Anime and Manga offer fresh new way to reach college students

Marist College Anime Society
Marist College Anime Society

Although they may sound familiar, some people still don’t know what anime or manga are. Basically, anime is Japanese animation, and manga are Japanese comic books. The drawing styles and creative stories in anime and manga are what makes them items of growing interest for many people today. In America, people who like anime and manga are a niche group, but depending on what state or city you live in — like California, for example — that niche group can be very big.

In recent years, anime and manga have been getting very popular, and more people have been accepting anime and manga as mainstream because of both subjects’ variety of artistic styles. It is expensive to be a fan of anime and manga because of the merchandise (DVDs and books) and other collectible items. However, the popularity of it is continuing to increase, even though the economy has been down in both America and Japan.

How I know that anime and manga are gaining popularity is because the crowds at anime conventions are becoming increasingly larger every year. Anime and manga conventions are not as common in America as they are in Japan, so whenever there is an anime convention in America, you can be sure that the people attending will be from all across the country (especially if it’s held in a big city like Los Angeles or New York).

Naka-Kon Anime game Room
Naka-Kon Anime game Room

The reason for the large crowds is because people can buy imported anime and manga products directly from vendors instead of buying online or in stores. Imported anime and manga goods are not as easy to access online because stores are not easy to find, and not all stores carry what people want. Another reason for large crowds at anime conventions is because artists are able to show off their talents (i.e., get their foot in the door and make some money), plus there are lectures on anime and manga, discussions from licensing companies from Japan and America, artist panels from Japan and America, concerts, anime screenings of upcoming and current anime and manga releases, cosplay, upcoming video game releases and many other fun activities.

College kids who are into anime and manga must be all be geeks right? Wrong. Asking what type of college kid is into anime and manga is like asking what kind of student is into horror movies. It could be anyone from the goalie on the hockey team to the President of Student Government.

Naka-Kon Anime Convention
Naka-Kon Anime Convention Book Store Booth

Anime groups at colleges range from big to small, but almost every college will have fans and an anime club. Anime clubs, conventions and events (it doesn’t have to be all three) make fans feel like they are part of a community with a common thread of interest. So, colleges have recently been sponsoring small anime conventions and events for their own student body, other college students and high school students. Although it is not very common, some colleges have supported large anime conventions in order to increase student recruiting (colleges appeal to all audiences). One example of this is Naka-Kon which is a convention in KC supported by the University of Kansas.

International companies like Coke and Pepsi and city governments such as San Diego and Los Angeles (Comic-Con and E3) have also been known to sponsor anime and comic book conventions because of the success these companies have had with sponsoring similar video game and anime conventions in Japan. Toyota and Verizon sponsor certain things for the Los Angeles anime convention. Sponsoring an anime convention tells fans that the company or government is part of their community. Sponsorship shows that a company is willing to support the growing niche of anime and manga. And, just like video game conventions, anime conventions can create lots of customer loyalty. So, the more anime and manga increase in popularity, the bigger the convention crowds will get, and the more the sponsorship will have a lasting effect.

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