Sunday, May 20, 2007

Anime (and more?) in the name of Academia

I've been meaning to write about this, but I haven't had a chance to until now. For one of my classes I had to go to Anime Central, an anime convention in the Chicago suburbs. It was a trip.

I'm not necessarily a fan of manga or anime. I feel that, like any other medium, they have their distinct advantages,but personally I don't know enough to really appreciate the good stuff (other than obvious things like Osamu Tezuka). So I already felt a bit out of place, but the experience itself was such a sensory overload and so many people were so incredibly excited that it was really intoxicating. I felt like I had just taken some hallucinogens and was walking around like a lost child.

The most interesting thing that I learned, though, was to what extreme extent the convention was not really just about anime. I saw a break battle, people dressed up as American stars (like Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force or the dude from 300), and a number of references to the "punker kids" that apparently had a large representation at the convention. This was really in contrast to a lot I'd heard about Japanese manga/anime conventions, where the sole focus is on self-made manga (dojinshi) and pure fandom of the singular form of medium. In the US maybe the subculture is too small to survive on its own so it needs help from other subcultures? OR is it that maybe the idea of singular subsets of popular culture becoming obsolete? Are we blogging and youtubing and wikipedia-ing our way out of distinct subcultures?

Maybe neither. Probably neither. But it struck me as really odd.

The Chicago Theatre Fire

Friday night I went to see the Arcade Fire at the Chicago Theatre, and though it was good, I feel like they're really looking for some kind of religious, ecclesiastical effect, which chairs and aisles tat restricted people from moving around didn't achieve. I'd seen them once before, at the Sasquatch Festival like a couple years ago, and I actually liked that first show a lot more. It was a festival, so everyone was really hot and gross and sweaty, so we all just danced around and chanted with each other, and obviously the crowd was a lot smaller, which gave a lot more gravitas to their tendency to jump around and destroy/bang on shit. In such a large context as that of the Chicago Theatre a lot of that was lost, and it was just kind of lost. I mean, it's still worth going, totally, but in my case the venue - though appropriate in some ways - kind of detracted from the performance.