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Waku Waku +NYC at AnimeNext!

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Waku Waku +NYC is the hottest new Japanese anime and pop culture festival coming to New York City, so we had to come to the biggest anime convention in New Jersey, AnimeNext. A few members of our team are headed there this weekend, June 12-14, and we even have a booth in Con Row!

If you’re also attending AnimeNext, and you’ve been curious about Waku Waku +NYC, why not stop by our booth? We’ll be happy to answer any questions you’ll have.

We also have a surprise in store for all AnimeNext attendees, so check your goodies bag after you get your badge!

-Carl

PS: My personal recommendation is that you check out the Studio Trigger panel, Saturday from 9pm-11pm in Panel 1, and the FLOW concert, Friday from 8pm-9:30pm in Main Events. YEEART!

Cosplayers are the De Facto Ambassadors of Geek Culture

Whether dressed as Goku, Samus, or Ms. Marvel, cosplayers are the first people that media notice when it comes to anime and other geek conventions. It’s understandable why this is the case, as the visual spectacle of cosplay draws in not just the hardcore but also passers-by, image-obsessed media, and anyone normally unfamiliar with the world of fandom. The result, I think, is that people nowadays associate otaku and geeks most with cosplayers, even surpassing the old stereotype of the sedentary basement dweller.

The average person will probably never look beyond the fact that cosplay is happening in the first place, or perhaps some daring outfits that speak immediately to their morals or sense of desire. Cosplayers, whether they want to be or not, end up being the ambassadors of geek culture. All of the social and cultural assumptions and tendencies swirl around them and try either to interpret or understand them from their own perspectives. What this means is a plethora of viewpoints on cosplay and cosplayers, particularly in terms of the messages that cosplayers convey whether intentional or otherwise.

For example, some might see cosplayers in revealing outfits and believe they’re transmitting messages of sexual availability, but others might see them as representative of personal empowerment, confidence in body image (or perhaps an escape from a negative self-image), and more. No interpretation is inherently correct, but they exist and have to be dealt with, both through the act of cosplay itself and other forms of expression and communication. This of course is also the case with just any clothing, especially when it comes to how women are viewed in society, but the manner in which cosplay inherently runs counter to society (as soon as we call them “costumes” they’re not really normal clothing) and is associated with the notion of obsession in general means that it’s an attention-grabber no matter what.

However, I think that this is the first step for cosplay to communicate more. I don’t believe that cosplay necessarily has to be actively political or geared towards some kind of message in order to say anything, and in fact I think cosplay needs to be viewed first and foremost as a fun activity for cosplayers and those viewing cosplay—a hobby, a passion, even a casual and impromptu decision—before it’s taken as anything else. The spirit of play at the heart of cosplay is what fuels its potential for accomplishing more.

New York Cosplay fans, we have two of Japan’s best cosplayers coming to our New York Anime Convention, Waku Waku +NYC, Jacky Dosai and Kasyou Rosiel! In the meantime, you can check out some examples of their cosplay!

Jacky Dosai as Kotetsu from Tiger & Bunny 

Kasyou Rosiel as Nico from Love Live! School Idol Project

Otaku Counter-Protest Against a Hate Speech Demonstration in Akihabara

May 17th saw a group of demonstrators in Akihabara, the otaku capital of Japan, rallying against the presence of foreigners living in Japan. Declaring that foreigners are “criminals” and should leave the country, as well as targeting international non-profit organizations in Japan, this hate speech was countered by another group who, in a show of camaraderie with the foreigners in Japan, declared that “otaku have no borders.”

Akihabara is no stranger to public displays nor traumatic events. In 2008, Tomohiro Kato killed seven people and injured 10 others in a violent rampage in broad daylight, which resulted in heightened security and a tenser atmosphere in Akihabara until 2011. At the time, criticism arose that the sense of isolation often associated with “otaku behavior” might be having a negative influence on Japanese society.

Although the anti-foreigner demonstration did not appear to have any specific ties to anime and manga fans, it is rather notable that the counter-protest was specifically under the banner of otaku against racism in Japan. While being an otaku does not automatically mean that one is a strong believer in cultural diversity, it does potentially speak to some of the values that underline Akihabara, especially as it has become internationally famous as a spiritual home for geeks and fans of Japanese popular culture over the past 15 to 20 years. It’s as if, by putting their self-identities as otaku at the forefront of the counter-protest, the otaku protesters were declaring that Akihabara is no place for close-minded racism, while also striving to show that being an otaku does not necessarily mean isolation from society.

More pictures of the counter-protest can be seen courtesy of Natsuki Kimura.