Land of Confusion: My First Anime Con Experience

Whew.  It’s done.

I returned home from my first experience at an anime convention (in this case, IKKiCON) with a humongous headache – mostly from allergies, but certainly not abated by crowds and confusion.

That said, I actually had a pretty good time.

First off, let me praise the IKKiCON staff.  I’m planning some rather large events myself in the coming months and I know how difficult it can be; I don’t yet know how hard it’ll be the day of, but it’s easy to see that such a large, complex gathering can be a major headache.  Yet, a number of people went out of their way to assist this little blogger.  In addition, staff was helpful and kind in general and security was surprisingly both staunch and non-invasive.

I didn’t get to sit in on much, but I enjoyed what I saw.  For instance, Johnny Yong Bosch had a one hour panel, and it wasn’t long enough (I could watch him demonstrate the silliness of Dragonball Evolution‘s fight scenes with microphones all afternoon).

Most importantly, I got what I came for and more.  After corresponding with Caitlin Glass (Fullmetal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club) for the last several months and conducting an interview with her, I was finally able to meet Caitlin in person and finish the promised second part of that interview, which will be going up here in the next week or two (and here it is).  She also connected me with another voice actress, whom I hope to interview regarding the intersection of anime and her faith.

As for the attendees…woooh, man, it brought me back to my days as a high school teacher.  I had two or three kids like these in each class, which was fun when I taught…but now, there were hundreds of them, and it was like a sea of uncontainable energy dragging me in whatever direction it wanted.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by two things which stuck out to me: lack of clothing and lack of manners.  The first was only shocking in how prevalent it was (I don’t think all these girls were dressed up as Yoko Littner because she strikes a blow for feminism with her awesome gunning skills).  The second just reminded me that parents need to teach their kids manners – we don’t (or shouldn’t) teach them just because of social or cultural values, but because they teach us humility.  For instance, let the woman with a little girl in her stroller should go before you – stop thinking about shopping for a keychain for a minute and hold the door open for her!

By the way, total spent at my first con: $5.00.  Sorry, R86, I couldn’t pull the trigger and buy something for myself.  There just wasn’t anything that particularly appealed to me in my price range.

I also had a fun time trying to track down cosplayers to take pictures of.  My plan was to find those dressed up as characters from series I recommend to Christian viewers…but there was not a Madoka in sight.  So I settled for those in series with some spiritual content:

Reaching on the whole “spiritual anime” theme: Aizen and Chrysalis Aizen

Just because Ayu is maybe my favorite anime character… (cosplayer: Zizi)

Mami Tomoe (Cat-chan): Finally – cosplay I was looking for!

Really, I thought that this post was going to be about the intersection of my faith and anime at a convention event.  I thought about what Lauren Orsini wrote for us in 2011 (Can Anime and Religion Coexist Peacefully?):

At that Katsucon, I did feel uncomfortable around the Christian Values Summit. I was working at the Maid Cafe and I could only imagine what they thought of my outfit. I was concerned they thought I was a pervert and I really wanted to explain to them why a grown woman might wear a maid costume in public.

Of course, these attendees didn’t feel out of place around me and I didn’t feel out of place around them.  I was one of the crowd – albeit, much more conservative and less excitable – but a fan, nonetheless.  Perhaps the comfort I feel here will lead me to one day to a panel at a con – I’m not sure.  But one thing I believe to be true is that God has placed me as part of the anime community (if not necessarily the con community) for a reason.  And that’s more than okay with me.

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About TWWK

TWWK, known to outlaws and lawmen alike as Charles, lives deep in the heart of Texas, where he drives cattle and boot scoots (not really - though he does sport a pair of rattlesnake boots). Somehow in this frontier, he also finds time for his wife, children, and church. Oh, and anime, too.

Posted on 12.31.2011, in Anime, Christianity, cosplay and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Congratulations on surviving your first con! Don’t worry about not buying anything — I was only scarcely able to do so myself. The main thing I bought was a Nintendo DS game in Japanese, which I was sure I’d be able to play to completion by the time I trade it back to the dealer at the next con. (I still cannot get past the first sentence, and I have about two months left.)

    Mostly, what I learned at my first con is that, like you, I’m in it for some reason. What that reason is, isn’t clear to me yet. But as long as there seems to be a reason for me to be in it, I will stay.

