This semester being my last one at CJAS as an undergrad, I've recently been thinking back on my first three years with the club and even further back to the stories that old members have told me about the early club and its members. I've always been interested in CJAS history, and I've enjoyed digging through old archive documents and talking to people to find out what it used to be like in the days when all of CJAS could fit into a tiny apartment. For those of you who don't know, next year is the 10th anniversary of CJAS, which is why I thought it would be fitting to write this article.
CJAS's humble beginnings can be traced back to September 9, 1988, when sophomore Masaki Takai, the co-founder of CJAS along with Kay Lillibridge, began showing anime to various friends in his Townhouse apartment on North Campus. Most members at the time were freshmen or sophomores, and the anime shown at early meetings included Project A-ko, Black Magic M-66, fan-dub parodies, Dallos, Megazone 23, Area 88, Patlabor, Kimagure Orange Road, and Gundam: Char's Counterattack. Meetings would officially end at midnight, but since the members were starved for anime, Masaki would let them stay longer. After graduation, Masaki would move on to become one of the co-founders of Animeigo, quite possibly the premier American anime company at the time. On older Animeigo tapes and laserdiscs, you can still see Masaki credited as the Animeigo translator. Masaki's whereabouts are currently unknown. Trust me, I've tried to find out where he is and have been rewarded with little luck.
Most of the club's early collection can be attributed to Masaki's laserdisc collection, which was quite impressive in size and scope according to most sources. Sheng-te Tsao, the club's second president, told me via e-mail that a member once asked Masaki to show "That thing that is worse than Supernatural Beast City," so Masaki showed the members the infamous Urotsukidoji anime untranslated, and on LD no less! Sheng-te wrote "Talk about seeing a side of Anime that I've never seen before!"
Masaki was president for several years, and in 1990, the club officially moved from his apartment to Uris Library video room B. To facilitate this move, CJAS became a registered Cornell club in late 1989. In fall of 1991, Sheng-te Tsao became the club's second president.
During Sheng-te's presidency, the club grew to over 30 members. Instead of being totally informal like before, the weekly schedule became more rigid. The schedule was decided by Sheng-te asking the members what they wanted to see, but he had final say as to what was shown. Also during this time, treasurer Bruce Hahne really stepped up tape acquisitions and sought out external contacts (other anime fan groups, etc.) for the club. Bruce was the guy who put CJAS on the map, so to speak. Bruce became CJAS's third president in 92-93.
Eventually, the club became too big and overcrowded the Uris media room. In 1993, the club moved to Goldwin Smith D, right where you are sitting now. Ping Lin was the president.
So those were the early years of CJAS, and 1994 would be my freshman year (as well as most every other current senior in CJAS). For more detail on the history of CJAS, especially after 1991, I highly encourage you to look on the CJAS history page at http://www.cjas.org/.
The club started off as a small bunch of friends watching mostly untranslated anime in a small apartment on a tiny TV set. They really loved anime and sought to learn more about it and the culture from which it came. They were also good friends, and the atmosphere was informal. Today, we've gotten a lot bigger with over 130 members, and we do things on a vastly larger scale than our predecessors did. I think the club does a great job presenting anime and manga to the Cornell community. Even though we're not small anymore, and we certainly are not as informal as we used to be, it is my hope that we can all still come to know each other better through our common interest of anime.
I'm proud of our long history. We've come very far, and as long as there are die-hard anime fans at Cornell, I don't think CJAS will ever die.
Did you know?
CJAS used to be the Cornell Japanimation Society until Sheng-te and Bruce changed the name in 1991 to Cornell Japanese Animation Society. We are very grateful. =P
The weekly newsletter was started by Charles Chen and Carlisle Kim in the 92-93 school year.
[12/2/04 Update: For further articles by Lawrence Eng, see his anime page.]