A con called A-Kon

A while back, I referred to Scarborough Faire as a "human zoo". If Scarborough is a zoo, then A-Kon is a circus!

A-Kon is a very, very large (mostly) anime convention held annually in Dallas, TX. As you may or may not know, I am not particularly fond of anime. My general response to it is the same as my response to pretty much all other things TV - "Meh". It's okay. Some of it looks cool. I've just never been sucked into a series like some people have. Adding to my aversion is the group of anime fankids, some of whom actually call themselves "otaku" (a very negative word!) in a misguided effort to embrace all things Japanese. I can rant about the otaku thing later. My main beef with these fankids is that they watch a lot of anime and therefore believe that they know a lot about Japanese culture. In my opinion, this is similar to a Japanese person watching a lot of "Looney Tunes" and assuming they are now an American cultural expert. The whole idea is preposterous.

Now, for all these reasons, I had never been to A-Kon before this year. A friend needed some help running a Hobbytown USA booth at the convention, and offered to pay me a meager hourly wage for my trouble. Being an unemployed graduate student, I leapt at the opportunity to earn a few extra buck$. Thus began my descent into madness...

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned At A-Kon:

1. Tolerance. If you try to force your views on others, they might try to force their views on you. Just let that guy wear his gold sequined speedo, and be glad you don't have to wear one, too:

(Notice Jesus in the background there?)

2. David Bowie was really awesome in "The Labyrinth":

3. Never forget the people who made you who you are. Even international celebrity plumbers still have time for their fans:

4. Everyone likes to play dress-up sometimes, even old guys:

5. When you actually face bullies, you often find they're not so scary after all. Believe it or not, Darth Vader's really only 4'2:

6. Sometimes, a man just wants to be a chokobo:

Luckily for you, I didn't photograph any men dressed as women, women who should've dressed, or furries. Believe me, they were all there. VG Cats has a great comic about it. To quote Scott, in places, it was "a sea of shame and pity". There were plenty of "Sailor Beefcake"s, and I do pity the thin nylon that was no doubt permanently damaged by "desperately trying to hold back a tsunami of flesh".

Also lucky for you, I cannot easily convey to you the sheer volume of pure, distilled nerddom I experienced. Being quite the nerd myself, I admit I was utterly unprepared for a dork barrage of that scale. My weirdo meter stayed pegged the whole weekend.

Hey, do you know what "yaoi" is? I didn't. It's, get this, male homosexual anime porn. And there's a HUGE market for it, apparently. Suprisingly, more people buy yaoi than yuri, which is the girl-on-girl anime porn. Now, to me, the words "cartoon" and "porn" don't mix, but if I were to temporarily allow that idea into my universe, I would assume the lesbian stuff would be more popular than the gay guy stuff. And I would be very wrong. Oh, and let's not forget "hentai", which is just plain ol' normal anime porn, if there is such a thing. I think at least 90% of the DVD retailers at A-Kon carried some variety of hentai/yaoi/yuri, along with their selection of "regular" anime stuff. I was truly shocked. I guess you can't exactly buy that stuff off Amazon.com...

All that aside, I actually had a good time. I wouldn't have paid to get in, but the experience was worth having. I enjoyed just sitting at the booth (behind the safety of the table!) and watching the freak-show go by. Some of these people are really creative, and clearly spent a lot of time on their elaborate costumes. Also, almost all the people I encountered were polite, if a bit weird. There's always the occassional sick-o, and somehow they always find me, but that's definately not a phenomenon that's specific to A-Kon.

AND... I got stuff! A beautiful pair of hairsticks that I just love:

...and a Yoshi plushie, which is the cutest thing ever: