Here, in part 2 of the Anime Connoisseurs series (part 1 is here), three women talk about their connections to and love for anime, cosplay, and video games. I hope you find these unique, smart, vibrant anime connoisseurs as inspiring as I do!
For Erin, 29, video games and the Batman series were more than just a big part of her childhood, they were a way to connect with her dad and brother. Today, she’s a graphic designer at an ad agency on Long Island. She loves baking and crocheting and she’s planning on starting a crocheting store online that will specialize in “nerd items” from different animes, comics, and video games.
On playing video games at home “My family would all get together in my living room and play DDR and see who could beat the others’ score. We’d sit and play Rock Band and argue over who got to play the drums—and listen to my dad sing to Lady Gaga. There was one game we played on the Playstation 2 called SSX Tricky, and my whole family got involved in playing it and seeing who could get the best combos and have bragging rights.”
On her favorites “I love Sonic, Castlevania, Metal Gear, and Final Fantasy, but my all-time favorite video game franchise that means a lot to me is Resident Evil. I watched my dad play and it was how we bonded. Batman was a big bonding experience too—seeing the 1989 Tim Burton film was my real introduction into the comic book world.”
On video games that tell a story “Because I was mostly watching [my dad and brother play] in the beginning, I really fell in love with the way that games told stories in between all the action. It was like watching a movie that you could actually be a part of, and to this day I won’t fully enjoy a game unless it has a great story involved with it.”
On the dark side of conventions “I have been harassed and groped at events and it’s extremely embarrassing and frustrating when you have to deal with it, and in the case with me, it’s so congested that you can’t even catch the person in the act doing it since they’re able to slip away. You’re violated. I’ve witnessed other events and thankfully the good majority of people at the cons don’t accept that behavior and will say something and intervene. I’m really glad that New York Comic Con and a lot of other big-name cons have adopted the ‘Cosplay is NOT Consent’ policy, though you’d think it should be common sense right from the start.”
Raven’s favorite anime series:
- Sailor Moon “Sailor Moon is really empowering to women and it was always nice, even when I was younger, to see a girl (or many in this case) step up and be the hero for a change. (Or even be the badass villain that controlled armies.) It was comforting to know that no one was perfect and a lot of the main characters made many mistakes and doubted themselves but they pushed on and prevailed in the end.”
Where to watch: The original Sailor Moon series is on Hulu. The reboot, Sailor Moon Crystal, is on Hulu and Crunchyroll.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena “It takes a different approach to storytelling than I’ve seen in any other series: the music, the symbolism, the story in general. It’s one of those shows that you can watch and rewatch and every single time find something that you never noticed before. It’s a masterpiece that everybody should watch at least one episode of.”
Where to watch: On Hulu.
- Yu Yu Hakusho “A series that clicked with me instantly. All the characters are amazing, hilariously sarcastic, and just absolutely perfect. It keeps a good balance between serious and not. Epic fights, no damsels in distress, and no fillers between seasons… what more could you ask for? Watch it in English, though. The dub was astounding, especially for the character Yusuke. Nobody could get you pumped like Justin Cook [who does the English dub role for Yusuke].”
Where to watch: On DVD.
Raven has cosplayed nearly 20 different anime characters (!). Here’s her tips for making an awesome DIY cosplay look:
- Use your resources “Try not to overthink it or be a perfectionist, because you’ll drive yourself crazy. If there’s anything you’re stuck on, chances are there’s a tutorial for it! So hop online via YouTube, DeviantArt, or cosplay.com forums and you’ll find what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or people in the cosplay community for advice. You’ll be surprised how often they’re willing to help.”
- Don’t procrastinate! “Plan ahead, start early, and give yourself enough time. Last-minute cosplay stress is no fun, especially if you’re just starting out.”
- Buy extra costume material “Always have test fabric. It’s really depressing cutting up your fabric for your outfit and realizing you actually cut it wrong. Test it out first on a cheaper fabric, get it just right, and then go from there. You got this!”
Lisa put together a Sailor Moon meetup group three years ago, which lead to her creating an International Sailor Moon Day that has spread to 48 cities across the globe. People running events in other countries even asked her to be the host of their event! So how did she start such a movement? Let her tell you.
