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ANIME CONCENTIONS: A DESCENT INTO DECAY
by: Jaeger S. Meistersen

I spent last weekend at anime mid-Atlantic, the rockinest con in Richmond.

This is a hell. It is populated almost exclusively by screaming idiot 14-year old girls, apparently still recovering from frontal lobotomization. The other residents seem to consist of socially retarded fanboys gone over-the-hill by no small sum of summers, the 14-year-old lackwit boyfriends of the youthfully effervescent twats, and the obvious victim of this gehennan prison nightmare: me. This is an anime convention; my thirteenth in seven years, and the face of the creature grows more frightful every time. Perhaps this will be my last, and what I write now is nothing more than a eulogy for the demise of my conventioning carreer.

In adding a dose of morbid humor to the whole event, this same hotel is hosting, at this same time, some sort of commendation for a junior high girl's soccer team. This places dozens of otherwise unspoiled youths into arm's reach of the gross perversions and corrupting influence of the hundreds of gibbering con-sluts that these soccerettes will become in the next few years. Their parents will live to regret the mistake of settling their party in this foul place, and in time, they will wonder if this is when their daughters first went bad. I hope they blame themselves for allowing their daughters to be near my least favorite subspecies on earth: the con-slut.

They squeal like the pigs they are. The same old actions of a half-decade ago are reenacted by the not-quite decade-and-a-half chicks of today. They run at each other like long-lost friends. Just before these two rampaging freight trains collide, they skid to a dead stop and hug one another like embracing a statue of dry sand. They have no honest passion, no wild abandon or unfettered outpourings except what they pretend in front of an audience. After an hour of catching up on all the harrowing events of their lives since 5 minutes ago when they exited the car they arrived in together, they start preening and going on about their costumes. They pose and posture for imaginary cameras, all the while talking in squeaky, high-pitched english salted and peppered with scripted and obviously contrived opportunities to insert any one of the half-dozen Japanese words they know. Then they cuddle and mewl at each other. They flirt the distant edges of public homosexuality in a gross mockery of the real thing. They are fashion dykes, leading one another around on a cheap leash and kissing in public with nauseating condescension to honest lesbians. Some of the more detestable use that high-school drama method of stage kissing where you put your thumbs between your lips and theirs. They find the actual exchange of spit too distasteful, but the fashion is just too tacky to stay away from. This is the modern day fangirl equivalent of playing chicken.

tee hee!
welcome to hell.

Their costumes are their life's blood. The sun rises in the rags they stitched together last night. The sun sets in the ability to make their squealing and mewling shatter glass at fifty paces. The air they breathe is pretension, and accessories are their meat and drink. These colorblind dykes simply must match the tinting and shading of every single fiber of their costumes to the original animation. To prove their accuracy, they carry a picture of the character that they drew and colored themselves. The actual color they achieve is just like the one they wanted, bathed in alcohol vomit and hastily blow-dried.

Two stone dickhead teenage boys behind me are trying to sound mature beyond their years. The tall, stupid looking one looks to the short, really stupid looking one as if for some qualification when he says, "Cartoons, man? I don't even watch this shit. I'm just here for my girlfriend." Though I have not seen her, I know she is a hopeless twit who is currently nestled into a dark corner somewhere in the costume of a Final Fantasy X character. She's professing true love to some other daffy cunt, currently wrapped in one of her arms while the other strokes her latest conquest from the dealer room and she mewls high-pitched faux cat noises and promises to one day marry the non-existent cartoon character. All of this conspires to drive me completely fucking bonkers.

The short, really stupid looking one has completely ignored his friend's protestations of innocence and lapsed into analeptic shock from Pocky withdrawl. "Dude, those bitches are sooo hot." He's looking so intently at the back of the eleven-year old soccer girl, hand-in-hand with her best friend that he hasn't noticed that the jersey numbers of the comrades are 6 and 9. I bite back gales of hideous laughter and move on to the next atrocity. I shouldn't have to look far.

The second floor walkway has a massive balcony, maybe 50 meters in length that overlooks the atrium and lobby of the first floor. The next 4 floors up have similar but ever smaller balconies. By the second day, the kids who positively refuse to completely speak a single word longer than about 5 letters without abbreviating it are referring to the act of leaning on this and staring at the costumed circus geeks below as, 'Hangin at the Bal.' I want to hurt the ones who say it when I first hear this. When I catch myself saying the same thing to someone not twenty minutes later, I want to crawl into a toilet and drown.

