Back when I was really intensely studying such things, the ideas of “soft power” and in particular “Cool Japan” were popular in the international political scene. The idea for those who don’t know is that by spreading one’s culture around to other countries and gaining a foothold there, it can have longer term positives as the perceptions of one’s country becomes positive as a result. You can see this in the present day in American movies being rushed into Chinese cinemas with added footage specially for that audience and to ease it past the censors there. Then, of course, there’s the repeated attempts to try to sell anime and manga to Western audiences over the years with mixed success in the case of Japan.
In a little under 2 weeks time I will be heading to one of those other popular conventions with at least a couple of those unidentified figures I used in the Anime Boston post. In the meantime, that means having to deal with making sure I’m not going to end up with a building on fire when I return from work and at least getting somewhat comfortable with the shoes that people are actually watching.
Also on my mind this week was the topic of discussion of anime. My views just so happen to be so far out of touch as to not get anything like that on social networking sites or forums. Then again, those people have to want to care that I exist so it’s really a complete failure on my part. My own relevancy is something I’ve touched on here many times before, but it seems more than ever I watch shows no one else is, and of those I do watch no one else really can be bothered to express a simple opinion. I guess that’s my lot in life.
The idea of passion was on my mind this week as I was reading posts on Valvrave of all things. Flawfinder in his post on the episode, really couldn’t be bothered with something that hadn’t earned the right to do a rape scene. It’s all pandering to fans and that sort of thing. The discussion on Twitter took a turn to the classic moral quandry of a series that is Yosuga no Sora since that also had a rape scene in it as well. I really wanted to say that it didn’t handle it badly, but I didn’t think it would find much of an audience. I think it feels like there is just little desire on my part to try to make any sort of passionate argument, so I think of making fence-sitting contrarian crap arguments instead.
So I’m going to try to be different in this week’s recap. Tell me if I fail in the comments to be passionate in my views on any of this week’s entries. Continue reading
A certain incident of what was called aniblogger drama, which I’m not going to talk about specifically here, had me thinking of opinions on anime in general. I personally try not to come off as cynical about some of the series I’m watching. There’s the odd Urobuchi hating women moment from time to time, or occasionally there’s a show that I think can do much better than it is capable of. Ultimately, I hope to avoid the whole looking jaded thing as I write for you few readers out there.
Regardless, it got me thinking of opinions in general, plus it also helped that the book I’m reading recreationally covers the same area. Nuance is something I try to value when discussing anything I’ve miraculously happened to be watching at the same time as someone else. Being able to justify the existence of a series I’m not particularly a fan of, which could be something like the Tokyo Mew Mew dub, and convincing someone it isn’t a crime against humanity is a fun exercise. However, what I would say is that it is much easier to build a readership by holding views that have no nuance at all. A world that is black or white is easier to grasp in a brief read than one with nuance. What a terrible world that is.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since, “Son, don’t go to anime conventions. They just drain your money and prevent you from having the advantages that you should have over others.”
And so it was that I set foot in the terminal at Logan International Airport on a sunny Thursday morning. My mission was clear, try to find a guy who looked like he had endured a bus ride from Reno to San Francisco then a flight to New York and then to Boston without sleeping. No small task considering how many people do that, it must be in the tens. Anyway, in a flannel shirt, this driver of carts greeted me and we went to claim my luggage. Baggage claim is always a strange experience every time I’ve come across it. It’s not the unusually shaped bags or anything, its the fact that random people seem compelled to intervene and keep the luggage moving smoothly around the mechanical loop. It’s not like anything is going to break.
A bus to a train station, a conversation with a creepy old dude obsessed with a hockey game from 7 years ago (We won, get over it), a couple of trains and a short walk later, we arrived at a shady hotel. The overworked staff let us check our bags because the third member of our party was still in the middle of attempting to break an historic record. So off we went to Five Guys where I told stories of my brief period of writing for a college newspaper while sitting directly across from a clipped story written by the rival campus rag. Also, there was a scene from Jormungand set in a Five Guys, but you probably knew that already. A couple hours of messing around with fat pigeons who were going aggro at each other and imagining a fountain swallowing the parents of the eager man guarding it and our party grew to three.
Since he booked the room and all, it’s worth mentioning that he also drives carts, but neither of them was that Irish bloke everyone associates with cart driving, or Lelouch. Since he insisted on it, he will be referred to as Dr. Gonzo. An ironic name considering the relative lack of drugs and booze in the rest of the story, but that’s what he wanted. After checking in to our room, I glanced around at what we would be spending the next 4 days and 3 nights in. Artwork removed from the walls? Check. Ceiling plastered over from a massive water leak? Check. Cramped bathroom that smells of cat urine? Check. A solid 2-star hotel this was.
The fourth member of our party arrived later, with a basketball and tons of hairspray in bag. As I’m trying to withhold identities here, there’s really no sufficient way I can identify this person without giving away their identity, so you in the audience will have to figure out who I’m referring to. That’s how I challenge my readers.
Off we went to the real hotel to collect the badges for the convention all while laughing at people who camp out on day 0 for hours when just a couple of hours later we were in and out within 5 minutes, those suckers. We were joined by a vowel-less writer from that aniblog tournament winning blog thing everyone forgot about from last year. We went to a restaurant where I was conquered by a calzone as large as my head. It was a disgraceful defeat as the other two who had ordered the same thing finished them.
A terrible sleep followed a night of watching the Bruins lose. A good thing I had brought my pillow too, so I could sleep on something that didn’t feel like a sheet wrapped around unclean balls from a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit. I had my own breakfast, then when that wasn’t adequate I was dragged to the Prudential Center where we could enjoy it’s finest Mexican specialty restaurant, Qdoba. Dr. Gonzo wanted a pale imitation of his native food as well. Their strongest salsa left me yearning for the Mexican restaurants of home, which actually tried to put flavor in their salsas, but it filled me up nonetheless.
