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The relevance of anime culture: an interview with a well-known event organizer from Dnipro, Zhanna Grimm

, 10:29, 15.05.2023
Estimated reading time: 26 minutes 267

Zhanna Grimm, a cosplayer and well-known organizer for the Tanoshi Party anime community, creates interesting events for the citys youth and helps the army.

Interview with Jeanne Grimm, organizer of Tanoshi Party
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Anime culture in Dnipro has a long history. Now, the first anime fans of the city, who were going to watch "titles*" back in the late 90s and early 2000s, are already taking their own children to anime classes. Well-known anime festivals and events were held in the city and region, such as «Akihabara» and other. Then they disappeared and were replaced by new ones, thanks to the relevance of anime for all generations. What is the secret of such survival of the anime subculture?

About this in an exclusive interview on DT with a well-known event organizer and cosplayer from Dnipro, Zhanna Grimm (Yoko), who not only loves a variety of anime culture, but also creates comfortable leisure for the city's youth. She is a community organizer Tanoshi Party, where interesting events are created for modern teenagers and adults, which at the same time help the Armed Forces.

Interview with Jeanne Grimm, organizer of Tanoshi Party

DT: How important is Anime to you? How did you realize your potential (cosplay, - ed.) and socialize thanks to Anime? Tell your story.

Jeanne Grimm: Generations of the 90s and 2000s tried to be like the heroes of their favorite cartoons as teenagers. First of all, they copied the behavior of their favorite heroes. Nowadays, anime culture is gaining popularity again. It has many genres and is therefore popular among teenagers.

After watching anime, a person associates himself with a certain hero. She tries to look like her favorite hero on the outside. In this way, it smoothly turns into cosplay.

I have been cosplaying for 13 years and have my own fandom*. This is a community of interests where they discuss common issues and support each other.

Since 2013, I have been seriously engaged in cosplay: I sew clothes, create wigs and think over the image to the smallest detail. When a person starts a life of cosplay, he learns to do different jobs. First of all, these are artistic abilities. Teenagers begin to sew, create craft accessories, and take professional photographs. And this is only one of the directions of Anime culture.

I have friends who started writing fan fiction* and then became journalists. In addition to cosplay, anime culture develops organizational and communication skills and allows you to learn how to organize events, festivals, working with people.

DT: How did you find your anime fandom and start meeting people?

Jeanne Grimm: In my time, people sat in Vk. It was the main platform for communication earlier. I joined a random anime group, it was Kosband* Kamiwaza. They wrote to me and called me to a meeting. I was only 13 years old. Parents did not want to let them. I called them with me so that they would not worry. I went with my dad to an anime with this company.

DT: How did parents perceive all this when they talked to anime fans and how did it differ from the media trash image?

Jeanne Grimm: They talked to people. It was seen that most do not have bad habits and do not conform to the images of media horror stories. Then they exchanged numbers and allowed me to go to their meeting on my own.

And now, I have thematic meetings and I will always be glad to see the parents of the participants. I am interested in chatting and dispelling their doubts.

DT: How did your passion for anime culture and cosplay turn into organizing themed events? Do you have a large company of followers?

Jeanne Grimm: Once a friend invited me to the Mitsuri project to help the host of the event. It was 2016 and I tried the role of co-host. I liked it and decided to develop in this direction. Currently, two organizers work in the "Tanoshi" project. One of them was in Mitsura. As you can see, we are still cooperating. All these abilities need to be developed, from a simple level and gradually go to other stages. It won't work the first time.

If I hadn't started to like Anime, I would have worked as a bartender. And it's not so exciting...

DT: Would I live an ordinary life?

Jeanne Grimm: I live an ordinary life, this is also about Anime. The process is similar to organizing concerts. It differs only in narrow thematic specialization. I still watch anime. I recently watched "Ragnarok" - a story about the end of the world.

DT: Considering all your experience of working in the anime community, what should be the right approach to youth movements, attitude to young people? How should it really be perceived, are these things that do not affect society, or is it really an element of the economy, leisure culture and should be taken more seriously?

Jeanne Grimm: Considering which way to look at it. From the side of an ordinary person who is fascinated by this, then I would like to attend more different events, develop, learn something new, communicate with like-minded people.

And from the side of an ordinary average person, who knows that now there are and new subcultures are emerging, and she wants to discover something new for herself, and has a desire to visit something similar. As for a person who wants to convey something, then, of course, there is a desire to organize something, and thereby support young people in this difficult time, so that they can already exchange thoughts, views and themselves convey something to each other.

