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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Davis Anime Club connects people through colorful stories

Student organization brings together anime, cartoons, games and community


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


To those who watch anime, animated TV from Japan, it can represent anything: a pastime, a source of comfort, a nostalgic memory or even a source of inspiration. Communities are built on discussing, sharing and enjoying anime, and one such community is the Davis Anime Club. Currently, the club boasts over 200 members on Discord.

Anime has withstood the test of time at UC Davis. Just recently, the club celebrated its 30th anniversary at Kobe Mini Mart downtown. The club hosted a costume café event for its members, complete with snacks, drinks, dance performances, raffles and cosplay.

Gage Heeszel, the member manager for the club and fourth-year managerial economics major, said that the club was hoping to use the cosplay event to fundraise for the Davis Anime Convention (DAiCon), a popular event the club used to host before the pandemic hit. 

According to Avery Xiao, the secretary of the club and a second-year math major, DAiCon was a place for anime enthusiasts to sell their art and merchandise as well as attend guest speaker panels that once featured staff from Crunchyroll, an anime streaming service. 

“Our goal right now is to start up our convention again on campus,” Heeszel said. “From what I know, it was a very big success in the past, and everyone really wants to see it return. We haven’t really had the funds to make it happen just yet, but hopefully, with the cost of the café and all of our other fundraising efforts, it’s going to happen.”

The club also hosts weekly meetings on Wednesdays and Thursdays during which members socialize and watch anime movies and shows, as well as participate in fun trivia activities. 

Officers of the club pick anime to watch each quarter based on what they believe the club will like and whether the show is appropriate to the student audience; however, opinions on the latter are changing.

“This quarter, we [are] also branching out with shows,” Xiao said. “Normally, we show shows that are generally really safe to watch, but now [we’re] also branching into other genres like horror or really bloody fighting shows.”

Recently, the club has featured “Skip and Loafer,” a romantic comedy about a country girl in Tokyo, and “Hell’s Paradise,” an action anime about an assassin on the quest to find immortality.

Davis Anime Club also has several sub-clubs that cater to other types of media and entertainment members might enjoy, such as the Western Animation Club, which screens animated shows from outside of Japan; the Tabletop Club, which allows members to play board games or role-playing one-shot games; and the club’s official art team, which provides members a creative outlet in the anime community.

Overall, the club aims to provide a safe and inclusive space for its members to bond over their shared interest.

“We’re very closely tied with other communities,” Heeszel said. “Minority groups, the LGBTQ+ community — these groups are just very intrinsically baked into our community. We do different things to make people feel welcome.”

Mickaela Del Ponzo, the graphic designer for the club and a third-year design major, also attributes the club’s welcoming nature to its large size. 

“[Davis Anime Club] is truly made with the club members in mind,” Del Ponzo said via Discord direct messaging. “Our officers are always discussing how to create anime line-ups and events that our members will enjoy.”

Additionally, according to Del Ponzo, officers of the club will check in on members through surveys to make sure they feel heard.

Heeszel said that the club has grown quickly at UC Davis because people have become more open-minded in their tastes for entertainment. 

“In recent years, people have been allowing themselves to be freer and to enjoy different things because [anime] was definitely seen as cringe for a while,” Heeszel said.

However, despite anime’s new-found popularity and the club’s high member count, meeting participation has stagnated due to the pandemic.

“Our club meetings are relatively small, especially later in the quarter because of midterms,” Xiao said. “We’re hoping to advertise our clubs more so that we can have a full classroom of people watching anime together. Before quarantine, according to our seniors, the classrooms would be full and there would be a lot of talking and socializing. It would be really nice to bring back those kinds of days.”


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org