A Hurricane Tonight

Bucket-list cosplay: Priss from Bubble Gum Crisis. I will have to commission the services of someone skilled in vacuforming or get really good with the craft foam. (Also invest in some good corsetry…)

Clearlight 23rd, 715 in the Forty-One Worlds

Hi. It’s me. I’m surprised to see that I last wrote something here less than a month ago… it seems ages. But I just posted the eighth episode of the Managlitch City Underground podcast, and even if that isn’t a nice round number like fifty or twenty or even ten, it feels a bit anniversary-ish because I’m a computer geek.

I’m trying to finish another episode in a week because I want two of them out this month. That sure sounds easy when I type it, but it hasn’t been. Lesson: when hitting up busy friends for donated talent, figure on lots of lead time. Basically, I’m learning to write more scripts in advance.

Maya still supports my creative efforts wonderfully. Since I work full time, every hour I spend writing is an hour we aren’t talking or cuddling or something; but she gets me so incredibly well, and understands that I need to express myself creatively for my soul to work right. And that’s important to her. She’s amazing and I love her dearly and I wish every day for a long joyful partnership.

I’m adjusting to life in Raleigh nicely, though it will of course be months before I feel as comfortable as I did in Hampton Roads. Having my own place is making me pretty happy; I’ll be happier when I tame more of the stack of storage boxes.

This year I had to skip Anime Mid-Atlantic because of all the moving expenses, and I hate that. I’ve barely seen any of my friends for weeks, and I’m not happy to have missed this chance to dress up, socialize, and party. (Responsibly.) Plus it’s my last non-working con until November, so feh.

Frankly, I’ve got plenty of money worries now that I’ve decided to level up my adulting game, but I don’t know many folks who don’t, and they aren’t disastrous at this point, so they’re barely worth mentioning. Were it not for my anxieties, I might barely notice them.

So that’s where I stand right now. Hopefully by my next post I will have some very fun news to announce. In the meantime, try the podcast out if you haven’t? And positive reviews of it on iTunes are always most welcome!

Threads of a Dilemma

Yesterday, I saw a trailer for a Fox Network “comedy” in which a lady wore the Japanese schoolgirl outfit known as a fuku, or seifuku, and I was repulsed by the sight. I have friends who own seifuku costumes. Heck, I own one. Why was I so horrified?

I knew I liked looking at ladies in various unlikely outfits at least as early as my introduction to Dungeons and Dragons. If you look at how they dressed female characters back then, “practical for fighting monsters” is the last concept that would cross your mind. I could only assume that the chainmail bikinis had to include some kind of magical deflector shield to be usable armor. Back then, I found the idea silly, but this was just a game, and it didn’t bother me.

Once I discovered anime, the seeds of doubt took root. I still loved some of the even more-implausible outfits, but seeing the characters move and be voiced by humans changed my perspective. I felt somehow more obliged to believe that someone would really wear this, and that was a bit of a stretch. Japan isn’t the most sexism-progressive country, and I wondered how women felt about being depicted in these costumes designed only to draw in the male gaze.

At fan conventions, I began to find out – or at least to become further confused. There were ladies all over the place wearing these costumes – at least the ones which could physically be hung on a human being’s body. I wanted to look, but was it okay to look? Which emotions were acceptable while I looked? What expression should I maintain to not seem creepy? The whole thing confused the hell out of me. If the costumes were not sexist, then why were there no obvious male equivalents? Why did they seem designed solely to encourage sexual thoughts in the viewer? And if they were sexist, how could these women – many of whom I knew to be intelligent, capable, and unwilling to take crap from anyone – be wearing them, and having such fun doing so?

Now I have an answer. There may be other answers but this idea has cleared up a few things. I’ve been into costuming since I was little, but in recent years I’ve chosen to wear rather more flamboyant outfits, for reasons which could be several blog posts on their own. Now some would call these outfits degrading when worn by any gender, but I stumbled upon a secret: if I’m wearing a costume *because I want to*, it’s not degrading at all. Someone else can try to convince me it is, but that’s my decision to make; and if my costume choice makes me feel appealing, confident, and happy, then people’s negative opinions don’t matter much.

And that’s the answer to my dilemma. If anyone wears something that makes them happy to wear, then I’m free to enjoy it. The inverse also holds true: no matter what the garment, if someone’s wearing something they don’t feel good in, something they are forced to wear to cater to another person’s whims, it’s bad. And these can be the exact same outfit, because at the end of the day, it’s just clothing. It has no power besides what we allow.

That’s how a seifuku on Fox turned my stomach. The lady didn’t want to wear the outfit, it was forced on her by someone to make it clear they had no respect at all for her. Hell, the costume was more over-the-top sexualized than you’d ever see at a con – which on its own doesn’t have to be a problem, but here was meant to say, “You are not a person, you are an advertising prop.” Nauseating.

So I’ll go back to looking with a clear conscience; I only hope that the wearer is having ten times as much fun wearing it as I am looking, because that’s how it works for me when I’m dressed up. I still can’t recommend the chainmail bikini for actual monster fighting, though. Dramatic poses only!

