Inside the makeshift Maid and Butler Cafe at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, Spencer Dixon is dressed the part.
She wears a simple yet elegant black and white maid’s uniform while sporting a light blue wig with two high pony tails on her head.
“You either love it or you don’t,” said Dixon, a 14-year-old with a passion for anime, the Japanese animation that has captured her attention.
“It’s an interesting thing to get into it. You can learn a lot from it. When you get into anime, you get into the Japanese culture and you learn a lot about Japan itself.”
Taking over classrooms and hallways on Saturday, Dixon and her school’s anime club hosted a day-long anime convention at the high school. The festival boasted a bevy of activities including game rooms, origami, an artist alley, costume play, cute cooking, calligraphy, skits and a maid cafe.
“They have maid cafes in Japan,” said Dixon. “Girls will dress up in maid costumes and serve people. It’s all about cute.”
Dixon joined the club in September when she started Grade 9 at Lindsay Thurber. An avid anime fan, Dixon was thrilled to have a forum to view and discuss anime with her like-minded peers.
“Anime is like the cartoons we have here but in Japan,” said Dixon.
“They have a different style. It is like sci-fi fantasy based normally. Other than that it’s the people with the big eyes and the big hair.”
By immersing herself in parts of another culture, she has gained new perspective on how to handle situations in her own life.
“It’s changed the way I look at things,” she said. “It changed the way I deal with things. I have seen a different way to deal with things.”
Zain Arnold, also 14 and in Grade 9, joined the club because his friends wanted him to join in the fun.
“Anime is usually for all ages,” said Arnold. “American and Canadian cartoons are usually for younger children.”
The lure of Japanese television and Manga, or Japanese comic books, initially drew Kali Guske, 15, to anime. She is drawn to the clever and sophisticated story lines.
“It’s different than cartoons because some of them actually have a point,” said Guske. “Some of them really have some interesting points. It’s really cool.”
Take the anime Ouran High School Host Club, for example. Guske said it is definitely not in the vein of Looney Tunes.
“It’s about this group of guys in a private school,” said Guske.
“One girl joins the group and pretends to be a guy. It’s different. They wouldn’t really do that here.”
Proceeds from the festival will go to the Canadian Red Cross’ relief efforts for Japan and for a potential April 2012 trip to Japan. Dixon is crossing her fingers the trip goes ahead.
“We’re not sure yet,” she said.
“We’re talking about postponing it for another year just because of the economic state of things.”