Tokyo Damage Report

Charafest

DATE sunday october 26
ENGRISH OF THE DAY:

SOUNDTRACK:’today your love’ – ramones
‘stigmata’ – ministry
‘crazy in love’ – beyonce

Take my Italian penpals to CHARAFEST.

Charafest (the ‘we live in super sophisticated Tokyo and are waay too busy’ way to say CHARACTER FESTIVAL) is, as you might imagine, a cosplay event. But it’s a cosplay event with a twist: all the vendors’ booths (and many of the costumes) are for INDIES characters. Most nerds will already be familiar with the MAINSTREAM anime: things like sailor moon or gandams. The flip side of MAINSTREAM is DOUJINSHI: underground, flagrantly-copyright-infringing little fanzines and comics that create new, often disturbing adventures by using the mainstream characters.

But INDIES, well, that’s new for me. . . INDIES companies are sort of in between. The characters are original characters, not ripoffs of famous characters. Can I say ‘characters’ some more? They are made by small companies of between 5 and 15 people. These people are NOT hobbyists like the cosplayers or the doujinshi freaks. They are businesspeople who are trying their best to BECOME mainstream anime producers / writers / illustrators. And this event is an opportunity for the indies crowd to get together and hype up their products. Since they don’t have the resources to produce animations, they mostly do comics, CD-ROMS of pictures (or simple choose your own adventure games that are cheap to program). . .or ‘character goods': shirts, mugs, keyrings, etc.

Here’s a bunch of fans playing ‘rock-paper-scissors’ at an indies booth : winner gets the last remaining anime dvd.

In addition to the ‘indies’ booths, there are the usual ‘costume merchandise booths’ which you are not supposed to take pictures of. To which all I can say is, IN YOUR COSTUMED FACE.

because random internet people NEED to see giant stacks of wigs!!

What’s REALLY odd is that there is NO PRETENSE WHATSOEVER that the ‘indie’ status accords them some ‘street cred’ or ‘rebelliousness’. No one is claiming that ‘we’re offering you something more original and true and creative than the mainstream.’ These guys are utterly churning out tons of identical, uncreative, wanna-be-mainstream characters. The only explanation I can think of is, the economy is going down AND yet every year there’s even more people who want to get into the anime / manga field. So with so many companies competing for so few yen, they try to play it safe as possible and go for easy to read, cute concepts. It sounds so rational you wouldn’t even know I’m totally talking out of my ass. The only thing I am sure of is, it seems the worst of both worlds: all the hack work with none of the big bucks.

 

But maybe my negative attitude reflects my frustration with cosplay in general: I’ve reached a point where I’m totally bored with the surface aspects (dude!! They look funny!!) and yet my japanese is too crappy to ask questions about all the TOTALLY INTERESTING stuff just BELOW the surface. Rrrrrh.

Anyway, I DID manage to scrape together a few new insights:

now i can see why sailor moon is so popular.

notice how Homey is not only a duck, but his SHOES are ALSO little EXTRA ducks!!

this is sort of what it looks like in general. all these aliens and princesses and Hitlers walking around like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

is this guy with the crazy robot costume and ‘action pose’ a character??

NO. he’s a REAL cameraman.

check out my man’s camera!!! how insane is that?? i took this photo in mid=transformation. in another 3 seconds it had finished transforming into a giant robot and started lifting everyone’s skirt.

plus there were a few little kids dressed like this: i can’t tell if it’s (a) really cute or (B) scarred-for-life exploitative. but i thought i’d take some pictchers just in case it turned out to be cute.

yes!! pirates!

total drag king!!! it beats me why all these girls dress up in miniskirts when they could be way cuter just by gluing on huge stinky dredlock beards and running around with blunderbusses. this was totally the most gorgeous girl there. . . she even had her own wench!!!

do YOU have YOUR own wench?? NO! BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT NEARLY AS COOL AS THIS PIRATE!!!!