The stench of pitiable desperation wafts down the too-thin hallway behind my spiteful perch. He walks by slow and intentional, and I instantly understand the depth of his nigh-unfathomable need for attention. He's carrying his laptop computer clenched to his chest tight as vices and spun around to face outward for the world to see. Over the speakers blares the drone of a song I refuse to recognize. Facing the crowd of everyone he approaches, the screen spasms with the mismatched and unimpressively jumbled images of his homebrewed music video, flashing entirely out of time with the beat. The look on his face is so wantonly starved for any kind of attention or sign of affirmation that it makes me want to puke blood. It's almost beautiful in the absolute purity of emotion in his screaming desire for qualification and gratifying interest in his almighty self. It might be beautiful if it didn't cry out for someone like me to kick his damn teeth in. I take solace in the knowledge that he's not just another lobotomized teenager. Oh no, this sad fucker is well into his twenties.

My attention is drawn to yet another vapid prepubescent bangtail approximately shaped like any one of a number of very round things covered in splotchy and pockmarked skin. This nearly genderless human basketball is dressed as Inu Yasha, which I note because one in every five of these assholes is dressed as Inu Yasha. This is to ensure that you have no sympathy for my berating of its creative genius or devil-may-care lifestyle. The creative genius in question is falling currently into the pattern I've noticed repeatedly over the years at these insipid cartoon nerd herdings. When one vapid cooze in costume notices another equally vapid cooze in the same costume, no matter the distance or obstacle, a pathetic reaction occurs with so little variation as to be scripted and memorized by all parties involved. The little twerps approach one another the way a retarded cat approaches a mirror. Then they pose and/or mock fight in a primitive staredown ritual to determine who is the Alpha Geek. This is followed by these two village idiots rubbing the one brain cell they can muster between them to concoct an idea they believe to be the height of originality. This is to get as many pictures as possible taken of the two together, wearing the same costume. Both of these puffed-up assholes agree to this sharing of the limelight because they believe their shitty costume to be superior to the other, no matter which was crowned Alpha Geek. Both of these stupid, malformed gasbags agree to this because they think this publicity is original and uncharted water. An idea unique to every other sad anime convention in history where two geeks in similar costumes butt heads. This idea is repeated every time in this situation without fail.

The basketball-shaped nincompoop pulls out a 4-inch long plastic pirate sabre deemed fit for 3-year olds, with the words, "AAH! Other Inu Yasha, clearly we must fight to the doom!" And I am blown away--I mean really fucking floored when the other Inu Yasha totally ignores this pineapple faced intruder and keeps on walking. Everything I thought I knew is called into question.

When the affluent looking cross-dressing manwhore in the catholic schoolgirl uniform and burgeoning moustache walks by, it reassures me. The universe is still running smoothly in the clockwork regularity of disappointment and perversion that I always suspect.

On Friday night, going to the Karaoke is more important than drinking, smoking and breathing all combined. From time to time, spiteful old bastards like myself run out of material to refill their laugh-at-the-world batteries. The karaoke alone gives me material for months. The first step is that the tech crew running the cd player hasn't got the trick of turning down the vocals track on the graphic equalizer. Everybody sounds off key when they're trying to sing over the real thing. The karaoke machine my ex-roommate bought from Wal-Mart for 40$ most of a decade ago does automatically what is still out of the convention's technical reach. But this is more of a help than a burden when the dancing monkey comes up and mumbles out the words to a Japanese song he claims to know. The costumed twat dressed as Kenshin runs out of steam half way through the theme song to Kenshin and stops holding the long notes, but at least he's compliant when the crowd shouts for him to show off his bird chest.

We're two hours in, and I've heckled my throat raw when the last act is called up. I've survived the 500 pound sailor suited crossdresser who honestly believes himself to be the spitting image of Sakura. I made it through the line-dancing black guy singing a ten-minute rendition of the countrified 'Earthbound' song. Just after the announcer polarized the room by saying that the left half was cool and the right half sucked, my heckling right-side sent up beautiful Portia to sing her soulful acapella. The last act is a group of drunken frat-apes stumbling through the Pokemon closing song. I've drunk my fill.

