On the Westside of Cincinnati, it is rare to find a group of enthusiasts who truly appreciate and discuss Eastern culture. But here at the Mount, the Nippon Enthusiasts and Knowledgeable Otaku (more easily shortened to NEKO) is joined by members that share their love for Japanese culture.
Formed over six years ago at the College, the club invites students to watch and discuss Japanese films and to learn more about Japanese culture and artwork. The group members of NEKO frequently study Anime, a form of Japanese animation.
Members meet frequently, at least once a week, and will vote on which film they would like to watch that month. They study the story lines and artwork in anime and then have discussions and debates on the subject matter in which they have watched. They will even sometimes compare the movie cartoon version to the comic book version.
Senior Claire Perry has been club president since August 2012 and has always been interested in different art styles. Anime isn’t just a form of animation to NEKO members; it is a form of artwork as well. Perry says that anime is appealing because it has “different story lines not found in American culture.” True anime, she adds, “has a lot of Japanese culture that is lost in English translation.” Anime is unlike any other animation in America because it mixes in modern day commercialism with traditional Japanese story lines and cultural practices.
“The club would like to host a Valentine’s Day fundraiser in February,” says Perry, in which the girls are the ones that give chocolates to that special someone in their life. In Japanese culture, the females will buy ingredients to make chocolate for the males, then they show their affection for him whether it be a friend, family member or lover, by honorably gracing them with a candy gift. On March 14, one month after Valentine’s Day, Japan celebrates White Day where the men traditionally give a gift to the woman that gave him chocolates a month prior. The gifts are usually white in color in representation of the name “White Day.”
NEKO members study the way in which Eastern culture has influenced Western culture and vice versa. Some members even traveled to Japan as part of the College’s study abroad program. If learning more about Japanese culture, studying the aspects of anime animation, getting involved in debates and discussions interests you or you simply want to surround yourself with people who share the same interest in oriental culture as you do, the group is always inviting in new members.
Contact the Claire Perry with any questions or interest in NEKO at Claire_perry@mail.msj.edu.