[Mabuhay Bitches] “Too Anime” for Comic Con

I’m very happy that K-pop has taken off as it has. I’m very happy that there’s a niche group of kiddos that are lining up and making Asian boybands the It thing. It’s not my genre, but I’m happy for this crowd. I thought Psy was gonna be a novelty act, but then Blackpink took the radio and youtube hits by storm. It’s amazing that we’re getting this on the airwaves.

It’s so nice that overseas media is getting hype and gassed in the pop culture marketplace. But is it truly welcomed?

Let me tell you about our experience trying to get our anime panels and programming in the local comic con scene. There was a local comic book convention I supported since it’s inception. I was happy my local town was getting a comic con. San Diego at the time was a a bit of a reach – having something in the Fall that I can drive to back and forth from home was wonderful. I felt like I got my home con to stan.

I accumulated years of experience presenting panels. My day job requires me to do presentations. Presenting is just something I love. As I grow wiser and being seeing as “con mom” or “con auntie” or “con sis” to Gen Z’s, I wanted to take this role to contribute, to give back. I was very happy that big guns like Anime Expo and San Diego Comic Con had invited us to do panels on anime and cosplay topics. 2022 was a big year for us as presenters.

Let’s go back in the way back machine. From what I can tell by anecdotes and stories from Gen X and boomer colleagues, anime (or most Asian media) at fantasy / comic cons was regulated in a small viewing room shown raw with no subtitles. You had to get guides and episode summaries to follow the plot. While there was no fanfare for these viewing rooms, these spawned a nice audience and then created the first anime event meet ups at the local conference friendly hotel. Anime was seen as cartoons from Japan. Even when I attended the boomer party con, World Con in Anaheim in the 00’s, the only anime I found was hentai in the dealers hall and maybe a Lum figure.

By the 00’s, anime was getting it’s footing in the pop culture zeitgeist thanks to Toonami. It’s no denial that even comic cons have a presence of manga vendors and anime cosplayers. At Comic Con Special Edition, I spotted families cosplaying from Demon Slayer! It’s no lie that anime is a part of our pop culture and has a place.

So, let’s go back to that local con I was telling you about.

Their program director had reached out to us because they were interested in our catalogue of panels. The con was also looking for diversity too given that they have had several diversity oriented themed panels (and one of the few cons to have Spanish translations too!). Allright, I’m a queer Filipino and my partner has a visual disability and we’re talking about media from Japan. Sounds like a great fit!

Even outside of our anime programming, we also have other panels such as our mental health panel (I do have certification in this area), Star Wars books we love, best woman-centric hero comics, rare video games, tokusatsu, etc. We also pitched these to the program person. Yet, we were told we were simply told we were “too anime” for the con. I didn’t know what they meant. For a con that hailed on diversity, you would think our content would be a goldmine to talk about a foreign media from two marginalized folks, right?

It’s so strange when people say they’re all about diversity and inclusion, but when it comes to foreign media, their eyes twitch. What could have been lessons in how different cultures interpret apolocalyptic situations, response to nuclear testing, their female super heroes, etc would be a valuable to programming. Alas, it’s best to focus energy on conventions and events that will value our content.

Considering that manga has been outselling comics, actively excluding anime and manga from a pop culture event in 2022 just seems “too much,” don’tcha think?

Written by Dame Aznable
IG: @damescarletaznable
Twitter: @dameaznable
TikTok: @damescarletaznable

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