I’m not the most qualified person to talk about the anime/manga community in The Netherlands and it’s something I’m not exactly happy about. Still, I look with some jealousy to the large anime conventions countries like the United States or Malaysia are able to bring forth. France, a heavyweight in comic books, attracted an astonishing 182.000 in 2010. The Netherlands is but a small country a little less than 17 million people large. Unlike our relatively close friends in France, anime and manga don’t have an incredible presence in public. I’ve seen the manga corners in my book shop grow over the years and I think it’s safe to say it’s catching on. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t amount to more than a couple of shelves. I personally wish they’d start importing light novels too, but maybe that’s too much to ask. The only anime airing on TV are kids shows like Pokemon. When I was a wee lad, we used to have a channel with Dragonball Z/GT and Gundam Wing. I especially hold very fond memories of the latter. Unfortunately, the channel died down a long time ago.
All that said, the community is growing. Or at least, the numbers are. The number of people going to animecons is rising each year*. The internet is a powerful tool to bring the information and awareness out there. That is also how I found out about MangaKissa (TL note: MangaKissa means Manga Café). They first started out travelling conventions and even hosting events and workshops at various clubs. However, on the 18th of September they finally opened up a location in the heart of Utrecht. They claim to be the first non-profit manga library in Europe. It’s technically a library, you can borrow books for a tiny fee, but I think the name MangaKissa is aptly chosen. There’s always a very relaxed atmosphere, largely because of the friendly people also there. Even though the trip takes about an hour by train, I’ve been there a couple of times already. I’ve always managed to have an interesting conversation or get a good recommendation, which I could just pick up and read. I love the initiative, especially the non-profit part, so I decided to become a donor. My contributions are rather small, but I’m glad if I can help just a little bit.
The reason this makes the list is because the opening of MangaKissa is actually the first “event” I’ve ever been to, if you can call it that. Well, I think you can because there were a lot of people there! The Kissa encompasses an entire floor but people had to stand outside because it was packed. There’s more breathing room during normal operating hours, but I was very happy to see this small event receive so much attention. A lot of people were already familiar with each other, but they were very open and I could fit right in. I think it’s great how open this community is and how cheerful and happy they were towards newer people like me. Genuinely nice people. And that’s all it takes to pull me over.