If we take the point of view of people who neither want to get into the essence, nor are they interested, have nothing and do not want to, THEN LET'S BE FRANKLY IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO BRING ANY OPINIONS TO THEM, they are not interested. The same "Chvk Redan" - when I saw all this, I'm sorry, my eyes were like five pennies each, how much nonsense it all is.

DT: Can you tell people, for example, what's the difference between anime culture, the people you hang out with, and do events, and all that stuff (redan or blue whale, etc. - ed.) so that people understand the difference.

Jeanne Grimm: Where to start? Some, excuse me, "pig dog" in some Russian IPSO, for some reason decided to take as a basis the very sign that appeared in a certain anime (the popular anime HUNTER X HUNTER is meant, - ed.), although it is just conventional artistic symbolism. The same if we took any other sign as an example, some mobsters from the TV series, but for some reason they decided to take this symbol associated with the Japanese cartoon. I don't know why exactly, but they started to spread it, and here too.

It's as if all this has died down, but all people are called "Redans" and attributed to them indiscriminately. People who walk around with colored hair, in oversized clothes, people who have had a tattoo in the form of a web for more than one year, and all this is completely inappropriate and not correct. My position is this - if a schoolboy commits an illegal act, then all schoolboys are not automatically considered murderers. And when your hobby begins to be demonized, and you understand that people from your environment, and the entire fandom in general, are not like that.

Interview with Jeanne Grimm, organizer of Tanoshi Party

And people who are not related to Anime culture, they do not understand the situation at all, but they want to understand, but they just hang labels. I now walk around with lavender hair and an oversized suit, so why should I be caught and taken to the police station based on these characteristics alone? In no case. Do not be superficial in such matters. If conditional "Redans" do exist, then it will be possible to see when they really gather somewhere and start a conditional fight. But where are they? Why are they looked for there and among those where they are simply not there?

This is similar to the outdated notion that if a person listens to rock music, then they are definitely a dirty, smelly punk. This is a stereotype. Although those "punks" have a very bad attitude, it is not deserved, because it is quite a decent subculture, multifaceted and with excellent representatives, both musicians and bands, and people who are fans of this genre. First of all, punk culture arose as a cry for freedom and a protest against political stagnation, corruption, against distorted moral standards, illegal governments... But then propaganda and some "uniques" twisted everything, and as a result, punk culture was not perceived for a long time adequately and correctly.

DT: And if you pay attention to the problem of the difference between Anime culture and some other dangerous subcultures. How safe is anime culture and community really, for kids for example. If parents or relatives are worried about it.

Jeanne Grimm: Of course, as a person who has been in this for a very long time, and in our society, I understand the worries of parents, because I had exactly such a situation, I was told:

"You won't be interested in it when you grow up", "What are you watching your Chinese cartoons for?". "THERE IS PORNOGRAPHY" etc. 

I want to convey to parents that even if you do not want to get into the essence of what you are talking about, the child will not stop watching it, because of the ban. After all, she is interested, or even it will be a banal protest against the attempt to limit and prohibit. If you want to understand a child, find out what he is interested in, at least observe him, see for yourself what he is looking at. Of course, anime has different genres, and 18+ productions that are also different. It can simply be a picture that has limits on perception for adults, reveals adult themes in dialogues, raises serious questions. Sometimes, in terms of content for adults, that's how it is, as in movies, for example. But they don't say that the whole movie is porn and violence or something like that.

You have browser history, for example, parental control of computers or mobile phones. This is also not right, it is an intrusion into personal space, but if parents are worried, they can ask themselves what exactly the child is interested in. To watch, just ask the name of the anime the child is watching. Okay, don't watch it in its entirety, but at least read what it's about, because genres and age ratings are always indicated as well as the description.

If a child watches, for example, Hayao Miyazaki, it is on the contrary good, it is the cultural heritage of Japan and Anime culture, a classic. Which you can safely advise to watch, and from which you can start familiarization with Anime culture. My own mother, who was not interested in anime, appreciated some of his works, such as Hayao Miyazaki's anime films and others.

DT: It is very interesting that the community Tanoshi Party helps the military. Tell us about the meetings at the ZSU. What are the approximate numbers, and what are the achievements in helping defenders?