And so it was off to the convention proper, where after passing through some really half-assed security the group went to the mecha gone bad panel. It was really just typical terribad moments from the genre, nothing entirely special apart from the Gurren Lagann clip as it actually aired in the US. Mmm, Quizno’s. We also ran into multi-site podcaster and Idolm@ster fact checker, oh what do I call him here, FC, for Fuck Comcast, since it screwed up appearance on FAP.
After that was a split up was a trip to the dealer’s room. The very place my father had once warned me about. It just sucked up my wallet’s contents with these 4 inch tall figurines proving too much to resist. However I was able to negotiate the prices down using a technique I learned from a trip to a games convention in March. Find flaws in the packaging that you don’t care about and try to knock some bucks off. It secured me 3 things that would just spend their days silently staring back at their owner with the names of Shiori, Kanon and Charlotte. Oh well, money going away from me. It wouldn’t be the last time.
Later the bad touch panel duo joined our now 6-person party at the hotel. The rest of the day passed in a bit of a blur as I was feeling kind of odd. It was well enough that I was capable of handling the bar food and overpriced brews that I ordered there and also stalked Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy, who was plugging his book on a man who couldn’t find a baseball stadium he lived mere blocks from. There was conversation of dubs that had been lost to time, accounting tricks to somehow get a profit, Sword Art Online being set to be the most popular piece of fiction on the planet and of wishing of having the money to fly off to Brazil next summer. Still have to qualify for that one first, though. Also someone spent actual currency buying Love Love, that poor man. Then there was the visual-kei band, whose mixture of guitar riffs from the early-80s got tiresome quickly, and people sat down at their new stuff.
After another terrible night of sleep, it was a cold day in Boston Saturday. This was convenient as I was also developing a sinus infection. Really? Thanks, Boston weather. Not much to say about this day until the afternoon. I ditched everyone and did what I considered to be the proper thing, watching the Champions League final. I couldn’t miss the hipster’s team of choice fall to a noble 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich. Poor Dortmund, about to have their team torn apart. Regardless the lack of a way of cooling a liquid dictated that I drank a 6-pack over the course of the match.
Later, I met with the group and we recorded a podcast that was abruptly ended by [entire section removed for references to an unhappy event that revolves around someone else having too much to drink (No, not me.)] Back to the Five Guys for more food and then it was off to the bad touch duo’s panel on bad touching. It was informative I suppose, but then I was fully feverish at this point. Back to the hotel and then to sleep where apparently a 3 hour drinking session was commencing in the hotel lobby and in the bathroom to our particular room. The back of the toilet proved to be the only useful part of the room as it turned out in the end as it was able to cool cheap wine well enough.
The final day brought me face-to-face with 2 particular quandaries. Was the final visit to the dealers room going to ruin me and is my local walk-in clinic open on holidays? Those answers were as Yozora, Yukimura and ugh, Cecilia proved yes and yes. The rest of the day was spent trying to survive the trek back to the train platform, then the transfer to the other train and the good byes to everyone who I had met on this journey. Finally, I made it to the airport 4 hours and 5 minutes before my flight was supposed to leave. If you know anything about TSA rules, you would realize that’s 5 minutes too early.
How to kill that much time? I suppose that was the reason why I brought my Vita. They do exist in the wild, really. And I still needed some food and there was a place that had a turkey and brie on flatbread sandwich. Why does this exist? It should have been too niche to be a thing. Finally, it was on to the plane where I would be pursuing the Triple Crown on my Vita before pain aplenty on landing. If you’ve ever flown with sinus issues, you’d know what I mean.
So some lessons I learned from this trip. Consumerism is destroying modern society, conventions like this are increasingly becoming places for old men (no, not really old except for the cool old dude at the bad touch panel) and the weather in Boston typically sucks. This convention is in March next year, so nor’easter it is. Physical media as far as anime goes seems to be waning as streaming seems to be the only way to get consistent revenue. Which means what is left is overpriced trash series, overpriced mediocrity that was being promoted like hell and overpriced crap that was meant to be exclusive. As for the illness, I was able to see a doctor and get some medication. Also, mall food court food in general sucks beyond a single meal. Enduring it 3 days in a row ruined my stomach, as well as the burgers and fries and sodas. I should just buy normal food. Next time I guess.
Special thanks to: Dr. Gonzo and the Other Non-Irish Driver of Carts, Unnamed Roommate, The Bad Touch Duo, Vowel-less Writer, Podcaster A, The Girl Whose Panel I Missed on Saturday Because of the Football, The Popee Cosplayer Who Gave Out LoGH trading cards, that Texas-based Entertainment Company Who Gave Out Free Stuff, that Japanese Company that has no Idea how Markets Work (the consumerism part above) and you readers who remarkably put up with the stuff I post year-after-year.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, it’s actually really hard to find pictures of some characters from Photo Kano that aren’t perverted. That above was the best I could do with a few minutes effort from a certain popular Japan-based artist’s hub. It wasn’t a particularly different week or interesting week, rather I’d think of it as just another week in the middle of the season. That didn’t mean there were no standout episodes, there were 2 of those this week, but the spring season is turning into a bit of a letdown.
Also, a bit of news. Next week I will be blending into the scenery at various locations in downtown Boston, so I will not be doing the recap. Also the Maou-sama post will be delayed if I post it at all. No repeats of the 3-state Koichoco post from last year. Continue reading