27 July, 2023

Tekko 2023


After two vacations two weekends in a row, my photography is a disorganized mess. But here's my cosplay from Tekko 2023. Hard to believe it's been four years since my last Tekko, but it feels good to be back. I love what they've done with the rooftop patios. Technically, my cosplay isn't anime-related, but I really wanted to get some use out of my Luna Lovegood cosplays from that doomed trip to Harry Potter World we never got to go on back in 2020. However, in the future, now that Tekko is a July convention, I think I'll stick to my standby approach of wearing the skimpiest costumes I can come up with.

Which brings me to my Saturday cosplay. I finally got to wear my handmade Slave Leia cosplay I've been working on for years. And the best part is, even though it's quite revealing, I never got dress-coded once! (And that's despite having three different backup options for undergarments with differing levels of coverage). Skimpy cosplays are never going to please everyone, but they sure do please me (shout-out to, among others, Quiet from Metal Gear Solid, and that really excellent Naruto that put my own Sexy no Jutsu cosplay from years ago to shame). Aside from simply wanting to join in the fun, I feel strongly about my contribution to paving the way for men to be accepted in the same kind of outfits we take for granted that women are allowed to wear.

It was that feeling, after seeing a girl dressed in a skimpy Pikachu cosplay at Tekko many years ago, that inspired me to do my own Sexy Pikachu cosplay, which I am honored to say was anonymously awarded by a random passerby as "most sexualized male" one year. I've retired the original costume, but hopefully by next year I'll have the upgrade completed - a Shiny Pikachu in glamorous gold glitter! And maybe I'll bring my lightsaber and unlock the full potential of my Slave Leia cosplay - re-envisioned as a Jedi Warrior Princess. Because, to me, sex appeal is empowering, not degrading.


I told myself on Friday, while browsing the Exhibition Hall, that I wasn't going to buy a figure this year. I've got too many as it is; my shelves are full. Plus, dealer's room prices are characteristically exorbitant. I decided I wasn't going to buy any posters or wall scrolls, either, because I just spent the last year pulling down dozens of them that I no longer have a place to hang. I need to down-size my collection, not continue growing it. But aside from the cosplay, and the sense of community formed from a shared fandom, one of my favorite things about going to an anime convention is the giddiness of being surrounded by all the flashy merchandise in the dealer's room. It is truly a cornucopia of delights. Whatever your pleasure is - from sweets to fashion to toys to smut - there'll be something to tempt you.

For me, it's all the pretty anime girls staring back at me from the walls and off the shelves. I had fun investigating the hentai booths that a couple of vendors had set up on the showroom floor (with ID check for entry). It puts me in a complicated position, however, because I have somewhat refined tastes. I'm sex-positive, so I want to stress that there is no judgment intended whatsoever in the following statement. I enjoy the erotic arts very much (hell, it's become my life's passion), but I don't really go for the mainstream approach that is crude and over-the-top, with exaggerated anatomy and gushing fluids. That's why I was ecstatic when I discovered a box of somewhat more tasteful art books in the corner. In the end, I was able to pick up a treasured souvenir that I can add to my personal library, that will be more valuable to me than another poster or figure.

How, then, did I wind up buying yet another figure? Call it the spirit of the con. I was looking at some Milim figures (talk about a skimpy outfit), but the prices were outside of my comfort zone. Then I saw Black Rock Shooter. I actually cosplayed a palette swap version of the character (White Rock Shooter - the primary antagonist of a PSP game based on the more popular character, and probably my most obscure cosplay) several years ago. At first I resisted, but when I saw more of them on Sunday at a lower price point, I jumped on it. I'm justifying my decision by committing myself to paring down my figure collection, and focusing more on quality over quantity. I already have a selection of favorites on more prominent display, and I think Black Rock Shooter will look fantastic standing among them. I just need to weed out the filler. (Although even as I write this, I realize that'll be easier said than done)...