These questions are important. When the war started, the large-scale invasion, what were your actions, because you already had an anime community, there were planned events. But at the same time, was it appropriate to continue them, and how did it turn into assistance to the military?

Jeanne Grimm: From the very beginning, I used to have one "point", since we had two events planned for February 26-27, 2022. This is about the cities of Kamianske and Kryvyi Rih. We were not on the streets on Thursday, it was the 23rd, and here all the media are trumpeting that they are going to impose a state of emergency. We simply re-read almost the entire constitution overnight and look at all options for action.

It was agreed that it is possible to hold planned events in institutions where there is a bunker or storage for the safety of the participants. And at the same time, where it was possible to call representatives of law enforcement agencies - the police, if necessary.

DT: That is, you decided to hold the planned events anyway?

Jeanne Grimm: Well, this is the day before the war. At that time, there was still nothing: martial law was not introduced, only the state of emergency was known and there was still some way out of it. And already on February 24, I have three missed ones, one from my grandfather, unfortunately he is from Russia, although he is Ukrainian by origin, from western Ukraine, from my co-organizer - one more, and a friend whose husband is a soldier... And I I just understood what happened.

I was in a stupor, at first. She rushed to pick up her cat from the other side of the city, but that's not the point. There was an understanding that the war had begun, and all the organizers and participants of the movements tried to volunteer in some way, to help in some way. At first, I volunteered in the first couple of weeks at the "KUST" organization in Bombarda. Then there was a small room, which was organized as a room for refugees. And we helped them.

DT: That is, for some time, your activity changed and it turned into volunteer activity?

Jeanne Grimm: As with almost everyone, someone fled from the Dnipro, and those who stayed in the Dnipro and helped people. A few weeks later, my psyche could not stand it. I helped with bandaging wounded soldiers, but then my nerves just gave out, because it is unreal difficult. Then the perception of reality did not work quite correctly.

At first, after the start of the war, I simply did not know how to help, because I am such a person that I cannot sit still. Something must be done, because the war started, and the war cut off everything for me, absolutely!

DT: Що ти почала робити, коли ти вже отримала виснаження після свого волонтерства? Коли ти зрозуміла, що тобі потрібна підтримка друзів з фандому і час знову робити івенти, з ухилом на допомогу ЗСУ?

Жанна Грімм: In some sense, yes, then some time has already passed, April has already begun. We saw that at least "it seems that there are already fewer arrivals", but we didn't have the strength to sit at home anymore, our brains couldn't stand it.

DT: Did you understand that people also need some rest?

Jeanne Grimm: People need a distraction, at least somehow, a little distraction from war or volunteering. We looked for a place, although there was no talk of a party or any event. A place where at least a small group could gather and relax. For the first time during the war, it was a meeting in Globa Park, there was a bunker literally fifty meters away - that is, if suddenly there was a siren somewhere, we could quickly get to a safe place. I was worried about the safety of those coming.

It was all agreed upon, we warned right away, because it was still scary, and parents may not let children in because of it. Even if a couple of people get together, it will be a little easier, an opportunity to breathe in the company of friends. But more than 40 people came - it's very amazing! There were people of all ages, both teenagers and adults. Strangely enough, there were no air alarms then. Good luck!

After some time, we saw that establishments, some kind of activity, are starting to open, we see what is happening in our place, in such establishments as "Makhno", some charity concerts, creative events are starting to take place, and I realized one thing that everyone is having a hard time right now , and people need some distraction. On the other hand, we as organizers are inactive, and I, as a girl, can still help the ZSU. 

We can hold meetings for the military thanks to events, and indeed, after some time, I realized that it is possible to hold an event. Taking into account the map of hostilities, time, security and the presence of a bomb shelter. We started planning the event for June 18, 2022 after a long break. We didn't know how many people would be able to come, but we hoped, at least for a short time, to immerse people in the atmosphere that existed before the full-scale invasion. In order for them to be able to remember and come back to normal, to restore themselves at least a little, and at the same time, we were able to hold a gathering at the Armed Forces of Ukraine just in time.

At that time, we had no idea what to expect, we were hoping for at least two or three thousand hryvnias that we would be able to collect. Speaking of the first event after the start of hostilities, to purchase at least some amount of products, some 30 cans of stew, to hand over to the military. At their request.

DT: Did you have any friends or family members at the front at that time?

Jeanne Grimm: So. Both friends and relatives, many fought. And that's why we decided this: we must act now.

