13 April, 2018

Tekko 2018 (Part 3)


As it always seems to go, we didn't get in to the con on Saturday as early as we did on Friday, on account of our wild, late night previous. Doug didn't even make it in until later that evening. But as soon as we got there, I noted that the convention center was a lot warmer than it had been the previous day. Which was a godsend, because I had two nearly naked cosplays lined up for that day. Both recycled from previous cons, but two of my personal favorites. The first I picked after reading the description for one of the panels I wanted to attend on Saturday. It was Anime Old Enough To Drink - celebrating anime that turns 21 this year (that is, anime that was released back in 1997). The synopsis for the panel described three animes without naming them, and not only was I able to recognize each one, they were all ones that I like - Perfect Blue, Princess Mononoke, and the original Berserk series. I figured this might be the perfect audience for my Griffith cosplay, since it's inspired by an obscure scene from one of the episodes of the old series (not duplicated in the new movies, which is probably what all the newer fans of Berserk are mainly familiar with).

So, I changed into my Griffith-in-a-towel cosplay, and headed for the Exhibition Hall for an hour or two. As usual, there were a few people here and there that recognized me, although many of them took a moment or two to place the character (probably because my outfit is not so iconic and from such an obscure scene). My favorite one was a guy who asked me if I was "that bird guy?" I was thinking, like, Micheal Keaton in Birdman? (Although it's true that Griffith is called "the White Hawk", or "the Hawk of Light", and his transformation is also kind of birdlike). But then he said, "the guy who literally screwed everyone over?" And I was like, "yup, that's the one." Lol. I had one girl in line at the bag check who approved of the fact that my cosplay basically consisted of a towel. And another girl later who, upon seeing me, stopped in her tracks and said, "what. the. hell." I asked her if she'd ever seen Berserk. Without a further word, she turned around and stormed off. You get a mix of reactions, but the good generally outweighs the bad.

Xib Hall

So, moving on to the Exhibition Hall. I was a man on a mission. I had $120 in cash tucked into my g-string (hidden beneath my towel), and I was looking for a souvenir. I'd already picked up two things the day before - a pretty Chobits shirt (to complement the one I bought last year), and a cute Sailor Moon drawstring bag, because I specifically needed a new bag (not too big, but not so small I couldn't stow my phone camera tripod in it) to carry whatever stuff I wanted on hand (and not stored at bag check or left in the car) around the con with me, and that wouldn't get in the way too much of my cosplays. But what I really wanted was something cute (and not a little bit sexy) to take home with me - ideally, a figure.

Trouble was, I was paralyzed by indecision. Maybe there just wasn't anything (for a reasonable price) that jumped out at me. I saw some cute figures, but I prefer to get characters I recognize. Not because of principles, but just because it has more meaning to me. That hasn't stopped me before, and in fact it's been the catalyst leading me to watch some good series I wouldn't otherwise have known about (Index/Railgun, Bakemonogatari, Prisma Illya, etc.) - and, indeed, I've just started watching Re:Zero out of curiosity after seeing a bunch of cute figures at the con with that title on the box. But I kept going back and forth and not being able to commit to picking a figure to take home with me. I decided that I really wanted an Ero-Manga Sensei figure, since I enjoyed that series (in spite of its over-inflatedly negative reputation), and there were a few to choose from. I could have gotten one for $25, but the one I really liked was a whopping $110! I didn't want to pay that much. If I was going to pay that much, I could have gotten a really badass posable Femto figure. But I didn't want to pay that much. I ended up doing a little comparison shopping online, and I came to the conclusion that I could get something better and cheaper on the web.

This figure's really cute.

