Otakon 2011: Birth of a Generation- DBZ and Sailor Moon

There are some fantastic Sailor Moon cosplayers at Otakon this year- there's more where this came from.

Last year, Otakon featured a panal called, “The World of Sailor Moon,” hosted by Yosenex of Genvid.com. This year, it seems like con organizers made an attempt to streamline the schedule, and one of the casualties was our dedicated Sailor Moon panel.

Instead, two fandoms were put together into one panel, run by college students Tina Maiese and Brandon Auman, who covered SM and Dragonball Z, respectively. While the hosts were friendly and the crowd was enthusiastic, this combo panel seemed to occur at the expense of SM fans- about 75% of the panel ended up being devoted to DBZ.
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Otakon 2010 Impressions

Well, Otakon is now over for the year and it’s time for final impressions- which makes me happy that I actually have some. I mean, it’s kind of pointless to have nothing to say at the end of a con beyond “Yeah, that was a good convention.”

Basically, I came away from Otakon with the impression that love for Sailor Moon really is alive and well in North America. Even though current shows like K-ON! grabbed a lot of the spotlight, tons of vendors had Sailor Moon products on display. I saw t-shirts, mugs, custom handbags, pencil cases, stationary, artbooks, and so on, and *cough* I succumbed to the temptation to buy more than just a few of those things. One might think that seeing a lot of merch at a con isn’t indicative of anything since cons are exactly where you’d expect to find that stuff, however, not every series gets representation in the dealer’s room; plenty of series much newer than Sailor Moon were hard to find in any form.

I also heard several people say things to the effect of “It’s a shame they don’t have any Sailor Moon [fill in name of a collectible]” at times. One attendee proudly snatched up a SuperS pencil board from under my nose, commenting “I got the last one!”

As you may have already surmised if you read the cosplay post, cosplayers were out in full force; sure, I saw way more people dressed up as ninja from Naruto or Death Gods from Bleach (and don’t get me started on the Vocaloids) than Sailor Senshi, but those are currently airing series; Sailor Moon had a great representation for a show that’s been off the air in North America for so long.

At the Artist’s Alley, a healthy percentage of the artists present had an image of an SM character displayed at the front of their booth- usually Sailor Moon herself, but often team shots as well. I also saw several pieces depicting Neo-Queen Serenity at the Art Auction that had bids.

The World of Sailor Moon panel had great attendance, and enthusiastic participants. The Sailor Moon Hentai panel actually had even better attendance, with every seat taken. However, I confess I ditched that panel halfway through; not because the content of the panel bothered me, but because of the attitude of the attendees. Really people, just because you’re watching something with sexual content is no reason to suddenly start acting like a twelve-year-old. Nevertheless, that aspect of the fandom is there, and it’s certainly a component of the franchise’s staying power. I may not want to watch it (or deal with the attitude of some of the fans who do), but I can appreciate the fact that interest in the pornographic incarnations is an outgrowth of continued interest in the series.

What all this means is, any company that’s paying attention to what’s going on in fandom has to know that Sailor Moon is potentially very profitable. Not only are there a lot of Sailor Moon fans, but the timing is such that many of the people who grew up watching Sailor Moon are now at the age where they have plenty of disposable income (relatively speaking; there is the economy to consider.) Critically, people around me were complaining that there wasn’t enough Sailor Moon stuff to buy. I’m not an expert on anime licensing, but I’m pretty sure that people wanting to buy more stuff is indicative of potential licensing success. In a marketplace where companies often struggle to convince fans to buy anything at all, due to a mistaken sense of entitlement brought on by the era of digisubs, this is a series where people cannot buy enough.

Waiting any longer to license Sailor Moon is like missing out on a license to print money, and it’s the best kind of license; it’s the one where the fans feel grateful to finally be able to spend their money on something they love, leading to goodwill towards the company in addition to profits. I’m glad that I can say that Sailor Moon should be licensed and re-released not just because I would love it personally, but because it’s honestly the sensible thing to do.

Oh, and look at all this cool stuff I got!

I love conventions: In the name of the Moon, I will go to NYAF and buy more stuff.

Otakon 2010: Sailor Moon Cosplay Gallery

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I hit the convention floor with the intent to photograph some Sailor Moon cosplay: how many SM cosplayers would I see? Would the costumes be any good? Or would any and all Sailor Moon cosplayers be drowned in a sea of Vocaloids?