DT: And how did the military, whom you helped, feel about it? Did they consider it appropriate to hold such events?

Jeanne Grimm: They, like many people from the Anime community, as well as other military anime fans, understood that such events were aimed primarily at gatherings for the Armed Forces. That this is not an attempt to somehow make money, but an attempt to spend leisure time for young people and help the military. And people, to make it possible to feel at least a little bit of comfort, so that everyone would be satisfied.

DT: That is, the military and the people understood that the people needed some relief, and were also grateful for the organization of meetings to help the Armed Forces?

Jeanne Grimm: So! I will not name names, but it was our 93rd Dnipro Brigade, "Kholodny Yar". In most cases, it is these boys and girls who receive help from us. And one of the military was one of the visitors to our events, and now he protects us.

DT: And he became the link of communication with the military through which it was possible to communicate with the military?

Jeanne Grimm: And through him. I won't name the destinations either, but they're some of the best, and at this point, we've sent everything there and still do. To the nearest front-line cities, where mail delivery operates, or through military personnel who are on a business trip or vacation, who can deliver to the units later, or guys who came for treatment, remove the stitches and return to the units. This is how we delivered parcels.

There were downtimes, when the collected parcels stood for two weeks, and waited until there was an opportunity to transfer them through volunteers. I don't want to start new mail, but not always either the company or some operators understood the critical point or situation. Unfortunately, there were certain conflicts with them.

DT: So, during this time, until you decided to organize the current events, approximately how much help were you able to receive, or what exactly? At least approximately. 

Jeanne Grimm: Where to start? The maximum amount we have raised so far is more than a thousand dollars. In the general scale of the war, it is not very much, but this aid goes directly to the military, and I am sure and know that it will really reach those who need it, and for what it is needed. We have all the reports on our Instagram page, with photos of all the things we send. Even things that we sometimes make ourselves, for example plush, warm "buffs" for boys, we also made and sent them. They were pleased that we made them with our own hands.

DT: And what do you think, the fact that you thus decided to help the Armed Forces and in particular "Kholodny Yar", our brigade from the Dnipro, did it encourage the younger teenagers from the events to think more about helping the military?

Jeanne Grimm: I don't know for sure about the majority, but I hope that it is so. I don't know everyone so closely, but I think they understand why it's all being done.

However, I have several very vivid cases that I want to tell about. We (in Dnipro, -ed.) have a wonderful memory of January 14, when the "Victory" flew in, when a lot of people, unfortunately, were injured. And we did a lot of things, reposted about it: where you can come to help, what exactly is needed, and then everything was needed - blankets, clothes, medicine, hands.

DT: And how exactly did the anime community react?

Jeanne Grimm: It is interesting that, for example, there was a girl Diana, who sent significant funds. She knew us and she knew  by sending the funds that we would just really get what was needed.

We just helped by cooperating with the Imeni Mechnikov hospital, purchasing what they asked us to purchase from there. For example, at that time there was a specific request for disposable dishes, fruits and vegetables, so that people would have access to them for a snack. Both for volunteers and victims. I was contacted by anime fans to find out how and through whom to convey what is needed from me, where to go? These were two schoolchildren - it was such a surprise for me. The girl was Oleksandra, and the boy's name was either Radion or Slavik, sorry - I forgot.

Interview with Jeanne Grimm, organizer of Tanoshi Party

The girl brought things, canned goods, and the boy came up and said that "I have five hundred hryvnias from my birthday to buy what I need." I had "such eyes" at that time, it was a surprise for me and I was in a stupor, as I was pleasantly surprised. That was cool!

And when I see such examples, I want to cry, shed a tear. I understand how important it is to understand what a cool generation is growing up now.

DT: What can you say to the thesis when people say: "that during the war is not the time for fun, festivals, events." What argument can you give them about this.

Jeanne Grimm: I can give a couple of arguments. I UNDERSTAND THE ESSENCE OF SUCH OBJECTION, but first of all, attention should be paid to what, for what purpose this measure is being taken. We have already talked about this above, that is, we gather people so that they can rest a little, put their brains in order. We must remind people that there is a war going on, we remind them that they need to take care of their own safety, we remind them that, unfortunately, there is anxiety, there are bunkers. And we always follow reports of mass shelling, and warn that the measures may be postponed to a later time.

Secondly, these events help to raise at least some funds for the Armed Forces. They give us the opportunity to join.

