Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Kosmogonia

2004 Otakon Memories

Recommended Posts

2004 was the year the movies Hero and Zatoichi premiered at Otakon. This is not why I attended. Turns out, I was madly in love with a cosplayer I'd met there years prior on an escalator. It is, however, the primary purpose of this post. 

I was 16. She was dressed as the main cat-girl Ichigo from Tokyo Mew Mew. I was just my normal weirdo self, as always. This, I believe, was the last time I ever saw her, following her to panels, roaming the labyrinthine kiosks of the vendor's room. Thinking back, much of it now is like a dream. It was certainly a very emotional time for me. A time when everything related to Japanese culture bled into my soul, and I started considering studying the language in college, or even studying abroad. My main motivations for attending the con, however, were to see her and convince her to marry me after high school (yeah right), or at least convince her to let me move to Massachusetts to be with her. I remember waiting in line for L'arc~en~Ciel's performance, the tension between us. The excitement of seeing Fullmetal Alchemist for the very first time. Everything that happened to me that weekend in Baltimore affected me at a deeper level than anything I'd experienced before. 

Hero and Zatoichi both premiered the same night, so you could only pick one. Most of my friends went to Hero because they'd heard of it. Zatoichi not so much. I know I'd never heard of it -- which is why I was curious. I knew it was about samurai, or yakuza? Certainly I'd heard of Takeshi Kitano by then -- probably from Battle Royale. One of my friends went with me to see it, though I can't remember who it was. Like I said, it all plays out like a dream in my head, but I clearly recall a man in a kimono giving a presentation before the film. He spoke excitedly about its cultural context, probably providing an introduction to Shintaro Katsu's Zatoichi series, its lasting affect on Japanese cinema. I listened with glee... until someone in the back complained. Maybe the man had droned on too long? Maybe they didn't expect a lecture before the film? I don't quite remember how it began, but a number of people in the audience were complaining, coughing, booing. Thus defeated, the man in the kimono ended his speech prematurely, and was seated. 

The movie was a bust to mostly everyone in the audience. Here you had a blind samurai, gratuitous violence, bad effects and slapstick humor all together. I may have been the one person in the audience genuinely fascinated by it. More than that, I wished the man speaking before the movie would've been given the due time and respect to finish his presentation. I was disappointed along with him.

Years later, I would discover the original Zatoichi films and watch them all eagerly. From there, I was led to the cult yakuza flicks from the era. I developed something of a deep appreciation for old Japanese cinema -- a love that's made to share. I know how humbled I would feel upon being invited to speak to an audience about this art form.

Yes, I feel slightly embarrassed that this guy could never finish his speech. That it was drowned out by annoying youths like myself who'd probably shown up -- just like me -- to find the girl and get a little too crazy at the rave. But more than that, I wish I knew his name so I could thank him for convincing me that the movie was really much more than what we were about to see. That it connected to a legacy of films largely unfamiliar to western audiences at that time.

So if there's anyone from 2004 reading this who can help me remember who this man was, it would be highly appreciated. 

That was my last Otakon. I never did get the girl (though I would later learn why and, thankfully, get the right one). I didn't study Japanese in college, in fact I took a year of Chinese. After college I had the surreal pleasure of living four years in Okinawa. My love for Japanese culture has only grown with time, and I'm very fond of looking back at my early years and marking just where these changes took place. Otakon was a huge part of that, among others. My first experience with Evangelion was the premiere of The End of Evangelion at Ohayocon. Eva fans can imagine my reaction to seeing something utterly mind-blowing, knowing only that it's the end to something amazing, not knowing what. Otakon was also the setting for my first real love-turned-obsession for someone which affected me beyond my teens. Maybe someday I'll write about it and a few nostalgic folks will read it. 

Until then, I'd love to know who that man was at Zatoichi!~

Thanks for reading. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So you're saying that you've not attended Otakon since 2004? My first year was 2009. Good read though. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, GasparAKAShiggitay said:

So you're saying that you've not attended Otakon since 2004? My first year was 2009. Good read though. :)

Yeah, that was my last time up there. I had another opportunity to go with friends, but I was in college and focused on my studies. I'm sure it's changed a lot since then. Funny thing is I just read next year's will be in DC. That's close to me now. Maybe I'll stop by. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×