Tag Archives: Otakon

Notes from a Con [Series Introduction - Race and Otakudom]

by Latoya Peterson

While Arturo was gearing up for Comic-Con, and Joe hung out at the Asian American Comic Con, I spent the weekend at Otakon.

Stepping off the bus near the Convention Center, I felt myself involuntarily break into a smile. Neko ears, Naruto headbands and wings galore. For three days, the Baltimore Harbor area transforms into planet anime, and you never really know what you’ll catch out of the corner of your eye.

The locals tend to be amused. As I was walking down the street, a woman rolled down her window and hollered at the boy in front of me. “Excuse me – what’s going on here? Is it a Harry Potter convention?”

“What? No!” he said with a pained voice, pulling his Ichigo Kurosaki costume tighter around his thin brown frame.

I couldn’t help myself. I laughed. Continue reading

Dispatches from the Maid Cafe

by Latoya Peterson

On Saturday, I received this email from regular reader Allison:

I found this article: “For Anime Fansa: Maid For A Day” by Dan Zak. The article talks about American women (read: white women) being hired to work as “Japanese maids” for a DC-area Anime convention. Among other duties, their volunteer responsibilities include “call conventioneers ‘master’ and ‘mistress.’ They gratefully drop to their knees to draw a ketchup smiley face on a Japanese omelet.”

Isn’t it great when white women appropriate Japanese culture in order to sell omlettes to the so-called ‘master’? No race & gender conflicts there, right?

In my horror, I had to pass it along. If anything, it might be fodder for a blog post.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

Little did she know I was at that anime convention (it’s called Katsucon) over the weekend. I woke up, checked my email, and laughed. I wasn’t planning on attending the maid cafe, but the Washington Post article made us seems like such gloriously costumed freaks, I felt like I had to go represent. I convinced most of my roomies to come with me, and so we began a quickie investigation with three main goals.

We went downstairs to determine if:

1. The maid cafe idea is sexist.
2. The maid cafe idea is racist.
3. The implementation of the maid cafe at Katsucon was racist/sexist. Continue reading