As it turned out, there were many Sailor Moon cosplayers, some of the costumes were great, and absolutely everyone was drowned in a sea of Vocaloids, cosplayers and all. I swear, Hatsune Miku may be a great character, but if I never see her again…that would mean never looking at anime PVC figures again. Never mind.

The images here are by no means representative of all the Sailor Moon cosplayers at Otakon, just a small group I was fortunate enough to encounter who had a moment to pose for me. With the near-30,000 attendees at Otakon, it’s obviously impossible to see everyone and everything, but at the very least, a good portion of the SM universe is represented in this sampling. It pains me that there may have been a great Tuxedo Mask or Super Sailor Moon cosplayer that I just never encountered, but there’s always next year. For the record, I did see an adorable little girl dressed as Princess Chibiusa who ran out of the panel I was attending with her parents before I had a chance to ask for permission to take her picture. Wherever you are out there, cool parents, I salute you.

Here’s a nice Black Lady, spotted at the World of Sailor Moon Panel.

A lovely Princess ChibiMoon! Personally, I think those Serenity-styled dresses are some of the classiest cosplay you can do for any series. It’s just such a classic look, and practically every woman looks good in it.

This Eternal Sailor Moon had an impressive wing span. I was really pleasently surprised to see multiple forms of Sailor Moon, instead of just the standard red-white-and-blue version.

A nice group of Inner Senshi. I can only assume that Jupiter was of cooking/beating someone up/blushing at a guy/etc.

SM cosplay would not be complete without at least one dude dressing as Sailor Moon: Thanks for taking one for the team there, my friend.

An excellent version of Neo Queen Serenity.

Well, it’s true that Sailor ChibiMoon does get taller in her Senshi form…credit for this picture goes to my friend Jake from Japanator, I wasn’t fortunate enough to run into these ladies, but he did!

A very interesting trio….

Sailor Uranus was spotted in Artist Alley- presumably looking for Michiru. Come to think of it, that’s exactly where I’d look for her.

Finally, a picture-perfect Usagi! Seeing cosplay like this just makes me a happy girl. I complemented her on how she pulled off Usagi’s hairstyle.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of these costumes- I know I’m psyched to play more of my favorite “Spot the Sailor Moon Cosplayer and Harass Them for a Picture” game at NYAF this fall; it’s fun for the whole family, or at least MY family.

Otakon 2010: Bandai Announces K-ON! dub

At the “Bandai After Dark” panel on Saturday night, Bandai not only formally announced the K-ON! dub, but offered the lead role of Hirasawa Yui to voice actor Stephanie Sheh on the spot. Sheh accepted, meaning that we will more than likely hear her interpretation of the world’s spaciest lead guitar player soon enough. As if that wasn’t enough, the panel continued with Cristina Vee bursting onto the show floor in a K-ON! costume to sing a bunch of the shows better known songs, including the popular ED track Don’t Say Lazy. It was announced that Vee will be playing the role of Akiyama Mio, which she called “a dream role.”

How is this relevant to Sailor Moon? Well, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you might not know that the prognosis for anime dubbing has not been particularly good of late. With the decline of the anime market in the United States in particular, and sub-only releases selling to an increasingly picky enthusiast market, we’re long past the boom days when any show that was even moderately popular would receive an English dub. While a dub for a show as popular as K-ON! may seem like a no-brainer, it was still nice to see the enthusiasm everyone at the Bandai panel seemed to have for the project.

One audience member even asked during the Q&A whether or not CDs would be released with the English voice actors performing the K-ON! songs, as Vee had just done; the answer from the panel was “I don’t know,” which surprised me, because I was expecting an unequivocal “uh, no,” for an answer there. The dubbing will be done by Bang Zoom! Entertainment, which, if you recall, did do some song dubbing back in the day, such as with the early Rurouni Kenshin openings and endings. I was under the impression that they had stopped doing that sort of thing for legal reasons, but who knows- the industry has certainly changed in the ten years or so since then.

Vee did a fine job with the K-ON! tracks, and personally I’d be keen to hear her tackle some Sailor Moon songs- either the original Japanese songs, or the sometimes simplistic, but often surprisingly good, songs from the original dub.

While we’re on the subject of Bandai, they also took the opportunity to announce their forthcoming releases of Sora Kake Girl, or The Girl Who Leapt through Space (not to be confused with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), and a My Otome prequel OVA (to be released together on one disc). Interestingly, they also announced that K-ON! will be released simultaneously on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Other events at the panel included a The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya sound-alike contest, an exclusive clip from the second episode Gundam Unicorn (which is SO not my thing, but at least some people there were very excited) and the exclusive premiere of the Season 2 dub outtakes for that series, the hilarity of which made me wish that Crispin Freeman would be cast in any Sailor Moon redub in some capacity if only to produce quality outtakes. Freeman for Tuxedo Mask: WHO’S WITH ME????

