Anime Goes to College
Learn about the anime course coming to CU Denver Spring 2023!Oct 24, 2022
Growing up in rural Texas, I was one of maybe two people in my middle school and high school who watched Japanese anime. Every day after school, I would rush home to try to tune into Cartoon Network to watch the latest episode of Dragon Ball Z, hoping I didn’t miss the episode recap from the previous week. From Studio Ghibli movies to Dragon Ball Z, anime gave me a way to engage with new ways of storytelling, life journeys, and moments of growth that resonated with me as a young teen.
When I started my first master’s degree in student affairs, I began to draw connections to the anime characters I was watching and the student development theories I was studying. In the six years since I received my first master’s degree, I have been researching anime characters and college student fans. After numerous presentations and talks at various anime conferences (including Anime Expo in 2022!), it became apparent that college student fans of anime were also resonating with the development their favorite characters were experiencing too. With the support of CU Denver’s faculty and First-Year Experience (FYE) Office, I created the first-ever course that looks at Japanese anime characters through a student development theory lens: FITV 1111: Anime Goes to College.
In this class, students not only watch various Japanese anime shows and movies, but they also read articles and analyze the characters’ growth and development through a wide variety of student development and leadership theory lens. This course not only exposes students to a new way of being critical consumers of media, but it also asks students to turn the mirror on themselves and analyze how the impact of watching their favorite characters move through these developmental theories impacts their own developmental progression in college.
The future of anime fandom is a bright one – a recent survey found the average age of anime fans in America is roughly 24.9 years old, with more than three-quarters of anime fans having completed college or are attending college (Reysen et al, 2021). The sense of belonging that can be found when anime fandom circles combine with campus community has wide-reaching implications to how we as instructors and staff work with our students and help them develop their identities throughout their college journey.
I am excited to share that Anime Goes to College will be offered to first-year students and incoming transfer students again in Spring 2023, and I cannot wait to welcome in another cohort of anime fans, both new and old.
See you, space cowboy!
Emilie Waggoner is the Director of Student Transitions at CU Denver. She is the creator and lecturer for FITV 1111: Anime Goes to College and also teaches a variety of other UNIV courses within the FYE program. In her spare time, Emilie continues to present on anime college fandoms at various conventions and conferences. She is currently working with Dr. Christy Heaton to begin original research on the BakuDeku fandom and Y/N fanfiction community. To learn more about FYE courses and how to be involved, visit www.ucdenver.edu/fye .
Reysen, S., Plante, C., Chadborn, D., Roberts, S. & Gerbasi, K. Transported to another world: The psychology of anime fans. International Anime Research Project: Commerce Texas. 2021.