Anime For Humanity was born out of an Anime Club in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles California. The anime club was a diverse safe space for members to express themselves, make new friends, and share their love for anime and the Japanese culture.
Little Tokyo Anime Club (LTAC) has been active through out 2015-2017, hosting weekly gatherings and successful events in Los Angeles. In 2016, LTAC hosted one of the biggest community events in Little Tokyo in July and helped run Akibafest, a convention hosted by Aniplex USA
As the Little Tokyo Anime Club was growing, we realized that anime can make a difference in the community and create a better tomorrow.
In November 2016, we filled to create Anime For Humanity, a nonprofit to expand the awareness of Japanese animation and inspire the community to create good. We continued hosting events for the Little Tokyo community and fundraising for organizations while providing joyful experiences using cosplay and anime.
Anime For Humanity has become officially a 501c3 nonprofit in May and it was time to make bigger impacts! There were so many causes we could use Anime to raise awareness for. So we ran a survey at the Little Tokyo anime club and asked the members "what does anime mean to you?" The most common answers were about inspiration, life lessons, hope and mental health.
One month later, we exhibited at Ronin Expo a convention in Little Tokyo to expand our reach and gather more submissions for our survey.
Most common answers were a dive deep how anime has been as a therapeutic tool in dealing with depression, anxiety, stress, isolation... (mental illnesses)
When I had very low self-esteem and was in a very dark place, having anime characters with similar stories I could strongly relate to gave me a hope to keep going and helped me realize that the rough times will pass.
In September, we were devastated by hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, so we focused entirely on fundraising for the causes at various cons and events.
We kicked off the year by exhibiting at Anime Impulse in January to collect more feedback and share a glimpse about the Anime For Humanity Mental Health Project that we were working on with health practitioners and counselors.
We were fascinated by the attendee's support to Anime For Humanity and the honest conversations about the stigma surrounding mental health. We all truly believe that anime gives us the possibility to make the world kinder and supportive for those in pain.
In the survey, we asked "why do you watch anime and what did you learn from it?" and here are the most 10 common answers:
- Anime is an escape from reality and a means to relax.
- Anime is a therapeutic tool that helps me cope with my mental illness.
- Anime gives me a sense of belongingness and acceptance.
- Anime characters relate to what I'm going through and it helps me understand my emotions.
- Anime motivates me to become a better version of myself. (physically and emotionally)
- Anime helped me find community, make new friends, and connect with same-minded people.
- Anime taught me to be hopeful and believe that better days.
- Anime has made me kinder to people, especially that many are suffering silently.
- Anime helped me express my creativity through art and cosplay.
- Anime has taught me to not give up and there’s no shame in falling down.
January 19th marks the birth of the Anime Therapy kit! A free little package with mental health resources and meaningful items inspired from anime that we all love.
What's in the Anime Therapy kit?
- Journal with a printed manga cover & Poster from Aniplex
- Energy card - Pokemon: To help you deal with challenges
- Red string & post card - Your Name: Stay in touch with loved ones
- Bookmark - Kiki's Delivery Service: To remind you to pause and take a breather.
- Japanese Yen - Noragami: So all your wishes come true.
- Pin - Noface Spritied Away: To remind you that you are never alone
- Kisses chocolate - My Love Story: To remember that you are always loved
- Inspirational anime quote - Howl's Moving Castle.
The Anime Therapy kit had its first appearance at Anime Los Angeles 2018. The attendees loved it! We handed over 200 kits and were out by the 2nd day! We also hosted our first-ever panel: How Anime Saved My Life.
Through out 2018 and 2019 many amazing humans joined Anime For Humanity. The Anime Therapy Kit has traveled many miles around the nation: California → Oregon → Ohio → Texas → Florida → Louisiana → Georgia → New York and many more to come. As of today, we have handed and shipped over 18,000 Anime therapy kits thanks to our volunteers and to Ki-Chan.
We believe Anime For Humanity can create a world where mental illness is understood, effectively treated, and ultimately prevented. We’ll do our part to make sure each person who reserves an Anime therapy Kit is HEARD, SEEN and LOVED.