|Photos by Elisa Melendez|
As an anime newbie, I was a bit apprehensive attending Mizucon
. I thought it would be, for lack of a better term, completely foreign to me. But as it turned out, I was among my people, at least partially. Mizucon was far more open to wider mainstream characters than I'd suspected: the first cosplay characters I encountered were a Finn (Fiona?) from Adventure Time
and a companion cube from the video game Portal
. It appeared that there would be significant similarities to the previous month's Florida Supercon
: same location, some more mainstream nerddom, and freaked out valet guys at the Doubletree.
This, however, is where the similarities ended.
Mizucon, only in its fifth year, is significantly smaller than Supercon. While Florida Supercon took up two floors of the convention center with exhibits, vendors, and panels, the entirety of Mizucon could be found on the second floor, and many areas were barren. The con definitely skewed younger, as evidenced by the waiting area of moms by the registration desk.
The cosplay was plentiful and inventive, and Saturday's cosplay contest was the most packed part of the show. While characters of various Japanese cartoons I didn't recognize paraded the stage to significant applause, roars and standing ovations were reserved for more mainstream folks: a miniature Harley Quinn from Batman and the contest's winner, HALO's Master Chief, who couldn't help but oblige and perform signature squats when the crowd roared, "TEABAG! TEABAG!"
Teabagging, for the uninitiated, is a popular practice in first person shooter video games where you make your character squat over your victim's face, emulating, well, the act of teabagging. That's not the only piece of subcultural vocabulary thrown about this past weekend. Other terms I learned along the way included:
Brony: A male fan of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Pegasister: A female fan of the same cartoon.
Otaku: This one was a touchy subject. Otaku refers to a person who's passionately obsessed with something. We might call 'em plain ol' geeks here. While the Western connotation of Otaku is positive, the Japanese connotation is...not so much.
And speaking of touchy subjects...
Yuri: Literally translates to "girl love." A couple of cosplaying ladies had "Will Yuri for Pocky" signs on them. Apparently, their girl love was successful in getting them several boxes of the Japanese treat.
Yaoi: Literally translates to "boy love." Unfortunately, I didn't catch any yaoi boys smooching for cookies.
Hentai: Japanese pornographic movies. My yuri cosplayers told me that hentai is typically straight and literally translates to "pervert."
I used my newfound vocabulary to find the Hentai Game Show. While the panel description said 18+, the attendees acted way short of the age requirement. IDs weren't being checked at the door, at least not for me and other latecomers (no pun intended), and the clip showings were punctuated with hoots, hollers, and allegedly clever banter better suited for an Mystery Science Theater 3000 b-side. As an adult, I felt old. As an adult woman, it squicked me out more than a convention probably should. Granted, I'm not sure what kind of decorum should be expected from a porn showing, but there you go.
I ended up learning a good amount about anime and Japanese culture from Mizucon. But the event itself has a good amount of learning, growing, and growing up still ahead of it (as do some of its attendees).
--Elisa MelendezFollow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.