Spending time offline at Anime California

 

anime california thumb

This past weekend, Anime California’s commencement was a great success. Attendance was replete with elaborate cosplayers and affable attendees that crowded the Hyatt’s illustrious lobby floor. For those critics reading this, I have chosen not to write about the hotel’s policy or rules of etiquette and its ultimate decision to restrict and regulate some of the attendees. On the contrary, I will discuss my own inaugural experience. It begins late in the wee hours of August 22. I was interested in meeting the Anime-California (A.C.) staff, as I typically do at the events I cover. This time my experience would be quite different.

anime california

Shortly after I arrived a staff member entered the Convention Operation (Con-Ops) room with a distinctive rectangular box reading “The bigger, blacker box.” Keep in mind, I have never seen this card game or previously heard of it (I know I’m sheltered, whatever). After a prescreening of age restrictions, I was invited to play and the rules were comprehensive enough for me to easily join in. To summarize the game’s process, it consists of cards that are in fact, against humanity (Cards Against Humanity). Each player is given ten cards that propose a word, phrase or provocation. An additional black card is also given to each player during their turn and poses a question or “fill-in-the-blank” that incorporates game show style trivia. The white cards are then used to answer the query posed. The Card Czar then awards the preferably entertaining and most invasive combination of cards submitted.

Our first black card presented that night pondered the question “___ is a slippery slope that leads to ___”. That being said: let me begin by reciting some of the white cards I drew from the deck that night. One simply read, “Fancy Feast,” while another suggested “Five Dollar Foot-longs.” As you can see, lucid and underlining principles can become ridiculously abstruse when someone suggests that cat food can lead to the consumption of high preservatives or the increase sales of sub-sandwiches. Some of the cards that I found deplorable and satirically genius will not translate well in writing. Some cards were really crude and out of context but when coupled with the right sentence structure became… priceless. Surely, this card game is not for the light-hearted or easily offended and caution is advised. I do suggest playing this card game at least once.

As I’m writing this I recall another round when a black card posed the question, “What’s the next happy meal toy?” I sifted through my options, some that included; “Old-people smell,” “Roofies,” “Racism,” and others that I can’t bear to repeat. For some reason I want to say the card “Balls” was chosen as the correct answer.

What I learned when I later returned to my hotel room is that we are all products of the same American experience. It is our experience that nurtures our perception of others and instills our perceived stereotypes. When we are introduced to someone, we immediately notice their apparel, posture, idiosyncrasies and mannerisms that all help to formulate a tabulated understanding of their nature. Whether it is a costume or a choice of designer clothing we choose to embrace, the semblance of imagery is a common denominator. And the byproducts of perception in regards to that imagery remain independent of the creator’s control. The calculated method of imagery that society chooses to adopt is a dynamic variable and honestly as random as the card game I played that night. I believe that anime conventions destroy the ability to form an exact stereotype of someone. Mainly because the imagery and costumes are so extreme that our familiarity cannot effectively develop a perceived basis for understanding it. Instead we are simply astounded and reeled by the foreign nature of the culture. When I don’t recognize a cosplayer’s anime series, I simply ask and the response is always enthusiastic and friendly. This allows for dialogue between two strangers who probably have more in common than their images might suggest.

Anime California was a great way to meet people face to face and introduce my work. I spoke with many artisans that designed their own costume and hand crafted props to meet very specific guidelines of their perspective characters; anime series such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Gurren Lagann, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Attack on Titan and Durarara!! At one point I ascended to the third floor and was very surprised to see a group of cosplayers from the Kuroko’s Basketball series on the Hyatt’s court.

All in all, I had a blast at Anime California and spending time with each cosplayer while either filming a skit or an interview. The staff was welcoming, helpful and super friendly. The card game I played with them was hilarious and remarkable. I remembered why I love attending anime conventions last weekend. In our fast-paced Internet society we tend to arch our heads in effort to avoid interactions with each other and yet covet the same technology that connects us. Irrespective of the matter that we chose to gather in spaces, it is essential for us to remember that our similarities are easily revealed once we chose to communicate and withdraw that which is against our humanity.

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Mariano Uvalle
Mariano Uvalle 5 posts

Currently I am part of the Chemistry dept. at the University of Washington. I am scheduled to graduate with a B.A. in Chemistry (Spring of 2013). My interests include music production, anime, journalism, recording and videography.