Fanstuff Friday: Memories from a Con Badge

Attending an anime convention isn’t a necessary part of being an anime fan. I think that you can call yourself a “real” anime fan as long as you watch anime. Period. Full stop.

There is something fun, though, about belonging to the anime fan community. Anime-watching is a mostly solitary activity and since humans are social beings, we find ways to get around this by connecting with other people who watch and share our enthusiasm for the same shows.  The world wide web facilitates this need to connect through various fora: message boards, anime blogs, Twitter, deviantART or pixiv, etc. But for those willing (and able) to take the need for community to the next level, anime and other fan conventions are the logical progression.

I moved apartments earlier this summer, and in the interest of paring down my possessions, I decided to throw away things that did not have an immediate use. These con badges were part of the chopping block. I did decide to photograph them and now, I’m even writing about them. Just because I don’t have the physical item anymore doesn’t mean I don’t have the memories, which I’m sharing with you right now…

Otakon 2002 – My first anime convention and my first fan convention. My best friend Karol called me up one evening (she was living in Boston at the time) and she asked me if I wanted to join her and her boyfriend (now husband) to this “anime thing” in Baltimore. He and his co-workers were going together as a small group and she didn’t want to be the only female. I think she remembered that I was obsessed with Sailor Moon during freshman year of college (I KNOW, SO SAD) and that’s why I got dragged along.

Even back then, I remember long lines, sweating profusely in the humidity of a Baltimore summer, and the long walks back and forth, up and down the BCC. I was so impressed by the cosplayers, by all the merchandise in the dealer’s room, by all the people who were here and loved anime as much as I did. I was such a newb.

Shoujocon 2003 – I remember not enjoying this con so much since it was all the way up in Rye, NY that year and getting up there from Queens was a major production. It was possibly the first time that I found about yaoi fangirls and how scary they could be when collected in a small viewing room. It was surreal walking into a viewing of Gravitation where every single person in there knew the dialogue and songs already…and most of them looked fourteen! I also remember the panels sucking A LOT.

Otakon 2004 – At this point, I was becoming an expert at this anime convention business. I booked a room with friends and we spent a lot of time actually hanging out more than watching anime, which was what I used to do in prior conventions. I think this was the year of the L’arc~en~Ciel concert, which was fun but could’ve been better organized for the non-BNFs like us. Fullmetal Alchemist was my favorite anime at the time — as you can obviously see — and this was when I found out about the porny goodness of doujinshi.

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The last anime convention that I attended was Fanime in 2009. I’m even surprised that I made it out there, considering that I really didn’t care about anime, much less the fandom, at the time. I think I just wanted to see my friend who lived out west, and possibly see the beauty that is San Jose, CA.

I definitely would like to attend another convention, so we’ll see…

Fanstuff Friday documents the fun and unexpected things that fans create and cherish in honor of their favorite anime and manga.

Fanstuff Friday: Renji, the Otaku’s Cat

My cat puts up with a lot of my nonsense.

Also, I realize I’m cheating today, but I’ll have something longer for tomorrow. I don’t generally post on the weekends (’cause I kind of enjoy leaving the house sometimes), but this month’s Moveable Manga Feast starts tomorrow so I have something for that.

Fanstuff Friday documents the fun and unexpected things that fans create and cherish in honor of their favorite anime and manga.

Fanstuff Friday: Tsubasa was my Precious

various Tsubasa merchandise

In May 2003, there was a little manga series that started in Kodansha’s Shonen Magazine that I didn’t know was going to change my life.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, possibly CLAMP’s most ambitious series to-date, holds a special place in my heart for also being the biggest money-suck of my twenties. The items pictured above are just a small — I repeat, small — part of the ridiculous merchandise that I collected for this series. When the manga started, I was part of the one of the scanlator teams that worked on it. Even when it got licensed, I would be the annoying fangirl in every Del Rey panel asking the obnoxious questions from poor Dallas Middaugh. (Though, hey, it was through a Del Rey panel that I met my boyfriend, but you already know that story.) I subscribed to every Livejournal community on Tsubasa, and I made sure to make note of every obscure merchandise item that I could purchase, items that would only be available in Japan. Deputy purchasing services were my best friends, and I’m sure the mail carrier was always wondering why there would be so many boxes sent to my apartment from Japan.

