Goth Chick News: Can Someone Please Help Me Understand Anime?

Goth Chick News: Can Someone Please Help Me Understand Anime?

Last Friday, Goth Chick photog Chris Z and I once again had the pleasure of a press invitation to the annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (or C2E2 for you cool kids). If you haven’t heard of this event, C2E2 is a Chicago fan convention dedicated to comics, pop culture, graphic novels ,video games, toys, movies, and television.

The inaugural C2E2 was held in 2010 at the McCormick Place in Chicago and hosted roughly twenty-eight thousand people over three days. Thirteen years later and according to our inside sources, all three individual days were sold out, as well as the three-day passes. Though C2E2 show runners have been tight-lipped these last few years as to attendance numbers, estimations I’ve been able to gather put the total in the 110K neighborhood for 2023, making C2E2 in the top five largest comic conventions in the US.

Aerial view of the show floor

Chris Z and I have been in attendance for 11 of the past 13 years and if you work backwards, you can surmise that both of us are over 30, which is probably why I have some questions.

Before I go there, I want to tell you about this year’s C2E2. First, the sheer quantity of exhibitors was a bit mind boggling (see Chris Z’s aerial shot above for context).

Artist’s Alley

Being that this is a comic convention, comic vendors, creators and artists were out in force. Each year a significant amount of the convention floor is consumed by 25 aisles of artists and illustrators, lined up table to table. From 2×3 miniature paintings to 20×30 canvases, we marveled at not only the talent we saw, but at how many different ways Marvel characters and Disney princesses could be depicted.

Want a watercolor of all the Marvel favs as toddlers? Check. How about Snow White reimagined as a rock star? Check. Wonder Woman and Black Widow in a semi-clad clinch? You betcha! A shirtless Batman reenacting that famous scene from Ghost with an equally shirtless Joker? Absolutely.

It was difficult to know where to look next, especially with Chris Z emcee’ing to ensure I didn’t miss a thing.

TPub’s Booth

Of course, we stopped by to congratulate the folks manning the TPub booth, the company responsible for the graphic novel Tuned, which I told you about a few weeks ago. They were celebrating reaching their Kickstarter goal in less than 24 hours which is a new record that doesn’t surprise me a bit, having gotten an early look. We originally met writer Neil Gibson at C2E2 2014 when he was launching his first publication, Twisted Dark, though he was off being fabulous elsewhere this year.

Then there was our annual love-fest with comic writer/creator and man of mystery Dirk Manning who we met at our very first C2E2 in 2011. Back then he was sharing a booth and promoting his graphic novel trilogy Nightmare World which remains one of my favorites. These days Manning’s own booth is full of multiple volumes of Tales of Mr. Rhee, The Haunted High-Ons, Hope, and Buried but Not Dead among his other titles.

It’s also six-people deep in fans wanting to meet their favorite comic icon, which is why I feel especially thrilled to learn Manning has “huge news” he promises to share with me first, as soon as he gets the NDAs worked out. Stay tuned for that.

Goth Chick and Mr. Rhee – reunited for the 22nd year

We also met two new friends in the form of Fenom Comics creators Tom and Joe Fenoglio. They were promoting their graphic novel Hunter Ninja Bear, which caught our attention for the incredible illustrations. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a copy which I’ll be featuring here just as soon as I finish all 360 of the beautifully rendered pages. I must admit I’m now kind of obsessed with this story of three forces of nature (a hunter, a ninja, and a bear) becoming eternally tied to one another through fate.

The Banana Sundae, PG-13 version…

There is no convention of this kind without cosplayers and C2E2 has some of the best we’ve ever seen. Its impossible not to admire the dedication, attention to detail and the expendable income required to create some of the characters we saw, not to mention the sheer bravado. For instance, there was a guy, by his own identification, dressed as a banana sundae who was thrilled when Chris Z asked for a picture. How do we know he was a banana sundae? Well, there was a banana prominently featured, though I couldn’t publish the picture from the angle which shows it.

The rest of the show floor was vendors. Naturally there were oodles of comic vendors, vendors of toys based on comics, people selling Funko Pop (yes, these are still a big thing), jewelry, clothing and tchotchkes of every category, size, shape, and price point you can imagine.

And this is where my questions come in.

As someone with a very real and understandable aversion to lavender, yellow, baby blue and especially the color pink, I couldn’t help but notice my eyeballs being assaulted from nearly every angle by these hues, which are normally not associated with the places I frequent. Chris Z noticed it too. “Is it just me, or is there a whole lot of pastel-y colors everywhere?” Upon closer inspection it was clear there was a new trend at C2E2 2023.

