Having Beryl and Addie come to our class and talk about the anime community in general and ACen was really interesting and fun. Beryl has all of these great stories to share and they were both really interesting speakers. What struck me most was how knowledgeable they both were about the anime and manga community. Beryl was practically a historian, giving us a brief overview of the rise of anime popularity in the US. I thought it was interesting that he seemed to consider Chicago at the center of it all, and at some points in the 80’s it was the city with the most easily accessible anime. Being from Chicago and an anime fan, that makes me pretty proud of my city. Addie knew a lot about the community from the artists’ perspective and the differences between American comic books and Japanese manga.
I think it’s really cool that ACen is hoping to become more immersed in Japanese culture in general. Bringing more bands over and including the drift cars has the benefit of allowing anime fans to understand more pop cultural references and appreciate them more. It was totally surprising to learn that it’s completely volunteer run and that NO one gets paid. Now that’s dedication. I think it also allows for the people in charge to retain complete control over what they want in ACen and it keeps the idea of the earlier anime days alive. At the core of this large community is still the exchange of information and entertainment between friends, and if that community gets bigger I think it benefits everyone more. I hope that ACen and other conventions can continue to expand and offer more for their fans.