Monday, February 20, 2012

Frustrations of an Anime Fan - Lack of Local Activities

I want to do a regular column on a blog I infrequently update.  I know, lots of sense being made here, right?  The column is called "Frustrations of an Anime Fan" and will tackle topics as I see fit, from fandom to elitists from close mindedness from the general public to close mindedness in the industry, and much more.  I'm hoping you will read these and start some feedback.

I am a introvert by nature.  My happenings don't revolve on a ton of people being around me or going to popular places.  Bars are out of the question since I don't drink and can't carry on a proper conversation with the crowds of people yelling at each other.  The same problem can be with clubs, parties, and raves.  Coffee shops just don't have much of a fun atmosphere as it does a hipster one with libraries being its unattractive mother.  Arcades have essentially all but died except for the museum-type ones.  It just sucks for a virile young man in modern America trying to even make a few friends.

Last year, being tired of the same old, I went to a convention that some of my friends told me about at college.  Being the introvert I am, I had heard of it from before and just never went, but I decided that I am a full fledged geek and that I would fit in just fine.  That weekend was one of the best ones I've had.  I met so many different people, new friends, and found out my hobbies of games and anime weren't as obscure as I thought.  The convention I am talking about is your generic sci-fi, geek gathering spot.  Not a lot of one thing (table-top gaming, art show, media rooms, anime room, video game room), but enough to thoroughly entertain one's self for the length of the convention.  Sure, I'm not (yet, who knows) LARPing or and of the table-top gaming things, but I do enjoy cartoons, anime, cosplay, among other things.

I befriended the anime chair at the convention and we talk from time to time.  For a con in the middle of southwest Missouri, he does a great job finding things to watch and do.  He even managed to get Stephanie Young to speak and do an autograph signing this year.  That's pretty big for a smaller operation than Comic-Con.  However, one thing that has hindered any real activity or growth is the fact that the convention is not an anime convention.  Imagine a full-fledged anime convention.  Voice actor speeches, cosplay dating, art show purely with anime themes, anime video games, and many other things.  It just doesn't belong to a generic convention.  So for the venue, it works.

Just for a little background for those who don't know me, I live in southwest Missouri also known as the Ozarks, probably the belt buckle of the Bible belt.  The small town I live in only has a Wal*Mart Supercenter to really hang out.  A bigger metro city is where the generic convention takes place.  It has most major chain stores, a thriving urban/downtown area, and lots of people.  It is actually the city where I work five days a week, and when I get off, I can go shop somewhere that is not a former employer of mine.

One thing I really want to see in the next few years is a primary anime convention take place in the Ozarks.  I have an itch to meet local people and rave about our favorite series, have intellectual conversations behind deeper meanings of some series, and just discover some new things to check out and make new local friends who I can hit up from time to time and have an anime viewing night or something.  Sure, I know this is all idealistic, but I think it still could be attainable.

Last year we had two anime conventions try to start up in the area.  For whatever reason, both of these eventually folded and neither happened.  You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that neither would be happening.  So close, yet so far.  It seems like nothing is going to happen here for a while.  Right now, the closest anime convention is 100+ miles away and it looks like I will be forced to go to one of those to get my con fix.

One of the conventions still remains as a social group on a popular social networking website.  However, unless there is another convention going on or someone talks about a major motion picture or series coming out, the group seems stagnant.  The other convention has a message board that still works and there were so few posts on it.  I also look at the convention that is in operation now and see the same thing, not much activity on there.  You would think geeks would want more social interactions online than that.

I also did some research for groups, clubs, anything anime related in a 50 mile radius that I could join or meet with once in a while.  Nothing.  There was a group a couple years ago, and another a couple years before that, but now?  Nothing.  No groups, no meet ups, no clubs outside of high school and college-exclusive clubs.  Nothing.  Is anime that unpopular down here?  I really can't believe it, but either that is the truth, or people aren't stepping up to the plate.  The only way I found out about these conventions is because of either Internet specific research or word of mouth which is hard to come by nowadays.  Is there a group I don't know about that is hiding under a rock?  Am I the only one that experiences this?

One solution would be "Allengator, if you are so passionate about local social anime functions, then why don't you make one yourself?"  Good question.  I am not a leader.  I am not a planner.  I am horrible with money.  I don't like making calls or talking to people I don't know.  I am just not that person.  I am a follower.  I am a (lack of a better term) cheerleader.  I am that stupid mascot that dresses up as a cow in front of an electronics store that you don't like.  I tell all my friends about events and conventions going on.  That's all I feel comfortable doing.  Have me on your side, and I will fight for you, just don't make me in charge of the whole shebang.

So yes, I'm frustrated that nothing is going on here.  Another convention is trying to make a mark down here, however it is a furry convention, and while I have my own opinion on the subject of that area of fandom, it makes me wonder.  Can a furry convention really succeed where multiple anime conventions failed?  I thought that furries were a more niche market than anime fans, so what gives?  I wish the convention good luck on becoming a reality, truly wish it the best, and I'm sorry for this logic, but if a local furry convention makes it before a local anime convention does, I will be saddened.

So speak.  What can someone do to get a local anime group to become a reality?  How about an anime convention?  Anyone from the Ozarks want to see something happen?  Hit me up and we can talk about it.


  1. Create a facebook group on the subject. I've noticed you posted about this in the Ozarks Anime group--hence my posting here on your blog--but you should create an entire new section if you want to stand out. Once you have members, the time, place, and details can be established and perfected through user feedback. Stand apart from the mold; don't define what you can only and can't watch; become limitless. A group should be both fun and educational on the subject.

    1. I would like to add a Facebook group for getting a groups started in Springfield, but I think that would just be a smaller audience then what there is currently in the Ozarks Anime group. If the admins of the group think we should start one up, then we need to, but I'm not here to step on any toes. I'm also not much of an organizer, especially since I'm not from Springfield, so my knowledge of places and venues is limited. I'm fine with organizing the group, but that's about it. I'm hoping others will step up or come through with some plans.