Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Struggle Is Real

I love my family.  When I'm in Mongolia, I miss them like I miss tacos - sure, I can survive without them, and maybe I don't spend every day thinking about how much I want them, but when the craving hits, it's bad.  That said, it is a very real challenge for me to spend three weeks in Iowa.  So this year, I decided to plan stuff.  I started in Kansas City, visiting family when I wasn't in an AP workshop, then headed down to visit Shaggy and the fam before returning to Iowa.  I also convinced my mom that she should travel to Coralville, Iowa with me at the end of that week (aka, my birthday weekend) so that I could attend an anime convention.
I have been curious about what an anime convention would actually be like since my brief adventure with C2E2 in March.  While I was looking into them I discovered there was one happening in Iowa while I was home, so I figured, what the hell.  My mother probably would have been willing to go with me to the actual con if I'd wanted, but instead I got us a hotel with a hot tub and wifi that was just across the interstate from a mall to keep her content (because as much as she enjoyed seeing the cosplayers, I can't imagine spending vast amounts of time there would have appealed to her).
Since we made good time across the state, I was there in time to go to the opening ceremony.  This was kind of campy, but had the benefit of teaching me the con rule: 6-2-1...
6: The number of hours of sleep you should get each night.  Apparently room parties are a thing and go on into the wee small hours of the morning, although why you would want to invite a bunch of strangers into your room to party is beyond me.  I can hardly stand sharing my space with people I know and love.
2: The number of real meals you should eat every day.  So there's this thing called consweet, where they have free pocky and ramen and sodas.  Except pocky and ramen and soda doesn't really fit into any of the major food groups, hence, the need for real food.
1: The number of times you should bathe each day.  I'm not really sure why this needs to be said, especially considering that Iowa in the summer is pretty much as humid as balls, but apparently it does.

I actually talked to Gameboy about this experience when he got back from his yearly GenCon expedition.  I was curious to know if it was standard for the organizers to lay down the law of the con and tell people to take showers.  He laughed and said he wished someone would tell people at his con to take showers.  And here I was hoping that it was just because anime tends to draw a younger, less worldly crowd.
Hygeine (or the lack thereof) ruined the effect of some of the cosplayers for me.  I am down with all sorts of cosplayers - fat, skinny, black, white, etc, etc - but for the love of all that is good, let them be CLEAN.  I have also come to the conclusion that I am pretty much just fine with never being more than a casual cosplayer.  Countless times I saw someone totally fangirl out and run up to give a cosplayer a hug.  I have some very definite ideas about my personal space, and they preclude having strangers in said space.
And then there were all the non-anime cosplayers.  Not Deadpool, mind you - Deadpool cosplay works with everything - but the people who were dressed as Disney princesses and DC superheroes (or antiheroes, thank you, Suicide Squad >sarcasm<) boggled my mind.  I mean, I guess any opportunity to dress up is a good opportunity to dress up, but if you like anime enough to go to a convention, wouldn't you dress up like an anime character?  I'm sure this wasn't the only thing going on in Coralville the end of July.
I was possibly looking forward to the marketplace most of all.  You can't get good swag in Ulaanbaatar, so this was one of the first places I went the first night.  I spent a fair amount of time looking around, but finally came to the conclusion that there really wasn't that much that I wanted to spend money on.  I bought a few things - the ninja shoes were imperative, given I was wearing a dress I'd decorated with red Akatsuki clouds the second day - but I actually spent more at C2E2, which wasn't even an anime thing.

The most exciting part of the convention for me was the Doll, Figure, and Model contest.  The immense bunches of crap for sale at C2E2 included several booths selling plushies of different varieties.  At first I was sad that there weren't any anime ones, but I decided this just meant I should make my own.  The little megane guy on the left is mine (Kishitani Shinra from Durarara!!), and trust me when I say he looked a lot more impressive when he wasn't standing next to a 3-foot Lego model of Gundam (and even less so with the first place winner - another large doll dressed in Victorian mourning).  Needless to say, this time I did not bring home a prize, and I didn't actually care.  The judges were SO encouraging - one even suggested that next year I offer plushie making as a panel.  I went to her panel on dolls in anime the next night, and it changed the direction I'll take my lesson in when I start making them with my students this fall.  By the time we got back to Glenwood, I had decided who I could make to compete with the complexity of some of my opponents, IF they have a contest next year and IF I were to attend.  And since coming back to Mongolia (a month ago, if you're wondering), I've basically been sewing nonstop, completing 3 more with another 2 that are waiting for some finishing touches.
At the end of the day, AnimeIowa wasn't the anime convention of my dreams.  This is not to say I didn't enjoy it - I actually had a blast, and it was a great road trip with my mom, who agreed with me that cosplayers don't actually look that out of place in Wal-Mart at 10 pm.  It's just that I've seen more of the world.  At one point in the marketplace, I thought to myself, "Maybe when I move to Japan."  And then I realized that I could actually, realistically say that.  Rural Iowa isn't as far as you can get from Akihabara, but if it's not on a different planet, it's definitely on a different continent.  I'm ridiculously lucky that I have the kind of life where I can decide to indulge my nerdiness by moving to the source.  Not everyone has that kind of privilege.

No comments:

Post a Comment