I adore anime conventions. Though I've attended sci fi, fantasy, comic, writing, steam punk and a myriad of everything-sub-and-pop-culture cons, all of which have their own geeky pleasures and attractions, anime cons always seem to convey an overwhelming sense of cuteness and affection (although, humorously, I recently re-read the 2007 manga series Dramacon and chortled a bit at the multiple references to "glomping" the practice of which now a days, I'm sure due to numerous lawsuits, seems to be almost completely dead.) This may be a product of their relatively young demographic,which can also bring an undertone of adolescent immaturity, angst, drama, and "@!#$%OMG! too-many-feelingz!?>!## :-P !!"
Which, in a way, I welcome. Since I am not a pre-teen (or do you prefer tween?) or teenager any longer, I really have difficulty remembering the heart-wrenching, soul rending, all-encompassing love, hate, disdain, and rapturous glory of friendship that I know I felt at that time in my life (and have the amazingly bad poetry to prove). Chalk it up to hormones leveling out or whatever, but still, I don't think it is good to distance oneself too far from what is a huge portion of the population, as well as a great and powerful force in the world.
Honestly. Young people, especially those who go to conventions, have money and they have time--two things a lot of the rest of the population doesn't have. And they spend both very emotionally--influencing what the rest of us see, hear, and read as well as what we are sold. Along with a need to belong (to a group of people outside of their family that represents their individuality), this age group (say, 12-29), is rife with creativity, as is evidenced by the costumes, artwork, and, well, simply hilarious crazy ass shit on parade at Ohayocon.
And even if you don't watch anime, or even know what it is, there is still some great times to be had at Ohayocon.
(Where else can you see a mermaid wheeled through the food court on an office chair?)
I admit, most of the images above relate to costuming, since that is one of the brightest, boldest, most colorful (and therefore most visual) examples of what I love about Ohayocon. But there was more than that.
The vendor room, or dealer's room, was ripe with licensed material, video games, manga, DVDs, imported goodies and more. I ended up getting a Chi shirt whereas my sister bought the most Ah-Dor-Ah-Bul notebook from TastyPeachStudios.com. If anyone wants to get me their Fat Pegasus Tee, I will wear it. This place had cats made of mochi. Meowchi.
But wait, there's more! Ohayocon also had an Artist Alley, which was fairly thriving. I will admit to being a person who does not purchase a lot of art for arts sake. But if you have any peripherals, i.e. jewelry, bookmarks, comics etc. I may be tempted. I am also a self-declared button whore. I was lucky enough to find two pretty amazing... God I don't know what to call them, franchises?
Prince of Cats, a webcomic that uploads multiple watercolor pages per week. WATERCOLORS! Some webcomics struggle to upload a single penciled page every 7 days! (Not that I'm dissing them; I haven't posted a blog about this convention and I went to it over a month ago.) Prince of Cats is mostly a relationship tale between two queer boys in their final days of high school. The twist is that Lee (above) saved the Princess of Cats and therefore was granted one wish. He has yet to make said wish and so, until he does, he has gained the ability to understand the language of cats. The artist's kickass postcard marketing collateral lead me to her site, where I've been following the story (which only started posting in 2012, but has an active fan base and a number of collections for sale.)
Another was Tokyo Demons, a multifaceted creation which includes a written story, serialized audio show and YouTube channel, book and ebook, as well as posters, pins, a card game, a video game and, um, more. Pretty incredible. My husband bought the fully voiced audio book (!) which we listened to driving back to Wisconsin. The story follows Ayase, a girl with a very strange secret, and Jo Oda, a self-centered pickpocket who is drawn into a convoluted and complex plot he didn't ask for and doesn't really want to deal with.So far my favorite character is Miki Morikawa, a young, incredibly bright nerd who swears like a sailor, leads an inept street gang, and is voiced by a woman. Daniel Ozimek is pretty cool tool.
Lianne Sentar and Rebecca Scoble, both involved with Tokyo Demons and former employees of TokyoPop have recently launched Chromatic Press which has some pretty cool stuff going on so you should check it out.
Panels play a big part of Ohayocon. I find the quality to be hit or miss, and this year was no exception. I attended a Persona panel, which was mostly trivia (I missed the first part. There might have been more discussion, research etc. that I missed). And I did get to meet MegaTokyo artist and co-creator Fred Gallagher, but his panel was so low key I could hardly hear him. I give him a pass, and I won't post the awesome pic of me standing next to him while he was wearing a full body kitty cat costume because he tweeted he was embarrassed by it (then why wear it, Fred?).
The best panel I attended was one about the Ren'Py game engine, a program that helps developers create a video game, namely, a visual novel. A visual novel is a style of game that can be as simple as a story book you click through. The panel was put on by the writer and artist of OTChi Kocchi, a recently released visual novel game set in a pharmacy school. The presenters really laid out the process and it looks pretty simple. The fact that they had never made a video game before also gave me hope of maybe someday making my own. They also handed out free cds of the game (Act I), which is also available for free download on their site.
Finally of course, was the comradery. Because it doesn't matter if you're 17 or 70, hanging out with people-- friends, family, and strangers, who laugh at the same things you do, introduce you to new and innovative experiences, and create an environment where you can feel free to be whoever you want to be, is something pretty magical. Overall I had a blast, and returned home inspired, with my muse raging to create.
... although I still don't get Homestuck.
(pic from http://rebloggy.com/post/homestuck-update-homestuck-update-upd8/34933222090 )
Note-my full Flickr set is here.