Where Study Abroad and Shenanigans Collide: A Year of JCMU at Anime Conventions

An avid anime fan, JCMU Program Assistant Patrick Mercer has long been interested in Japanese pop culture. As such, he was excited to begin participating as an official JCMU representative at many popular anime conventions this past year! Read more about Patrick’s experiences below, and learn which conventions JCMU will be at next.


Anime was my introduction to Japan.

As with many of our students, I’ve loved anime since I was kid. Together with my father, I would frequently come home from high school to watch shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Fate/stay Night. Cliché as it may be, anime is truly what pushed me towards a life with Japan: it led to my decision to major in Japanese at Michigan State, and introduced me to JCMU and the wonders of study abroad.

I was ecstatic when Will Burgess, convention chair of the 2016 JAFAX media event in Grand Rapids and a 2010 alumnus of JCMU, invited us to participate as an educational institution. Initially, I was unsure of how it would go. Sure, all of the attendees had some level of interest in Japanese pop culture, but did they also have an interest in study abroad? In actually experiencing Japanese culture?

We now know the answer: a resounding yes!

I spoke with dozens of attendees that were just like me: students with a strong interest in Japan inspired by their love of anime and Japanese pop culture. They were blown away by the idea that they could actually experience Japan – all while having it fit into their academic schedule! It was a blast to be able to speak with students about our programs and share my interest and experience studying abroad in Japan with them. Popular shows may have changed over time, but curiosity about Japan inspired by anime has not.

Following the success of our first convention, I worked quickly to include JCMU in as many conventions in Michigan as I could. In the past year, JCMU has participated in Youmacon in Detroit, Shuto Con in Lansing, and Washi Con in Ypsilanti. The convention chairs have all been very supportive of our study abroad initiatives, and have encouraged us to continue reaching out to their events’ attendees.

chainmail-deadpool-with-hikonyan
Hikonyan is a big hit at anime conventions

JCMU has proven to be a perfect fit at anime conventions.

I cannot thank the convention managers enough, and I look forward to introducing even more con-goers to JCMU in the near future! I am happy to announce that JCMU has been invited to participated in the following upcoming conventions:

  1. Anime Park (Canton, MI; May 6, 2017)
  2. Anime Central (Chicago, IL; May 19-21, 2017)
  3. JAFAX (Grand Rapids, MI; June 16-18, 2017)
  4. Glass City Con (Toledo, OH; July 15-16, 2017)
  5. Dokidokon (Kalamazoo, MI; July 28-30)
  6. Youmacon (Detroit, MI; late October/early November, 2017)
  7. Washi Con (Ypsilanti, MI; January 20, 2018)
  8. Con Ja Nai (Ann Arbor, MI; mid February, 2018)
  9. Shuto Con (Lansing, MI; March 23-25, 2018)

We have been floored by the convention community’s enthusiastic response to our programs! Attending these conventions as a JCMU representative has been a fantastic way to introduce members of the anime community to study abroad. We’re especially excited to hit the road to new locations outside of Michigan – look out, Ohio and Illinois!

Conventions are the space where fun and study abroad collide.

Personally, working conventions has been the most fun aspect of my job at JCMU. I attended these conventions as a regular attendee before, so being able to speak to others about both anime and the desire to learn more about Japan has been absolutely amazing. Hopefully the fun can keep rolling, and even more people can learn about the wondrous world of study abroad while enjoying their time at the anime conventions!

Shuto (4)

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