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Monday, April 9, 2007

An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

posted by on April 9 at 12:10 PM

What was I supposed to do when my friend Trent texted me on Saturday, around noon, asking me if I wanted to buy a pint of Monarch Rum, put it in a Coke bottle, and walk down to the Convention Center to gawk at Sakura-Con?

You can’t say no to that shit.

Sakura-Con hits Seattle once a year. It’s the oldest and most well-attended anime convention in the Northwest. It’s ten years old. You can always tell it’s here if you walk downtown and you see high school kids in costumes. Crazy costumes. Costumes that they all had to make, because you can’t buy costumes to look like you are from the anime Noruto at Champion.

I figured when we started walking down that we were going to go have a hearty afternoon of making fun of nerds. I love making fun of nerds. We would get drunk, sit in the courtyard of Freeway Park, and quietly whisper and giggle. But there was nothing to make fun of. All we could do was sit in awe.

The kids looked to mostly be around 14 or 15, but there were also adults there. I wish I knew more about anime so I could tell you what these costumes are supposed to be–-any information I get in the comments will be added. Also, the repeating character is my friend Trent, who both provided these pictures and demanded to be in almost every single one.

I do know this one is supposed to be Jango Fett.

Anyhow, we sat in this courtyard for about three hours, going nuts with the cell-phone camera. Everyone was very amicable about having their picture taken, and we weren’t the only people whipping cameras out every five seconds. But eventually the costumes started disappearing, and we learned that everyone was inside the convention. We had to get in.

After a couple running starts at the guarded escalators and an aborted elevator mission (those old men who check badges at the Convention Center can run faster than you think they can), we finally found an abandoned staircase and dashed up. We really wanted to see what all these kids were up to (and remember the rum?).

When we got upstairs, we saw tons more costumes, but still, it seemed like a lot of people had disappeared. Walking towards the back of the Convention Center, we found rooms upon rooms of people playing different kinds of games with eachother: American video games like Halo, Japanese video games, Japanese/American video games like Dance Dance Revolution, card games analogues similar to Pokemon, board games like Go, and so on. There were also lectures that I wouldn’t understand. But there were still lots of people missing, and they paid a lot of money to get into this joint: why would they leave at 6?

And then, we found them, in the back, in three gigantic conference rooms all connected with eight 10-ft high screens projecting what was going on onstage all the way to the back of the room. On stage, teenagers in anime costumes were acting out fan fiction. They had made up skits featuring the characters they were dressed as, and they were (badly) performing fantasies involving situations that the writers of anime would never engage their characters in. I have lately been obsessed with the phenomenon of fan/fic and slash/fic (fan fic but with sex), so this was a dream come true.

Another note about the conference, before I get ahead of myself—cross dressing was the norm. Girls were dressed as male characters, and boys were in real drag all over the place (like the blue space creature up above). Not only that, but many of these young people ran all over the place kissing each other. We couldn’t tell whether it was bona-fide sexual attraction or character play-acting.

Anyhow, we watched the skits for a while, and then decided to see if there were any parties. We found one-right next to where the skits were being acted. But it wasn’t a party, it was a rave. And you needed badges to get in. Dang it. Thankfully, we knew a few people who were actually attending, and we got momentary use of their badges to get us through the door. Thank god!

The rave was basically a high-school dance redux. These kids are definitely not popular in their high schools, but here, they are the coolest, and they bumped and ground to terrible house. Trent and I jumped up and down, since standing on the bouncing floor made one dizzy. We saw the world’s longest conga line, which continued, without stopping, for an hour and a half. We saw Luigi from Mario Bros. dance-battle with Wah-Luigi (his evil counterpart). We saw 14 year olds make out, and kids breakdance (badly). We ended up staying at Sakura-con from 3 pm-midnight. And it was incredible.

RSS icon Comments


dude looks dead on charlie chaplin

Posted by Max Solomon | April 9, 2007 12:32 PM

thanks ari!!

