Man, I was looking forward to September. Specifically to September the 25th. Tomocon is always a great time for me and my friends. We get to browse around all kinds of interesting stalls, eat Japanese food, and mingle with hundreds of other anime fans. Twice in a row did we miss this event due to covid, but now we finally got to attend the edition in Nijmegen.
We had a great time there, though I do feel that the nature of the con has been steadily changing. I remember how past editions had representation from all manner of geek stores. The market was filled with oddities and otaku wares, ranging from novelty swords to rows upon rows of stalls peddling manga, anime, and figures. This was very much to my tastes.
However, year after year the amount of traditional stores have decreased. Special Edition was the last company that attended Tomocon with a real line-up of anime to sell, and I haven’t seen them in about 2 years now. Even manga is vanishing from the con, with Whooops and a few smaller competitors being the only vendors in attendance these days. And figures? Well, there are still a few shops that sell those of course, but Pop figures are vastly overrepresented compared to traditional anime figures.
I don’t mean to come off as an old man who grumbles about how much his hobby has changed, though. Even if Tomocon changes, it’s still a great time that I’d hate to miss out on. It’s always delightful to see how many different kinds of people anime attracts. People in their (late-)20s like myself seem to be the main demographic, but there are plenty of teens, older folks, and even young kids wandering around. I’ve been reading a lot of discourse about whether or not shounen anime have relatable female characters recently. All of which feels strangely insignificant when you then see a little girl wandering around the con with an Ochako Uraraka hoodie.
Also, the exodus of physical media stores has created a lot of space for artists to promote themselves and sell their wares. I admit that, in the past, I neglected the artist corners of cons a lot. I was always more invested in official merch, but this was the first edition where I really took the time to browse. I was particularly enchanted by the work of Dutch artist 100procent-Juul. I walked by her stall and stopped in my tracks when I saw art for Mermaid Melody, Tokyo Mew Mew, and Shugo Chara.
Many series that I care deeply for are getting on in age, so I am always thrilled when meeting someone else who still cares about them. I ended up buying a bunch of Juul’s prints and am in the process of considering how best to store them. Maybe something like a photobook with plastic covers to keep them looking nice.
If you have the time, check out 100procent-Juul’s DeviantArt and webtoons page. Her art has a great shoujo feel to it, which she has applied to all kinds of series and original works. I also picked up her original manga “Weekly Eclipse” and I enjoyed it a lot.
After this encounter, I got to appreciate the other artists at Tomocon a lot more. Just like Juul, many of them had merchandise for series that stuffy, “official” companies stopped producing for eons ago. Retroactively, I regretted not taking a business card from an artist near Juul’s stand. They had a very intense artstyle that used dark colors and left very little white space. They drew my attention because I can’t recall the last time someone shared anything related to Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan. That’s not something I’d buy art for, but their artstyle was so cool I should have inquired about commission work.
Enough about Tomocon though. Let’s actually talk about this website that I am supposedly running.
September has been eventful, mostly because I finally got around to dealing with a bunch of complaints. Most prominently my own. I had been putting off setting up a business email for a while now, but I kept getting anime-related mails and questions in my personal inbox. This has now been resolved. Any emails through the contact form are now directed to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also email me there directly.
I also dealt with some recent feedback I received from friends and visitors. Comments are now open to anyone willing to leave a username and email, as opposed to just those who have their own WordPress accounts. I also removed the age gate entirely, which was prompting some people with requests to verify their age on every page they tried to access. I will be looking into a replacement for it, but until then adult content is not gated off in any way. Gonna trust the younglings to behave until I can fix that somehow.
October is going to be a spooky month. I got 3 big horror reviews lined up with articles to accompany them, but first up is a vacation for me. I’ll be heading to Dublin next Monday and won’t have time to do final prep on any articles. This means that the first horror review goes live on October 10th instead. Additionally, I got a horrible, NSFL article lined up for actual Halloween. This will be on Monday the 31st, which means there will be neither an accompanying article the following Thursday, nor a Behind The Scenes post for October.
Believe me, you and I will both deserve a break after that article is finally out.
Until next time, I wish you all a delightfully-haunted month of October. See you all in November!