The meetup “Sailor Moon did so much for me when I was younger—kept me believing in myself and not giving up on things I enjoy—so I decided to create a meetup group in July 2012 when the new Sailor Moon Crystal TV show was announced. It took a lot of courage for me to start it. I thought, Since we now have a new anime to watch and most of us are all adults, why not?! We’ll have something different to talk about and it would be great to meet fellow Moonies in the New York City area.
I did research for the best place to start, which was meetup.com. I called two friends to get them involved—they were fans of Sailor Moon when they were young, too—so it was great to have their support. The very first meetup was a month later in Bryant Park on August 4. We sat in a circle and chatted about how we were introduced to Sailor Moon and why we loved it. There were 15 of us all together. Now we hold events around the city every month: karaoke, shopping for anime merchandise, going to dinner, picnics in the park, plus we meet up at conventions. When it’s a holiday or we’re headed to a big [anime] event or viewing, it can be up to 20 people. They come from all five boroughs of New York City, plus Long Island, New Jersey, upstate New York, and sometimes even Connecticut!”
International status For the first year of International Sailor Moon Day (ISMD), I wanted it to be close to Usagi’s (aka Sailor Moon) birthday, which is June 30. We had the event on June 29, 2014. It took place at a TV studio, which a friend who I met through the meetup group offered us. We were able to use a professional camera for a live stream. There were about 50 people there and at first I was really nervous talking in front of the live stream, never having done that before, but over time I got used it. I thought about focusing on the event instead of thinking about the thousands of fellow fans who were watching.
We managed to set everything up in three weeks. All the money we raised from raffle tickets helped pay for the food and decorations. We Rise magazine donated a prize for the cosplay contest event. All the fan art (which was raffled off) was donated and some prizes were donated from the staff who helped me run the event.
Since it was a success in 2014, not only in NYC but on the live stream too, I wanted to try it again, this time going international. What I wanted is to have a day around the world to celebrate our love for Sailor Moon. I wanted to keep it simple and comfortable for those who are too shy around others. The new date was voted by the Sailor Moon Meetup group. Once the date was chosen, August 15, I had about three months to prepare!
I posted the date and asked if anyone wanted to host the event in their city, not really expecting many to join in. I didn’t realize how many people wanted to have International Sailor Moon Day in their city all over the world. I got requests for me to host it in other cities, which is an impossible and expensive thing to do. I have helped some people who were afraid to start one in their city to actually host one and they did great!
I was the only one controlling the Facebook page, answering messages, creating the website, creating the events for each city, creating the graphics, resolving the drama, etc. I had no clue how this was going to work at first! I learned new things everyday and trying to figure out the best way to execute the event.
A few days after posting the time and location for the NYC event, I had gotten over 5,000 RSVPs! I was thinking there would be maybe around 100 or so. I quickly called the parks department and asked questions on how I can set ISMD up and how much it would cost. Let’s say it was way too much money and that tickets to enter would be way too expensive for people to attend a picnic. (This happened in other major cities: over 3,000 RSVPs! Each city had to come up with a new plan quickly.)
I found a church in NYC at an affordable price, but it could only fit about 200 people. Tickets were sold out in two weeks. With a month and a half left until the event, I had to limit the amount of door tickets to make sure we weren’t over capacity.
I had a bigger staff for this event and we had fan art raffle donations, sold t-shirts, and had a main event room. The main event room had interviews, a cosplay contest, a karaoke contest, and more.
“All the hosts from the 48 different cities in 11 countries (even Antarctica! ) wanted to host again next year because they had such a great time.”
With all the money we raised, we managed to buy lots of pizza for everyone, paid for the decorations, venue, etc. All because of the fans who showed up and participated.
It made me so happy to see not only how many cities joined in, but to see those who thought they couldn’t run an event who did a great job. All the hosts from the 48 different cities in 11 countries (even Antarctica! ) wanted to host again next year because they had such a great time.
When I started to see how many people were interested in ISMD during the first two weeks, I contacted Viz Media (who owns the anime rights to Sailor Moon in the USA) and told them what we were doing. They loved the idea. They supported us by joining in the other cities’ events, handing out posters, and tweeting about our event. Having them join us was amazing!”
ISMD will be back on Aug 6, 2016. For more information, head to Ismd.sailormoonmeetup.org.