By Wynona Latham
Most Sundays the Rhodes Neko Anime society holds beginner Japanese classes in Arts Minor.
The venerable sensei of these classes is Mikaela Kohlo, a Linguistics Masters student with a love of Japanese culture. “I’ve always been in love with languages and cultures different from the ones I grew up in,” she said. “I think my interest in Japanese culture and language started in high school, around grade 9/10, when I began to watch anime in original Japanese. I became interested in the language because it felt cool to repeat the words I heard.”
Recently elected as 2015 Neko chairperson, Carmen Nangolo doodles in her notepad before the lesson begins. “I’m not an artist” she insists. Aside from being a first year Pharmacy student, she is also a big fan of music. “I listen to a wide variety of music but it does tend to centre on indie/indie-rock and roll,” she said “But I still unashamedly like the more mainstream rnb, pop and rap. I’m listening to Mumford and sons, Lana del Rey, London Grammar and The Killers at the moment.”
New vice-chair Lennox van Onselen dressed as a member of the Akatsuki as they learn about using the past tense in Japanese. Cosplaying is the art of dressing up as a fictional character and Van Onselen’s outfit was met with both admiration and jealousy from the rest of the class.
Kohlo instructs the class on how words are formulated and begins with the most popular of Japanese foods – Sushi. The classes are often packed with laughter and inside-jokes. For Kohlo, there is an added pressure to liven up the lectures because they are not compulsory. “It’s an hour of their weekend doing the same thing they do in the week. So there has to be a reason to want to come. It has to not feel like a class or a lesson in the traditional sense.” Kohlo adds the fact that because it is Neko Anime means that it needs to be energetic and engaging.
Julia Davies views Kohlo’s very creative notes on the differences between the depiction of the schoolgirl in anime and the reality. Her notes are witty and packed with references to anime and manga.
In Japanese culture, you do not have a signature but a personal seal that you stamp on documents. Jarryd Futcher, a first year Psychology student, is busy researching his own seal.
Natascha Dominic, the now incumbent chair, began the classes with Miki. She cited Miki’s personality as a major part of why the lessons seem to have caught on. “I love the classes! Miki drills us in basic grammar, vocab and pronunciation but still manages to make the lesson fun with quirky hand-outs and little jokes.” she said. “It’s a relaxed environment and we all know that if we mess up or make a mistake we’ll all laugh about it together and then fix it as a group.”
Kohlo is formally introducing herself to the members of the new comm. “I only know three of the people on comm (one of them personally), but they seem really nice and I am honoured that they’re encouraging and attending my classes,” she said “I want to do amazingly well for them and to show them that they made a good call. I can’t wait to get to meet the rest of them and know them all better!”