Anime St. Louis Preparations Underway and Dicussing Ethnicity in Movies Once More

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Whew! What a busy week and a half I’ve had since returning from ShutoCon! Work, work, work, and a new character pops up for Ravensrealm for the sole purpose of annoying the two main characters, Man, I love it!

I’m finding myself somewhat embroiled in the very heated discussions over the castings of Ghost in the Shell and Doctor Strange as of late, people who seem to think that, because I’m arguing in favor of the castings, that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Let me make one thing clear. I am all for casting people of all races, religions, genders, and creeds as lead roles. One hundred percent behind it.

As long as it fits the needs of the story.

One thing I am finding is that people are being racist when it comes to the roles of the Major and the Ancient One from these movies. They live here so therefore they must be this. Ghost in the Shell is a Japanese manga that became an anime, and the lead character has a Japanese name therefore she must be Japanese. The Ancient One must be Chinese or Korean or Japanese.

I’ve pointed out the fallacy behind the Ancient One logic before. By saying that the role must go to an Asian actor, those who are claiming whitewashing ignore and are extremely disrespectful to ancient, pre-Christian cultures that believed in magic, that used a magical system. That includes people from Africa and Native America. That includes people from Greece and Egypt.

And I have to say it severely upsets me when people say certain roles must be filled by certain ethnicities because it does ignore that. It does say that only a Chinese man or woman is capable of being a teacher, of being a master of magic for those who are becoming enlightened and wanting to learn. Yes, in Doctor Strange, a black man was a sorcerer and a powerful one at that. He could have become the next Ancient One after Tilda Swinton’s role ended.

It also severely upsets me when people say that this role must be this ethnicity because somehow every other culture is lazy and cannot do the pilgrimage it would require for them to get from their homelands because they didn’t have the modern conveniences of airplanes. A dedicated magician is a dedicated magician, and that soul will find its way where it needs to be to learn, even if it means walking until his or her feet is bloody, broken, and sore from the journey. Before the inventions of cars, planes, trains, and wagons, people either walked or rode a beast of burden, like a horse, camel, or donkey. It is not a far stretch to have a Celtic woman, an African man, a Native American shaman to make a journey to a place of safety and rest.

Now to pause. I’ve put this out there before, and I will stand by this because this is how I honor the African Gods who faced persecution at the hands of early Jews and Christians. This is how I honor the Celtic, Nordic, Egyptian, and Greek Gods who faced the same, both from each other and the early Jews and Christians.

It’s how I honor the Hindu Gods and all other Gods for persevering in the face of extreme adversity, bigotry, and violence. I would be more pissed off if by casting Mulan as a white chick. I would be more pissed off if Mr. Nancy from American Gods was cast as a white dude or even a Latino dude because he is African, ancient African, and a spider god to boot. I would be more pissed off at Jesus being depicted as a pale, blue-eyed dude instead of a man born in the Middle East. That, my friends, is true whitewashing. It is not whitewashing when the character has a title or a role that is meant to be versatile, that is meant to change hands when the time comes. I realize it is not what my fellow social justice warriors want to hear when it comes to diversity in lead roles, but I’m trying to approach these conversation with an understanding about the cultures in question or at least trying to understand the outrage behind the casting choices.

And it irritates me when I tell people I agree with them that there needs to be more diversity in the films we watch, but they choose to ignore those words because I’m disagreeing with them on the examples that they’ve chosen to use as the catalyst for their arguments. I mean, if I can find holes in the argument, I feel it isn’t a very good argument, and it only serves to the detriment of getting more diverse casts and accurate representations of the very cultures we want to have in lead roles. We are bordering very dangerously on stereotyping and typecasting for all ethnic groups. That’s a huge cause of concern for me as a writer.

Also, as a writer, I can only strive to include diversity in my writing, but I also must adhere to what my stories call for. In the case of Arc of Fantasy, it’s the creation of an antagonist midway through the story because the story demands it, and it’s such a fun plot twist.

