Now, you all know that I have a hard-on for collaborative projects. Being in a community is all about connection. So when FoxyLadyAyame over at The Beautiful World alerted me to a collaboration project she initiated, I jumped on it. Apparently, I’m supposed to discuss “anime culture in my local/national community.” Now, that’s about as broad as you can get for a topic. So I scoured my memory (for about 10 seconds) to find the story that perfectly illustrates how anime transcends cyberspace and permeates into meatspace.
This is the story of how I met c2switch.
WARNING! Images not totally SFW. Read at your own risk. (Don’t read my fucking blog at work. Seriously, there are better ways to kill time.)
Bored and Desperate
I used to have a long-standing tradition of attending the New York Anime Festival every year. In fact, it’s the only anime convention I’ve attended more than once. Why NYAF? Mostly to meet up with people. You see, I didn’t attend NYAF, per se. I worked at my friend’s booth in exchange for lulz and eroge. Sometimes, you just need to get away from college. NYAF was my personal weekend retreat into a bizarre world of decadence and awkwardness.
So here I was, in the fall of 2010, gearing up to work one weekend in exchange for a copy of Baldr Sky or something. Since I was more knowledgeable about eroge than I was about doujinshi or yaoi, I was designated to sell as many eroge as possible. This was a big year for us, since MangaGamer had just released their translation of Kira Kira. I was told that the entire fate of the English visual novel translation market hinged (partially) on how well we did that weekend.
Selling eroge at conventions is a job from hell. Here’s a little secret about eroge: people don’t buy them. (Unless, of course, you’re talking translated nukige, which we didn’t carry that weekend.) Why? Well, there are a few reasons:
- They can’t read Japanese. (Game over.)
- They’re poor as fuck and can’t shell out $70 dollars for a copy of Clannad. (I wouldn’t, either.)
- There’s no English patch in the works. (See 1.)
Only by appealing to people who enjoyed anime adaptation of eroge can one hope to sell a copy. Unfortunately, NYAF was a bit more of a casual convention, and there weren’t many people who had seen too many eroge adaptations. Most people at our booth were looking for Naruto porn, anyways. Life was frustrating.
My (smug as fuck) Saviour
At some point during that slow weekend, two girls approached our table. They were cosplaying as Kaguya and Mokou from Touhou Project. Sirens started going off in my head. Anyone dedicated enough to cosplay as Kaguya or Mokou was probably more involved with the fan community than the average NYAF attendee. At the same time, they were girls. Girls don’t play eroge! I thought to myself. But fuck it. At this point, I needed some form of human contact that didn’t involve speaking to 35 year-old mouthbreathers looking for “bang bang fuck fuck Evangelion comics.”
“Hey!” I yelled out to them. “Do you wanna buy some porn?! Books? Sheets? Yaoi over there?!”
Kaguya giggled. Mokou gave me a condescending little smirk. “No,” she said. “No yaoi.” I wondered if she was in character, or if she really was just smug as fuck all the time.
Well, shit. That failed terribly. I had to try another approach. “Hey, nice costume,” I said to Mokou. “Could I get your picture?”
She acquiesced, incredibly unwillingly. She stuck her hands in her pocket and looked at the camera, smugly. She was either a god-damned hipster, or the greatest cosplayer ever. She was literally Mokou incarnate.
I put my camera away, and noticed her eyeing our booth’s eroge selection. “You play eroge?” I said optimistically.
“Not really…” she said. Then her eyes lit up. “Is that… Romanesque…“
“Yup,” I said. “By Littlewitch. You’re familiar with Littlewitch?”
It was at this point I figured out she was a real nerd. She dropped all pretense of character and stared straight into my eyes. “I LOVE NOCCHI. LOVE.” She showed me her phone to prove it.
“Oh wow,” I said. I was ecstatic. Finally, someone that spoke my language, damn it. “I’m best friends with the guys who’re translating Quartett.“
Holy fuck. She loves me.
Akira Does Not Get the Girl
In hindsight, I’m pretty skeptical about con hookups. Ever since a buddy of mine accidentally hooked up with a 15-year old, I’ve been a little wary about them. But at the time, I was young and I didn’t know anything. I wasn’t gonna let anyone tell me I couldn’t do it. Plus, I would see this girl some other time, right? We’ll form some kind of beautiful friendship over the Internet and in meatspace, right? But first, I had to impress her.
So, I did what any douchebag anime fan would do― flaunt his own legitimacy. My 好感度 was already rising because I also happened to know a shitton about Nocchi, but that wasn’t impressive enough. A golden opportunity was about to show itself.
As the first day of the con winded down, my friends and I headed over to the Artist’s Alley, where our good friends RyuMoto and bkub were hanging out. Every year, we’d commissioned them to draw us stuff in exchange for taking them out to dinner somewhere in New York City. I was really into Railgun at the time, so I asked RyuMoto to draw me Misaka Mikoto.
The next day, we displayed our sketches at our booth as a way of drawing customers and making small talk. Lo and behold, Kaguya and Mokou were back. Kaguya instantly recognized bkub’s distinctive style. Mokou was similarly excited.
“What do you think?” I said, smiling. “We got these from RyuMoto and bkub.”
“Wow, that’s so cool,” she said. “I didn’t know they did commissions.”
“Yeah, they do, but we’re all friends,” I said, trying my damnest not to jizz all over myself.
“That’s so awesome!” she said. “You guys are awesome! Can I work with you guys next time?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “Come hang out with us next time. We’ll be at Anime Boston or something, just find us there.”
This was it. SECOND DATE GETTO DAZE☆
Except it didn’t. I lost touch with my smug-as-fuck friend almost right after NYAF, and I never ended up going up to Anime Boston. I’ve still never been to Anime Boston, and it’s been two years. Shit happens.
Shadows of the Past
In the two years since my meeting with Mokou, I’d become (just a little) less douchey about my anime credentials. I focused more on having fun with friends and enjoying anime on my own terms rather than trying to compete in an endless Internet dick-slanging contest. I developed an interest in meeting as many of my fellow anime fans in real life and seeing how their real personalities stacked up with their Internet personas.
Now, about a few weeks ago, I discovered that c2switch was near me, since she had geotagged her tweets. I also knew that she was my good friend 2DT’s girlfriend. I had to meet her.
We met one evening over incredibly avant-garde sushi. We spoke for hours about our lives and our favorite anime series (The iDOLM@STER, obviously.) After dinner, I invited her into my room to watch Sankarea together.
Upon entering my room, she looked around for a bit and then froze. She was staring straight at RyuMoto’s sketch of Mikoto. “Wait…” she said, “Did you… go to NYAF two years ago?”
“Holy shit! Mokou?! Littlewitch girl?!”
Oh, the irony. I had met her at a con, decided to befriend her in a moment of incredible scrappiness and desperation and had never spoken to her again. I forgot she had existed. And now, here she was, sitting on my bed, two years later. I’d met her twice. More than two years ago, in a moment of incredible desperation and clouded judgment, I reached out to her, grasping at a chance to connect with a bona fide female otaku. A year and a half later, I learned that my little anime world was much, much smaller than I thought.
And that is how I met c2switch.
It goes without saying that there’s a good amount of hyperbole in this post. The facts of the story are generally correct. Just ask @c2switch!