I’m going to drop my daughters off at the Anime Festival downtown and then have the entire day to wander around with nothing to do. I’ll probably take my laptop and go write in a coffee house somewhere. I actually thought about just handing the keys to my elder girl but that would leave me stranded all day.
No, I don’t want to go. I’m not that into Anime. I did consider putting on those cool cat ears and going “Neko” as they call it, and wander around answering “Meow,” to anything anyone said to me. But, no, I’d rather get some work done on my current short story.
I do understand why my kids like it, though. It’s all about getting attention, and extended family.
Nowhere else have I seen more bare-chested Samurai wielding paper-machete swords, or cardboard robot-suits, or willowy nymphs with kitten ears and swinging furry tales. I’ve seen old ladies dressed as pirates, and satyrs with seven foot legs. They pose and preen for dozens of cameras like stars on a red carpet.
People call out to each other — total strangers — and rush together to embrace like old friends. Like family. Which in a way they are.
For one thing, they share in a tightly knit little subculture. Anime fans are, in a way, soap-opera fans, because of the episodic nature of the art. The stories they are immersive and touch upon serious issues. They’re also sci-fi and fantasy fans, which makes them one step removed from the mundane world. They’re also computer gaming fans, which marks them as preferring interactive — not passive — entertainment. Finally they’re artistic, because Anime is more than just a way of cartooning — it’s a serious art form — and many fans are also creators. Add to this an underlying Eastern flavor, with a strong Buddhist undercurrent, and you end up with a subculture with one of the highest senses of identity since the “deadheads” of the Grateful Dead era.
Within this subculture you have clans based upon favorite shows and characters. These translate into instant families, instant friends.
That I am convinced is the main attraction for these events. This is also why I’m so supportive of my kid’s interest in it.