Is there such a thing as an armchair anime fan? It seems that Japanese animation has spawned an exclusive subculture. It's exclusive in that you can't crash it unless you really know your anime and unless your fondness for the medium defines you; it's a subculture because those not into it have no desire to be--those anime people are, you know, weird and stuff.
We don't intend to offend anyone. In fact, we'd hope that if any people would revel in being rather exclusive and a little different, it would be the sort who travel from all around to go to Project: A-Kon. Just take a look at the Web page for "the Southwest's largest anime convention." It warns those entering the hall costume contest, wherein people dress up as their favorite anime characters, not to "harass or otherwise annoy other con attendees or staff by 'in character' actions" and to remember that they will be at an airport hotel. In other words, leave your katana at home. The Web site goes on to the subject of CosPlay, "one of the headlining events at cons nationwide." It painstakingly enumerates the rules for this activity ("No throwing of objects onstage." "No more than six people per presentation." "The stage is NOT a zero-G zone!"). The thing it does not spell out is what CosPlay is; if you're attending A-Kon, you're supposed to know such things.
You don't have to be interested in anime, in its artists and voice actors, or in analysis of the medium to enjoy A-Kon. There's also gaming: role-playing, live-action, and computer. No? Well, then yoting, take in the art gallery or do a little shopping in the dealers' room. Still not interested? How about a water-gun battle or the SubGenius Devival? Don't forget the International Millennium Toreador Ball--but keep in mind that some Archons and Justicons may show up. OK, maybe there's not exactly something for everyone--karaoke anyone?
There is, however, a huge attraction for the outsider, and it can be found at Project A-Kon in overwhelming abundance. It's grade-A people-watching, far superior than that which can be accomplished in a shopping mall or airport. Don't go to an this event for plain old viewing: You can play Dian Fossey, submerging yourself in the culture of a strange subspecies in its natural habitat.
At Project A-Kon, you can enjoy the activities, infiltrate the crowd, or stand on the sidelines, and if you're good and determined, you can have a good time. But no matter why you come, remember: you should still leave that katana at home.
Larra Ann Keel
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