An Anime Con

I wrote this for my other blog, but I think it perfectly encapsulates my feelings while working on cosplay.

Normal programming next week.

********

“I don’t know, I start law school next semester, so I’m going to have to adjust my con season,” says Toph to Katara, adjusting her headband. “Probably only going to do the summer cons.” I glance across the big round table at them. Law school, eh? Probably twenty-two, twenty-three. They look it, so that’s probably right. Not too much younger than me, but at vastly different points in life, most likely. A gaggle of wide-eyed, grinning teenagers emerges from the dealer’s room, plastic bags filled with Pocky and Ramune, a handful of wall scrolls clutched between them. They’re in Legend of Zelda shirts and Pokemon gijinka closet-cosplay. Behind them are some Homestuckers hurrying off to the inevitable meetup downstairs near artists’ alley.

I twitch the ends of my long green wig out of the way to access the backpack on the floor without getting it caught on something. I pull out my phone and hold it a little bit away from my face to be able to see it clearly without my glasses on.

“Oh, man, we better go get in the line, babe.”

Husband breaks away from his puzzle game to look at me. It takes him a moment to realize what I said, but then he nods. He gets to his feet before me. It takes me an extra moment to maneuver myself around with so many swords on my belt. He stays a couple of paces ahead of me, and I follow the Gurren Lagann symbol I bleached into the black t-shirt only a few days before. If I made him a cosplay, he would wear it gladly, but it’s difficult to find something that works for him. With gray around the temples and facial hair that would make Blackbeard blush with timidity, he is no slender bishounen. Were he blond, he’d make an excellent Hohenheim of Light. If we sacrificed the beard, I’d jump at the chance to be the Mugen to his Jin. Even bespectacled I could make him an Orochimaru, a Naraku, or a Katsura Kotarou. With a foot of ponytail gone, as well, the possibilities would expand almost endless. So many stern megane san’s to choose from, pushing their collective glasses up their noses with disdain. It would be delightful. Those are a lot of “if’s” though, so my plans are generally stymied. I’ll need to start either getting more creative or not caring so much about the physical details.

The autograph line is already long when we get there. I estimated poorly, but it’s alright. There will be plenty of time for us. I pull the sleeves out of the Blu Ray cases of some shoujo anime that, though silly, mean a lot to me. One of them’s a huge fan favorite that I’ve already had signed once by the main character’s voice actor. I quickly scan the line ahead of me to see what other people have brought with them. Free! Eternal Summer, One Piece, Michiko and Hatchin, Princess Jellyfish, Black Butler, Gansta, Show By Rock! They’re all wildly different genres and stories, but the actors we’re all here to see have been a part of each of them in different measures.

I practice what I’m going to say to quietly to myself a few times. These people, in particular, aren’t all that much older than me. Most of my friends are their age. One of them’s younger than Husband by a year, I think. I feel like a kid though. These people helped create my favorite shows. They’ve given life to characters that mean more to me than some real life people I know. Later, we’re going to see some artists that have done the very same thing. Three whole floors of people and things that have played a part in the backdrop of my life since middle school. The energy is profuse and bubbling.

The stairs that take me up the platform are looming closer. In mere minutes, I’ll get to meet them. One of the staff moderating the line is playing “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” on her portable speakers. Three more people and we’ll be next. Two more. One more. Any second. The steps creak a little as I ascend them. Then it’s like a flash.

“How are you?” “Enjoying the con?” “Cute cosplay!” “I’ll sign this here.” “Yes, I’m having a great time today.” “Can I get a picture?” “Oh gosh, give me a hug!”

And I’m at the bottom of the stairs. The feeling of elation lingers. This won’t be the last time we see them. There’re panels later to attend where I’ll get to ask about reference lines and type casting, and I’ll say something dumb without thinking. I look back. The boy behind us dressed as Space Dandy is smiling widely, excited to meet his cosplay’s actor. I know the feeling. I’ll get to, as well, in a matter of weeks if I’m lucky.

We have a panel to go sit in line for, so we hurry off. I scan the halls as I go, nodding to people cosplaying from the same show as me. There are so many different characters represented, though. Some I’ve never seen, some that I hold equally close to my heart, some that I have to struggle to recognize. There are boys and girls, men and women, different ages, different races. There are families, couples, singles, and groups of friends. Enthusiastic parents who’ve dressed up their kids and push them along in strollers. Overly normal parents being dragged about by their cosplaying teenagers, faltering and floundering with good humor at the strange sights they are being forced to endure.

We’ve come from all over. We’ve sewn and glued, labored over screenshots. We’ve marathoned entire shows in a matter of days. We’ve prepped and purchased and done so much waiting: for premieres and torrents and updates and in twisting lines of fellow fans. We’ve written and drawn, expanded the canon of our favorite franchises after the story’s ended just because we couldn’t let it go.

And here we are all under one roof enjoying the fruits of our obsession, indulging in our pop culture addiction.

Despite everything else, that’s one thing we share.

We’re fans, and, for right now, that’s all that matters in the world.

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