By David Cabrera
#51 - KC Green's “The Anime Club”
(When I bought one of KC Green's other books, I requested a sketch of Card Captor Sakura. He drew this for me.)
I'd been thinking about it for a while: is there a Genshiken or a Otaku no Video for the American otaku; an biographical work for the subculture by someone who's spent time with it? Dramacon was a little bit too shoujo-sweet. Megatokyo is about an American otaku moving to a Japan that's a bishoujo-game wish-fulfillment fantasy, so maybe it'd be valuable if you wanted to know what American otaku dream of Japan being...
“They aren't doing the Haruhi dance. It's a funeral march. In memoriam of anime... death of a culture.”
The real choice is KC Green's “The Anime Club” (http://gunshowcomic.com/ac/). Unlike other comics about American otaku, it doesn't look like manga, and the author isn't an anime fan either. His main comic Gunshow is a very darkly comic collection of surreal shorts: in a comic that is recent as I write this, two blobs named Loneliness and Depression fall in love and birth a baby named Fear. In that spirit, The Anime Club is honest, brutal, and cruel about the day-to-day lives of a group of teenage anime fans.
We meet our heroes in a public library: having been kicked out of their official high school club and their mothers' basements, this is the last place in the world they have left to celebrate their passion. After an incident involving a truly gross porn anime (“the term, Mark, is hentai, YOU UNCULTURED SWINE”), a computer virus named “killallnerds.exe”, and a bloody fistfight, they lose even this last chance. The comic follows these outcasts as they struggle to find their place, establish their superior tastes in anime over those of their enemies at school and at the comic shop, and frequently resort to violence.
Aside from the bright-eyed innocent Clyde, the members of the anime club aren't really very nice people. The self-proclaimed club leader, Mort, is a raging elitist who can't function in a social situation without going into a screaming tirade on the cultural superiority of Card Captor Sakura.
He's also everybody's favorite character... because we've met these people. We've heard these conversations. The over-the-top exaggeration, the bitter, personal arguments over the merits of something like “Naruto Goes To Law School”, the jokes about spending $20 on a bottle of soda “from Japan!”, we've seen it all.
When I was sitting on an Anime News Network panel at a convention a while back, a new fan asked us if there was anything they should check out if they were new to anime and wanted to see what it was all
about. I told the crowd that, if they were over the age of 18, they should read “The Anime Club.” For better, and for worse. I have no regrets.