Anime Expo 2013 Recap

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Photo by Anime Expo®

Hey guys! Happy Wednesday!

So I know I haven’t put out a post in about 2 weeks now. Sorry! BUT! The reason being is because I’ve been super busy working for the best anime convention in the country… Anime Expo!

So let’s be real for a sec. This isn’t gonna be some critique like most blogs do. I’m not going to rate my experience or anything. For one, I personally work for the SPJA so I wouldn’t be voicing out those kinds of opinions on here. (My soapbox only has so much limit.) I know I normally rant about other geeky topics, but for this post, I’d like to give you more of a personal inside look at what I do.

So this was my first year as manager and boy was I in for a treat. I was an assistant manager last year and there is a definite difference between the two jobs. For one, I never truly understood the operational aspect to Maid Cafe until now. But hey, you gotta fck up a couple times until you learn, right? I honestly was already anticipating some mistakes on my behalf just because I was kinda going into this blindly, but by Day 2 of the convention, I really felt like I got the hang of things.

Now I’m obviously not gonna release any top secret information here. (Um, duh?) But I will take a moment to gloat about my staff. You see, I have a pretty big department compared to others and that’s because my department puts on a show and we’re the performers. I need a large staff in order to make every guest feel special and appreciated. Not only do my Maids/Hosts dance on stage, they interact and play games with the guests. I know in theory it seems like an easy job, but it actually takes more work than you think. We practice months and months in advanced to be performance ready by con. I would know; I was there coordinating all the rehearsals for BOTH maids and hosts. My staff works hard and it paid off. We sold out 8 out of 9 shows. Booyah.

Ew, I can’t believe I just said “booyah.” That’s so 2004. 

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See? Aren’t we just a bunch of cutie patooties?

To wrap up this corny-ness, I just wanna say that without this group of hardworking people, we wouldn’t have been able to produce such an amazing experience for our guests. These ladies and gents work extremely hard and I wish I can give them something super duper awesome as my token of appreciation. Ah, the life of a college student. I hope booze will suffice? Just kidding. But seriously.

So what’s it like to be a maid or a host? Well, for starters, it’s a lot of work. I can’t even begin to explain how many rehearsals we had and how LONG the rehearsals were. We pretty much work 7-8 hour shifts each day of con and our ultimate goal is to put on a great show and keep our guests happy. Something new that my maids and hosts did this year was add “punishments.” You see, we have an interaction period where we play games with our guests, such as jenga, apples to apples, pop-up pirate, etc. If you lost, you had to do a punishment of the Maid or Host’s choosing. Don’t worry, it’s not anything bad. Most of the time, it had to do with yelling “I love Justin Bieber!” or dancing to Gangnam Style on our stage. Because everyone was doing it, punishments were… well… fun. I know, weird, right? I remember when I was just a maid back in 2011 and 2012, I don’t know if I had the guts to do any sorts of punishments. But surprisingly, guests really had fun with it. Soo… yay! Brownie points for Ally and her staff!

My department is such a silly, fun group of people. Like most departments, we have a ton of random inside jokes and because we’ve been working together for months prior to con, we already had a tight bond by the time AX rolled around. That’s honestly one of the best things about working for AX. It’s not everyday that you get to immerse yourself with so many amazing people in this nerdy community of ours. Not only did my awesome staff make my experience awesome, but my fellow managers from other departments are also just amazing people in general. I can’t help but feel nostalgic and so very grateful for what Anime Expo has done for me. I’ve been attending AX since 2002 and I never even imagined I’d be working for it, let alone managing a department. This is definitely not the end for me and I will be back! *insert Terminator voice here*

And so I lied… the corny-ness continues. I just really really really love where my life is right now and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have to admit, I’ve been in a huge funk in the last couple months and I’ve been very confused and slightly depressed, but thank god for this past weekend and thank god I’m now surrounded by people who believe in me and want to see me do well. (Have I made you cry yet? Ew, stop that.)

So to end on a fabulous note, I got this drank in my cup. (Literally… drinking some wine right now. Heyyyy.) And I’m raising my glass to you. So you better have a glass too or something or else this shit’s not cute anymore. 