    Also, I thought the Aizen was Ryuhou of s-CRY-ed. Oh the memories! (another of the first anime series I ever watched)

    • I found myself looking for one of two things: a trinket from one of my favorite series or the DVD set of Haibane Renmei. Unfortunately, most of the trinkets were from Naruto or Bleach and I had no luck with the DVDs. It was for the better anyway. :P

  2. Aw, glad you had a good time! I think I would’ve found my first con a pretty anti-climatic experience had I not been with friends. And I seem to buy stuff at cons only if it’s unavailable elsewhere (i.e. online) or if I just want it immediately and it’s not too big/ expensive, I guess. Then again, London Expo isn’t really like US anime cons, more like a massive trade fair for a variety of Media, so, yeah. The Lauren Orsini quote is also interesting, as it reminds me of the issues I (as a Muslim) had deciding whether or not I was going to cosplay at the last con I went to, and then trying to find a female anime character that didn’t wear a really revealing or completely bizzaro outfit! In the end I went as Erika from Drrr!!, and I was with other friends who also cosplayed as Drrr!! characters, so it was all good. :) Thus, I also agree with your words, ‘I was one of the crowd – albeit, much more conservative and less excitable – but a fan, nonetheless’, and it was great just to be part of such an eclectic crowd, who are nonetheless connected by that common interest in anime/ certain media and pop-culture.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment, and thanks for the read!

    • That’s really an interesting dilemma you faced…I’d love to hear more about it. Perhaps you’d be willing to write a little guest post about it, or otherwise the experience of being Muslim and an anime fan? :) :) :)

      • :) That’s very kind of you, thank you. Not sure how interesting it would be, but I’d be honoured to write a little something (I’ll have a think and email/ DM you via twitter).

  3. Hi! :D I’m the Ayu you took a picture of~ Now that I know what your blog is actually about, I’m totally going to follow it–you don’t find Christian anime fans very often, especially at conventions. This blog makes me really happy. :)

  4. Good to hear that you had an enjoyable time! Cons can get ridiculously pricey so perhaps it’s for the best that you only spent $5. :)

    It’s interesting that you mention Caitlin Glass, too! I just started watching FMA and I think Winry is adorable.

    • Oh yes, I can see how it can get expensive. I was watching young people left and right dropping LOTS of money, largely on items that are much cheaper if purchased at the right place online. -_-’

      Caitlin is incredibly nice – and a talented voice actress to boot!

  5. The thing i like about attending Con is the “doujin” market. Speaking of which, i haven’t attend any cons in Australia yet.

    • This con, I think, was too small for anything like that. I wonder if the larger American cons have such markets, or if it’s more of a Asian/Pacific thing.

      • but ya , i guess “doujin” outside japan are pretty much limited to artworks instead of full fledge manga. I bought quite a lot of artworks myself whenever i attend cons a few years back in singapore/malaysia.

      • There is a market in America for doujin, but it’s super-small from my understanding. I have a friend who goes all over, even makes her own manga, and it’s rare to see anyone selling their works- possibly also because the market for OELs is equally small. I suspect a correlation.

        • I think that correlation makes sense. The market seems to be very small; a serious American collector may purchase through Ebay or online merchants selling Japanese goods as opposed to going to a convention, where there would be very few artists selling their own works.

          I would love to see the spectacle, however, that is doujin-buying, especially if its anything like that in Genshiken.

  6. Con attendees generally are very rude, it’s a shame. Also, never go to an 18+ panel – those running those panels use them as a license to say/do whatever they want. Last year I walked out of one when the panelists showed pictures making fun of 9/11 and real children being hurt. Sickening, and if I had thought of it at the time, I would have gone to staff and got them shut down.

    Best part of cons are hanging with friends you know, meeting guests who are nice, and exploring the game room. If you get good panels to go to, that’s a plus.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Tommy – I’ll keep that in mind for the next con I go to. I do remember reading about that 18+ panel you speak of on your blog.

    • I admit to never having had a bad experience at an 18+ panel, and I’ve been to a few. The ones I’ve been to were handled professionally, awkward questions/statements from the crowd were handled tactfully, and have never detracted from my con experience.

      If someone was doing that, then they were probably also violating the terms in how they got their panel pass. There are strict guidelines in place for panelists in what they show and do, and unless their panel was on 9/11 and hurt children, it was a clear violation. If staff had been informed, the panelists would likely have been kicked out with an invitation to *never* return.

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