With more than 50 after-school clubs and activities at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), it should not come as a surprise that the co-curricular programme has something for everyone. However, what may surprise some is the growing popularity of the Anime Club, which has become one of the largest clubs in the school.
"The main reason I joined the Anime Club was to make friends and connections with other people that have the same interests," says Lucas Diab, Grade 11, one of the senior moderators of the club.
The Anime Club started out as a creative outlet for students interested in drawing anime, and soon morphed into a venue for watching anime and reading manga (Japanese comic books). It embraces multiculturalism and provides an opportunity for students across the grades to share a common interest in Japanese culture.
SMCS teacher, Calvin Cahatol, has served as faculty moderator of the club for the past eight years and has seen first-hand how it has evolved.
“Having lived and taught in Japan for two years, and having been a long time fan of the Japanese anime subculture, it seemed like a natural fit for me to be the moderator of the club,” says Cahatol. “The club has always been a meeting place for students who may not feel necessarily comfortable in other school contexts and who enjoy watching and discussing anime.”
The Anime Club at SMCS has grown significantly in popularity over the past 10 years. Students who enjoy anime and the Japanese gaming subculture gather weekly to hang out, discuss and watch anime, and have some fun.
“Although the weekly Thursday meetings are well-attended and include watching and discussing classic and contemporary anime, it is the club’s online reach through our Edsby group that has seen enormous growth with about 100 active members who contribute daily,” says Cahatol.
One of the regular contributions are ‘Monday Memes,’ where students get creative making their own memes—a funny image, video, piece of text spread over the internet—relating to SMCS, anime, video games, and other pop-culture references.
In recent years, the club has been influential in recommending an entire graphic novel section in the school’s Odette Library. Club members also annually attend Anime North, a national fan run anime convention held in Toronto.