So CJAS celebrates its tenth birthday this year, and by all accounts, it's been quite an eventful 10 years! CJAS has grown from a small group showing untranslated anime to a club of over 100 with weekly showings in Goldwin Smith D. Members get a membership card, a schedule of the semester's showings, discounts, and of course, the chance to sit down and watch 4 hours of anime. I know people in various anime clubs across the country, and CJAS stacks up favorably to most of them. However, I was speaking to someone in California, and I found a club worthy of comparison. Some of you may know, or may have heard, of this anime club: Cal-Animage Alpha ( http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~animage/), the venerable anime club of University of California, Berkeley.
Where to begin? Well, a good place to start would be with a little bit about Cal-Animage Alpha. CAA is a good counterbalance for CJAS -- whereas we are one of the largest and oldest anime clubs on the East Coast, CAA is one of the largest, and one of the oldest, on the West Coast. CAA was founded in January 1989, which means that our club is older than Berkeley's by a few months! However, CAA has something going for it -- it's in California, which means that a lot more people are aware of anime out there. They have their showings on Monday nights from 7 to 10 PM, yet they still get 300 members. Now, who here doesn't have a midterm to study for that's on a Tuesday? Being such a large group attracts attention. In past years, CAA has solicited anime companies and gotten freebies to hand out to members in raffles. But don't worry; CJAS isn't quite that big yet, but we're growing. We'll get to the 300 mark any day now... well, it might take a while. ^_^
Cal-Animage Alpha is well-known for its weekly newsletter, Konshuu, which means "This Week" in Japanese. Konshuu is a little different than our own CJAS Newsletter (and not just that they felt the need to name theirs). First off, the CAA newsletter is just one long piece of paper folded into two so that it creates two pages (4 sides) with normal-sized print on each side. No need for staples, isn't that amazing??? ^_^ Besides reviews of anime, the CAA newsletter sometimes also has a little culture corner with phrases and terms that are found in anime that readers might find interesting. The CAA newsletter is widely acclaimed because of its commentaries and design. But personally, I'd settle for a CJAS newsletter any day.... [^_^ -Ed.]
There are no yearly options for membership, but instead, they have two levels of semesterly deals: $5 or $8 a semester. The five-dollar option lets you see the members-only marathon, participate in raffles and auctions, use CAA's services department to order CDs, and borrow tapes from their tape library (with a $5 deposit). The $8 option is all that and getting the Konshuu. But they don't get the cool discounts we do for anime-related video rentals and buying comics. They do print up T-shirts, and some designs have been really amazing, and like our club, they go for about $10 for members. I guess that it's a universal constant.
So why did I title the article the way I did? Although I have mentioned how CAA has been in past years, I've heard that some things in the last couple of years have put CAA on some dangerous ground. Like CJAS, CAA doesn't get any money from the Student Government, so they've been forced to make some hard choices for budgets. But unlike us, they didn't buy their own projector and instead, they rent one. Between the costs of printing up Konshuu, renting a room from the university for the showings, and renting the projector, their budget is wiped out far more quickly than they would like. This leads to fewer tape acquisitions and fewer perks for members.
Another criticism of CAA recently has been its lack of original showings. Many of the showings can be rented at the local store (which admittedly is a bit easier for the average Californian than for a resident of Ithaca, NY). In addition, they don't have the organizational strength that we do. Unlike CJAS, CAA doesn't have any specific body to determine the semester's schedule, and this lack of planning shows. They struggle to determine what they will show two weeks into the future, let alone for the entire semester. Indeed, our Executive Board is run quite well (am I allowed to plug E-board here? ^_^ ). As I understand it, CAA hasn't innovated much since its early days, only recently changing the template of their Konshuu. At least at CJAS, there's always a move to find newer and better ways of doing things. CAA is carried on the backs of the really charismatic students who come along and whip the club into shape. However, recent membership at Cal-Animage Alpha has declined somewhat, and without a stable system like the one CJAS has, it may be difficult for CAA to grow again.
So there's a reason why this article was written. It's to show you why you can be proud of CJAS. And it shows that you, the members, are the ones who make CJAS grow and thrive. Without your support, we wouldn't even be here. CJAS has had its tough decisions, but it's come out on top. Some anime clubs don't even make it this far. So let's look forward to another 10 great years of CJAS.
[Disclaimer: The views on Cal-Animage Alpha is not necessarily shared by CJAS or its newsletter staff. The opinions in this article are strictly that of the author's.]