Wednesday, May 30, 2012

on lolitas and anime conventions

This past weekend, I attended Anime North in Toronto. This anime convention, which is the largest in Canada and is hitting it's seventeenth year next year, clocks in as one of the biggest conventions in the area. I should preface this by saying that I personally don't care much for anime. I don't have enough time to keep up with all of the different series that each have many episodes and multiple seasons; I really only enjoy a few series (Axis Powers Hetalia and FLCL to name two of them; the APH episodes are 5 minutes long and FLCL only has 6 episodes in the series, so both are easy to keep up with) simply because I don't have time to discover new series, find places to watch them, get involved with the fandom, et cetera. I do quite enjoy video games, especially Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, and Final Fantasy, as well as tons of JRPGs. Needless to say, I don't go to anime conventions for the anime. I go for the video games, and, more importantly, the lolita events.

A surprising number of lolitas don't think that anime conventions good places to wear lolita; I understand the reasoning behind this. Lolita is already something that people think is a costume, so why invite the comparison by wearing it to a convention, where 75% of attendees are probably wearing an actual costume? However, for the same reason, a convention is a good place for a new lolita to debut their first outfit, or maybe for someone to dress more over-the-top than their normal lolita style. I first tried wearing OTT sweet lolita at Anime North a few years back. Why? Because there are so many people wearing weird things that other people are not going to be staring at only you. Everyone looks weird, and you do too. You fit in because you look like you're wearing a costume, like everybody else around you. Of course, this can get bothersome when you get people assuming that you are actually wearing a costume and asking you what series you're from, but just a simple and quick explanation can remedy that. There are also a larger amount of people who are interested in Japanese culture (obviously) which means that many people will already recognize what you're wearing as a Japanese fashion. I always wear lolita to anime cons because it gives me a great reason to get completely decked-out and totally over-the-top; something that I can't do any other time.

Conventions are also a good place to meet fellow lolitas because, more often than not, there are lolita events and panels to attend. For example, Anime North has a Lolita Tea Party every year that is always packed with lolita enthusiasts. In recent years, there has also been a J-Fashion show with a lolita segment, as well as a J-Fashion swap meet and multiple panels revolving about lolita. These are great places to meet new lolita friends. Take me for example; Anime North is in Toronto, but I don't live there. I don't live anywhere near there. I didn't know any of the girls at the con, but during the tea party, I just sat myself down next to some girls who looked nice and soon enough, we were all talking and laughing and having a good time. I still keep in touch with some of the girls and I make sure to always visit them when I'm near Toronto. It's sad to only see your friends once a year, but it definitely gives you something to look forward to, especially if you're like me and don't really enjoy anime but still go to conventions.

One final reason why I would encourage lolitas to go to conventions is because of the Artist Alley and the Dealer's Room. You can often find great things in the Artist Alley made by other lolita enthusiasts; things that you might have been on the fence about if you saw it for sale on the egl_comm_sales or Etsy, but you love once you see it in real life. As an added bonus, you'll also probably make the person selling very happy! Then you have the Dealer's Room, which is generally considered a haven of overpriced crap that may or may not be officially licensed and may or may not be made really well. Usually the lolita stuff that is in the Dealer's Room is incredibly overpriced lace monsters or Bodyline; one good thing about this is that you can see the quality of Bodyline pieces and maybe buy them later for much cheaper. A couple years ago, when I was still new to lolita, I was a little trigger happy and came very close to buying a $90 Bodyline dress from the Anime North Dealer's Room. Good thing I only had $80 in cash, because I went home and checked the website and saw that they were selling it for $30 shipped! But I inspected the dress and was pleased with the quality that I saw at the convention, so I went ahead and bought it. I was still skeptical of Bodyline's quality at the time so I was happy that I got to look it over and make sure that it was made well and had nice lace. There are also sometimes people who sell brand, which is always nice to see and look at, even if you don't have the money to buy any of it. The Japanese brands also have been known to attend conventions as of late (regrettably, none of which have been incredibly close to me; I was so close to going to ACen and seeing tons of Angelic Pretty and going to their fashion show and going to their tea part and meeting my idols, Maki and Asuka! But no, I was just a little too far away! How sad!) which would probably be a determining factor of whether or not I wanted to attend a convention.

I still have two more conventions to go to this summer; San Diego Comic Con in California (super excited about that! I have been dreaming about attending that for many, many years) and Aoi Uma Con in Louisville, Kentucky. I'm actually going to be selling at Aoi Uma Con, so if any of you are in the Kentuckiana region, you should totally come to the con! This is only it's first year, but I'm hoping for great things to come from it. Convention season is upon us; are any of my readers going to any this year? Are you going to wear lolita?

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