Posted by kt | April 9, 2007 12:40 PM

I do so hate to expose my geekiness for all the world to see, but that, my friend, is no Boba Fett. Clearly, it's Jango Fett, Boba's father/clone/mentor from Episode II. Note the blue jumpsuit and lack of dents and scratches in the armor.

Sigh. I wish I could go to Sakura-Con. ;)

Posted by SkylarP | April 9, 2007 12:42 PM

Darn, the post was edited before my snarky comment was posted. Curses!

Posted by SkylarP | April 9, 2007 12:46 PM

I too enjoyed the geek watching on Saturday. I got a sweet pic of a girl dressed up like Kitana from Mortal Kombat...=D

Posted by Monique | April 9, 2007 12:51 PM

Haha, yeah, I got a call from our receptionist telling me I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It sucks, because that was the one thing I was actually familiar with!

Posted by Ari Spool | April 9, 2007 12:51 PM

Hey #5, we got a picture with that girl, too, but on film not digital, so it can't go online. She was very stoic.

Posted by Ari Spool | April 9, 2007 12:52 PM

How much do you want to bet that of the few adults there a good 85% of them were violating some court order regarding their proximity to minors?

Posted by The_Pope_Of_Chili_Town | April 9, 2007 12:56 PM

IS there a more genuine person in Seattle than TV Coahran?

Not likely.

Posted by Whatevs | April 9, 2007 1:01 PM

Yeah, Whatevs, he's the best. I love that kid to pieces.

Posted by Ari Spool | April 9, 2007 1:03 PM

Dude, just google "cosplay"

Also, you might mention to your friend Trent that if he's going to insist on being in so many pictures, he needs either more shirt or less gut.

Posted by Joe | April 9, 2007 1:05 PM

My son's friends went to Sakuracon and dressed up as Team Rocket members, complete with a pokeball they borrowed from him.

And @8 - man, you must hang out with pervs a lot.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 9, 2007 1:32 PM

Ari: Great Post.
Joe @ 11: What's your deal? Ari's friend Trent looks fine by me you seem like a bit of a jerk.

Posted by ha choo | April 9, 2007 1:34 PM

It's funny how the hipster with the gut looks more ridiculous than the cosplayers hahahaha

Posted by Andrew | April 9, 2007 1:38 PM

Hey, dudes imposing weight restrictions on photo opportunities - fuck off. The Stranger ain't no modeling service, and just cuz' you'd prefer not to look doesn't mean that A.) you know jack shit about it or B.) that other people wouldn't appreciate it. Standards of attraction are subjective, and you're kind of dicks for being snarky about it.

Not all hipsters are skinny coked-out eurotrash - as much as you want them to be.

Posted by Jeff | April 9, 2007 1:57 PM

@12- nope, just work in a prosecutor's office.

Posted by The_Pope_Of_Chili_Town | April 9, 2007 2:20 PM

We caught these kids at the Red Lion after having a few too many on the terrace. There were so many people taking camera phone pics of them that i fear i am now "that staggering drunk dude" in the background of about 1000 My Place photos. I think the free taco buffet remnants all over my face were enough to make me stand out, even in this crowd.

Posted by longball | April 9, 2007 2:46 PM

I hadn't been to SakuraCon since 2001 (when it was 300 people in a tiny, horrible hotel in Everett). There were over 11,000 people there this weekend, and it was absolutely fantastic. The reaction of the poster was one I felt and one everyone I knew felt -- we went expecting to peoplewatch and be amused, and it turned out to be an awesome experience. Nice job, everyone.

(I was one of about three White Mages wandering around.)

Posted by cow | April 9, 2007 2:50 PM

I Googled cosplay and got a few porn sites in the first 25.

Posted by elswinger | April 9, 2007 3:37 PM

Wait. You mean people can do things OTHER than what the hipsters enjoy and decree cool, AND HAVE A GOOD TIME?!?!? Sincerely and honestly and without irony, even? What is the world coming to?

