Giant Robot Appreciation Society
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And here's an interview with Mikel Reparaz, the other founder of the club.

What's the story behind the club's founding?

That depends on whether you mean the founding of Evergreen's anime club, or GRAS in particular. The anime club had been around since before I arrived at Evergreen, and when I started going to meetings, it basically amounted to a small group of bored nerds sitting around a cubicle in the CAB one afternoon a week, occasionally remembering to talk about anime. The only thing that really made it worthwhile was a large collection of Laserdiscs, which were kept in the closet in the student-activities conference room. It was kind of a subset of the Gamer Guild, and at the end of my first year at Evergreen, a coordinator who shall remain nameless neglected to hand in the paperwork to get our club status renewed for the coming year. I then spent a good chunk of my sophomore-year free time trying unsuccessfully to get the club resurrected before our LD library passed into the custody of the college's actual library. The main block was trying to find a faculty member to sponsor the club, and we finally found one in Harumi Moruzzi. Once that had been accomplished, we reformed as the Giant Robot Appreciation Society, regained access to our library, started weekly showings in the A-dorm rec room (I forget exactly what the room was called at the time) and eventually even got a budget.

We also participated in GeoCon, mainly just to hash out a schedule for the anime room. The first year we did it, another member and I actually re-recorded everything onto 8-hour tapes, and then took round-the-clock shifts to make sure that everything was switched out on time and that the guys screaming to put in their own stuff didn't get access to the video room and mess up the schedule.

What did you guys watch?

Um... all kinds of stuff? It's kind of hard to remember what anime I watched, like, 10 years ago. I remember we watched a lot of the Urusei Yatsura movies the club had in its collection, as well as Castle of Cagliostro and a few of the other Lupin movies. We'd also frequently watch full OVA series over a couple of weeks. I remember Tenchi Muyo, Slayers, Bastard!!, Vampire Princess Miyu and Evangelion, and I'm sure there's a bunch of other cool stuff that I'd slap myself across the forehead for not remembering if someone reminded me of it.

Any cool stories or anecdotes?

Um... one time I got into a huge argument with the guy who briefly coordinated the anime club before me, about whether the "Muyo" in "Tenchi Muyo" was actually pronounced "Muyo" (my position) or "Miyu" (his position). The argument was unimaginably stupid, and being huge nerds we were of course both deeply invested in it. It got more and more angry and heated over the course of about 10 minutes, until it was finally settled by a passing Japanese exchange student who read the Kanji off the LD sleeve and corrected him.
I know that's a lame story, and it only gets lamer, because if memory serves, that wasn't the last time we argued about it. He later adopted the position that "Oh, there are MULTIPLE correct ways to pronounce it" and I resisted the urge to strangle him.

I can't think of anything else right at the moment, but I'm sure I will after I send this off, so I may get back to you about that.

I've seen a couple of old web pages refer to GRAS as Cal Animage Omicron"... how was GRAS connected to the Cal Animage folks?

This is pretty simple: At the club's outset, we thought it would boost our credibility to be part of the Cal-Animage network (even though we weren't in California), because they were a huge deal back in the early-to-mid '90s, when anime fandom was still kind of a cult phenomenon. So I contacted the people in charge of CA to ask what we'd need to do to join. Their answer, if I remember right, was along the lines of, "Uh, why do you even want to join? I guess you just need to ask or something. Do you want, like, a chapter designation?" So I told them we'd be "Omicron Chapter," because it sounded cool. And that was the start and end of our contact with Cal-Animage.

Why'd you call it the Giant Robot Appreciation Society?

Two reasons: it was a cool-sounding name that popped into my head during a brainstorming session, and its acronym was GRAS. Which is, you know, "grass" without the extra "S." Because Evergreen has (had?) a reputation as a stoner school, and we were poking fun at that.

Last updated by Jonah, 1/22/09