Now, I don't know how these Chinese knockoffs square up, but for $10, I'm willing to give them a try. In the past, it was the excitement of going to the con and picking up something at the dealer's room just because it was there, and because you couldn't find shit like that anywhere else. Nowadays, you go to stores like fye at the mall, and it's a little mini-convention! Not to mention what you can find on the internet. I'd hate to see the dealer's room at conventions go the way of these brick-and-mortar stores that can't compete with the internet, but it's just such a grab-bag of what you can find. The series you happened to watch over the last year and love isn't necessarily the one that all the booths are going to be stocking merchandise from. I wanted to get some Japanese snacks, too (what's a convention without Pocky?), just for fun, but what's the point when you can just pick some up at the local grocery store back home? (Which, incidentally, is exactly what I ended up doing). I didn't buy a single other thing at the Xib Hall all weekend, as it turns out. For better or worse - I guess I'll just save that money for other things I can buy online.

Panels, then Dinner

So, around 3:30, I headed to the other end of the convention center to catch the panel on Iaijutsu - one of my favorite demonstrations Tekko holds. But by the time we got there - and I was kind of expecting this, to be honest - it was already packed, with people lined up against the walls. I know they need their space to be able to swing their swords around and all, but this is one of the coolest parts of the convention - they should give them more room. I didn't want to stand around peeking over people's shoulders at the door, though, so I ditched it. It's not a con if plans don't change fifteen times over the course of the day!

Instead, I just hung out, maybe hit the Xib Hall for a little bit longer, and then met up with Doug at the Anime Old Enough To Drink panel. It was fun to start - remembering all those old, obscure series you haven't thought about since the '90s - but got boring quick. I don't want to rant too much about the amateur quality of panels at Tekko (what can you expect from amateurs?), but if your panel consists of reading a series of synopses from a list of titles all released in a certain year - I mean, you can do this quicker and more easily yourself online. There should be more interactivity, to make it more interesting for the audience.

For dinner, I changed back into my warm, civilian clothes (which was a welcome change after shivering for an hour in those frigid panel rooms), and we walked a couple blocks to try out a different pizza place we hadn't tried before. On Friday we had our usual Pizza Parma, which is always delicious. But on Saturday we decided to try Joe & Pie, which was also delicious. They have a sweet sauce which I'm very partial to. Add it to the list of approved restaurants to visit during the con.

While we were there eating at the restaurant, I also saw my favorite cosplay of the weekend. There were four girls, aged around twelve or so (with adults in tow). One of them was dressed in serafuku with Sailor Moon's iconic red go-go boots. That would have been enough to get my attention, but I swear, she looked more like a fashion model than an anime geek. She was beautiful. I lament that we live in a culture that makes me paranoid about expressing my appreciation, lest anybody read some sinister intent into it. I would have loved to have taken a picture to remember her by. Alas, it's harder than ever to follow David Hamilton's words of inspiration ("if you...notice a face, or a body, that stands out from the crowd, the sight of which makes your heart leap in your breast, then stop. If your feeling is honest and sincere, it will help you find the right words") living in the anesthetic (as in, anti-aesthetic) world that actually killed him...

Sexy Pokémon

Back at the con, we warmed up for a bit and digested our dinners, while Rhonda played Pachinko, and then found our resolve to change into our speedos for our hotly anticipated Sexy Pokémon group cosplay. Two years ago I debuted my Sexy Pikachu. Last year Joe joined me with a Sexy Charmander (the fans all adore his "geek chic" tattoos). This year, Doug threw his hat into the ring and dressed up as Sexy Poliwhirl. And Rhonda played the part of Ash to lead us through the con.

But first, a digression. I made a point to try out the changing booths at the Cosplay Repair workshop this year. They were essentially cloth partitions set up in one of the convention rooms. It was an interesting experience. It's a vital resource - not having to rely on occupying limited restroom space to change into and out of your cosplays. But there were only four rooms, all very spacious. Which is good for large and involved cosplays (I especially appreciate the chairs and tables, and the mirrors, although only one of the two booths I tried had its own mirror). But I think the con would do well to make the booths a little bit smaller, but double or even triple the quantity.

