OK, admittedly this is a little after the fact, but cons are cons, and never really go out of style for rehashing.
So Day 2 of Otakon was as fun and exhausting as Day 1. We started out the day participating in a panel called “When Subtitles Go Wrong.” There were some classic misfires, such as “Is this a pigeon?” as a butterfly floated by, and “This is the police-come up with your pants down!” and my personal favorite, “I will now proceed to pleasure myself with this fish.” Some subtitling, however, was just the translators having fun: “I’m firing my pew pew lasers” as well as “Moo means moo” when a cow was on screen. Ah laughing at things lost in translation; a great way to get going in the morning.
Following this, we split off to visit two panels-one on the video game Persona 4, the other to an academic panel focused on Harry Potter and the parallels to anime. I can only speak in depth to the Harry Potter panel, as it was just me geeking out over the possibilities of the best boy wizard ever somehow being a part of a Japanese femme drama.
And this panel, entitled “Harry Potter vs. Spike Spiegel: Comparing Mythic Tropes in Japanese Anime vs. the West” did not disappoint. Well, it didn’t present any sort of mash up that I was hoping for, but it did focus on the literary aspects in Harry Potter and other western literature in comparison and in contrast to the styles popular in Japan. The presenter, Brent Newall, also provided some awesome resources which I’ve added to my reading list: Manga, Sixty Years of Japanese Comics; Anime: From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle; Mechademia; and Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams.
We met up for lunch and then staked out a place at a panel focused on arms weaponry (“Making Fantasy Real: The Difficulties and Rewards of Forging Anime and Fantasy Weapons”). The gentlemen who conducted this panel, Matt Stagmer and Ilya Alekseyev, were, well…rather full of themselves and not very open to anyone else’s ideas. Admittedly, they did beautiful weapons work, but their presentation was not incredibly engaging. Perhaps watching their Men at Arms video series might endear me more to their work.
It was followed up, however, by an amazing panel on ghost women in Japanese films entitled “Thy Name is Woman: Exploring the Horrors of Female Ghosts in Japan.” The panel examined the evolution of women onryo (female vengeful ghosts) from Noh to Kabuki theatre. Being a total chicken shit (although I adore The Walking Dead, but I digress), I was a little wary of this panel, but it turned out to be fascinating. The presenter was a Japanese doctoral student from Hawaii, who really knew her subject. She outlined how women in Japanese theatre and film were portrayed in horror films, and the basis for why characters look a certain way, are killed a certain way, and come back in a certain way to haunt those around them.
Ghost women (also known as yurei) in movies like The Grudge and The Ring appear the way they do because when women had their hair down in theatre, it was a sign that they had gone mad. The hair itself is often used as a weapon, particularly in the original Japanese versions of the films. The yurei usually wear a white dress; this originated with Kabuki theatre and gave the audience (along with the hair and pale makeup) the cue that a yurei had entered the story.
The madness and rage is often caused by a violent or sudden death and the spirit cannot rest until it seeks revenge. While the yurei is usually confined to just haunt her killer or the location of her death, some will change into onryo, the vengeful spirits that move beyond just a personal haunting and seek to destroy everyone around her.
Learning about the history of the yurei and onryo took some of the fear out of those types of movies for me (“knowledge is power!”). I could see them more as theatrical devices, rather than horrifically creepy chicks who were going to kill me for looking at them the wrong way.
We ended our day with another Kill la Kill photo shoot (there was a lot of Kill la Kill for us this year), and headed home.
Throughout the day we ran into these lovely cosplayers:
My daughter went to day 3 of the convention with the family we were hanging with all weekend, as this was me by Saturday evening:
I was one otaku who needed a day at home to sleep and geek out over her other interests.