Welp, I did say I wanted to get a part two of this season’s Three Episode Rule out by this time, and episode four of Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai out, but I think that’s been derailed by a combination of my laziness and of course, the main reason I was on vacation this year.
So to start off, I originally had planned to stay at the hotel the convention was being held at, but various important things dipped into that fund until I cancelled it two weeks prior to the convention. So I had to take the Washington Metro system in from Virginia. Basically, I spend a lot of money for parking on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening (I had left the station an hour before the free parking started) as well as the fee from the originating station (Weihle-Reston on Thursday, Huntington on Friday and Saturday, and Vienna on Sunday), I’m sure I spent close to 60 USD on the metro. So in my case, the Metro was the biggest winner this past weekend.
Anyways, many people go to Anime Conventions for many different reasons. Some stay for the pure cosplay aspect of it, some go for the musical acts and guests. Some for the companionship, the dealer’s room, and so on. What I come for, and what I spend most of my time on, were actually panels. There were a few panels that truly caught my eye this year, and all but one were done by people who either been on the educational track at cons all over the US, or have written on the subject.
- Not By The Book: Western Literature in Anime
Presented by Patrick Drazen, I had unfortunately arrived the panel late due to some prior commitments. Mr. Drazen brings up examples of adaptations of western literature in Anime, from concrete examples to those who share similar themes. Notable for the time, he brings up an episode of XXX-Holic by Clamp, a retelling of the Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs. Another example of course, was Gankutsuou, and while noting the differences between the anime and the original by Alexandre Dumas, the themes were kept intact, and of course, Naussicaä of the Valley of the Wind, particularly the scene in the end.
- Holy Anime! Christianity in Japan and its Pop Culture
Again presented by Patrick Drazen, he goes through the history of Christianity in Japan, as well as how Japan views the West. He also brings up the various aspects of Christianity that arises in Anime and Japanese culture, primarily excorcism, crucifiction, and the ‘White Wedding’, which is described as ‘wedding cosplay’ in as pure. He ends it by saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shintoism already serve and deal with what Japan needs. Christianity is marginalized and serves no purpose in Japan.
- But That’s Not Anime!
A short panel, presented by Alice Miller, a fellow con-goer, and the panel focuses on the fractious issue of what can be considered as ‘anime’? She breaks down two ways of breaking it down (Location and Art Style) which doesn’t really help cover it, as well as the definition of ‘anime’ by the popular community databases MyAnimeList (and the changes once it changed ownership) and Hummingbird. Lastly, she presents her own take on it, as well as shows that fall on a ‘universal’ level like Pokemon and Speed Racer, which she rather humorously explained to her father was a Japanese production, not an American one.
- Vampires in Anime and Manga
The last of the panels I attended hosted by Patrick Drazen, he first gives examples of Japanese creatures similar to the western concept of Vampires, as well as talking about the infamous (or famous) Vlad the Impaler as well as the story of the Demon Cat of Nabeshima, a story heard by a British Diplomat before the writing of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He explains that Vampire stories really didn’t come about in Japan until the movie Love at First Bite (1979) led Ozamu Tezuka, who had done an earlier Dracula manga, came to reconsider Dracula adaptable in Japan as a romandic comedy/slice of life with the parody Don Dracula. He starts listing the spate of western vampire stories and anime from the romcoms like Karin (Chibi Vampire in the US) to the serious like Vampire Princess Miyu (by Narumi Kakinouchi), Hellsing (by Kouta Hirano), and the Blade animated series. A very interesting panel, and caught my attention more because he played a clip in the end from Ghost Hunt, which proceeded to spook me, hence my kinda jittery state of mind when I attended the next panel.
- Abnormal America
Presented by Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe, who was dressed in a rather simple yet great cosplay as Morticia Addams, she tried her best to go through all fifty states, DC, and Puerto Rico’s various monster myths, haunted houses, UFO encounters, and paranormal activities in the span of 90 minutes. We managed to get through twenty-nine states and the Washington DC before we were given the five-minute reminder by the convention’s ops people. Stuff covered were various monsters/cryptids like the Jersey Devil and Dover Demon, the Allagash Abductions, Sam Clement’s home, the Willard Library’s female ghost, and more locally, the Goatman of Maryland, the Bunnyman of Virginia, and the Demon Cat at the underground levels of the US Capitol building.
- Cloud Age Symphony: Steampunk in Anime and Japanese Pop Culture
The second panel presented by Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe, I had attended a Steampunk 101 panel hosted by the staff of Anime USA. I’ve been a casual observer of the Steampunk trend since encountering it online and intensifying when I found blogger Paul O’G in his blog, Yours In A White Wine Sauce and VSF wargaming. Mrs. Hodge-Wetherbe gives an overall look on how Steampunk became a sort of fashion statement in Japan, as well as giving a description of the Steampunk name, and even its related “____punk” bretheren as well as the initial ‘punk’ movement, cyberpunk. Examples of Anime start off at Galaxy Express 999 (1978) which aesthetically follows it, to the movie Steamboy (2004), and Last Exile (2003) which incorporates Steampunk and Dieselpunk more closely.
In all, the convention was fun for me, which I think is the core of why people go to these things. They have their own measure of fun, and cons can provide it. For people like me, it was refreshing to have a conversation with people who study anime, some even writing about it and being published (Patrick Drazen), as well as just seeing the great effort some people put into their costumes.
Anyways, for the pictures: