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The current President of AnimeQTR took his time to drop by at Hobby Chan to talk about the oldest well-known anime community in Qatar. We learned about the origins, struggles and their observation of the ongoing anime enthusiasts community. Join us in this interview and take an in depth look of a once Facebook page turned to a massive group.
One of my objective in Hobby Chan is to connect with like-minded people from similar interests. I believe a good way is to strike a conversation with them - be it through interview or through social media. Despite rarely seeing them in public, they are extremely friendly and open for discussion. Anime Qtr will be our first featured article here.
The current president of AnimeQtr took his time to drop by at Hobby Chan to talk about the oldest well-known anime community in Qatar. We learned about the origins, struggles and their observation of the ongoing anime enthusiasts community. Join us in this interview and take an in depth look of a once Facebook page turned to a massive group.
Anime Qtr is a volunteer based group who are passionate about their interests. They do almost everything from creating events to informing anything anime related. Follow their snapchat animeqtr where they showcase variety of topics including cosplays, Japan trips and tournaments. They also have Instagram and Facebook where they do official announcements along with a Youtube channel where they posts their new segment: Anime and Gaming podcast.
Meet Husam Yousif who is the current president of Anime Qtr and the first few original members of the group. Just like everyone else in the group, he loves anime (since 2009 he said), manga and playing video games.
When did you start AnimeQTR group?
We started in 2011. It wasn\'t like for organizing event (like they are now) since we started from Facebook so it was just a Facebook page. While I was in Qatar University, I have a friend, his name is Ali Muhannadi and he was the one who created the team. So, he created a page called Anime Qtr for people who are interested in anime in Qatar and he wanted to make everyone together.
We started discussing by posting things online, and then, Ali suggested that we meet. Our first meeting was in a Japanese restaurant, Oishi Sushi. For the first time, I meet people who actually watch anime in Qatar.
So at first, it was just you two (Ali Muhannadi & Husam Yousif)?
No, we started the page with two other people. In the first meeting, we had 10 people and then we continued until we have a big community.
From what I know now, you started as a student and now you\'re working. It is interesting because many people contemplate not having enough time to do extra curricular activities. How did you have time to do all of this? Because you guys achieved a lot.
When you really love something, you do your best for it. I was an average student and also working as a part-time. But, I managed my time to watch anime and organizing events. You just need to manage your time.
There you have it! If he can do it, we all can. No excuses but hey, no pressure!
What got you into anime?
Well, it\'s probably Space Toon. We were watching cartoons on Arabic channel. Then, we discovered the internet like Youtube. I started because I used to love Sonic and there was an anime called Sonic X. That was the first time I watched cartoon in Japanese. While I watch other stuff, I started watching Hunter x Hunter and got hooked. When you start, you can\'t stop!
Which language did you start watching first?
Arabic first from Space toon. When I discovered the internet, I watched in Japanese.
What inspired you to start the group?
It was not me who created the group. It was Ali Muhannadi and he was a close friend of mine (who is currently in Japan). He really wants to meet people who watch anime because unlike before, now you see people watching anime as normal and everyone knows about anime - at least. Before, everyone watched anime by themselves because it was embarrassing. When you said you watched anime, you\'re seen as a kid who watches cartoons.
So Ali wanted to break the ice. He made the group and I joined. I think if he hadn\'t made the group, nothing will happen because we really wanted a community in the country.
Why go social? Why can\'t you stay by yourself in your room watching?
Before Anime Qtr, I used to discuss a lot on forums with people. I used to waste 4-5 hours every day talking about anime. When we started gathering, it was so different compare to talking in the internet. Once you start talking in person, it is hard to go back to forums - especially when you see people in person, you see their face reactions. You can\'t get the same feeling from the internet.
So anime lovers strives to socialize then (in contrary to popular belief). From this interview, I discovered they strive to meet and create a sense of community.
What are the background of your team members?
When we started, we were all students. The group had around 80 members. We were students from QU, QF, high school and some who finished studying gathered together to make something. There is no criteria to become a member. Anyone who\'s passionate about anime can join.
Do you see a trend that covers most of the community for example, age and gender?
For us, we don\'t have a target group. But from what I see they are mostly young adults from 15 to 22 years old. They are also mostly females.
How did you guys create this sense of community in the group? What\'s the bond that glued you guys together?
It\'s not just we are in the group. We are also close friends and we meet every week in majlis. So, we are close friends and we share a strong passion together.
It is also a bonding time for you.
Exactly, if we don\'t work on events, we feel there is something missing. It is like now it is a part of us.
Do you see any impact that Anime Qtr brings before and after?
Like I said before, we didn\'t know anyone who watch anime. After the group, I had some friends from the 20 members and I was okay, I was satisfied. After the first big event, we discovered a lot around 500 of people who watch anime that we didn\'t know about. They are just hiding and watching alone.
From the first event, we started doing more events and people started to come. Now it(anime) becomes normal. Even if they don\'t watch, they know about it. Now it is different, there are so many people who watch anime publicly especially very famous ones like Attack of Titans and One Piece. Almost everybody knows them.
Speaking of events, I remember the first Anime Qtr huge event happened in VCUQatar a few years ago. That was the first ever anime themed event in Qatar. It was ultimately exciting and turned out to be a huge success! I was super happy and enjoyed it. The ambassador of Japan came and that is definitely something. So kudos to the organising team. How did you came about that?
Noora Al Khulafi, who was a VCUQ student, suggested to have an event and asked who to volunteer on the page. People signed up and had a meeting with Noora and Fatma leading this event. They did almost everything. They found a venue under the Japanese and anime club in VCUQatar.
The hardest part was not knowing what to do mostly because it was our first time. We expected 100 as target but when we announced the event online, it got up from 100 to 300 and that was a shock for us. Everything came so fast because the Facebook page did not achieve 500 likes but the event itself had around 600 attendees.
It wasn\'t just a gathering for me, you know. It was an event with many activities including cosplayers. Where did you find them?
They came along. We said whoever wants to cosplay, they can.
What\'s your biggest concern when organizing an event?
The biggest problem is finding a venue and finding sponsors. We need to have money to do it.
How was the podcast developed?
First, we have two podcasts - one for games and another for anime. We labelled the game podcast in number series - 1, 2 and 3. The anime podcasts are labelled as 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 so on. What I think is good about our podcast is that we are already close friends and we do it everywhere. The place isn\'t a big deal. So what I like is that it is a friendly discussion between friends.
Why did you label the episodes that way?
Because our audience is mostly people who watch anime and are gamers. We don\'t want to mix them together so they\'re separated to satisfy everyone.
Tell me the step by step logistics to create a podcast. We have to know what you guys went through to make this happen.
First we get the equipments like mic and laptop. There is a team that talks about anime and game because each members are different. We prepare the topics and avoid topics that no one knows about. It is better if they know about it to have discussions. We also get someone from the audience as a guest and bring him to make things interesting.
Are you satisfied with the current condition of the group?
No we still want to grow and we feel that we did not achieve a lot. The main goal of Anime Qtr is making a big event annually - and maybe bigger. When we started, all of us were young and we made many mistakes but you learn from your mistakes. That is why Inshallah this year we will have a huge event.
Anything to look forward this year?
Hopefully this will be our best year.
From here, we can truly understand that they have come a long way and as quoted from their website:
"Like our anime heroes, we knew that reaching our dream was not impossible but to reach it, we had to work hard. As we had our meetings, our hard work was paying off our dream became a reality."
Nothing can stop them with this kind of attitude. So look forward for their future initiatives!
Until we meet again,
Instagram & Snapchat: @brbteatime