Sleepless, I find myself hanging out on the threadbare carpet outside the closed video game room. It will open for its first frenzied moments at 9 a.m. which is still an hour away. I don't give the first portion of a flying shit about video games right now, I just want to sit somewhere until my hotel-provided sludge coffee starts taking effect. There is not only a crowd gathered at the closed gates, but a particularly vocal crowd, and I am determined to eavesdrop on their prattle and blather. Mostly, they talk about the video game tournament yesterday and the twat who won it. One of the prepubescent toads in the crowd asks where the winner is, if not at the front of this Dork Royalty conga line. Another of these living paramounts of cool breaks off from his conversation to say in reverential, hushed tones, "He's still in his room. He brought his X-Box, Playstation 2 and Gamecube with him. Why would someone of his caliber sit out here with the unworthy while he can train upstairs." Yes, he used the word train. My hand to God. I stifle laughter, because the word 'train' in reference to video games is just too damn much. They start telling heroic war stories about this frog prince like it requires untold bravery to wade through enemy fire on the business end of a Playstation controller. When he finally graces the lowly peons with his Regal Dork presence, a cheer goes up from the crowd. He pauses the action on his Gameboy Advance XP and raises proud fists over a tiny body which hasn't seen the first part of puberty yet. Long live the king. I stumble down the hall cackling and awake.

I remember the refreshing dip in the pool I had earlier with Paul and Raquel, and think that something similar might wake me up better than the coffee or the lunch I missed two hours ago. When I get into the pool room, I realize that it's full of half-naked mewling cunts fraternizing with the children of the soccer team. Sitting around them in an enraptured ring are more than a dozen overweight fanboys, sweating in the sauna-like humidity of the area. They want to pretend they're there to sunbathe in their pants and long-sleeve Ranma shirts, but their shifty eyes give them away. Nuclear war couldn't tear their eyes from the scintillating wetness of the babyfat bodies cavorting in the pool. At some moment in the con, every fanboy and con-slut finds his or her own moment of heaven, and I've just intruded upon theirs. The dip in the pool that I'm now too disgusted to take would have woken me up fantastically, but now I settle for going back to my room to vomit, and I think that should do the trick.

There's a fashion goth fag standing near Steve, Raquel and myself, and he keeps talking to us. Average height, skinny, trenchcoated in the heat, two little braids poke out from under his pretentious stovepipe hat and he looks like the leather and latex bondage bitch of the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins. The verbally diuretic little ponce has on this leather vest that doesn't even vaguely fit him, despite the number of straps and buckles that would otherwise lend to a form-fitting chunk of attire, but this piece of shit leatherrag is folding over on itself from poor tailoring, and seems cut about 3 inches too big in every dimension. Poor Raquel can't think of anything nice to say to the ninny, so she's asking him about this garish affectation. Southernly, he drawls out that it cost him $200, and I mumble under my breath, "You got ripped off, hoss." Then he drawls out that he made it himself, and it took 2 months. "You got ripped off by yourself, hoss. Pretty fucking lame, I'd say." I should say these things louder. The babyfaced queen follows us around for 20 minutes afterwards, and he thinks I didn't notice, but he never once took his eyes off Raquel's ass. It's so charming when boys overestimate and overcompensate for 3 inches they can't ever hope to fill.

I stopped going to the costume play after about my 5th or 6th convention, because they just got so damned sad, and nothing could ever top the Rei Ayanami Phone Sex Line. I was convinced that since I missed the boundless hilarity of seeing dozens of goofy beanpoles in the DDR tournament who seem to have temporarily gone insane and forgotten that they're white and can't dance, that I must surely go to the Cosplay for a laugh. It failed to deliver. After the jokers laughingly referred to as security didn't want to let us in, claiming the room was packed full despite the numbers of people exiting with that sickly green look on their faces. After "pwning" them by way of the con chair and a friendly connection. After some doe-eyed cunt with a feather mask and 5-inch fuck me fingernails foisted herself into our crew. After ditching little miss tophatted Hedwig and his missing 3 angry inches, we finally made it into the Cosplay. Just in time to see the end. 5 yahoos in what rags they could muster from the Mechanicsville dump and some homocore badass in some half-red half-metal suit paraded onstage, did nothing and got off before we could properly laugh at them. We sweated and bled and had to talk to that lanky, babydick gothling for thirty minutes just for this? Raquel and I had to watch that feathered tart paw and claw our girlfriended compadre two seats over for this? Oh no, my dear readers, it wasn't over yet. They had to play Let's Make A Deal for the "halftime" show while the judges struggled over Indecision 2004 and had to choose something like 15 of those twits to actually award for their half-baked efforts at masquerade.