DT: And if they were not, then?

Jeanne Grimm: I don't know if anything would change dramatically, but we would still help people from the anime community and be able to help the military.

DT: But would specific military personnel have received this assistance if these events had not happened? Maybe there are examples when thanks came from specific military personnel for receiving your parcels on time, and that this helped them a lot in some situations? Speaking of the speed of aid efforts in the Tanoshi Party.

Jeanne Grimm: Of course, requests from the military would be satisfied even without us, but it would be their own funds or other volunteers, and this is how they (the military) first feel this support from the community. That people are concerned about their protection. Personally, I was very pleased to know that the same buffs that we made sometime in October are still worn by the military as a reminder.

It warms my soul and heart, because then we made 45 buffs in three days, despite the fact that many people helped me. We were going to "Candy Yarn" - this is a small shop on Yavornytskyi Street, which provided us with a room where we can just sit down and knit. It was very nice, and we were also helped with materials and advice on how to make them better and faster. We really made very high-quality and beautiful things then.

DT: Fine. And tell me when and where your next event will be, in particular, to raise funds for the military?

Jeanne Grimm: All "Tanoshi" events, except for closed ones (because these events are for adults), are held with the collection of funds for the Armed Forces. Closed events are aimed at a small, limited number of people. Prices for attending our events are minimal. You can look at similar events in other regions and understand that our price tag is extremely small. And our next event will be in Kryvyi Rih.

Kryvyi Rih - we are coming back, finally! We agreed, we were able.

We are planning an event in Kryvyi Rih for the month of June. We are still thinking about the date and would like to know from those who wish to attend this event which dates would be convenient for them. So stay tuned to our Tanoshi Party Instagram, and a website coming soon.

And maybe, if there is interest, there are plans to organize a free fair, with the condition that there will be a box for donations, into which everyone can drop an acceptable amount for the Ukranian Armed Forces.

DT: Tell us more about the history of the creation of "Tanoshi" and the organization of such communities.

Jeanne Grimm: The first project we had was called "Mitsuri", the main good organizer was a girl, now she lives abroad, for a very long time. We then had certain organizational issues, certain contradictions. After some time we parted ways. For about three to four years, I had a serious condition, depression, and I was left without a social circle to communicate with people. Somehow I wish my ex-co-organizer a happy birthday. We talked and soon I was invited to the company, and I thought "why not?" and after a certain period of time, we thought: "damn, let's remember our youth, let's make an anime-pati again."

After that, we decided to work on a new project, it has existed for more than a year and a half, and is developing more and more. Now it is known by the name "Tanoshi", from Japanese - it translates as "joy, entertainment".

DT: Cooperation with public and state institutions: how do you see it? Do they help with youth events?

Jeanne Grimm: I have a very vivid example, the same Kryvyi Rih, communication with people and the public, management of the same DK where the next event will take place. They are very interested in our youth activities. At the same time, I notice that there are also such interested people in Dnipro. I really hope to cooperate with them. I see that many people, before the "Balzac age", are interested in these events and it's very cool, because Anime culture, and Japanese culture in general, even if you don't take animation into account, is starting to gain momentum more and more and more .

DT: It turns out that public institutions, in general, are interested in helping to create events for young people?

Jeanne Grimm: Using the example of how anime evenings were organized in our city, we also plan to do this again. Probably, we will start from the beginning or middle of April-May. We are planning to hold such small, first gatherings of up to 25-30 people and see if it will interest our boys and girls. Sit together, watch some anime, maybe feature films.

DT: Will there also be help for the military?

Jeanne Grimm: Of course. There are also certain conditions from institutions that want to try this format, but we will certainly accumulate some part of the funds. We will write that from the events, one of the goals is to collect some amount, or if people are not against it, then we will immediately send the funds to the account of the Armed Forces, or give them to volunteers we know.

They collect precisely for things that are very necessary for the military: such as thermal imagers, copters, drones, etc..

Interview with Jeanne Grimm, organizer of Tanoshi Party

Photo of Jeanne Grimm as "Rebecca" from Cyberpunk by photographer Alex Blaur

  • *The title is a separate franchise, anime series or movie in anime slang. 
  • *A fandom is a group of people with an interest who (for example) can sew cosplay costumes together or voice anime series together. 
  • *Fan fiction - short or long stories, the specialization of which are individual franchises, the fans of which are young people, and the main characters are famous personalities or characters. 

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