16 April 2010

Story Time is back!

I know it’s been a long time since I did this, but I’d been waiting to refill the coffers before I decided to start up again. Today marks the return to an old standby here at Study of Anime I like to call “Story Time.” I did an entire month of these back in December, and due to popular demand (ie Kevin), I’m bringing back Friday stories. This is not some ploy by me to fill my content without doing actual work...(well, maybe a little it is, but I’m writing a thesis, sue me), but rather a desire to spread some of my experiences, encounters and stories I’ve heard with the wide world of otaku fandom. So for today I have two stories to share, one uplifting and wonderful, and one silly. Both come from this year’s Anime Boston.

The first is a repost from the Anime Boston forums. I would like to thank Mystic Poptart for letting me repost this, because it is a wonderful tale of how the community is capable of such wonderful and amazing things despite what some detractors might think. The fact that some people would be willing to help out an otaku in need, even though he is a total stranger, shows how wonderful and selfless our community is.

Dear Anime Boston:

I want to share with you the most incredible story of my life. Some of you may have heard this tale, and if you have, I apologise for continually retelling it.

I am from Nebraska. I came to Boston to meet up with some Facebook role-play friends. However, I was not going to come to this convention until I saw Nobuo Uematsu on the list of guests. Due to him being a fairly late addition, the decision to go was rather hasty. But, I threw the money together and managed to go.

Now, to put how much meeting this man affected me, I had to excuse myself from the Saturday Q&A after he answered my question.

I missed the Saturday autograph session, because I was tired and jet-lagged, and didn't see the changes on the Saturday schedule.

I got a text message on Sunday, telling me to get over to the convention centre because people were lining up for the Sunday session. Ditching my things with my roommates, I ran over as fast as I could in my obnoxiously inconvenient cosplay.

Finding my friends, they told me they'd saved me a spot in line for the second Q&A, but couldn't get me a ticket for the autograph session. Booking it back down three floors, I went to find The Staff Person At 105 (Sweetheart, I still don't even know your name, after all this).

I found the Staff Person, and began to plead my case, trying not to break into tears. I told her that I'd flown 1800+ miles to meet this man, and that it was the specific reason I had come to this con. She shook her head, and said "I'm sorry, I can't help you. All the tickets are gone." Of course, I began to break down, with one of my roommates standing there trying to comfort me.

A few minutes later, she comes back, with another woman in tow. I had not seen this other woman the whole weekend, and had no idea what was going on. The Staff Lady said "This woman wants to ask you a question." The next exchange went approximately like this:

"Are you okay?"
"No. I flew halfway across the country to meet this man, and now I'm not going to get to."
"Did you only have one thing for him to sign?"
"There was only one thing, really, yeah--"
"Because if you take my notebook, I'll give you my ticket."

This complete stranger offered me what amounts to my life's dream. Hugging her, breaking into happy tears this time, I begin thanking her, babbling about how much this meant to me.

Smiling, she pulled out a little card and said "Here, I want you to have this, too." It said "Just a reminder that you really matter." This is something I don't even hear from my own parents, let alone complete strangers. It's people like this that make me believe in angels.

I would like to take the time to apologise in advance. First off, I know this is a very long story. Second off, I want to ask the staff people not to get anyone in trouble for this next part. I cannot put into words the sheer emotional weight of this next part of the story.

Running down at noon to get Kimberly's ticket and notebook, we both meet up with the Staff Lady again. As Kimberly hands me her ticket, the Staff Lady actually announced what happened to the line for autographs. I told the population that "This woman is a saint, and if you get the chance, give her a hug." Of course, someone leaves line to do so, which means to me that maybe I'm not just a sentimental fool for things like this.

Afterwards, the Staff Lady turns to us and says "You did not have to do that, especially for a complete stranger. I found this, and want you to have it." And she pulled out another admission ticket, allowing us both in, and allowing me to get a second autograph for someone very special to me.

There is one more addition to this story, and Staff Lady, if this gets you in trouble, you have my full permission to blame me. I asked her if I could give my ticket to the event people, and then get it back for my scrapbook after everything was said and done. She looks around, and tells me to hide the first ticket in my badge holder, and hands me a spare, just so I can keep the original for my memory book (I promise, this amazing gift was absolutely not abused).

Staff Lady, Kimberly, if either of you see this, I want to thank you one more time, from the top, bottom, front and back of my heart, for absolutely making this weekend. I have accomplished one of my big life's goals - to meet this man whose talent I hold in such high esteem, as a fellow musician. A lot of what happened went so far and above the call of duty, it utterly defies words. As I write this, safe at home in Nebraska, I still can hardly believe it actually happened, and I'm hoping that someone will help me realise that it's not just a really wonderful dream.

Thanks, from Nebraska.

Now I’m not a crying man, but this is the kind of story that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s the kind of tale you hear in church, or on an After School Special (if they still do those), showing the decency and selflessness of man towards his fellows. And it’s the kind of story one wishes they could see more of. In case anyone is wondering, yes he did eventually find out who these saintly people were, you can read the entire story here:


Normally I would take the time right now to launch into something about community, camaraderie, friendship and the like, but to do that would sully the message this story tells. I will just close by saying this is how otaku should behave. And for the most part, a lot do.

My second story is more lighthearted, and definitely a result of excellent timing. As some readers may know, Anime Boston fell on Easter Sunday this year. Despite this fact, it still boasted record attendance, and it was impossible to navigate much of the surrounding city without seeing dozens of clusters of costume clad congoers. One of the staff members told me a tale abut how the Catholic Chapel in the Prudential Center was clogged at one point with otaku, with more looking in, sandwiched between families in their Easter best. Well, outside of the Hynes convention center there were more churches, all with multiple services for both Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Well, on Sunday, one of the churches was having their noonday worship service. There were only a few congoers in the place, it was mostly faithful families sharing a moment with each other and God on the holiest of Christian days. The pastor had just given a moving speech about the crucifixion and ascension of Jesus when he raised his hands and said to the congregation “He is risen!”

At that moment, a Jesus cosplayer walked into the sanctuary.

Mull over that for a moment.

I always thought it was interesting that a lot of congoers choose to cosplay Jesus at cons. The first time I ever saw one was at Anime Boston 2007, when Jesus and Raptor Jesus had a dance party in the corridor linking the Hynes to the Prudential Mall. I also thought it was hilarious. I don’t know why exactly people choose to cosplay Jesus, next con I plan to ask one of them, but I find it fascinating and a bit funny. It proves one of my old beliefs that anything goes at cons these days, and everything is acceptable. I have no idea if the cosplayers are religious or just having fun with it, but each and every time I’ve seen a Jesus cosplayer they tend to be enjoying themselves and doing “epic” or “profound” things. And they always have large groups of “apostles” following them around the con, usually people who just bumped into them and decided to tag along.

I am a big believer in anime as a sacred medium and even as an evangelical tool (I speak about it a lot on my religion and Evangelion panel). Maybe it’s a sign of the times, maybe it’s a moment of spontaneous fun, but I’m glad that Jesus has made his way into the con, and people accept him there. I’m not the most religious of people in this world, but I do believe in the personal impact it has.

And how did the above story end?

Jesus got a standing ovation.

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