Oh yes, this was so sad that it warrants its own paragraph, though I don't know that I can really make it POP for you the way it did to actually be there. Let's Make A Deal is one of the finer traditions of the classic game show, and I, for one, fucking love it. You've got boxes and doors and prizes and mind-numbing disappointments, and people who just gave up the 7,000$ kitchen remodeling contract for the 5$ used car with Weird Al Yankovich sitting where the engine block used to be. It's fucking great. The Cosplay version was not quite so wonderful as this. That big guy who used to come as a surprisingly convincing Johnny Bravo and who had the Hellboy costume this year (I think his name is Dan, but since noone is going to read this and know any better, I'll just call him Dan). Well Dan was doing the questions, and I love Dan to death, and I never question his love of anime, but he's never bothered to learn pronunciation of those funky Japanese words and names and the useless shit that some fans with no lives pride themselves on. So Dan reads a question, the moron who's supposed to be winning things looks at him like his dick is hanging out, the entire audience answers with flawless memorized Japanese pronunciation, our idiot contestant repeats some vague simulacrum of what they just heard, and Dan mispronounces the word they just spake. Some warm little part of me hopes he does this shit on purpose, because I love Dan to death. Dan grudgingly gives up the prize, and I keep noticing that his smile is bigger and his demeanor brighter when they win the shit prizes instead of the good prizes. Rob says something in the worst Capt. Jack Sparrow impression I've ever heard and proceeds to hit on the contestant before noticing that it's not only a boy in that sailor suit, but a 16-year old one at that, but these things don't seem to daunt Rob. Three people into it and half the crowd is now shouting the wrong answers to the questions when they know full damn well that the name of Faye Valentine's spaceship is not the Yamato or the Arcadia, and who the fuck cares what the first Gundam's serial number way anyway. We just want it to be over. I retreat before prizes start being doled out, because I don't want something that depressing to kill my spiteful world-hating powertrip.

Crumb-covered and chocolate stained, the gruesome Pocky addict stumbles forward, hands trembling and slouching from withdrawl. Light hits his face, but shies away from the sunken eyes and shallow pits of his cheeks, while it lights up the Security orange of his vest. He needs a spike before he can go in and rave it up to the Saturday night dance. The Asian market across town sells Pocky for a buck a box and thin glowsticks for 17 cents apiece in bulk. I've perched with my punk rock friend and his pornstar ex-girlfriend at a table outside the dance. We're running out of glowsticks at 50 cents each, and Pocky at 2.50$ a box, and we're laughing ourselves all the way to the bank. "It's got caffeine in it, you know," the junkie mumbles while he forks over his 5 bucks. Like we don't know the color of our own drugs. Before he can even finish shuffling off to the dance people have been describing all night as 'the stink-room,' another bell-bottomed twat with a visor and a baby pacifier around his neck orders half a dozen multi-colored glowsticks. He stares at the sign that says "2 for a dollar" and the six in his paw. "What's that? 6 bones? Here ya go." Before it's over, we're selling time on a laptop and the hotel-provided wireless network for 5 minutes to the dollar. I laugh uncontrollably when I find out what the total profit is before we close up shop and the stink-room empties its foulness into the hall.

Mafia destroyed me once again. I keep going to these things saying that I'll only play from midnight to 3 or so, then I conveniently "forget" to wear a watch. 6 o'clock rolls around, light streams through the windows, my retinas burst into flames and I usually realize that I'm still really awake. Friday was like this. Saturday is almost better, except that Juan was still working security during the Saturday night game. But lovely Portia, sweet Stephanie and Christina (who already knows how I describe her) were enough to help us forget Juan's absence. Cunning Amber returned, if only briefly. Josh picked it up quickly, Crumbface picked it up even faster and I lost almost every game in the second round. Magnus was an egomaniacal nimrod, and I'm wearing the sunglasses he left there while I type that. Jessica the Space Cadet disappeared early, which was good. Sadly the little Kung Fu Cocksucker in the security vest didn't know how to take a hint any better than he knew how to play by the rules. All the Mafia players know how much I love them all, so I won't gush any further. Thanks for breakfast again, Juan.

But while I'm dishing shout-outs and props (or whatever you fucking kids call it these days) to people, I want to share a memory with you, my faithful readers. NekoCon One. You're damn right I was there. And it was the first time I went to Karaoke. Dan was hosting it along with some other guy I haven't seen at a con since, to the best of my knowledge. They did military jokes before it started. They wrestled on stage before it started. There were little round lounge tables with soft lamps and white tablecloths instead of row seating. There was a bar at the back of the room with alcohol and somebody watching the ID's. By the time my roommate Steve and I shouted out the chorus to 'Cha La Head Cha La' with Dan on stage, we were 2 Coronas to the wind, and it was the best fucking thing in the universe. I'm not violent by nature, but I would beat twins to death with their own mother's severed arm if I thought it would make a Karaoke like that happen again. Now Karaoke is some fat chick with the social skills of a golf ball who I thought was the guy from Blues Traveler (minus the vest) playing MC and some stoned geek running the tech crew with a keyboard and fetishes for MSWordPad and cowboy hats. The karaoke misses you, Dan. You just remember how pumped up you got, singing 'Cha La Head Cha La' and think about that for a second, guy.