Oh yeah, I was also the proud owner of one of the two biggest TRC fansites, a dinosaur in today’s anime fandom.

It was so much fun. I remember the exhilaration of each new chapter, even more so in seeing the new colored images. Finding out which series CLAMP crossed-over this time was like a game of “where’s Waldo,” where the fans would argue vehemently which character from the Clampverse was that one wearing the hat, etc. When it had an actual overlap with xxxHolic, I think you could’ve heard fandom’s collective happy sigh.

You actually would be surprised to hear that I only finished reading the last manga volume earlier this month. I knew the ending so I wasn’t walking around covering my ears from spoilers the whole time, so I hope you’re wondering what took me so long to read it when I claim to be such one of its biggest fans.

I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t want that ride to end. I’ve mentioned it in various posts already, but there really came a time when I didn’t find any anime or manga interesting. Sure, I kept up with news bits and continued to read some anime blogs, but I was more interested in other things — things that had nothing to do with anime, manga, or Japan. My interest and involvement in anime just became so oversaturated that I wasn’t feeling the same ‘high’ from it anymore.

That’s how I ended up here. Even though I wasn’t reading or watching or buying new things, I couldn’t very well give up my treasures, could I? I squirreled these trinkets away, knowing that I’ll come back for them someday. And I did. And these things are as ridiculous as ever.

Fanstuff Friday documents the fun and unexpected things that fans create and cherish in honor of their favorite anime and manga.

Fanstuff Friday: Anime Amigurumi

When I took my long hiatus from anime-watching, I discovered a few new hobbies to occupy my time. A couple of the hobbies that I discovered and have come to love are crochet and knitting. I learned how to crochet in elementary school, so it was a matter of looking at some Youtube videos to refresh my memory on how to work the stitches; whereas in knitting, I had to take classes and start off at the lowest rung. I don’t think of myself as an independently creative person, so these two hobbies suit me well: I merely have to follow a set of instructions (ie. the pattern) and I end up with a really cute or functional product in the end!

Of course, it turns out that within the crochet and knitting universe, I couldn’t escape anime.  I’ve made scarves and sweaters, but I’ve also come to love making lots of amigurumi, or little knitted/crocheted dolls. Amigurumi-making is really fun since you don’t need a lot of yarn to start with; if you have friends (or a parent or relatives) who have yarn stashes, you can probably ask them for a couple of yards worth in order to start your project. Starting off, it may be best to pick an amigurumi pattern that only uses one color of yarn. Once you get more experienced, you can make even more elaborate designs, even make various clothing for your dolls.

The sites that I like the most for free anime amigurumi patterns are the aptly-named Nerdigurumi and the Crochet amigurumi sub-board of Craftster. Etsy has several vendors who sell anime amigurumi patterns, and if you’re not feeling motivated to make your own doll, some of them even would make it for you for a nominal commission fee. If you’re a member of Ravelry, I do remember seeing a few anime-inspired projects there, but not as much as the sites I’ve mentioned earlier.

I’ve compiled three of the projects that I just fell in love with below:

1) hooked on amicute made this adorable duo of Totoro and the Catbus. I love that you can squeeze the little Totoro amigurumi inside so that he could get to his next destination. I really like all the little details: the “Mei” as the bus’ next stop, and even the mice headlights.

2) Generally, the mascots in anime do make for cuter amigurumi. Even though I couldn’t finish reading and/or watching Kobato without feeling like I just went through lobotomy, I’m still interested in making this Ioryogi. He seems so much calmer as an actual plush doll, don’t you think?

3) And though it’s not anime, who could resist this adorable pocket Loki? It looks more complex than the other amigurumi that I’ve made so far (I have a feeling attaching the hair is going to be complicated), but…but… he even has a little staff! There’s also a corresponding pattern for Thor, if you’re into that sort of thing. And like every good little hipster, pocket Loki has his very own tumblr at Over the Bifrost.

It’s sort of easier to justify all this cute stuff if I say that I make my own.

Fanstuff Friday documents the fun and unexpected things that fans create and cherish in honor of their favorite anime and manga.