graders, the largest portion of the group at the time, are now all seventh graders. It has been fascinating to see their interests change and mature during that time. Their newfound interest in a wide variety of series has trickled down to the current fourth graders, who are very willing to try something new.
Similarly, lot of my tweens are already watching and reading series that are not age appropriate like Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul. While they can read and watch what they want–I remember reading manga that was meant for older teens/adults when I was younger–and I am happy to chat with them about those series, I make it clear that in anime club, we will be sticking to shows that are targeted to their age group. While what we watch often depends on the demographics of who is there that month, some of my general favorite go-to series include:
Chi’s New Address: In the sequel to Chi’s Sweet Home, adorable cat Chi has more adventures with her friends and human family.
Joker: Phantom thieves can make miracles happen, and unlike burglars, they use cool gadgets and always give advance notice for what treasures they plan to steal.
RWBY: With magic, plenty of action sequences, and graphics that resemble a video game, this cartoon is sure to appeal to tween anime fans.
Sailor Moon Crystal: Sailor Moon and the Sailor Scouts fight for love and justice in the reboot of the classic series that more closely follows the original manga.
Yakitate!Japan: Kazuma Azuma’s dream is to create Ja-Pan!, a bread that will be as iconic in the eyes of the Japanese as other breads are around Europe.
Zatch Bell: Every thousand years, one hundred Momodo go to Earth, find a human partner, and battle to become the next King of the Momodo world.
All of these can be accessed via Crunchyroll.com, a legal anime streaming website that allows libraries to set up free premium accounts. http://www.crunchyroll.com/outreach
Other series recommendations include:
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo: With his giant yellow afro and extendable nose hairs that are good in a fight, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo battles the evil that wishes to make the world bald.
Card Captors Sakura: After finding out that she has magical powers when she releases the mysterious Clow Cards into the world, she is tasked to retrieve them and save the world.
Digimon: Follows the adventures of children who enter the digital world and meet the Digimon or Digital Monsters.
Glitter Force: A team of magical girls are recruited to fight against evil fairy tale characters that threaten Earth and the mystical Kingdom of Jubiland, where the fairy tale characters reside. (Series is called Pretty Cure in Japanese)
Hikaru no Go: Hikaru finds an ancient Go board that is inhabited by a former Go master from the Heian Period (794-1185) of Japan.
Pokemon: Follows the adventure of Pokemon trainer Ash on his journey to the become a Pokemon Master.
Shugo Chara: Amu is not as confident as her outward appearance leads her classmates to believe. When she wishes for the courage to be her true self, three eggs appear which house her Guardian Characters, giving her the ability to change into who she really wants to be.
Yo-kai Watch: An ordinary boy is given a watch that allows him to see and identify the various Yo-Kai (monsters, ghosts, etc.) living in the human world.