We see something similar every year. One year you couldn’t move without tripping over a Harley Quinn and Joker, another year everything was about Deadpool. But this was the year of Anime.

The South Park gang in real life, including Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls

Outside of Japan, Anime refers to a style of animation originating in Japan whereas inside of Japan, Anime is any animated work, regardless of origin. So, we’re specifically talking about the definition referring to animation from Japan. Not all Anime is done in pastel colors, I’m clear on that. But nearly every booth we saw connected to Anime and nearly all the Anime cosplayers were sporting this pallet.

Anime Cosplayers

I also noticed a prevalence of characters with very large eyes and child-like features. I couldn’t help doing a little digging when I got home and found out that these attributes are associated with two specific types of Anime called Kyoto Animation and Fujiko Fujio, which are indeed two of the most popular originators of Anime.

Styles of Anime according to Wikipe-Tan

However, whereas I can understand the fandom around video games, Marvel, DC and others, the raging and prolific popularity of Anime escapes me. So, I did some more digging. The pop culture site ReelRundown describes it this way:

Most anime fans become interested in their favorite shows because they like the characters. They want to draw them, act like them, dress up as them, and so on. Their favorite characters are usually young, aesthetically pleasing, and possess desirable traits like confidence, determination, and a positive attitude.

Cancelculturemag says of Anime,

It pushes the boundaries of the status quo with unique characters and stories. It also expands beyond reality as anime often showcases magic, Japanese tales and superpowers. It also extends beyond usual Western movies and shows, giving audiences a repository of novel plots, ideas and characters.

Finally, Gamequitters.com states the obsession with Anime is simple:

Escapism – Coping with everyday life can be difficult for teenagers so they find it attractive to escape into anime where the characters, settings and plots are a good distraction.

And that might be the answer right there – it’s generational, and I missed out.

So, as we say a fond farewell to C2E2 for another year with the anticipation of oh so much more pop culture goodness to come, I’d love to know what you think about the Anime trend. Are you a fan and if so, what do you love about it?

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Matthew

Anime is like anything else some very good, some horrible, most in between. Cowboy Bebop is probably my favorite show of all time, but I hate Dragon Ball Z despite it’s massive popularity. Most of DBZ is a single fight over dozens of episode. It’s incredibly stupid. Cowboy Bebop is noirish space western about bounty hunters in the future. This was before Firefly and the Mandalorian and it’s excellent. So it really depends on the show just as it does with live action American tv.

The big eyes are used for expressiveness by the way. It comes from influential mangaka Osamu Tezuka who picked it up from Disney movies. (It took a while for me to get use too, frankly.) So really it is the Disney Corporations fault like so much that is annoying about animation.

Dale Nelson

Disney. It figures.

Matthew

Yeah, I’ve never been a fan of the House of the Mouse. I don’t hate everything they do, but I dislike a lot of it. They certainly pioneered techniques that help made animation possible, but they also created a lot of things that hold it back. Annoying songs, annoying cartoon sidekicks, princesses. American animation was stagnated by it and we only now are breaking out.

Matthew

Bebop is for the record “the anime for people who hate anime.” It’s also fairly easy to find. It’s on Hulu and Tubi and dvds are easy and relatively cheap.

Thomas Parker

I like Gunslinger Girl; beyond that I have no opinion on most Anime. But looking at the Artist’s Alley photo makes me remember why I stopped going to the San Diego ComicCon a decade and a half ago: too many people, not enough air.

Greg

I just read my first manga (Beserk 1- 6) and I really enjoyed it but I’ve also had problems watching Anime.
I think culturally, Asian movies/anime is just more dramatic, which comes across as over -done to Western audiences of older generations.
Also I don’t dig the artwork where everyone looks like kid with out of proportion heads and eyes like in Dragon Ball Z. That said I do like the artwork of Cowboy Bee Bop. Also some of Anime from Netflix Anime is really good.

