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The Asian ApertureTampa Anime Day 2012
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, August 12, 2012    Share

Anime continues to have a presence in the Tampa Bay area as younger fans embrace it. Years ago anime was just a grumpy old guy with a box of bad bootleg VHS tapes in a small corner in the Dealerís room at a Sci Fi con. Now anime has such a following that multiple cons can be attended all over the world. Sci Fi cons have diminished as anime captures the hearts of geek culture on an international level. What started out as part of Japanese otaku culture has spread and replaced Star Trek and other Sci Fi themed cons.

To experience animeís influence I attended Tampa Anime Day at the Embassy Suites in Brandon. I arrived at 9am and briefly spoke to one of the dealers who was unpacking his van of decals. Then I walked inside and sat in a chair until the 9:30 start time. As soon as I sat down other people dwindle in. Small groups of friends chatted until someone got behind a table and started taking the $3.00 admission fee, which was very cheap to me, compared to other cons. For me there was free parking, no hotel room cost, and no airline ticket needed. I paid my three bucks and went back to my same chair to watch everyone arrive in gorgeous cosplay costumes. I have heard some people same they hate cosplay, but why would you want to take away anyoneís fun at acting out his or her favorite character? We all go to these things to have fun and escape the mundane so the cosplay just adds to it.
My two favorite cosplayers

I saw some great costumes and the women, both younger and older fans, clearly outdid the men in terms of creativity and elaborate costume design. Maybe it was because I saw too many bad Naturo guys walking around in orange, wearing a yellow wig, with lame headbands that caused me to dismiss the men. For the women I saw several Hatsune Miku outfits, (I didnít know the name of that character until Esther told me hours later,) that were all stunning. It would be tough to judge the best one. There were the usual Final Fantasy outfits and some quirky originals like the Mushroom person. Iím not sure what anime that was from but it was a funny costume and one of my personal favorites.

Just after 9:35 the dealerís room opened. Usually I take one walk around to scope it out and zero in on what I want. This time I stopped at the manga table to look for Japanese language manga. There were none at the main manga booth where all the English manga was half off. There in a table next to it was a small plastic container with Japanese manga. I picked up Neon Genesis Evangelion Newtype Film books with beautiful full color artwork from the series. I also picked up Clampís Tokyo Babylon volume 1. With that out of the way, it was time to see the rest of the dealerís room.
The Anime Fix booth had DVDs, manga, and lots of figures. I saw figures for Godzilla, Mothra, Fist of the North Star, and some cool Gundam models. The prize for me was the Yamato Battleship. I almost got it until I saw the shocking price of $229. Thatís was way too much for me.

Next was the decal booth with all kinds of stickers to buy.

Walking past the decals, I saw 2pm shirts and a whole line of K-pop posters and CDs. K-pop was really big. I like 2pm and Girlsí Generation.

Then there were a couple of booths with Detective Conan wallets and costume jewelry. The usual Asian snacks booth and another booth with cosplay items, wall scrolls, and pictures. As Esther pointed out to me, sometimes the dealers working the booths for Anime cons can be really grumpy. I didnít see anyone like that.

Then it was time to sit back down in a chair and watch all the people walking by in costumes. The main reason Halloween is fun for me, is to see the effort people put into costumes and makeup. Sure, you will always have boring people with limited imaginations wearing crap outfits but for all those, the real fans who really care and project it, outshine the others.

It is interesting to see how Goth and Horror elements are showing up in cosplay. That is what I love about anime, you can take your horror fan, Sci Fi fan, comic book fan, movie fan, gamers, and throw it all into the mix. Anime has something for all the different types of fans out there that make up nerd culture.

I admit that Iím not outgoing at all. So I was glad to see Esther later in the afternoon. She is not afraid to walk up and just start talking to people. Anime fans are very outgoing so there was none of the silly fanboy hangups like the guy wearing the Star Trek shirt who gets shunned by the Star Wars fans. Also, even though people were hanging out in small groups, they left their groups to make new friends in other groups.

One of the things I liked was the mass amounts of people dancing to K-pop music. If you didnít know the moves, there was a TV in the dealerís room with someone teaching. At both ends of the hall, two different groups had group dancing. I liked the group near the door better because the music was louder and the dancers were energetic and creative.

During the day, there were so many people that you couldnít move. Close to 5pm, few people were left so Esther and I decided to get a good meal at Pacific Rim in Valrico. I had a Korean Dish called Hot Stone Pot, which is a very hot stone pot with spinach, bean sprouts, carrots, beef, rice on the bottom, and a raw egg right in the middle. It was good and I did burn myself once when my hand slipped and hit the pot. That hurt but only for a second. I did have hot sauce on the side that I was afraid to try. Esther did and warned me away from it. My dessert was Tempura ice cream, which is fried Tempura batter around green tea ice cream that is so good and recommended.

After a brief stop at the Brandon Oriental Market to pick up Dark Plum Vinegar drinks, a bag of high quality rice, and flavored seaweed, the day was over.

Tampa Anime Day was fun. Yes it was small, the dealerís room wasnít very big by con standards. There was a video room, but generally at cons I like to see and talk to people so I donít venture into the darken room for very long. The area was mainly just one hallway off to the side but it was still good and it is always cool to see anime fandom continuing. Maybe it was better than an actual con because it was smaller so it was easier to meet people and get to know them.

I am always curious about the future of anime and still have hope that it will always be around, despite any complications that come and go. Something good could be brewing right now that will be the next big thing.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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