Cedar Hill ISD’s Bessie Coleman is Introducing Students to Anime

Photo by Valerie Cipriano

Bessie Coleman Anime Club Connects Students With Art

For those who look at anime and call it cartoons, a group of youngsters at Bessie Coleman Middle School in Cedar Hill have some information for you.

Anime and cartoons are not the same. And they should know. They are members of the Bessie Coleman Anime Club, which kicked off in October and meets after school from 3:15-5 p.m. at no cost to the students.

Anime (pronounced AH-nee-may ) is a term for a style of Japanese comic book and video animation in which the main characters have large doe-like eyes.

Many websites are devoted to anime. It is the prevalent style in Japanese comic books and manga (comics or graphic novels originating from Japan).

Meanwhile, a cartoon is a film for the cinema or television which is made using sequential drawings. Anime is a Japanese style of cartoon that is characterized by vibrant characters, colorful graphics and fantastical themes.

And anime is growing in popularity.

In the United States, approximately 72% of people watch anime regularly. In fact, the U.S. has a higher number of total people who watch anime shows than Japan, but Japan has a higher percentage of its population that watches anime.

Following up on an idea from a friend and former fellow instructor Valerie Cipriano, English, language arts and reading instructor Zaire Smith has brought anime into the school. Not only did she think it would be entertaining, but also informational and even an escape for some students.

“Anime offers its fans the opportunity to submerse themselves into a world that is often much different from their own cultures through cartoons, books, games, and art. Given the realities of many of our black and brown students, anime is a very welcoming world to escape to, even though it is temporary,” Smith said.

“As anime continues to grow in popularity among diverse communities, it recognizes its embrace among non-white fans. As a result, anime content creators have expanded its characters and storylines to represent more fully the fan base and the diverse cultures they represent.

“With this in mind, our Anime Club will connect our students with an art form already popular among them.”

“We will expose them to different anime, read/ create manga, and leverage it to enrich their learning environment,” she continued.

Smith noted that anime is engaging and sparks creativity because it creates alternate realities that attract people of all ages and backgrounds. And while the club is new, she said the majority of students were previously aware of anime – and it appears they are glad it is now on campus.

“I enjoy Anime Club because it’s really fun, and I really think everyone will love it,” said Destiny.

“It is a good way to meet new people who have the same interests. It is really fun since we watch anime and chill. I personally think that everyone should join it,” said Aileen.

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters