IKKiCON, the largest anime convention in the Austin area, is concluding today, and I think most of the attendees are probably leaving feeling happy with the guests that showed up, the artists and vendors that were selling, and the assortment of interesting panels – all of which were, to me, as good or better than last year.
This was only the second con I’ve ever attended, so I’m still quite a newbie (contrast Tommy, the con veteran who blogs at Anime Bowl). A without a real agenda like last year, when I primarily visited to conclude my interview with Caitlin Glass, I felt quite detached from the proceedings. But because of that, I perhaps had a perspective unlike many others – from the outside looking in.
I Don’t Belong Here
I dressed for the con like I would on a regular workday, and largely because of that, I was the oddball at the proceedings. As I walked by Haruhi Suzumiya, Vash the Stampede, and lots of Hetalia characters whose names I didn’t know (strangely enough, I spotted zero Sword Art Online cosplayers), I probably looked the part of press, which I technically was, but…well, I’m a blogger, not a reporter.
My age also certainly played a role. I’m 31. Most of the people closest to me in age at the con were either organizers or parents walking their children around.
I’m reminded of how Christians might feel in a society where many feel pressured (or even under attack) to live a certain way or value certain ideas that don’t conform with our own. We are and should be the oddballs – people should be able to tell we’re Christians (though hopefully not in annoying or stuffy way). And as I stood out like Naruto and a Bleach party, Christians, too, shouldn’t belong to the world – though in both cases, we should live and love in it.
I Am What I Am
The tone of this con (and I’m guessing most others) was boisterous, geeky, and fun. And like funky cookie cutters, this attitude was demonstrated by what seemed like almost every attendee! They proudly displayed their otakudom for the world to see.
Of course, it’s easier to do this when surrounded by friends, and when your group of friends is surrounded by other like-minded groups.
I’m sure that many of these young people fanatically display their anime appreciation everywhere they go, but the survey I recently conducted also infers that many don’t. They hide their obsession. But here, they’re not the strange ones – they can openly be themselves without worry of ridicule.
It’s not just otakus who worry about showing their true colors to those around them. As much as any group, Christians might shy away from being demonstrative about their faith. Sometimes that might mean skipping their prayer before eating lunch at school or staying silent while someone mocks Christ.
Christians can certainly learn something from adolescent Fairy Tail fans – don’t be ashamed for who you are. If your identity is in Christ, you shouldn’t hide. Be who you are – even if the world thinks you a little strange.
And maybe that’s the best way to describe my feeling of attending an anime convention – I’m a stranger there. I don’t quite belong. But you know what? That’s quite alright – because as a Christian and as an anime fan, I’m used to being both a stranger and strange – and that’s the way it should be.
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14 thoughts on “IKKiCON 2012: Where I Belong (It’s Not Here)”
Sounds so fun! I’ve been to 3 cons, all pretty small (2,000 – 3,000 people) and am going to OhayoCon next month (largest con in Ohio). It’s a shame you don’t see people from Sword Art Online, K, or any anime that came out in the last few years. It seems people wait for them to come out on DVD in English, or be on TV before cosplaying them. A lot pf people don’t keep up to date by watching episode online as they come out, sadly. The mentality of those who do keep up to date is probably that no one else does and wouldn’t recognize them if they cosplayed. Honestly, I don’t recognize a lot of cosplayers I see. ^^; I’ve always wanted to do cosplay… but o///o …I think I’m more comfortable just walking around in my regular clothes, even if I do stand out a bit.
“Sometimes that might mean skipping their prayer before eating lunch at school”. That had never even occurred to me. I don’t walk around announcing my faith into a megaphone or anything, but I am truly honest about it with people. I never thought of those little things like saying grace could reflect my statement of being a Christian to other people. Not saying that saying grace or not saying grace is proof, but more along the lines of how I act reflects God’s wishes. Just like doing what’s right for me at cons, I don’t mind standing out for my faith. 🙂
OhayoCon is a pretty big deal, so maybe you’ll get lucky and see some cosplayers in garb from more recent series. I didn’t go on the main day of the con, so to be fair, maybe there were 10 Asunas filling the hotel that day!
And I like your attitude – it’s, I think, how we should be. Sharing our faith should be an organic thing – whether its through words or just by our everyday actions.
Hehe, I felt somewhat similar to you when I attended AX for the first time. Even though I was dressed casually, I still felt much older than the general attendee. That age gap was even more noticeable on the AX shuttles to and from the hotel; listening to the conversations around me had me remembering my long ago high school worries and fearlessness :p I’m glad to see that you survived!
Just a few months ago, right? I remember your posts.
What are you up to now? Have you started work?
Charles, just carry one of this and you’re set to blend in 😆
I’m reminded of Genshiken, where the group sits around and looks over their…purchases. Every time I saw a group of friends sitting around looking at their buys, I immediately thought Genshiken, though obviously the con purchases weren’t as unsavory. 😛
I attended a local minor event recently too, not big enough a event to actually call my “first” I’m afraid. Anyway, I felt the same too. I felt like I don’t belong there, in fact, I feel quite awkward. Guess it takes time getting used to, and I guess mine being a small event is actually a good start, it’s not as intimidating as major events like AFA or Comiket anyhow ;p
I think that maybe the bigger events are not only easier to blend into, but also perhaps easier to find one’s groove. Like, at IKKiCON, the attendees seemed to be so homogenous. As a blogger, I felt both a little too old and little too…well, too much of anime fan, strangely enough. There must be a list of “must watch” anime that teenage otaku have (Death Note, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Bleach, Hetalia, etc.) that largely defines their fandom. Mine is broader (though not any more passionate). At a larger con, there’s probably more of that “kin” present, and maybe more applicable panels as well.
Cons are pretty much the only place I do fit in. Not always, but most of the time I seem to be accepted. Though I wonder how it will go as I get older.
Cons are going to evolve, I’m sure. I wonder if the same people who attend now will continue to attend 5 or 10 years from now, once they’ve established their households and such. It’ll certainly present an interesting dynamic in the future.
“People should be able to tell we’re Christians (though hopefully not in annoying or stuffy way).”
That seems like a pretty tough order! I mean, if you look at a crowd, there’s no way to tell what religion people are. And unless the words “the Bible says” or “Jesus (said/did/etc)”, then going on what someone says or does is even harder. There really aren’t many Christian-specific behaviours out there.
Hmm…I dunno. While you’re obviously not going to know, “That guy is DEFINITELY a Christian” because he’s simply being nice, I think you can stand out in a crowd by being a man or woman of character and compassion. Certainly being a person like this doesn’t make you a Christian, but I think it gives some – a small amount – of people pause, and for those who ponder about such a person, it isn’t such a leap to wonder if they’re like THAT because of HIM.
I know in my life, there have been a number of people I’ve met, spoken to, or simply observed that acted in a way that led me to wonder about their faith, if not at that moment, sometime afterward. Remembering how they acted encouraged me and helped me along my walk, even as I no longer remember their faces or voices.
I’ve been to two, TWWK, and I was also dressed normal .
Did you write about them on your blog? I’d be interested in knowing what you thought of them.