A minus for some people, perhaps, would be the questionable level of privacy these booths provide. The cloth partitions were not fully opaque, allowing for the visibility of silhouettes. Even so, I had one person mistakenly open the curtain while I was changing, unsure if the booth was occupied. And in one of the booths, there was a huge gap in the corner such that anybody walking into the Cosplay Repair workshop, if they stood in the right place and looked in the right direction, could basically see everything as I stripped naked and struggled to position my genitalia in my Pikachu briefs (such that its outline wouldn't appear too "suggestive" to sensitive audiences). Personally, this sort of thing doesn't actually bother me. In fact, I appreciate the more open atmosphere. It feels like being behind-the-scenes at a fashion show, where everybody's half-naked and getting dressed, and nobody really cares (another good thing the feminists are trying to eradicate in our society). But I could definitely see where some people would find this off-putting.

So, for several hours, the four of us (three Pokémon plus Ash) paraded around the con. I swear, it really felt like we walked for hours without much in the way of a break. But that's kind of the point - giving people an opportunity to see us. We did stop to take some pictures here and there, and even caught a fireworks show visible from across the river. Reactions were largely positive (Tekko features a pretty accepting crowd - that's one of its major draws for me, personally - and the people who don't like it usually do a pretty good job of keeping it to themselves). One guy asked me if I was the "shiny" Pikachu (a Pokémon GO reference, I presume). One of my favorite exchanges was when a[nother] girl dressed as Ash with a cute Pikachu plush poking out of her backpack asked our Ash if she could trade Pikachus! We had a few people pose with us, standing in as temporary trainer. I liked that. I want people to feel involved with the cosplay. To have fun with it. Joe did a great job of communicating the point (that I've stressed in the past) that it's accepted (even a bit expected) for girls to walk around half naked at conventions (I swear, there were a whole lot of bare asses at Tekko this year - it was great!), but for guys not so much. We're just leveling the playing field!

And hey, for all the talk about how these cosplays may be "inappropriate" for younger audiences (personally, I've found in my experience that it's always the parents who complain, and not actually the children - kids love pulp, it's their parents that don't want them exposed to it), there was one familial unit late Saturday night, consisting of a rather more modestly dressed Charizard, and a little girl with Pikachu ears, who insisted on getting their picture taken with our group. Now that's the right attitude!

Anyway, I was very excited that Doug joined us this year (he did an excellent job on his cosplay!), and that we were able to expand our group again. His outgoing attitude definitely helped sell the experience; one girl specifically mentioned that his inclusion was vital to the group's reception. It's like Arlo Guthrie explained in Alice's Restaurant: people will write just one guy off as crazy, two guys they'll figure are queer, but if you get three, they'll start to think it's a movement! I feel like in the past a lot of people have been too shy or embarrassed to approach us. But now that the concept is taking hold...I feel like we're becoming something of an institution at the con. Whether or not we can expand our group beyond our limited social circle, and inspire strangers and more distant acquaintances to join in the fun, will determine how much further this escapade will go. I'd love to see a whole army of sexy Pokémon of all genders having a photoshoot together, but that's up to you, the crowd, and not me. It's been three years now, though, that I've worn this cosplay, and I think maybe it's time to adjust it to make it more sturdy and long-lasting.

Winding down to the end of the night, I skipped the Extreme AMV Contest this year for two reasons. One, I think I was having more fun strutting around in my Pikachu cosplay. And two, I always seem to complain that the AMVs aren't that good, anyway. Not to sound like a prude (believe me, I'm not), but the sexual content is all too often puerile and immature - the sexual equivalent of a fart joke, laughing at boobs and dicks, instead of telling a serious, erotic story (I imagine most people are more comfortable laughing at sex in a crowd than letting themselves actually get turned on - it's the adolescent giggle effect). Besides, I'm more into the cute side of erotica (more on that tomorrow). To illustrate, I thought High School of the Dead was dreadful, but not because I'm against fan service on principle. Ecchi shows are my favorite subgenre. It's just a matter of taste, is all.

To be concluded...

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