I wanted to share with you a post that’s a lot more personal then what I usually write about, so stay with me.
This past weekend, I went with my sisters and close family friends to Hawaii Con. It was an experience that will personally help me grow much as a writer, but on the other side the con was fairly small and possibly boring. Still, I gleaned a lot from the trip.
This was my first real cosplay experience, so going to the con and showing off the dress I had been making all summer was rewarding. It was also my little sister’s first con, so I was so glad I got to introduce them to how crazy this world is! I was the one who got them into anime, I should be the one to hold their hands as they step cautiously into nerdom.One panel I went to was the Cowboy Bebop Reunion even thought I have never seen the show. I stepped inside not really know what to expect. I didn’t know who voiced any of the characters, but as soon as I walked into that room, I recognized them. Mary Elisabeth McGlynn, Steve Blum, and Melissa Fahn sat at the panel. Mary directed and also played Julia in Cowboy Bebop. I also learned that she directed Naruto, which made me die with delight. Without really knowing it, she was one of my heroes. I recognized Steve as the voice of Zeb on Star Wars Rebels first. It wasn’t until halfway into another panel when he hissed, “Sauske… Sauske…” into the mic, that I realized that he is also Orochimaru from Naruto. Melissa Fahn was the original understudy of Glinda from my favorite musical Wicked. This made me very happy. All your favorite things are connected in funny ways, like roads that always take you to one of your favorite shops.
Mary McGlynn especially was energetic and friendly. She had a lovely warmth that made it less intimidating sitting as close to her as I did. The room the panel was held in was pretty small, so it almost felt like a classroom, but the teachers were awesome.
Mary stressed that in the business of cartoons and anime dubbing, it’s important to be yourself, then others will kindly want to help you. Something I much suspected was the importance of apprenticeship in this field. Experience is key and film is a small world. There is so much value in being humble and just learning from someone who is great at their trade. Look for opportunity. Work hard and go out of your way to ask questions. I stepped up to Mary and poured out my heart for writing to her, and as she said in her Cowboy Bebop panel, people in the industry will help you.
I find the relationship between Apprentice and Master, in stories and real life, quite admirable. The relationship is built upon patience. The main story I’m working on is all about this relationship, so it was very neat to hear of its value in the business I’d like to go into.
A theme that came up in this panel was family. The crew explained that they really felt like a family, even if they hadn’t been in the studio at the same time. Being connected by a story is such a powerful thing. I know from being in drama all of high school that the roles you play stick with you and your fellow actors. You start to identify each other by who you portrayed, like how every time our troop to Starbucks together, we would order using our favorite roles as names. So many inside jokes emerge, and you really learn more about yourself as you try to empathize with the person you’re playing. It’s a tangible learning experience, watching your fellow actors grow beside you with the story being the glue. I believe this feeling is what the panel was trying to highlight.
Steve and Mary also talked a lot about Hawaii in general. This con was basically a tourist attraction, so it felt like being on vacation in Hawaii more then a real nerdy experience. (I get my daily dose of Hawaii every day so I was a bit annoyed by how much they pushed the classic vacation vibe.) Steve loves Hawaii and the Ohona aspect. He even has a Hawaiian tattoo on his shoulder which he took his shirt off the show us. I feel that Hawaiian culture is similar to the voice acting community as he described it. Even thought I live here, I don’t identify as a Hawaiian resident, so I feel like an outsider. What’s comforting is how welcoming people are even if I’m bitter about living on their land.
I got the sense that the same kind atmosphere goes for the cartoon and anime world. I also want to compare this culture to how we’re supposed to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. The kindness I’ve been shown after moving here is what I wish could be practiced in every church and shown to every person. We all know that world of film is not known for being godly, but humans are wired to crave friends and family and something more then we’ll be able to find on this world. I wish to go into the field so I can share the light of God, but also because I crave the fellowship dynamics that were discussed at this panel.
Steve Blum also gave some advise for aspiring actors. He wants us to go outside. We all know that nerds spend too much time inside, specifically on their computers. Hawaii is very good for the outside. I hate the beach, but I love the mountains on the island. There is a place for everyone here, emotionally and physically. I respect this advise.
Steve and Mary also sang “Blue” from the show. It was absolutely beautiful. Now that I have an emotional connection to this con, listening to this song calms me down when I have anxiety attacks. What a strange thing to come away with from a con, but it works for me. God blesses me in the strangest ways, but I’m very thankful that I have a new weapon for defeating this struggle I have.
