Back in the late 90's until early 2000-2001, there were two groups in Metro Manila that were making regular anime screenings to the public. One was Anima Anime, who did is as part of their business of selling anime/manga merchandise. The Anima Anime group would be pivotal in the development of anime in the country, as much as some people might dislike its members. They were partly responsible for the first anime convention, and one of its members, Azrael, has made a name for himself nowadays as the comics-event guy to talk to. Eventually, the group disbanded and move on to other, more personal projects. I'd also like to add that it was Anima Anime who inspired me to make an anime fanzine, as they had a fanzine of their own, albeit lifting from existing anime magazines or off the Internet.
by Sherwin Nones
Anima Anime! started back in May 1999 when two guys (Sherwin and Jan) merged with a group of collectors (Bernie, Israel, Joey, Richmon, Richard) and joined the Collector's Convention in SM Megamall. The newly formed group of collectors decided to unify their resources in making an effort to provide cheap anime merchandise and making it more accessible. Opportunities for the group opened simultaneously as they decided to open their own shop at Binondo. After several more Collector's Conventions at Megamall, Collectimania events at Shangri-La, and several issues of their self-published fanzine, an article at the Sunday Inquirer Magazine about the group came out. This proved to be one of the major catalyst for Anima Anime's popularity which boosted heavy website traffic, a load of inquiries and a long list of orders. All this came at a time when the Anima just transfered to a new shop along Recto Manila. At the same time, Anima Anime also began tours in several campuses and starrted monthly anime film showings at Oracafe (Kamias st. QC). (Charles' note: this was sometime in 1999.)
It was around November of the same year when they transferred to a new shop in Robinson's Galleria. But it wasn't until February of 2000 when Anima Anime settled in their present shop at the 2nd floor FBR Arcade Katipunan Avenue QC. By that time, Anima Anime! has established itself as one of the major suppliers of anime merchandise online and event organizer. The group also firmed its line up of six people (Sherwin, Bernie, Jan, Israel, Chris and Gayle).
By the year 2000, AXN Asia tied up with Anima Anime to be their local store and event partner. This brought about the very first Anime Convention (AnimeXplosion 2000) held at the MegaTrade Hall SM Megamall. Anima Anime is credited to be the brains of the event which provided the link between organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and cosplayers. For the first time, anime fans became organized. Soon after, other groups have formed and decided to organize local anime events. Even the band NeOtaku has its roots at Anima Anime!
During the same year, when Oracafe closed, PowerBooks tied up with Anima Anime! for their monthly anime film showings. To this date, Anime Revue is still held monthly at PowerBooks Makati.
By 2001, AXN Asia had the AXN Anime Festival at SM Megamall where Anima Anime once again was a major part. They also took part in organizing the group that went to the HongKong Comic Convention where a local cosplayer (JM/Saito) won the regional contest.
Over the past years, Anima Anime has helped and has been supported by so many individuals and companies. One of its major partners is Culture Crash Comics (James Palabay, etc) which has continually offered its support to a lot of events that Anima Anime participates in. Anima Anime has also tied up with Sineklab, a group in CCP that organizes film showings during full moon nights. They have organized several Anime Film Showings at the amphitheater of the Manila Film Center.
By 2002 Anima Anime's line up has changed only but slightly (Bernie, Sherwin, Jan, Chris, Gayle, Carlo, Kalvin, and many more). They have organized a relaunch party over at the Filipinas Heritage Library where they gave away a DVD Player. Later this year, a contest to give away a game console will be launched as well.
As Anima Anime matures, it is now more concerned in pushing the local anime scene farther down the road where fans would be willing to be more than just plain fans. In fact, the group believes that in order to fully comprehend and empathize with anime characters and stories, there should be an effort to understand the culture. This is the reason why Anima Anime has started showing live action films and sometimes, Jpop/Jrock videos.
As the group conjures to have more creative events in the future, Anima Anime will still provide access for anime related as well as jpop/jrock merchandise. The Anima Anime of the future is organic and will evolve to become what the next step would be.