Greg

Check out The Sound and the Fury. It’s almost a music video instead of a short Anime. Sturgill Simpson does the soundtrack – there’s no dialog. He’s like a Dark or Gothic Country singer.. There’s one part that goes off the rails a bit but great for quick and dirty Anime

Brandon J

There are hundreds of different anime. Like most everything else, you just need to find the ones that you connect with. Currently watching The Devil is a Part Timer and Spy x Family. Both of these are creative, funny and tell good stories. I would point any goth chick to an eighties anime called Vampire Hunter D.

silentdante

i have enjoyed anime since around 1992 when i first found it in the local mom and pop video rental place (of which i ended up hanging out in until it closed many years later) and while i dont watch it nearly as much as i once did, there are still some good ones that show up.

i agree Vampire Hunter D is excellent, though i enjoy the light novels much better.

i think my biggest problem with anime is how fast it seems it’s forgotten. there are a ton of great ones from back in the day you cannot even find anymore except maybe on youtube. also a lot of anime is a little more fan-service thenmost other things, which is why a lot of younger men may like it. i think there are also a ton of just… interesting and fresh ideas explored in anime that are not touched upon in anything else as far as moving pictures goes. a recent anime of note is called Chainsaw Man, so you can see sometimes the ideas are just out there where most shows or movies dont go.

silentdante

Goth Chick sporting some cool multi-colored hair herself too hehe 🙂

Matthew

I may also suggest Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate. They both separate adaptions of a manga about Dracula (called Alucard) being bound in service to the Hellsing (van helsing) family and fighting other vampires. Including, nazi vampires in zeppelins. Helsing Ultimate, the second adaption, is the one closest to the original manga. It is also the goriest and most transgressive thing I’ve every seen. So be warn.

silentdante

hell, anime goes back even further that that for sure, some major stuff from the70’s made it here in the 80’s and i think that is where it sort of got a foothold in the states, but there is stuff from the 60’s too.
hell Akira (probly one of the most well known, loved, and influential) is from 1988 and Ghost in the Shell was first out in 1995. ScarJo’s live action movie while not great i still love for the cyberpunk goodness that always comes with Ghost in the Shell things.

i am surprised the eyes and heads are a thing for you, as that is what drew me to it, though not all anime has that aesthetic of course, one of my first ever anime’s was the original Fist of the North Star movie released in 1986, still one of my favorites. the eyes and heads are more normal style in this. it is impossible to find and i had to buy a dvd at a con that i am sure is not an official one, hahahaha

Last edited 1 month ago by silentdante
John MacMaster

I’m surprised that anime seems to be a fairly new area for you, given how many of these shows deal with supernatural elements such as vampires, demons, spirits, curses and so on… plus there’s the dark, gritty sci-fi entries in the genre, as well?! There are also plenty of more lightweight and silly aspects in this genre (plus some shows which combine both styles, to varying degrees) — so it’s likely the lighter, more ‘fun’ bits that inspire most of the cosplayers. {Also, there are a number of ‘anime adjacent’ things out there, like Japanese video games and Vtubers, with similar character designs that people tend to tribute in cosplay too.}

It might depend where you look, as to how difficult it’ll be to find some of the older titles… One of my old favorites in the darker anime realm though, would be the movie “Demon City Shinjuku”. A classic! Also, there are things like the stylish “Vampire Princess Miyu” (4-part video series, plus an older TV series) and “Mermaid Forest” (more horrific than the title may suggest!), among many others.

For popular newer shows, I’d have to mention “Death Note” most particularly — a psychological thriller in which the main character (Raito/Light Yagami) receives a Netherworldly notebook which grants him the power to kill anyone whose name he decides to write in it. He soon finds himself in a desperate battle of wits to protect himself however, after the results of it start to manifest around him! I’d recommend the subtitled version over the dubbed version, if possible… {I saw a bit of the dub, and while the English voice-acting is serviceable – and even surprisingly good for the other main character, the eccentric Interpol agent code-named “L” – the voice for Raito just lacks the sense of veiled menace that the original actor does so well.}

Patrick Dechesne

So, i read your stuff for a long time.

It’s the first time i’m replying a topic here.

And it’s just to tell you this : watch Jigoku Shoujo / Hell Girl

I bet you’ll love it.

The first 3 or 4 episodes seem clumsy, but the rest of the three first season is wow! Dark, powerful and moving.

Joe H.

Another series I’ll offer up for consideration: Record of Lodoss War, a fantasy series apparently based on the creator’s D&D campaign. Bonus points for watching in subtitled Japanese so as to hear the Japanese pronunciations of “Elf” and “Dwarf”.

Arin Komins

Interesting. Anime is very much not a new thing. I was completely obsessed in the eighties, and for any lover of the dark, definitely check out Vampire Princess Miyu, Vampire Hunter D, and The Bride of Deimos. …but there are so many good horror anime from the time period! Albeit always watch in Japanese. The translations and American voice acting can be….erratic.

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