After the panel, the crew went out to the autograph booth, but since the con was so small, you could just walk up to them and spark a conversation like old friends. I poured out my heart to Mary telling her how much I want to write cartoons, voice, and draw them. She told me to follow my dreams and just go for it. Every adult is supposed to encourage kids like this, yes, but I felt like I had a good reason to believe her. In my head I knew I can follow my dreams because I dream for what the Lord wants for me. He gave me talents and desires for a reason. The reason I have confidence in my dreams is because I know the Lord is beside me. He’ll show me exactly where to go!
“For I know the Plans I have you”, declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not hard you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Mary then asked me if I had gone to any of the writing workshops the con offered. I said I hadn’t. She suggested I go to the one they were having tomorrow with Jane Espenson who writes Once Upon a Time and worked on such shows as Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones, and Torchwood. She explained that is was only $25. I showed my hesitancy, but the staff started rallying around wanting me to “follow my dreams”. Then Mary reaches into the cash register and pulls out a twenty and a five and hands it to me. I can’t remember exactly what she said to me but it was along the lines of, “Just go for it! Peruse your dreams!”
I took the money trembling because I knew that I was supposed to. I didn’t know how, but it was going to help me on my journey. The Director of Naruto handed a girl cosplaying as Sakura an opportunity and a memory that she will never forget. She was true to her words. Because I had the guts to tell her, she blessed me. I wanted to cry.
The next day, I went to the “Directing Naruto” Panel with Mary and Steve again and she recognized me! That day I was cosplaying as Miss. Kaoru from Samurai X, but I wasn’t wearing a wig so I looked more normal. The panel was slowing down so she pointed to me and asked me what I liked best about this weekend. I answered, “The Cosplay Contest.” And she asked me who I had dressed as but by the look in her eye, she knew it was me. I answered, “Sakura” and she nodded, “I know.” That was how I said thank you to her. I came back that day because she had asked me to, and she got to reap a small seed she had sewn.
As I said, I entered the Cosplay Contest, but I wasn’t planning on it, so I was not prepared. When I got on the stage I did the only thing that I knew I could pull off. I did an aikido roll across the stage, then stood up and stared the audience down with my kuni knife held at the ready just below my eyes. Then I ran off the stage as if I were angrily running after Naruto. This is actually one place where my martial arts came in handy for something other then attacking my classmates or sisters.
As spontaneous as that was for me, I received a warm welcome from the nerdy crowd! What I discovered was how beautiful the small community of nerds, specifically cosplayers are. It really felt like what Christian fellowship should have been like. We talked about common interests, where I don’t feel like young Christian adults really have many deep conversation about the savior, the one thing that binds us together.
I stood in line with these decked out costumers just enjoying their company. I’m sure, many of them were very lost and in need of the Lord, but I felt at place next to them. I have had so many struggles with my old church trying to “fit” inside. I know that I am a little weird, but because of that, I faced a lot of rejection from the little groups formed on Sunday mornings. I was often excluded. These Christians taught me what loneliness was, and that was not alright. My heart craves to take the fellowship demonstrated at this con and along side other Christians I care about to share the gospel with these energetic con peoples. They’re so on fire for their fandoms… imagine how on fire for the Lord they could be? This has been on my heart for a while, and I really paid attention to ways I could reach out for a ministry of some sort at cons. I did come up with some ideas.
At the end of that night, our friends and family went out to dinner at my favorite burger place- in our costumes. The moment I enter, the young men cooking the burgers start calling about and laughing with me about my cosplay. They yelled, “Sakura! Sakura!”
While we ate, the second Naruto theme song from the original series starts to play in my head and I get a funny look from my sister. I ask her, “Do you hear it too?”
Turns out I wasn’t crazy, the cooks flipping burgers started playing all of the Naruto theme songs in the back of the restaurant and my sister and I continue to sing along looking like a bunch of crazy people.
“Fumikomu ze akuseru…”
I think the best part of cosplay is the weird looks on people’s faces especially when you’re completely exhausted and singing songs in Japanese.
After we ate, the whole staff at the restaurant asked to take pictures with us. It made me very glad as it was an amazing way to end the night.
I also just leaned shortly after the con that I’m going on a mission’s trip to Japan this summer! I’m beyond excited, but now I have to really focus on learning more Japanese. I know that the Lord puts these desires in my heart and with all my heart I want to follow him. My dreams are to follow the Lord, and I know he can make that possible.
“Nothing you do for the Lord is useless” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Thank you for reading, I know this was a very personal post, but I actually learned a lot, and I felt that God answered some questions of mine through this experience. I defiantly felt his presence with me during that time. When I had a wave of anxiety on the second day, he brought a nice girl to me so I could have someone to talk to. He gave me the opportunity to go to that writing workshop encouraging me to keep working towards my goals. He also provided this con as a small comfort for me as I’m trying to deal with my bitterness about island life.
God is good.