(I spent the weekend at Norwescon, down in SeaTac, a big general-interest science fiction/fantasy convention. I've been going for years, and somehow my life doesn't seem to be rigidly geeky and uncool. I heard SakuraCon was a blast--anime isn't my thing, but I'm so happy for everybody who had fun.)

Posted by stresskitten | April 9, 2007 3:49 PM

Dude. Ari.
I'm totally gonna smuggle you into next years Emerald City Comic-Con (in my backpack no less) and watch your mind boggle at the grown men dressed up as Cobra Commander dropping Jacksons to get their pictures taken with Chewbacca, who has certainly seen better days.

Posted by Jonah S | April 9, 2007 4:03 PM

Hey Ari,

Any way I can get a larger copy of the pic with the 'Blue space creature'? That's my friend Jade, I'm sure she'd love a copy of it.

Posted by Rachael V | April 9, 2007 4:23 PM

It was just a cameraphone, so I think that's as large as it's going to get. You are welcome to yank that one, though!

Posted by Ari Spool | April 9, 2007 4:28 PM

Actually, slash fiction (at least among American fans) means fanfiction with male/male romance, whether or not it's sexually explicit. See .

Slash is mostly produced by females, from teenagers to middle-aged women. The post later today about "porn for women" is obviously missing the boat on this. Lots of chicks dig guy-on-guy, just like guys dig girl-on-girl.

Posted by slash fan | April 9, 2007 5:07 PM

Oh well, thanks anyway. BTW, in my experience the thing about them kissing each other is a lot about pent-up sexual energy with the cosplay a convienent excuse to let it out a little bit. The costumes do add some anonymity to the mix, but even people who know each other may use their charactres to express a side of themselves they wouldn't normally. Doesn't mean they necessarily want to hook up though.

Posted by Rachael V | April 9, 2007 5:12 PM

They also had a panel on con flirting and a "no paddles" rule (the yaoi paddles must have gotten out of hand a few years back).

Posted by alienjukebox | April 9, 2007 5:34 PM

Yah saturday was the best time i ever had. I didnt know i was gonna find anybody to go down there with me. im pretty sure ari was the right person to ask.. i tried sending some of the pictures i got of her, but she didnt post any. she's a way better poser than me. also, i have a gut so deal with it. youre probably ugly

Posted by T.v. coahran | April 9, 2007 6:26 PM

Oh yah! i went back sunday & did music in the lobby. my link goes to pictures. [im wearing a long coat so to cover my horrible gutness]-Trent

Posted by T.v. coahran | April 9, 2007 6:47 PM

Fuck the biters, man, let the gut swing free.

Posted by Jeff | April 9, 2007 7:19 PM

ohhh yeah!! I'm so very flittery & crush'n on all ya'll .esp ari for her writing. and for the gut exposure throughout her posts!


Posted by crush'n | April 9, 2007 8:01 PM

Actually, last year was the first year they had it at the Convention Center. Before that, it was held at the Hilton next to the airport, so you'd only get a few people downtown who wore their costumes for the entire weekend (most people were in Sea-Tac).

Posted by Andy | April 10, 2007 11:55 AM

I'm still wondering if there were any boffing matches. I mean, what's the point of dressing up like Pokemon without some good ol' BDSM LARPing?


Posted by Gabriel | April 10, 2007 1:59 PM

Hey Ari, next year contact our publicity people and we should be able to get you Press badges for the event so you can go around and see everything. I was the Director of Programming for the event, so I helped organize and schedule a lot of the events you saw going on.

Posted by Sean | April 10, 2007 2:10 PM

I managed to sneak in, to hang out with a friend there. I was an outsider in anime-land as well. I made an interesting connection in my head the day after- Sakura con used to be in the boonies, but this year it's downtown... Just like pride was last year. And these kids are sexual deviants for sure (boys crossdressing, the girls into Yaoi aka hot Man-on-Man action). Sakuracon is an Animesexual Pride parade. I dig it.

Posted by Sakura Sneak | April 11, 2007 12:49 PM

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