I was planning on having a series of posts on my recent trip to the Ephing Anime Con, but the more I thought about it the less interested I thought you guys would be in that. Instead I’m going to just throw out a bunch of observations. If any of them interest you and you would like to see a post on them, point them out to me and I’ll be glad to extrapolate.

So without further ado:

Good grief, when did I get so old? I remember feeling very old at the last couple conventions I went to, but it got three years more pronounced since my last con. I’m getting older but it seems that the average con-goers age is, if not static, aging at a much less rapid pace.

I’m going to have to let go of some of my old standard jokes about anime conventions. It’s really not just for geeks anymore. There was an amazingly larger variety of attendees. There were actual black people. Not like a black person or two, but at least a couple dozen. In anime circles, 50 black guys out of 15,000 is called “diversity”. The Asian-American contingent, which was never close to a plurality but always significant, was almost unnoticeable. I actually think there may have been more actual Asians than Asian-Americans. I only counted two people that seemed to weigh over 350 pounds. That, too, was unusual. The gender imbalance does not appear to have improved, though the age of the average female attendee seemed to go up.

By far the most enjoyable thing about the convention was the costumes. I always considered it a fun part of it, but having been to all of the panels before and not even being able to find the video rooms (and not that enthusiastic about it anyway), costumes were the main attraction. Well costumes and the feel of the place. It feels a little like an amusement part, except instead of giant Micky Mouses and Goofies it’s giant Gontaku the Destroyer costumes.

I generally frown down upon outfits that young ladies wear that are too revealing and have ever since I graduated from college. This is triply true for girls that are not yet out of high school. What’s funny is that there were a lot of young ladies wearing very skimpy outfits to the convention and it did not bother me at all. I guess since it was actually part of a prescribed costume they weren’t obviously doing it to tittilate or show off their bodies so I didn’t consider it as demeaning. Then again, who am I kidding? The anime producers decided on those outfits and the young ladies chose them for a reason. Nonetheless, it was a weird feeling to see so much skin and not feel at all uptight about it. I was more likely to grab my camera than scowl.

There aren’t many places where a thirty year old man can walk up to a twelve year old girl and say “Can I take your picture?” But you can at an anime convention and I’m not sure that there is a level of creepiness a guy can have wherein she will not be flattered. And yet no one seems to take advantage of it for that purpose. The stereotypical smelly con-goer almost never has a camera.

Thinking of the above psyched me out while I was there. I almost never took pictures of unescorted young girls out of fear of coming across inappropriately. A completely groundless fear that would not even have crossed my mind had I not thought about how unusual such an arrangement is. I was always happier to take pictures of guys than ladies. The coolest picture I couldn’t quite get was of an entire family dressed in costume.

My friend Clint and I once had the idea of only taking pictures of young ladies that weren’t wearing costumes to see what kinds of reactions that would get. Both of us are risk-averse in that regard so we never actually did it. Now I’m way past the age where that would be considered even a cute joke if she were to alert the authorities.

There are a number of things that you can buy at these conventions and that includes rather dangerous weaponry in the form of swords and knives. The thing is though that if you buy them you have to take them to a rack and store them until you’re ready to leave the convention. I was passing by said rack in the hallway when a handful of police officers were quizzing a crying young woman. I couldn’t imagine what it might be about but when they said that they were going to have to take her to the police station they feared that perhaps she had been sold something that is illegal in the state of Delosa. I couldn’t believe that the PD would be such hard-asses about it since it was obviously some sort of misunderstanding. No misunderstanding, it turned out. She had actually gotten smacked pretty seriously by her boyfriend and they needed her to go downtown to fill out a report.

One of the biggest differences between a convention in 2007 and one in 1997 is the dealers room. In addition to the aforementioned swords, the variety of things sold at those things has increased fifty-fold. There were swords and shirts and costumes and comic books and robes and magic crystals. You want to know what was missing? ANIME! There were all of two tables that were actually selling anime. To compare, there were as many colleges that had booths trying to recruit arts students and branches of the military trying to sign people up for war than there were booths actually selling anime at the anime convention. This was not the case in 2004, when I attended my last convention. I guess that it’s become so easy to get the stuff over the internet that the dealers room was turned over to even more eccentric things than anime.

At a convention some time ago, a friend of mine kept a cooler and went around selling cold cokes for a buck a piece and made a killing. Maybe next year I will try to be able to bankroll my own trip by selling cokes and batteries. Though they restocked batteries every morning, the woman at the convenience store at the hotel said that the batteries never lasted until 10:00.

Though I was glad that I only got a one-day pass, I really had a blast. Though I make fun of my geeky cohorts and even though it was on the whole a lot less geeky than it used to be, I really had a warm feeling at the convention of being surrounded by my peeps.

Category: Downtown, Theater

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