There’s a reason I love doing this. There’s a reason I will work super hard to produce an amazing show with little benefits for myself. And I know every otaku and staffer reading this will agree with me – we do it because we love the fandom. I’m going to leave you with this awesome quote that my amazing div head shared with me:

“Fandom is focus. Fandom is obsession. Fandom is insatiable consumption. Fandom is sitting for hours in front of a TV screen a movie screen a computer screen with a comic book a novel on your lap. Fandom is eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome and not enough exercise and staying up way, way past your bedtime.
Fandom is people you don’t tell your mother you’re meeting. Fandom is people in the closet, people out and proud, people in costumes, people in T-shirts with slogans only fifty others would understand. Fandom is a loud dinner conversation scaring the waiter and every table nearby.
Fandom is you in Germany and me in the US and him in Australia and her in Japan. Fandom is a sofabed in New York, a roadtrip to Oxnard, a friend behind a face in London. Fandom talks past timezones and accents and backgrounds. Fandom is conversation. Communication. Contact.
Fandom is drama. Fandom is melodrama. Fandom is high school. Fandom is Snacky’s law and Godwin’s law and Murphy’s law. Fandom is smarter than you. Fandom is stupider than you. Fandom is five arguments over and over and over again. Fandom is the first time you’ve ever had them.
Fandom is female. Fandom is male. Fandom lets female play at being male. Fandom bends gender, straight, gay, prude, promiscuous. Fandom is fantasy. Fandom doesn’t care about norms or taboos or boundaries. Fandom cares too much about norms and taboos and boundaries. Fandom is not real life. Fandom is closer than real life. Fandom knows what you’re really like in the bedroom. Fandom is how you would never, could never be in the bedroom.
Fandom is shipping, never shipping, het, slash, gen, none of the above, more than the above. Fandom is love for characters you didn’t create. Fandom is recreating the characters you didn’t create. Fandom is appropriation, subversion, dissention. Fandom is adoration, extrapolation, imitation. Fandom is dissection, criticism, interpretation. Fandom is changing, experimenting, attempting.
Fandom is creating. Fandom is drawing, painting, vidding: nine seasons in four minutes of love. Fandom is words, language, authoring. Fandom is essays, stories, betas, parodies, filks, zines, usenet posts, blog posts, message board posts, emails, chats, petitions, wank, concrit, feedback, recs. Fandom is writing for the first time since you were twelve. Fandom is finally calling yourself a writer.
Fandom is signal and response. Fandom is a stranger moving you to tears, anger, laughter. Fandom is you moving a stranger to speak.
Fandom is distraction. Fandom is endangering your job, your grades, your relationships, your bank account. Fandom gets no work done. Fandom is too much work. Fandom was/is just a phase. Fandom could never be just a phase. Fandom is where you found a friend, a sister, a kindred spirit. Fandom is where you found a talent, a love, a reason.
Fandom is where you found yourself.”

On a separate note, are you planning on attending Comic Con? How about Vid Con or KCON in August? The life of a convention goer doesn’t stop here at AX! The feels continue as long as you keep attending conventions and network. So, hope to see some of you in the near future!

-Alice

The Art of Fangirling

If you know me, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m a huge fangirl of everything awesome. I have different fandoms and I love them all equally. Sometimes I’ll have a phase where I’ll be obsessed with one fandom for a couple of months or years, and then I’ll switch it up. I guess I do it just to keep things interesting and spice it up a bit.

So you’re probably wondering: what the hell is a fangirl and what is a fandom? Well first of all, if you’re on the internet and don’t know the answer to at least one of the questions, then shame on you. But it’s ok – once you’re done reading this post, you might find out that you, too, have an inner fangirl/fanboy just waiting to come out.

Fangirl – noun
1. A rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy. Fangirls congregate at anime conventions and livejournal. Have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obsessions.
-Credit: Urban Dictionary

First of all, that definition is a little outdated. I mean, who still uses Livejournal? (I haven’t signed onto mine in almost 6 years now.) If you used Livejournal, you were most likely writing fanfiction (like I was). Livejournal, in my opinion, was used for people in different fandoms to connect and share their love for the fandom. I’m not sure if people still use it though… It’s kinda like a Xanga now. Like, who uses Xanga anymore? That’s like using a midi file for your website in 2013.

And you know you’re a fangirl/fanboy if you’ve ever used the word “glomp” in a sentence. Remember those good ol’ times when you saw that word on t-shirts at almost any convention?! Ahh… those were the days.

But now “glomp” is so 2003.

In case you don’t know what “glomp” means, glomp is basically a tackle hug. Only anime fans would know what this means because most anime always has a character glomping another character. You know how some people act out what they see on TV? Yeah, kinda applies here. If you still don’t really understand what glomping is, here’s an image I found on google on how to do it right.

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Scary, right? Especially if you’re the victim.

I always found it weird that not many of my friends really understood why I had so many obsessions and why I was so infatuated with the fandoms. I mean, if you find something you really love, like a sport, a book, a movie, etc., don’t you want to find out everything about it? For example, if you love basketball, don’t you want to watch ESPN and watch every highlight of everyday? Buy the games, wear the jerseys, tweet about it, tweet to your favorite player!? If you’ve done this, you can consider yourself a fangirl/fanboy. Because this is what fangirling is at the very core.