Otakon 2010: Cosplay Panels

I’ve been to New York Anime Fest before, but this is my first Otakon. One immediate difference between the two conventions is the sheer amount of cosplay going on: At NYAF, the crowd is peppered with enthusiastic cosplayers. At Otakon, the crowd *is* enthusiastic cosplayers, peppered with a few people in video game t-shirts, who may or may not look vaguely out of place depending on where you are.

Appropriately, there’s plenty of cosplay panels and events to be had. Two panels, “Cosplay Solutions” and “The Origins and Lifestyle of Cosplay Subculture,” had tips and advice that will probably be useful to Sailor Moon cosplayers, and aspiring cosplayers- a group in which I include myself.

At “Cosplay Solutions”, run by cosplayers Arras Wiedorn and Meghan Powers, the topic was ostensibly how to cosplay on a budget, but it turned into more of a “Cosplay 101” for newbies like myself. Wiedorn recommended starting with simpler designs for your first cosplay, such as a sailor uniform, making the Senshi school uniforms a good choice.

As far as the Senshi’s battle fuku are concerned, she warned to be cautious of those notoriously short skirts: “Those skirts are really, really impossibly short- it is not possible to wear a skirt that short without flashing someone,” Wiedorn said. She recommends wearing a small pair of shorts under the skirt as “modesty shorts,” or going to a dance store and getting a pair of what they call “booty shorts.” She also suggested just wearing really nice underwear for flashing purposes, but I think I’ll go with the modesty shorts, thanks.

Other useful tidbits included the fact that Aquanet hairspray makes the best cosplay hairspray (the ones that make your hair feel soft to the touch just don’t hold that well, apparently), resin is a good material for making jewels on costumes, and paint foam is a good material for making props and weapons.)

The second panel, run by Anne Marie Chua Lee (known as “Red Pikachu” in cosplay circles), co-owner of redstarcostumes.com, went more into depth about both the origins of cosplay and the public perception of it. Did you know that the first cosplay on record was done by a man named Forrest J. Ackerman at the First World Sci Fi Convention in 1939? I had no idea; I thought it was a creation of ’80s anime fandom. Lee also noted that the first use of the word “cosplay” in Japanese was in My Anime magazine in 1983. Depressing thought of the day; I am slightly older than the word cosplay.

During the Q&A session, one audience member asked if you should cosplay a character even if you don’t have the right body type. Lee says yes: “Even if you don’t fit the body type, you know what, it’s okay-cosplay it anyway.” She went on to say that if you truly love the character, that love will show in the costume and will make it worthwhile, something she learned when she cosplayed as Chun-Li from Street Fighter. I agree; life is too short to say “But I’m not tall enough to be Sailor Jupiter!” Besides, if only people who have bodies like anime characters were allowed to cosplay, there would be like…three cosplayers. You need more than that for a Sailor Team.

Lee recommends hitting cheap stores like Payless and Target for shoes, which are often a very expensive element in any given costume. She also recommends wearing decent underwear in case of “costume malfunctions.” I’m noticing a theme of underwear as an important concern in the cosplay world.

You know, attending these panels and observing passing cosplayers has led me to observe something; Sailor Mars is pretty much the perfect cosplay. You can get a pair of red high heels at Payless, plenty of brunettes (like yours truly) can easily get away without wearing a wig, there are few accessories to worry about, and uh…well, okay, that’s about it as far as advantages are concerned, but still! You get to be Sailor Mars for the day, how much more motivation do you need?

For your cosplaying pleasure, here are some cosplay sites that were recommended by one or more of the panelists:

Carrot Anime
Amphigory (wigs)
399animeshop (accessories)
Electrique Boutique (underwear and shoes)
Folkwear (period costumes)

All panelists also recommended utilizing the dealer’s room at conventions for assembling costume pieces; just from the amount of wig and contact lens booths present in the dealer’s room at Otakon this year, I would have to agree.

Above image shows Anne Marie Chua Lee (RedPikachu) dressed as Momohime from Demon Blade Muramasa; Photo by Fristle. This seasoned cosplayer doesn’t have ONE Sailor Moon cosplay in her gallery at Red Star Costumes, but I think we can forgive her…for now. Stay tuned for a sampling of some of the many dedicated Sailor Moon cosplayers to be found at Otakon 2010.