We were honored to have Beryl Turner, head organizer of Acen in class today. I was half expecting a shy, sun-starved otaku initially, so I was surprised to meet Beryl who was tough, friendly, funny and still an otaku. While Beryl is very much an otaku, he was also very much the expert organizer. He was also very observant on how the scene in the USA had changed over the years, hence we were treated to numerous insights on how anime was introduced into American pop culture. On my question about the presence of so many people in video game cosplay at ACen, his reply was that it was the easiest way in for people into the culture, especially with Final Fantasy. Being unfamiliar with the scene in the US, this was of course an interesting glimpse into the otaku here, and could possibly explain why so many fans here are familiar with both the games and the anime. It was also a great point to reflect upon – are video gams the entry points into Japansese culture abroad? Why video games? Is that how distributors of Japanese culture intended it to be?
Overall, it was a very insightful coversation with a man who has seen the various people turning up at the anime conventions over the past 10 years.
– Brian O