Fun Times After Hours - Tanoshii Nights (Otaku Month Ep. 4)

This week’s installment for Otaku Month has some rather familiar origins. In fact, if you remember our look at Otaku Thursdays and how influential it proved to be - five years on, this is one of the many examples of the everlasting impacts some of the very first otaku/car events have laid the foundation for. Sparking a revolution of sorts, as many more have come out of the shadows, inspired by the roots they left. 

And much like what is being attempted in San Diego now, the same can be said for what happened in central Socal before, and continues as demand for pop-up meets and vendor markets continues to rise. As the number of car enthusiasts and otaku fans increases. 


Enter Tanoshii Nights. It's been running for a few years now since its debut in late 2018, and has gained a cult following in the short time since becoming a regular feature within Socal’s schedule. Namely because of two of its organisers and arguably, some of the biggest stars of the event itself: Jonathon Magbanua (@taiga.itasha) and his red ‘Toradora!’ themed Toyota Hilux along with Ali Noyola (@whoitsali) and his widebody Subaru Impreza.



Both Ali and Jonathon had been regular participants among various car meetups and events in the area, one of which being Otaku Thursdays during its initial run.  Overtime, the two got talking about their dreams of being able to host their own regular series of car meets, to support the ever-expanding possible options available for Socal enthusiasts. A few more conversations took place to discuss the idea in more depth, especially what could be a regular place to host it, what types of cars would ideally be represented, how to organise, and obviously: what to call this all-new meet. The two settled upon naming their new creation, Tanoshii Nights. 

Why? “The word Tanoshii translates into ‘fun’ in Japanese, so in other words: we set out to offer numerous ‘fun nights’ at each event we put together.”

Ultimately, the overall aim of the event, much like those previously discussed, is simply to provide a friendly environment anyone - regardless of how vested they are into car or otaku culture, can enjoy themselves and get to meet likeminded individuals. “We want to provide friendly event and space where everyone can be themselves when they attend events like these; no matter what their passions or hobbies may lie. “

But while some events are more than happy to provide a 'secret' 18 and above section for special interests and art, Tanoshii Nights is more tamer when it comes to that area of weeb debauchery. Since this event is also targeting families and children in mind, there is a limit as to how far such activities on the weeb scale are tolerable.


"We intend to make our event very family friendly."

 And the itasha cars that come out regularly definitely help out with instilling that energy.; with both founders owning itasha cars, it should not surprise anyone that this event was made to cater itasha owners in mind. Tanoshii Nights notably has access to a great number of those within the itasha community of the West Coast; mainly acquaintances who happened to meet the two at previous meetups, who slowly became friends and regular features of events.  

“The word Tanoshii translates into ‘fun’ in Japanese, so in other words: we set out to offer numerous  ‘fun nights’ at each event we put together.”

“Having a focus & emphasis on itashas definitely brings a whole different kind of atmosphere you don’t get with a typical car meet, even in somewhere with a diverse car culture (where its been a long-lasting trend) like California. No matter how many times they encounter them, we get many fans towards this kind of Japanese automotive/fan culture and we always have people look forward to seeing more examples each time.” 

The network of itasha enthusiasts Tanoshii Nights has created over the years has even led them to be picked up by third parties. Outside of their regular event, regular supporters of Tanoshii Nights have had opportunities to showcase at some of the nation’s most noteworthy conventions (pre-pandemic). Big-names such as Anime Expo, Anime Impulse, Anime LA (Los Angeles), and Animanga are just some of the many events they have been invited to showcase itasha culture. These guest appearances in turn, have translated into more foot-traffic for their event and brand. 



“These venues attracted a lot of attention from cosplayers who also happened to be attending and of course, drew them to our cars with their favorite characters - or whatever characters they happened to be dressed as. Learning about us and our monthly event built our following with each appearance; which in turn, led to a regular number of cosplayers coming to support us each time we hosted.” 


The turnout from cosplayers comes very applicable, especially during the Halloween 'Trunk or Treat' weekends that provide a great excuse for as much people to get into costume. "We also put on a cosplay contest, while car owners will have candy ready to hand out to the trick or treaters. It tends to be one of our more popular events."

The support brought over by the event also comes handy for another part of Otaku culture Tanoshii Nights aims to serve. “Our intention through Tanoshii Nights - aside from serving as somewhere for car and anime fans to meet, is to provide vendors a platform to promote and sell their merchandise. Especially newcomers who just launched their own storefronts. 

And by observing the level of support artists are given at setups like these, this could hopefully inspire more novice artists to startup their own stores. 

While the team aims to schedule an event on the third Saturday of each month, clearly, that routine has been disrupted over the past few months - mainly due to circumstances out of their control. Co-founder Jonathon has also found himself preoccupied recently; having enlisted in the military and when not helping plan events, is on active duty as a biomedical technician.  Once the pandemic finally dies down, the event team is ready to get back into full swing, making Tanoshii Nights bigger and better. 

 “We have plans to collaborate with some famous personalities from both the itasha and car scenes, like Jun Osumi. In addition, we are looking to provide a way our attendees can give back to the community through supporting non profit organisations such as Toys 4 Tots, food drives, and Ark Movement while attending our events.” 

In fact, the very next installment for Tanoshii Nights was just recently announced. If you are interested and want to check out the fun yourself, their next event will be taking place in Temecula, CA on May 22nd. 


Despite only having been a regular feature of the otaku and car scene for a few years now, the team behind Tanoshii Nights are proud of what they have created, with many memories and milestones reached along the way. One of which Jonathon holds with hgih praise, comes from their very first event three years ago. Even though it was only their very first event, the success of their new movement was fast to make itself known. 


"The parking lot allocated for us filled up quickly, to the point some people had to park out on the street; that's how many people we had come by. On that day, we knew for sure that this was something we needed to continue, because we could clearly see every single person that came by enjoyed it."

And for those wishing they were closer to California to join in the fun, keep an eye out. Jonathon had said there are plans to branch out Tanoshii Nights to other states, and if everything falls into place: make its way overseas to the motherland itself. 

You read that right. Tanoshii Nights: Japan. Maybe one day. 


Keep up-to-date on future Tanoshii Nights by following them on Instagram!

Photographer Credits

Joshua Sabrowski (@dashie_gt)
Jonathon Magbanua (@taiga.itasha)
Christian (@shizzo_z34)

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