I've discussed my favorite parts of the convention (cosplay and merch), but there are a few other things I want to mention about Tekko 2023 for posterity. Like how we tried out the Escape Room this year (it was so-so - we were paired with another group, and there was just too much chaos to keep track of all the clues). Or how some guy brought his homemade full scale Dragonslayer (the ridiculously large sword that Guts wields in Berserk), which I got to pick up! (It was heavy). Or how I *almost* got to finally rewatch Demon City Shinjuku for the first time since it aired at 3am on the Sci-Fi Channel when I was a teenager (but the video rooms were a hot mess).


For more reasons than one this was a year of change. It's not only the first Tekko I've been to since COVID, but the first time not having the option to use my childhood home as a base of operations for the weekend. For most people, staying in a hotel is part of the convention experience. And I do enjoy that part of it - I even got to swim in the hotel pool! (This is a great activity for Thursday evening, when programming at the convention is light). But it does add a considerable expense to the trip, and it didn't even save us any money on parking.


Less driving around all weekend means that I didn't even make it through my entire playlist of con music, especially after adding some prominent new entries this year. Listening to AKB48 and anime themes from the '90s is very nostalgic, and really gets me in the mood for the con, but it reminds me how out-of-date I've become. I should probably find some newer anime themes (some of the more notable series I've watched in the past few years include That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime, Dr. Stone, Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Chainsaw Man), but in the meantime, I've added three albums of Blackpink (K-pop supergroup and female analog to BTS), and three albums of The Black Mages (composer Nobuo Uematsu's band playing heavy metal renditions of songs from the Final Fantasy series) to the rotation.


Yet another reason this year marks a break in continuity is that our regular companions' interest in attending the convention seems to have faded. So we found some kids to fill up those empty seats. They were (dare I say, "surprisingly"?) well-behaved, and as far as I can tell, they enjoyed themselves (their One Piece cosplay on Saturday got lots of attention), and appreciated the experience, as I appreciated their company. This is my 13th Tekko (and Tekko wasn't even my first anime convention), and notwithstanding the unprecedented circumstances over the past few years which kept me away, I haven't grown tired of it yet. Others' interest may wax and wane; I'm happy I can still find people who want to be there with me.


I don't even feel guilty saying that programming isn't one of the main things I come to a convention for, since there's so much going on and everybody that goes finds something different to focus on. I like the cosplay, I like the dealer's room, I like the crowds and watching the people go by. When I'm in a panel, I get the nagging feeling that I'm missing something going on somewhere else. That said, I sat in on three sword-fighting demonstrations (Longsword, Kendo, and then Kendo vs. Longsword), and attended a tribute panel to Super Nintendo RPGs. The latter was mostly a quick-paced string of "remember this game?", but the quiz at the end was fun (and while I didn't come close to winning, I did really well on all the Final Fantasy questions, which is to be expected).

Other than that, I caught the AMV Awards on Sunday (because it's a lot quicker than sitting through the whole contest, and you still get to see the best entries). The one that made the best impression on me was a Samurai Jack AMV titled Vagabond which won Best Drama *and* Best Storytelling. I've never watched Samurai Jack, but in the vein of that one Trigun AMV from (quite a few) years ago set to the song 45 by Shinedown, it's making me want to watch the show.

Every year I think it'd be fun to host (or better yet, co-host) a panel. To offer some of my experience and insight as a fan of anime and Japanese culture over the past twenty-five years or so. Walking into any random panel at Tekko definitely makes me think I could pull it off. I just need a good topic. Maybe something to do with cosplay, although there's already a lot of those (they had a whole room dedicated to cosplay panels throughout the weekend). I noticed on the schedule that the "cosplay is not consent" panel is celebrating its tenth year. While I agree with all the main tenets of feminism, I can't help recalling my own traumatic experience of attending a similar panel at Tekko back in 2012. I sat there in my skimpy cosplay while the panelists shamed people that wear skimpy cosplays, and generally gave audience to a lot of sex negative rhetoric. I felt extremely uncomfortable; the only reason I didn't get up and leave is because I was scared to draw attention to myself. So maybe I could do a "Consenting Cosplayers" panel, in honor of us conscientious voyeurs and exhibitionists who know how to respect other people's boundaries, but still enjoy it when cosplay enables us to cultivate and indulge opportunities to admire the exquisite masterpiece that is the human form.

Or maybe I'd better just keep dreaming...

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