Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

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February 24, 2024

Anime Club brings cosplay to campus

Anime Club members celebrated Halloween early this year. On May 2, the group of Augustana students dressed up in costumes and walked around campus, as part of an event called Cosplay on Campus.
Anime Club is made up of 30 members with a shared interest of Japanese culture and anime. The club has participated in Cosplay on Campus for three years, and members said it is a way to encourage self expression and individuality.
Sara Fraterrigo, senior and Vice President of Anime Club, said cosplay literally translates to “costume play,” where people dress up as their favorite character, often from Japanese anime or manga.
“Cosplay is a form of art that allows for people to appreciate a fictional character that they have a personal attachment to,” said Dylan James, member of Anime Club, who dressed up as Little Mac from the video game “Super Smash Bros.” “It’s important for Anime Club to have this special day because it allows for us to explore our unique interests and show the rest of campus our creative side.”
Fraterrigo said partly, people use it as a way to prepare for an anime convention in the summer. She said she also uses cosplay, though, as an opportunity to feel and act like someone completely different than herself without being judged. But, everyone has their own personal reason for dressing up.
“I cosplay because I love the look on people’s faces when they see their 2D hero in 3D,” Anime Club President Kimberly Yeates said. “I love it when they recognize my character and come up to me and say ‘Oh my god, can I have a hug?'”
Anime Club member Luc Ratzer said cosplay lets him “step into someone else’s shoes…and experience a world you wouldn’t otherwise experience.”
Member Christine Marchi said cosplay has become significant in popular culture, and it is important to acknowledge it on campus.
“I cosplay on my own to conventions and such all of the time. It’s something that I’ve found that I just really love to do and the fact that the Anime Club here has a whole day dedicated to it just makes me so happy that words just cannot explain it,” Marchi said.
Even though cosplay is common at conventions, movie premieres and other events, Anime Club members said it typically has a negative stigma.
“I would just encourage people to not shy-away from cosplaying because it is portrayed as nerdy and different,” James said. “Just think of it as an early Halloween where you can dress up as any of your favorite characters from cartoons, video games, anime and movies, as well.”
Fraterrigo said cosplay, and Anime Club’s activities in general, encompass a variety of genres within anime.
“Through a shared interest in the anime culture and through various additional activities, Anime Club allows members to feel a sense of community that they have not found elsewhere,” she explained. “The fact that it is anime is the reason we all bond over it.  Our goal is to provide an environment that accepts everybody regardless of backgrounds, beliefs, sexuality, race, gender and species. A lot of members have found solace in our club because true acceptance is hard to come by.”
Marchi said Anime Club meetings have given her something positive to look forward to every week.
“It really helps me get through the school week sometimes if my classes are being stressful,” Marchi said. Joining the club has also introduced me to so many cool people. I’ve made so many new friends through this club alone, I don’t know what position I would be in if I had never joined anime club in the first place.”
Anime Club members emphasize the group is a place for everyone.
“We are not just nerds who sit around in the dark and watch cartoons,” Fraterrigo said. “We love all of our members and are always happy to expand our club to anyone who needs somewhere to belong.”
Anime Club meets every Friday at 7 p.m., in the basement of Denkman.

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Anime Club brings cosplay to campus