State of Chicago’s Anime Scene
You have a million ways to view anime legally (Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix, Funimation, etc.) but there are fewer ways meet like-minded fans nowadays. Streaming services promote solo-viewing which encourages staying home, and maybe sharing thoughts on impersonal social networks or among hostile comment sections.
This shift has lead to a recession in dedicated anime clubs nationwide. What’s booming instead? Generalized pop culture organizations, niché creator circles, arcade bars, nerd trivia, and late-night geek comedy. Never has there been a more exciting time to celebrate fandom in Chicago!
But many Chicagoans are still stuck with mediocre conventions and online networks to share their passion for Japanese pop culture. Anime fandom is converging with younger, generic geek crowds with disparaging results:
- Anime content and marketing skews more towards younger viewers.
- Interest in joining teen communities wanes as fans enter the workforce.
- Veterans are no longer engaged in community and drop their hobby altogether.
Lather, rinse, repeat…
That’s where we come in. AnimeChicago crafts a space for the discerning anime fan. Our members navigate these waters to find the best of the best, share critical discussion, and party in the company of friends. It’s been a welcoming, diverse community thriving in the middle of an anime club recession. So how did we do this year?
What we accomplished in 2015
372 members joined AnimeChicago in 2015… more than a member a day!
New registrations were up by 30% and we had numerous requests for more social events. We brought meetups to new locations: gatherings at Anime Central, drinks at Emporium, a promotional table at the JCC Open House, a 20th anniversary Eva-themed mixer at Logan Arcade, a taiko performance with Ho Etsu Taiko, some fantastic restaurants, and the first holiday potluck at our party space.
We hosted our first ever anime Symposium, honoring Osamu Tezuka.
Our event contributors, club sponsors, and academic speakers Ada Palmer and Natsu Onoda Power helped make our first symposium a huge success! Attendees were mesmerized by both the quality of the content and the variety of activities that day. It was an ambitious project and we would love to host another down the road.
A bazillion other things:
- Jeremy Podczerwinski, Shaun Kelly, and Nik Sharma joined the team!
- Round Table discussions moved to the Cards Against Humanity office.
- Lunches were added as a social alternative to Member Mixers.
- We launched a brand new website in May, now managed by Jeremy P.
- New authors published their work on AnimeChicago.com.
- Japanese Culture Center, Arda Wigs, and Kyu-Ssam joined our growing sponsors list.
What’s changing in 2016
Starting March 1st, all RSVPs require a small annual fee of $12.
Our team spends over $500 on operation costs every year. Attendee Dues will ease our financial burdens and improve the quality of future events and offerings. January and February are free, so if you haven’t attended a meetup yet, come on by!
$1 a month covers…
- operation costs like Meetup organizer fees and website hosting
- badges, printed materials, and miscellaneous marketing needs
- snacks, drinks, and other perks should there be a budget surplus
- funding for potential improvements, events, and other opportunities
The fine print:
- Attendees must pay dues to RSVP for events.
- New members will get a 60-day free trial before Attendee Dues kick in.
- Should dues lapse, you will retain Basic Membership. Renew any time.
- Unpaid walk-ins are not permitted.
Anime Sampler is moving to Saturdays from 2–7pm!
This change allows for activities like a coordinated lunch order in addition to snacks, voting to select what anime gets screened, scheduled breaks for socializing and games, and a dedicated section for trading your anime goods.
Improvements to come:
- The newsletter is now issued monthly so we can stop bloating your inbox.
- We’re pushing for more Japanese film opportunities in Chicago.
- We’ll address a variety of attendee dietary needs.
- New events in store with related partners.
We hit some big goals for our 9th anniversary and are proud of the friendly community that supports us every day. On behalf of the team, thanks to every contributor who made 2015 a year to remember.
Founder and Chief