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.