Ramsey hasn't slept much more than I have, which means that between us and the entire weekend, we could almost put together half a full night's sleep. "I'd slaughter several Inu Yasha for a cup of coffee right now." Almost on cue but a minute late, an Inu Yasha steps out from behind the watery glass wall on the east end of the atrium. I have to make a concerted effort not to pee my pants.

When I first became engaged in this woefully disappointing voyeurism, the meaning of the word 'Otaku' was something different from what it is today. I would say that the connotation of the word has evolved over the years, were it not so deeply rooted in devolution. When I started this morbid fascination, we all knew that 'otaku' was an insult in Japan, inferring that the recipient has no fucking life to speak of and refuses to shower. We didn't buy into it, choosing instead to redefine the word on this side of the Pacific and make it a badge of pride. Sure we watched cartoons like big ol' geeks, but we were comfortable with that fact and proud of our geekdom. Years later, we stopped our Million Otaku March in mid-stride, and, looking around, realized that 700,000 of our million were fat, unwashed, socially retarded fan trash without any life to speak of outside their astonishingly sad knowledge about cartoons intended for a totally different audience and no shame whatsoever about sharing this derth of trivia. I didn't realize until this year, but the definition and connotation of 'Otaku' has managed to fall yet another rung. We are all less than Zero. The boys shy away from being called Otaku now, taking cover in emotionless cool and distanced objectivity. The ones who still wear the badge are reprehensible bastards, pushing thirty and still getting their jollies by letting pre-legal con-sluts hang all over them and their Jack Sparrow costumes. 'Otaku' is like a SARS blanket being spread over the burgeoning hordes of lobotomized cunts, two-faced whores and misshapen clotheshangers. The Otaku of my own first year are all still around, but changed somehow. Broken by the fandom itself. The ones who don't derive their personality from the shows they watch and the costumes they wear are unable to support the weight of the gibbering, prepubescent hordes of Inu Yasha costumed trollops without personality. Conlife has never been a particularly beautiful thing, but the creature it's mutated into is something I can't even bear the sight of without mixed feelings of disgust and apprehension. How the otaku of yesteryear can still look themselves in the mirror now is as mysterious and incomprehensible to me as quantum physics. They are base dogs, devoid of honor and allowing themselves to chase every splitlegged child in a catholic school uniform or cat ears, regardless of age, looks, brains, personality or the lack of any of the aforementioned.

There was a time when the anime convention was a wonderful thing. Halls of people trying to think up original Cosplay skits, not another tired fight by that same guy in that same tired Son Goku outfit and wig versus whatever nimrod decided to show up as a Dragonball villain. A karaoke room with lounge tables and its own bar instead of stadium seating packed to the nines to watch a 500 pound black man squawk out what he believed was Japanese in what he believed was a girl's voice and what we all believed was a schoolgirl outfit, only stretchier. A not unattractive young nerdboy in a Lupin costume with two legal-aged catgirls on his arms striding through the halls, but not afraid to talk about Toyfare magazine with strangers by the elevators.

We all partied and drank and fucked and had ourselves such a grand old time that we never noticed that the body of the thing was cancerous and too weak to support its own fat. The love of the thing is gone and replaced by a disgusting and unnecessary fringe fashion. If you stand on the top of Otakon's Baltimore Convention Center and look towards Japan with the right kind of eyes, you can just about see where the wave of honest enthusiasm broke and crashed and receded. The healthy young Lupin has become an aging perv dressed as a pirate and desperately failing to imitate Johnny Depp while chasing the costumed jailbait. Once, convention life was a starry-eyed 8-year old holding her mother's hand and walking through the untold wonders of the dealer room before watching Pokemon in Video 4. Now the con has grown up into a short, horse-faced anorexic sugar addict in a tired sailor suit with a sign on her back that says, "Give me Pocky! I'm kawaii!"

Lovely Portia finishes reading every word you just have and smiles. "You really hated it here, didn't you?"

Just before I climb into the cab of my truck, Ramsey asks, "So, are you coming back next year?" You know I am.

note: Jaeger was recently spotted in a Dragonball-Z "Gohan" outfit. You'd be surprised at just how well he pulled it off. No really, he literally pulled it off and threw it right into the fireplace.


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