Saturday, May 3, 2014

Teen Anime Cafe

Does your library have an Anime or Manga club?  We had a successful one for years, but with the changes in the movie licensing (meaning a lot of companies went out of business or sold off so there was no telling who held the licenses any more), and the prevalence of free Manga and Anime online, our numbers dropped off.  We couldn't get permission to show the Animes the kids wanted....and the kids were reading their Manga online.  We decided to merge the clubs, and change up what we would do at the sessions.

We have had great success with cosplay workshops.  The teens have made ears, tails, claws and even come dressed to the meetings.  Anime conventions are huge around here, so I attend them for programming ideas.

Another successful program has been our Anime Cafe.  I have done this program several times now and we are always 'sold out.'

One little tid-bit about  me.  I lived in Japan for four years.  Because of that, I have a comfort level with presenting on the topic of Japan and Japanese Culture, along with my friend Etsuko who is Japanese.  I met Etsuko in Japan and as fate would have it, she is now in Ohio in the same town as I am!

Each session goes like this:  We prepare a menu based on the season.  There are several dishes laid out buffet style, where the kids can sample the different foods.  They are asked to try everything and know that some things might not be their taste.  This isn't really dinner for them - it is more like a sampling event. boss snuck into Anime Cafe this time...

Then Etsuko and I show the teens how to make one specific dish.  This time we made gyoza, which is really based on a Chinese pan fried dumpling.  It is a ground meat, usually pork, mixed with vegetables and seasonings.
Gyoza is the one in the background.  In front is a comfort dish - like a stew.

We taught the kids how to fill and seal the dumplings, and then fried them in the pan.  It is fun for them to give it a try.

We have presented Anime Cafe three times so far.  Once we made hand rolled sushi just as I remember having at a friends house.  Another time we made Takoyaki - which is like a fritter but filled with a piece of octopus.  Takoyaki is everywhere at festival time, because its easy to carry around on skewers.  The foods we choose to demonstrate are those the teens will see in Animes.  It puts the name of the food with the live version and the taste, and they can really relate.
**On an allergy note, we work out our menu and have a list of ingredients on hand for registrations.  We do not force anyone to eat anything, but we encourage kids to look over the menu before they register. 

This library will be carrying on the tradition of Anime Cafe now that I have moved branches.  Other libraries have talked to my friend about presenting to teens and adults.  Any program with food is going to be a hit, but you would be amazed how many kids are quite fascinated by different cultures and want that hands on experience.  I encourage you to learn a little about a culture, or visit your local cultural group, and ask them to do a little presentation at the library.  I bet everyone would just love it!

Thanks for stopping by!

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