Boys Who Like Boys Who Like Girls Who Like Yaoi…

I had avoided Anime conventions for a pretty long time now for a host of reasons. The last one that I was really invested in was Otakon back in 2004. I thought I had stopped going because I had outgrown going to conventions, but I have been going to Comic Book and Gaming conventions pretty religiously since then, so that wasn’t it. I only recently was able to nail down why I have avoided Anime Cons so stringently for the last few years, and it actually did not take very long for it to hit me at all once while I was at NYAF. My revelation actually started slightly earlier this year, at AnimeNEXT in Somerset, NJ. I didn’t attend because I had a bad feeling about it, but I met up with some friends who were there. Just being outside of the place confirmed my bad feelings… I felt incredibly creepy being there. Whether I was creeped out by the people there, or creeped out by my own presence amongst a bunch of 16-year-olds I wasn’t sure, I just knew I did not want to be there.

Flash forward to the New York Anime Fest, and I am experiencing something of the same feeling, but far more deluded, probably because the space was bigger and less… intimate… than a hotel. Over the course of the weekend that same creepy feeling came back though, and this time I knew it wasn’t me because there were lots of people there my age or older, so I didn’t feel like the creepy old guy at the kiddie pool. It took me some time to process where this feeling was coming from, but I figured it out. What should have been a fun and enjoyable safe place for kids and grown-up kids, had a not-so-thinly veiled subculture of BDSM and Pornography to it.

To anyone who is familiar with Anime, the sub-genre of Hentai is no secret. It was no secret to me before this; I love hentai. It is basically animated hardcore pornography. I knew it would be there, in face I was counting on it. What I wasn’t counting on was the seeming fact that hentai is so accepted nowadays that it was being sold pretty much side-by-side with regular anime. There were a fair number of children present at the Anime Fest; not a huge number, but some. Such children, who were probably there to enjoy Pokemon, Bakugan, or whatever their favorite anime is, where definitely exposed to a level of overt sexuality that they should not have been. That overt sexuality is now, for whatever reason, irrevocably joined at the hip with anime and the Otaku who love it. The people who religiously go to anime cons, I have observed, are generally very young, have boundary issues, engage in significant attention seeking behavior, and are for the most part hypersexual. The environment of a Con is like a pressure cooker for acting out on sexual urges due to the presence of half naked cosplayers, readily available hentai, and two factors that I have only noticed recently.

Two more subcultures have found a comfortable glen in the Otaku Forest, one being the LGBT community, and the other the BDSM community (for those of you who are acronym-impaired, LGBT = Lesbian, Gay Bisexual Transgender, and BDSM = Bondage Discipline Sado-Masochism). When walking through the vendor area of the con, there were lots of thing for sale that, well, should not have been on sale considering the alleged focus of the audience. Handcuffs, corset’s, PVC gear, and leather wear are sort of incongruous for a Convention that’s supposed to be all about Japanese animated cartoons. There were a lot of Victorian and Steampunk clothes and accessories available as well, but there were marginally acceptable reasons for those wares to be available. I don’t know if the presence of all the bondage stuff is a symptom or a manifestation of the overtly sexual nature of the crowds that attend Anime Cons these days.

Speaking of overtly sexual, there is apparently a helluva lot of hooking up going on at Con’s, something I am probably jealous of because I never got to do any of that when I was these kids ages. There has almost always been a lot of gender neutrality in anime, and now yaoi and yuri has exploded as well. Yaoi is romanticized boy/boy anime, and yuri is romanticized girl/girl anime. It’s not quite hentai, it’s more rated R than X usually. The yaoi and yuri fans are, shall we say, not shy about showing their enthusiasm for their favorite anime, and they advertise so loudly at Cons. It is a common sight to see people, usually under the age of 20, at cons with signs saying “Yuri Kisses Wanted”, “Yaoi Kisses Wanted” and of course, the ubiquitous “Free Hugs”. The most disturbing part is that a lot of the people with these signs are really young or really young looking, and they don’t really care who they get attention from. It makes me uneasy to think of what kind of picnic an anime con is for a pedophile, and even more uneasy to think of what every other person my age is thinking of me for being there… because that’s what I am thinking of them as well…

An anime Con today is equal parts Gay pride Parade, Social Networking Party, Geekfest/Otaku-Orgy, and Miscellaneous whatever you want to fit in there. At the end of the weekend, I was glad that I went, and I would do it again. I felt very weird being around so many underage same sex kids making out, but you know, you get used to anything after a while.

John Minus
About John Minus 10 Articles
John Minus is a stand-up comedian and misanthropist. Host of the Alter Negro Sho(w), Mondays at 9pm EST, John is usually in desperate need of sleep/medication/love. You can see him preform live the first Thursday of every month as part of NonPro's Stand-Up Comedy Show at Just Jake's in Montclair, NJ.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*