But I’d like to point out that there are different levels of fangirling. You have your extreme fangirls who sleep, breathe, eat their fandoms, and you have your mildly obsessed fangirls who don’t mind watching the series or movie over and over in the privacy of their own home but wouldn’t be caught DEAD at an event with other geeks in the fandom.

As you can see, there’s a spectrum and depending on how proud you are of your fandom, you may land differently on the spectrum than your friends.

As for me, I consider myself pretty extreme. I’m pretty vocal about what I love and I have no shame in telling people so. I go to anime conventions, I’ve cosplayed, I used to write fanfiction, I still READ fanfiction (both anime and Hunger Games), I’ve been to plenty of midnight premieres, I have a freakin’ Hunger Games tattoo, one of my sorority paddles is a Pikachu, and I follow all my idols on Twitter and tweet to them. And sometimes they tweet back! 😀

OH and I can probably quote some of my favorite Youtubers. Because I’ve watched their videos THAT much.

You can call me creepy all you want, but if you’ve already met me, I bet you didn’t know half these things that I do. I’m just good at integrating myself with society so that I don’t look like that awkward kid in the corner with no social skills. It’s definitely something I’ve had to perfect over the years. When I was a kid, I used to sing all the songs in my Rurouni Kenshin: Best Collection CD out loud to all my friends during recess.

Yeah, as if I wasn’t teased enough for being the asian kid.

So now that you know the art of fangirling, you may unleash your inner fangirl/fanboy out to the world. Let that fangirl converse with me sometime. Trust me, you’re not weird and you’re definitely not alone.

Hope everyone has had a great weekend! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and moms out there!

-Alice

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I Work at a Maid Cafe

Photo from lovelycomplex.net

Photo from lovelycomplex.net

Hey guys!

So I’ve been really excited to write about this topic because it hits close to home for me. I finally wanted to write about my life as a maid… in a maid cafe.

It should come as no surprise to you that I’m pretty vocal about the fact that I work and manage a Maid Cafe. But let’s backtrack a little. I get asked all the time, “What is a Maid Cafe?” Well, I’m about to school you on Maid Cafe 101.

Maid Cafes originated from Akihabara, Japan and it’s basically an actual cafe, but with a fun role play twist. The waitresses are dressed in maid uniforms and act as “servants” (to a degree) and the guests are their “masters” or “mistresses.”

So what do you do in a Maid Cafe? Well in the authentic ones, since it’s an actual cafe, you can order food. The maids will usually decorate your plate in a very cutesy manner and power up your food. And by power up, I don’t mean any weird Dragonball Z or Street Fighter reference. They do it in a very “moe” fashion. Moe (pronounced mo-eh) refers to the adoration of young or innocent-looking female characters. So as you can see, a lot of this culture is derived from anime.

Aside from eating, your maids will usually entertain you by playing various games with you. At my maid cafe, we love to play jenga. We’ve all played so much jenga that we’re pretty much jenga masters.

(Ok, not really, but that game is the shit. Just saying.)

Last but not least, my most favorite aspect of the cafe are the performances. The maids usually dance or sing for the guests, making it like a dinner and show kind of feel.

Group pic! :D

Group pic! 😀

I’ve been doing this for 3 years now and I absolutely love it. It’s fun to play a character and basically make people smile all day. And now as a manager, I get to coordinate the shows and hire all the wonderful staff. It’s a pretty good gig, if I say so myself.

But most importantly, working in maid cafe made me realize a lot about myself. You see, through college, I always felt I needed to have this professional face on all the time. When my friends would ask me what I wanted to do in the future, I always said the typical answer of any Comm major or Journalism major… “OH I want to work in PR.” or “Oh, I want to do something in entertainment… like work in E! or Entertainment Tonight.” I started to feel my professional self was so void of anything I truly loved, which was my geeky side. I’ve been attending anime conventions for over 11 years now and even if I wasn’t working for one, I’d still be an attendee.

Anime conventions to me are a place where I can just be myself. Growing up, people always made fun of me for liking this “Asian stuff,” but at the conventions, I feel like I can be myself and no one will judge me. (Well, almost. But you get my point.)

I think the best part of working at a Maid Cafe is the people you work with. I would not be having as much fun as I am if it weren’t for the other maids and hosts (the guys). I’ve learned a lot from them and we’ve become a happy, dysfunctional family.

If you want to understand more and see all of this for yourself, go to one! Maid Cafes are very popular nowadays and they’re not only in Japan anymore. Just from experience, a lot of anime conventions or anime clubs here in the U.S. have their own Maid Cafe. I encourage you to see this for yourself.

Have you ever visited a Maid Cafe? Do you work at one too?! Let me know by leaving a comment. 🙂

-Alice