Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Otafest

 Another Otafest

In my essay last weekend (Again, Webizens) I said I liked teens, and that I’d have a Macbook air at the end of summer. ... This weekend I was among swirling crowds of young costumed Otaku at the Otafest, and now I won’t afford an airbook until the end of the fall.

You see, I’ve been carrying a list for years of obscure old anime that are very hard to find. And a unique out-of-town dealer had them all! ( Hurray! - Oh, my poor bank account – hurray!

The Otafest is always held the long weekend of Queen Victoria’s birthday. The holiday Monday, then, is downtime to recover from all the excitement of the last two and a half days. On Monday evening I discovered an old essay/blog of Stevey, the guy I quoted regarding cogs in Alive and Working. In his post on Anime for the Nonplussed I learned I am not the only big spender:
(Stevey was with his wife; I guess Suncoast is a video store.)
…Then we went to the Suncoast in the mall and met this girl, an American girl, 19 years old, who liked anime but was too poor to watch most of it. Think of that!  We were initially astonished that anime can make you poor, but now some 150 DVDs later, we are starting to rethink that position…
Well this girl at Suncoast, I forget her name, Ashley or Lauren or some such trendy 19-year-old name, we were chatting with her and we asked her for a recommendation…
So she gave us her first recommendation and I can tell you this much: that girl cost us thousands of dollars over the next 18 months. If she had recommended something that was total crap (…) then we might have quickly and permanently lost interest.

What made me do a heartfelt “ awww!” was this: The top ten (nonMiyazaki) titles he liked were mostly ones I owned too! Obscure ones, but good ones.

...I think a person’s attendance during an anime convention is random: Sure, you can try to eagerly mark on your program the activities and anime shows you want to catch but a lot of them you will miss as you randomly move about, being too tired, too excited or too moved to keep to any schedule. Too moved? Yes, often when I finish a series of TV episodes I just can’t go straight into another show: that would be like not having a silent pause between good songs.

Since attendance is random, here are some random bits:

…At the campus comic bookstore, Words and Pictures, the manager’s wife told me she liked how the Otafest program had a time slot for a panel on How to Flirt. The very next slot was for Speed Dating. … The outside world may be awfully stupid, but here the nerds are safe and nice to each other.

…When I saw the husband in the dealer’s room we caught up on old times. It had been a few years. “In our last episode,” I said, “Your daughter was in little league. What’s she doing now?”
“She’s attending Mount Royal College.”
“Whoa!” I shook my head. “I really must learn not to blink.” He said softly, “I often can’t believe it either.”

…When I wrote of Otafest at this time last year, I mentioned the boy-boy yaoi genre. This year there were two yaoi seminars but I didn’t have the nerve to go: What if I put a damper on the squealing young ladies?

…The first show I attended, the earliest one on Saturday morning, was about a girl with a stuffed animal who goes around healing scarred hearts. Most of the sparse audience was male, old, (over 21) without a costume, and sitting alone. I suppose just as real men can like crying country songs, so too could these guys like a show that makes you go, “awww!” I only wish the lecture theatre had been darker.

At the first Otafest, put on by the campus anime club, I counted about six costumes. This time costumes were common. The young people eagerly posed and took each other’s photographs. As for me, being a much older male, I felt silly asking. Being a male. Even though the girl’s costumes were mostly blousy with lots of fabric – think Final Fantasy. There was only one Asuka Langley – in her red plug suit, of course. It is queer but I even feel silly back at my house for having more female subjects than males for my paintings, or for my CD collection having more female vocalists than male ones. Although, strangely enough, my girl friends have always preferred male vocalists. So I rationed myself to snapping photos, with permission, only when others were snapping pics too, also with permission. Because hey, I’m no pervert.

Then I saw a young man with a simple tasteful costume: deep blue samurai skirt, matching blue rope belt, and a white shirt that was, in true anime style, really rumpled open in the front. The thing I first noticed was a neat cluster of black “tattoos” like so many little gulls, going up the neck. Cool! Black wig. Just before I could ask my subject for a photo… she spoke. Not a choirboy, a real she. Whoa! Close call! – No doubt she was using "shirt glue" – I would have just died! … And don’t you just love how, among her fellow anime lovers, this woman felt safe being boyish chested?

…How strange to think I felt “blank” about going, and almost didn’t show up this year.

Sean Crawford
Gloating over my new anime,
May 2010

Over in Japan teenage girls often wear super-baggy white socks, socks that could be stretched to two meters long, socks that don’t fall down, because… the girls buy bottles of “sock glue.”

I can sure relate to the uptight male student in Chobbits. The first time I saw him I was surrounded by girls dressed as chobbit maids, wearing lots of black, with lots of buckles, and they were all howling at our poor hero's problems with panties.