 

There are a LOT of Hitlers here today.

the BEST MOMENT OF THE WHOLE CONVENTION was when the 2 roving bands of Hitlers happened to run into each other. .. it was like, ‘wow, you’re hitler too?? top of the morning to ya!!’ they were so happy!! all taking each other’s pictures and shit. . . then they got their picture taken ALL TOGETHER, with A STUFFED PANDA THROWN IN FOR NO REASON. i did not manage to capture this on film so i will now kill myself.


There was even a ‘cosplay band’ called NAGASAKI MINAMI WITH MEGA YA-CHU CANNON. While most ‘cosplay bands’ (yes, there are others) just karaoke the theme songs to their persona’s animations, MEGA YACHU CANNON do originals.

keep in mind 2 things: the singer’s ‘guitar’ is in the shape of a famous gun from the GANDAM series. also, the keyboardist is playing — what else? — the infamous ‘guitar strap’ style synth, the NERDIEST INSTRUMENT KNOWN TO MANKIND. if you can’t play a ‘guitar strap synth’ in a cosplay band, really, where CAN you play one??

Also, before each song, they teach the audience the proper ‘para para’ dance to go with it. para para is supposedly this old, traditional style dance. It had a resurgence in the late 90s with the ‘super fashionable and sexy’ kogals. For some reason it also is the official dance of ‘super unfashionable and nerdy’ cosplay guys. If anyone has any idea why the two groups are united in their love of para para, let me know. Anyway, para para is not so much a dance as, like, a VOCABULARY: there are about 8 or 9 simple things you can do with your hands. You don’t move your feet at all (come to think of it, MAYBE THAT is the cosplay/ kogal connection: dangerously high boots that would preclude any hip-moving (i.e. 99.999% of the rest of the ) dances) And each song combines these 8 or 9 things in different patterns. It can get really complicated. it’s like 75% class, 25% music!! Plus, it’s funny because the audience is all these guys:

Sample para para syntax: the NYA NYA (this ‘corkscrewing the fist in front of your face’ motion for some reason means ‘Look at me,I’m a cat!!’)


The ‘husuru husuru’ (hustle, hustle): para para version of Travolta’s signature busted move.

Here’s the winners of today’s cosplay contest. Postmodern fun fact: the cosplayers to the extreme right are dressed in traditional KABUKI drag.

check out the guy on the left’s shirt:

‘the yellow evil’ =— ?????


 

also: one of the indies companies had this:

this middleaged guy wearing nothing but busniessman’s socks and a barrel over his penis, and a ‘comb over haircut’, is the first VIRTUAL PORN STAR.

he’s the star of a 3D-animated sex game called GREAT OYAJI THE ACROBATICS SEX.

this is made by a company called EANTS. Eants is run by a totally cheerful, avuncular man named Dave Teruhisa, who talked with me a little about, what the hell us up with that????

apparently EANTS is the first company to combine 3d polygon animation and sex video games. they’ve been doing it for 2 years now. his dream is to make CDRs that you can play on a regular sony playstation, but conceded that the Playstation people might have a problem with that. the animation is pretty terrible, but the characters DO look frighteningly realistic, and they CAN do insane illegal things the real actors can’t do.

if you want to know more about the 3D world of Dave and his friends, go to

http://www.eants.co.jp/kinky

http://www.prime-way.com/ps_main.html

http://www.eants.co.jp/index2.html

but don’t think i’m a perv just because i find this funny. i am a GENTLEMAN.for instance, there was some cosplay lady at the convention. she had a skirt that rode up above her butt. Like, not the whole butt, but enough that there were cheeks poking out. was i taking pictures? no. was i all nudging my friends in the ribs and telling them to look? no. I wasted no time in going up to her and saying, ‘honey, pull. Your. Skirt. Down. You’re causing a scandal.’ I thought nothing more of it, until my Italian homey told me that ever since i’d dropped the skirt science, she was checking it like every 5 seconds.

 

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