I liked the discussion yesterday with Addie and Beryl Turner. Beryl, in his discussion of his own personal history with anime and manga and how he got into the con culture, seemed to really reiterate the classic stories we’d been told through Otaku Unite and a number of readings. I especially noticed it in his and Addie’s description of “the early days” when a bootleg VHS tape of some anime was coveted and small groups of friends huddled around televisions to watch original Japanese TV shows.
I also was really interested in how Beryl got his start in the con circuit, and especially given Lily’s response (at least I think it was Lily…) that the con culture is not just about whatever the object of the con is. In other words, ACen isn’t just about anime and manga, as Beryl said it’s about “community” and “making it a smaller world.” There’s a community at conventions of all types, be they science-fiction, anime or gaming, and it was through this community that he managed to climb the ladder and end up chairing this year’s ACen. I think the parallels in the different cultures of conventions are interesting (if I were in a sociology course I would probably talk about social and culture capital), and I think it was really helpful to talk to the two of them about their experiences.
I, as did many other I see, really liked the notion of the “mundanes” as opposed to the otaku, and I liked how JK Rowling co-opted and extended its meaning to become “muggles.” I’m not really a Harry Potter fan, but I like seeing how aspects of these seemingly fringe social groups become mainstream.