When given the chance, people of similar tastes and mindsets will generally gather together. Unless you just don't want to go outside and share in the desu, that is.
I've, until recently, always been very private about my J-culture pursuits. Not out of shame, but out of a blend of enjoying TV shows alone, the rest of my family and friends generally being uninterested and a lack of skill and experience in explaining the nuances of Japanese pop culture to others so they could enjoy it as well. Even around my superhero comic reading, cult Sci-Fi show watching, D&D playing, geek-friendly acquaintances, even with the glut of internet communities covering J-anything becoming densely populated and lively places, I've generally stayed to myself for one reason or another.
Earlier this year, I spent time with a few friends after a day at New York Comic Con and I've come to appreciate how awesome being part of the Otaku community can be.
I'm sure many of you can testify that a con can be great, but the after parties have the potential to be better. This particular party starts somewhere in Hell's Kitchen in a one bedroom apartment that wasn't meant to hold the 20 or 30-odd people it contained. Beers were drunk, conversation was had and Transformers episodes were playing on the big screen TV. A running commentary from the crowd was taking shots at everything they could. For example:
This scene happened. The party roars at it like any group of geeks would and someone in my little corner of the room asks in what place does that not look dirty. We strike up a conversation over TF trivia and we get to the Japan-only seasons. I guess my love of giant robots got the best of me, because I get a look of surprise and a "Dude, so you like anime?"
"Uh... yeah." I've danced this dance before, prepare to disengage from the conversation and jump into anything else.
"You ever watch Gantz?"
Boom. I could feel my eyes widen a little. The smile on my face started to show some teeth as I answered. "Yeah! Gantz is some wild stuff, man. I hear the manga is twice as nuts though. Supposedly there's vampires and katanas that grow to a mile long."A new morning has come, a morning of hope
We go on to talk about fan translations and each others' favorite shows before everyone piles out to the bar. Later on, as everyone gets more socially lubricated, Everyone's throwing around their favorite deals on the floor. It comes around to me and I tell them how hard it was to not drop my eighty bucks or so at the Funimation booth just as I walked in for the first time, but was happy I did since I grabbed the entire Patlabor TV series for about the same price a few rows back. I get some nods and a few "oh, cool" responses. As I break away a few go with me. One of the girls asks me "So, Noa or Kanuka?"
I give the only answer I could after watching Gurren Lagann while waiting in line all day: "Yoko, but usually Noa." Turns out the girl cosplays Noa every so often. Just like that, I've met my first real cosplayer. Another one of the girls jumps in and says she was in the Shin Chan outfit at the Funimation Booth earlier on. This sparks up more conversation. When do you think Eva 1:0 is coming out, what do you think of Vic Mignogna, how great is Gurren Lagann, it went on and on and I was loving it.The night in question. Crowd pictured: 50% Otaku, 100% Drunk
I left that night with a few facebook friends and a few new numbers in my phone. The next day on the con floor I caught a few people from the bar and we were all smiles and recommendations. I was part of their good time, and they were part of mine. The act of sharing my enthusiasm for anime and manga made the watching and reading of it better. Even thinking about it now makes me wonder what's going to happen when my otaku and comic loving communities combine at the merged NYCC/NYAF next year. I could not, can not
wait to be with my community again. read