If you haven't already heard, CJAS turns 10 this year, and we're really glad you're here to join us as we celebrate this proud occasion. This summer, we were very surprised (especially me) to receive e-mail from the founder and first president of CJAS, Masaki Takai. We had heard from other early presidents, such as Sheng-te Tsao and Bruce Hahne, over the years and even quite recently, but Masaki hadn't contacted us in at least 4 years and was a difficult man to locate (not having much of a searchable Net presence). I jumped at the opportunity to interview Masaki over e-mail, which was a wonderful experience, allowing me to get answers to nagging questions I had about the early days of CJAS.
The first CJAS meeting was held on September 9, 1988 in one of the Cornell townhouses, possibly G7 or some other G apartment. Masaki printed out and posted flyers around campus announcing that he would be showing anime in his dorm. News of the showing also spread by word of mouth. Kay Lillibridge, considered the co-founder of CJAS, showed up at that first meeting and discussed with Masaki how she had originally planned to run showings of her own. Combining their efforts, they formed CJS, the Cornell Japanimation Society (which would be changed to CJAS, the Cornell Japanese Animation Society, when Sheng-te Tsao became the second president in 1991).
Masaki and Kay would decide what to show (mostly from Masaki's large collection), and Masaki would do real-time verbal translation of what was being shown, since most of his collection was raw, untranslated anime. Showings were held in Masaki's townhouse apartment until the crowd got too big, and the club showings moved into Uris Library (where we still do informal showings). The history of the club after that point has been pretty well-documented in previous newsletter articles, which can be found on the CJAS website (www.cjas.org).
As is often cited in CJAS history articles, Masaki was a co-founder of AnimEigo, which was the first domestic anime company, releasing Madox-01: Metal Skin Panic (subtitled) in 1989. This is what Masaki wrote in response to my question regarding his involvement with AnimEigo:
AnimEigo actually had a very interesting beginning. One meeting, an older gentleman showed up at one of our meetings and really enjoyed the showing. He later introduced himself to me as Roe Adams, a game designer. Roe continued to come to a bunch of meetings and then approached me with a concept. He was good friends with another game designer/programmer called Robert Woodhead (of Wizardry fame at Sir-Tech) who was also interested in this material and more importantly, was well capitalized. They were interested in forming a company that would import Japanese animation and subtitle it and needed someone to translate. We visited Robert's house (Robert lived in Ithaca at the time) and Robert showed off the new subtitling software that he had written for the business and they started off by getting the license for Madox-01 ... and the rest is fairly well known, I guess. (grin) (6/2/1998)
On some early AnimEigo releases (Vampire Princess Miyu, Kimagure Orange Road OAVs, and Urusei Yatsura TV), you can see Masaki credited as a translator (depending on the episode). Leaving AnimEigo to attend medical school in Hawaii, Masaki felt a little responsible that he was no longer translating for the company, so he enlisted his younger sister Eriko, who then did translations for AD Police and various Urusei Yatsura projects.
Here is a CJAS timeline that I hope you'll find interesting (with assistance from Jerry Hsu and John David Garza):
Sept. 9, 1988: The first meeting of CJS. (Masaki Takai is president and co-founder)
Late 1989: CJS becomes a registered Cornell club.
Fall 1990: Meetings permanently relocate from Masaki's townhouse apartment to Uris Library.
Fall 1991: CJS becomes CJAS. (Sheng-te Tsao is president)
Spring 1992: Sheng-te Tsao conducts the CFV to create the rec.arts.manga newsgroup. CJAS receives SAFC funding for the first time. (Bruce Hahne is treasurer)
Fall 1992: The weekly newsletter is started by Charles Chen and Carlisle Kim. (Bruce Hahne is president)
Fall 1993: Meetings relocate from Uris Library to Goldwin Smith D. (Ping Lin is president)
Spring 1994: Work begins on the CJAS Constitution. Eric Wong creates the CJAS logo. Jerry Hsu breaks into the cabinet.
Fall 1994: The CJAS Constitution is ratified. Doris Chan and Charles Chen start CJAS "Art Group". Membership passes the 100 mark (Alan Kwan is the 100th member). (Chris DeVries is president)
Spring 1995: Like the Clouds, Like the Wind becomes the last scripted anime shown at CJAS, meaning we showed the movie untranslated with Mason Chang reading the script aloud to the audience. James Kao creates the Street Fighter II trailer/CJAS T-shirt commercial.
Fall 1995: "Art Group" becomes Manga Club. Weekly E-board lunches begin. Allen Chen creates the CJAS webpage. Kevin Sung and Matt Burt begin CJAS Concessions. Professor Saya Shiraishi presents a lecture on Grave of the Fireflies, The Manga/Anime Industry, and Origins of Manga and the Children's War Experience. (Doris Chan is president)
Spring 1996: The last meeting of CJAS Sparring is held over Spring Break (HaVoC, James Kao, Mason Chang, and Lawrence Eng are in attendance; Allen Chen and Jeff Tseng are absent). CJAS holds its first paintball trip. CJAS parody-subtitles an episode of Patlabor. Free Japanese lessons are offered to CJAS members. CJAS conditionally donates a good part of its collection to Kroch Library.
Fall 1996: E-board members meet manga artist Miki Tori at the beginning of the year. E-board lunch becomes CJAS lunch. CJAS Newsletter starts using Net-Print. Eddie Chen creates the Newsletter Web Archive. (Kevin Sung is president)
Spring 1997: CJAS creates its first fan-dub parody.
Fall 1997: CJAS buys a projector. The club's first auction is held. (James Kao is president)
Spring 1998: CJAS holds its first game show (organized by Cameron Chien). CJAS creates its first live-action commercial ("Got Totoro?", an F1 production, written and directed by Lawrence Eng). Membership passes the 150 mark (Jen Hsu is the 150th member).
Summer 1998: CJAS members win awards for music video production and cosplay at Otakon '98.
Fall 1998: Present-day. (Ayesha Ahmed is president)
Other than business as usual, what special events do we have in store for our 10th anniversary year? We'll think of something interesting, don't worry.
[07/06/09 Clarification: Animeigo was one of the first companies in the US to distribute subtitled anime on video, releasing Madox-01 in early 1990 (not 1989). US Renditions beat Animeigo to the punch by releasing Dangaioh and Gunbuster a few months earlier (also in 1990). Animeigo did, however, present a sneak preview of Madox-01 at WorldCon in September 1989. - Lawrence]
[12/2/04 Update: For further articles by Lawrence Eng, see his anime page.]