A perfect combination of human and Sadinger genes

Start in 1993. Take some anime fans who’ve just found an awkward, stilted translation of the script for one of their favorite flicks. Add some expensive non-linear editing equipment that one of the fans was pretty good with. Throw in an evening’s recording session in an echoey downstairs rec room, and I give you: The “Project: EDEN” Fandub! (Well, clips of it, anyway. And, SPOILER, they do give away the ending.)

Some of the fun stuff: none of the voice actors seemed to be able to pronounce “URDAS” (the Eastern Bloc-styled colony) the same way twice. In some of our early takes, David Arthur’s redneck accent was so thick, we thought we might still have to subtitle him. I spent days trying to figure out that the script we’d obtained kept saying “three-level bug” when it meant “trilobite”. Professor Wattsman’s squeaky voice nearly wiped out my throat for the evening.

Honestly, the best voice actors that night had to be Jerry Conner, Beth Lipes, and Cindy Arthur (now Jenkins). Good thing we made them our leads. Jerry did an incredible job editing together what he had to work with, and I think we all gained new respect for those eighties anime dubbers who were just trying to end up with something intelligible on a limited budget.

We’re leaving Mother Earth…

This is NOT from the upcoming movie, but from a Japanese tie-in game. It rules anyway. If possible, click through and watch the HD version instead of the embedded one!

Starr, who’s currently unfamiliar with the Yamato franchise, said that the ship looked like the ether flyer Thunderchild to her. I took that as quite the compliment 🙂

Impossible things before breakfast

Oh, and this is the hall costume that went over so well. After what I thought would be my grand exit from TCon costuming last year, I could hardly disappoint my audience this year! The choice seemed appropriate with the Tim Burton movie’s release this season. I got picture requests all day, and some folks actually expressed disappointment that I changed back into street clothes after Keith’s concert!

Maid - Doctor - Alice

One thing I learned: college seating is not designed for petticoats. Well, another: some ladies take vengeful glee in seeing a guy rub his sore feet after spending the day in heels. It was fun to wear through the day, though. Only problem is that I just don’t know how I’ll follow this next year.

Gaining a new fandom in five easy steps

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I first became an anime fan probably around the age of six, when I saw a single episode of “Speed Racer”. I didn’t know what was going on in the story, but that car was awesome. Later on, I unwittingly fed the growing otaku inside me when I became addicted to “Battle of the Planets”. The show seemed oddly edited, and the plots a bit repetitive, but that plane/spaceship* was awesome. My final step came with my introduction by rattrap to “Robotech: Macross”. True, I cringed every time Minmei appeared on screen**, but those transforming fighter planes were awesome.

(What pattern? Yes, I’m a SF hardware nerd, so what?)

But my first “hey, this is in Japanese” anime told the story of a comedy alien invasion led by a green-haired, tiger-stripe-bikini-clad princess named Lum. I saw a single episode before leaving for a con, and began learning the fan technique of “supplying one’s own storyline to go with the untranslated video”. Still confusing, but the princess was adorable, and the love interest was clearly a complete dork: a character I could relate to!

Oh, I still might have escaped anime fandom. Pretty unlikely: I still had the “Dirty Pair”, “Captain Harlock”, and “BubbleGum Crisis” ahead of me, and all those wonderful, wonderful, animated spaceships and giant robots. But no, I was doomed: at the next con I attended, a local fan delectably costumed herself as Lum.*** That was pretty much it for me. I’ve been con-going, costuming, and performing ever since. And now that Starr’s picked out a couple of characters to try, and I’ve hooked up with Luna-C, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.**** As was said at Farpoint, I’ll stop by reality long enough to get the bills paid, but I’ve got the next con marked on my calendar…

*The Phoenix was only supposed to be a plane, but American translator/editors turned it into a spaceship. I have no grounds to criticize, as I did that often enough with my toys when little.

**In the Japanese original, Minmay does sing better… but she’s not really much less annoying.

***Longtime members of southwest Virginia fandom may well remember the lady in question. Especially if they’re straight males or gay females.

****Fear not; I have enough respect for your collective eyeballs to never wear a Lum costume. Besides, it’s drafty.

Off, to outer space…

Starr thinks I should totally cosplay the new Yamato uniform. I like the looks of it, but the leather might be a little difficult for me to work.

I love that little fanfare that starts the theme song. Makes me want to go out and save civilizations.

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Maikeru Hasshin!

I filled in a quiz meme: “What if LiveJournal Were An Anime?” and got the following:

The performer of the opening theme: southernsinger
The magical girl: tango
The talking animal: nviiibrown
The lecherous old man: stephaniesmom
The teenager who uses ancient magic to win games: aylinn
The fifteen-year-old Japanese girl with blond hair and a D cup: rubinpdf

My only comment is that I really want to hear Keith compose and perform an anime soundtrack. I’d buy copies to give to my friends.

Still woefully behind on my anime watching: I’ve got all of Fullmetal Alchemist and Macross Frontier to get through. Sometimes I consider setting up a designated “anime half-hour” after work on weekdays, but that makes it a bit like a chore, and that’s no fun. I think I’m probably giving up on Chobits for now, I read the manga and that will have to do.

Y’know, my evenings are showing a tendency towards “recover from work, catch up on email, make dinner, do laundry / chores, cuddle with Starr, go to bed”. The Starr part is nice, but otherwise, it’s a bit of a rut. I need to look into this.

Here’s the whole quiz, if you want to do it yourself

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