Beryl & Addie – Thoughts

It was great to have Beryl and Addie come visit our class.  For some reason I didn’t expect such enthusiasm on their parts, but I guess it makes sense – if you love something enough, talking to others about it isn’t so much work as it is fun.  And he must definitely love doing it; I can’t imagine working as chairperson of such a huge convention for free!  It’s amazing that nobody gets paid to do any of that, it really adds a whole new dimension to the fan-driven aspect.  It was nice to talk to people involved with ACen’s production, and it was great to have Addie there too – I hadn’t really thought about artist communities here in Chicago involved in anime and manga.  I think the best part about talking to them, though, was to confirm what I initially discovered when attending ACen: the normalcy of the “otaku”.  Beryl has no qualms about labeling himself as such, and he’s just a really cool, outgoing guy, not at all the introverted socially-awkward supernerd that the academics paint the otaku as.  It was funny hearing him talk about his issues with the label at first, because he knew he wasn’t like that kind of person either, even though he was really into manga and anime and conventions.  It’s just strange how there are so many different levels of misunderstanding and how this one identity can mean so many different things to so many people.  You have the academics who see them as like another species, choosing the worst stereotypes to represent an entire community.  You have the general public (the “mundanes”) who just don’t get it, like Beryl’s mom.  And then you have the fans themselves, who seem more often than not to be completely normal, outgoing, fun people, who just happen to enjoy manga and anime.  It’s very strange the levels of disconnect between so many people.  But it was great to have Beryl and Addie there, not only from an “academic” perspective, but just because they’re cool guys and it was fun talking with them.

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