CJAS History

Commentary by former CJAS presidents Doris Chan ’96 (1995-1996 term) and Kevin Sung ’97 (1996-1997 term) on how we became the way we are now.

The History of CJAS Part 1

by Doris Chan ’96 (1995-1996 term)
edited by Tom Jayanama ’95

    I know some of you have been wondering about the nebulous, misty haze surrounding the creation and history of CJAS, so as far as I know, this is how it all happened….The Cornell Japanese Animation Society first started in someone’s apartment with a tiny television about eight or nine years ago. I believe the club was in operation for a few years before becoming officially registered with the University. Of course, back then, the club mainly consisted of hard-core anime fans (some say “otaku“) who would watch any anime, meaning they would watch totally untranslated anime, or nth generation poor quality copies, and other stuff that nowadays is almost unheard of at CJAS. (Gasp?!? No subtitles??? We can’t show that!!!)

    We should take a moment here to thank one of the club founders, Masaki Takai (who later went on to AnimEigo), for his huge collection of anime LDs! For the first two to three years of the club’s existence, much of the anime shown was lent from Masaki’s own collection, and it was only with the next presidents, Sheng-Te and especially Bruce Hahne, did major acquisition of fan subtitled anime began. I believe it was also during Bruce’s year that CJAS started to get funding from the SAFC for domestic releases. During the 1990-91 academic school year, CJAS moved into the 8th floor instructional classroom at Uris Library, and then later on moved again into Media Room B, also at Uris Library. By this time, the club had expanded to about thirty or forty members, and was still showing pure untranslated anime on Friday nights. Often someone read scripts over the Japanese dialogue, or gave the members synopses of anime before showing the untranslated version. (I believe Miho Nishida and K. Hindall actually translated some of the scripts themselves; you can still find some floating around ftp sites as “Griffon scripts”). By the time Sheng-Te became President (91-92), CJAS had evolved a sort of succession format in which each President appointed a Vice-President, who would in turn become President the year after. Helping the President run the club was a group formally called “the executive board” (or was it “executive committee”?). Basically, these were the people who went to meetings a half hour early to make decisions, get things done, and stayed after outside Uris Library talking for long periods of time about anime and manga.

    My freshman year (92-93) was CJAS’s last year in Uris library, and the President then was Bruce Hahne. Some seniors today (and the three ojiisans) can probably remember how crowded Media Room B was at times. I didn’t start going regularly until spring semester, and I often had to stand up in back because I got there late. (Incidentally, Bubblegum Crisis was the first anime I ever saw at CJAS!) It was during this year that Charles Chen and Carlisle Kim started printing a newsletter for CJAS, which by now has evolved into a full-fledged weekly newsletter complete with staff.

    At the beginning of the 1993-94 school year, CJAS was forced to move to yet another location with the news that Uris Library was planning to cut back weekend hours, and that’s when the E-board found us our current home in Goldwin Smith Lecture Room D. CJAS membership nearly doubled during this year (whether it was because of the size of the room, or the recent popularization of anime in the US, I don’t know). 93-94 was also a crisis year for CJAS, partly because there was no administrative structure to deal with the sudden influx of members, partly because of some nasty political infighting among members of the E-board, and partly because there was no concrete leadership. The President of that year was Ping Lin. Finally, in the second semester of that year, a bunch of new people stepped in and reworked the entire structure of the club, which included drafting a new and functional constitution, creating the four elected officer positions, and scrapping the old appointment system. That’s when the club turned into the CJAS new members see today. The “old guard” of otakus was gone, and most of the people running the club didn’t know as much about anime as in the old days, when CJAS was still in Uris Libary. Also, CJAS began showing almost exclusively subtitled anime, with no untranslated pieces. It was during spring semester that we first created a formal Newsletter Staff, headed by Allen Chen.

    The next President for the 1994-95 academic year was Chris Devries. I am proud to say that in the fall semester of Chris’s year (just last year, in fact) CJAS’s first ever 100th member signed up! Also last year, in an attempt to make the club more interactive and to provide a forum in which members could actually talk to each other about anime and manga, we started up the Manga Club which met once or twice a week. Chuck gave drawing lessons every once in a while, and Jerry Hsu folded some cool origami. Unfortunately, only E-board members showed up. Spring semester of that year (all our disasters seem to happen during the spring), we got screwed over by the SAFC, which, for some obscure reason, refused to give us funding, so membership became particularly important, since aside from raffle and T-shirt sales, this was our only source of income.

    So now welcome to the 1995-96 year! We’re still writing the history as it happens. This year, I don’t know how the club’s going to go, but it’s going great so far! Pretty soon, we’re going to start up the Manga Club again, only this year I think we’ll be focusing more on reading manga than drawing it. If you have any ideas, or any opinions about how you’d like CJAS to be, we’d be glad to hear them!

History of CJAS Part 2

by Kevin Sung ’97 (1996-1997 term)

    Many people probably wonder how our club started. I will write about what happened the past two years. The rest can be seen above.During the 95-96 school year Doris Chan was our president. Under her leadership we continued new trends such as manga club and executive board lunches. We had professors lecture on anime classics such as Totoro and Tale of Genji and we had Japanese lessons. Allen Chen created the club webpage.

    This year we have also accomplished many new things. First the continuation of manga club which still meets on Tuesday nights. The club webpage was also turned over to Thomas Chan and James Yang, who revamped it. In addition we have added a new mailing list to talk to University of Kyoto students who love anime just as much as us. We have also had more members than ever before. A total of 138 members for this semester (Spring 97) and 123 from last semester. We, as a club, participated in the Japan Culture Day on March 28th and the Japan Day at the Johnson Museum on April 12th.

    In addition to all the stuff we plan to do next year, we plan to show some cool anime to incoming freshmen during Orientation week and the possibility of getting a manga artist to come to Cornell in the Fall.

    It has been a long hard road but are club has continued to prosper. With the continued support from all of you the club should do well into the future. I hope that all of you had a good time and will continue to come next year. For those of you graduating best of luck in what ever your path takes you after Cornell.

History of CJAS Part almost 3

by Tyler Spring ’16 (2013-2014 term)

    Well, nearly 18 years later, this page was rediscovered by the 2013-2014 officers, and will be updated with history over the last year or two very shortly. Stay tuned to find out!

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