11 February 2015

modern artifacts: the gazebo

The idea of artifact yokai is still a piece of favorite lore in Japan: these are known collectively as "tsukumogami", and relate to a very old idea that utensils, or teapots, or umbrellas, or any of these everyday things, may in fact have a spirit in them of some kind. They can become yokai - mischievous or malicious - depending on how they are treated (for example, if they're improperly thrown out), and of course, what region you are in: the relatively sedate kasa-obake may in fact spirit you up into the sky instead of just being a one-eyed strange umbrella hopping after you!

These ideas are not completely unknown to us in the West, though. Disney's Beauty and the Beast played on this idea in the film, even though the teapots and clocks and such were a result of a curse instead of old age of the tool/utensil itself.

But what about more modern day things?

I bring to you, the Katsucon Gazebo. Kit (myself) at Study of Anime had the opportunity to speak with the mysterious Administrator of the Katsucon Gazebo's Twitter account recently, and we want to share the interview with you!

[K - stands for Kit, words will be italicized.]
[A - stands for Administrator.]

K: Okay. First, you've said before that the idea for the Katsucon Gazebo, devourer of souls, was in part due to already existing sentiments towards the picturesque gazebo at the hotel center. But why do you think it became so popular?

A: Honestly. I think it was because a lot of people already had a lot of silliness to it. Most people assumed it was just this peaceful picturesque thing. But given the way it got so nasty in 2013. I thought the idea of making it something that basks in "evil" would be amusing. Sort of a way to explain why people got so crazy over it.

I think it got popular because of the transposition of something so beautiful being vaguely evil. Being sinister under the fact that's it's pretty.

Also, I had taken from pre-existing Gazebo folklore from the Dungeons and Dragons Mythos. I'm not sure if your familiar with the story of Dredd Gazebo. I won't transcribe it here. But in short it ended with the Gazebo coming to life and killing the whole party. So I think some of the popularity came from people who already knew about that too.

It was just a sort of perfect storm of fandoms.

K: It's been likened to Weird Twitter - the type of surreal, poetic weirdness that ebook bots and fandoms like that of Welcome to Night Vale take delight in. It's just interesting to see that around a particular, concrete thing: people can visit the actual gazebo, for example, and let their imaginations run wild.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the parallel of conventions with religious festivals or pilgrimages, but considering that parallel, it isn't too far off to think that the story of the Gazebo might tie in to popular imagination of powerful and dangerous artifacts or relics, too.

A: I can see that. I mean one of the ideas I run with is that people make a yearly "pilgrimage" to the Gazebo in hopes of being blessed by cosplay fame. And those parallels aren't exactly by accident. Part of the reason I'm able to make some of the jokes about the soul devouring and the "What will you give up for Cosplay Fame" does stem from the fact that there are some cosplayers that only go to Katsucon for the Gazebo itself.

The Irony in that, as it's Twitter admin, is I've become one of those people.

K: That is some definite irony. Has being its Twitter admin helped you as a person at all? What have you learned from it?

A: As a person? Interesting question. I've made a large amount of friends I wouldn't have normally made outside of it. Though I wouldn't say it's changed any perspectives I have. I've been part of the cosplay community for around ten years now. So there really wasn't any sort of interaction that changed my perspective.

But I would say there is a confidence boost that come from being at conventions besides Katsucon and hearing people talk about the Gazebo without prompting. And that when you google "Katsucon Gazebo" for cosplay images "Katsucon Gazebo Twitter" is the first autofill.

But the one thing I will say is that it granted me more of a voice. Something I try not to over use because. let's be honest, people aren't following the Gazebo to hear my thoughts. And let's be clear. There's a definite distinction between myself and the Gazebo. Though I think the common ground is that I try to help when I can. When I see a follower asking for help, I try to get them that help. That's probably the only real "helping" me that it's given me. It's allowed me to help others at times where my personal twitter has so much less of an audience I wouldn't have been able to elsewhere.

K: That's still a great thing to do.

A: Going back to why I think the account itself is popular. (Since there are Gazebos on Facebook and Tumblr that aren't as popular as my take). Is that I interact. A lot. I'd say at least half of my tweets are random responses to followers. As opposed to "Here's a joke for everyone" and I think people respond to that level of personal interaction more.

K: Twitter, I think, is great at that level of personal interaction, so it's a sign you're using the medium well.

A: I also think that level of interaction has created something interesting within my account. I have followers that have never, and will never go to Katsucon. People from Germany, The UK, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and lots of cosplayers within the US that live too far as well.

Honestly that's one of the things that I always found a bit confusing.

K: It'll actually be my first Katsucon at the Gaylord National this Katsucon, so I understand a bit about followers that have never been to Katsucon before... but it's curious how other followers from all over the world still are intrigued by the idea of the dread gazebo from a convention they've never been to, nor can reach.

I suppose for now, that might be one of the great mysteries of the gazebo - and of Twitter.

I know it's been brief, but thank you for your time. Unless the gazebo has something it wants to add to all this?

A: I think that's everything I'd really want to say, though I imagine the Gazebo might want you all to remember to BRING IT IMMORTAL SO̢͇͎̱̹̣͔͎͖̻UL̡̼͇̬͉̞̙̣̩̠Ş̡̲͚̻͕̪̳̻̳

[Interview cuts off.]

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