In the meantime, I’m hammering away at Ravensrealm to get ready for publication later this year. Preparations for Anime St. Louis include maintenance on my Sigyn (she’s gone on two long distance trips since August so maintenance is inevitable – the joys of owning a car); finding a hotel; adding to my Fayt Leingod, Captain of the Dragon Brigade cosplay (the coat needs tweaking and some repair as well as adding some bits of armor); getting copies of Sigyn’s Flowers and Portal to Gaming for the Cosplay Giveaways; saving money for food, shopping, hotel, and fuel; working my butt off.

I feel so fortunate that I live in Tulsa and will be for Tokyo in Tulsa – that’s just food and shopping money for that weekend, and it’s like a five minute drive from the house to the convention center! I should know by tomorrow evening as to whether or not I will have booth space for that convention. I’m also settled on my August convention, which will be MatsuriCon in Columbus, Ohio, the weekend of August 25-27th.

Have a great Thursday, my friends! I’m off of work today, and I’m wanting to head to the movies.

ShutoCon, Anime St. Louis, Otakon Announcement, Cosplay, and the Giveaway

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ShutoCon is over, has been over for almost a week now, but driving and working have kept me busy since leaving Lansing Sunday evening. (I returned to work Tuesday morning.) My next convention is Anime St. Louis, the second weekend in May.

At ShutoCon, I handed out bookmarks and postcards with my social media and Arc of Fantasy information. I didn’t hand out everything, which is quite all right. I have a tendency to be a bit shy to start at conventions then be overly extroverted on the final day. It’s very different from actually being at work, where it’s a bit of a requirement to be outgoing. I am an outgoing type of person, but I’m also an introvert who is learning very quickly she needs to sell herself as well as she can sell the products of her employers.

For those of you who are wondering how the convention went, it was fun. I love going to these geeky conventions because I love what the vendors have to sell, which one can’t always find online, and for the cosplay. I may not recognize many of the fandoms anymore, but then I am an old person, compared to many of the con goers these days. (I turn 40 in October.)

Will I be making a return to ShutoCon in 2018? I honestly don’t know. As I told a friend of mine in an email, a return is going to be quite dependent on three things. They are as follows.

1 – Vendor/exhibition space.
There weren’t a lot of panels at the convention that interested me. The ones that did were on writing, and I decided last minute to not attend the script writing panel Sunday morning.
There also weren’t a lot of voice actors I was interested in meeting. Ian Sinclair was one, but I opted out of that almost last minute as well. One, a friend of my sister’s arrived and had something for us that needed to go into my car. Two, the line for Ian was growing, and I just had a feeling I knew how the panel was going to go because fans tend to ask the same questions, irregardless of the convention, irregardless of how many times other people at other conventions have asked the same questions before. Three, it isn’t like Ian won’t be at another convention at a later point in the year so catching him somewhere else will not be an issue.
Panels and guests are not the biggest draws for me when it comes to attending a convention. It truly is the overall experience. As someone who has had vendor space before, it’s very nice because you have a place to store your goodies without having to make a trip to your hotel room. It also gives you a break from wandering around and not having a lot to do in between panels and photo shoots.
For someone like me who has attended twenty conventions (Shuto is the 20th, Anime St. Louis will be my 21st convention) since the start of the 2000s, there isn’t a lot to see to get me to return.
2 – Reserving the convention center hotel or another within walking distance
Call me lazy on this. I really don’t want to drive to and from the convention center every single day of the convention after having driven off and on throughout the night and previous day to get there. I love my car, but I do need a break from driving every so often, and she needs a break from being driven. Granted, we were a six minute drive from the convention center, which isn’t bad in and of itself. It definitely could have been way worse.
Still, after driving straight through, with only stops for food and fuel and to switch drivers, it’s nice to not have to drive and to not have to coordinate when to go back to the hotel because only one person has a car.
3 – Feeling like I will be able to sell my product
Of all of these things, this is the most important. Gaining vendor space can be hit or miss, in which I could always suggest a panel for me to conduct and still make the convention worth my while in that regard.
I wandered the exhibition space quite a bit over the weekend. A lot of the vendors were very LGBTQ friendly. In fact, that seemed to be one of the most prominent type of product being sold (aside from leather works, plushies, anime, and the like). I mean, there were hats that said yaoi and yuri in big, bold, flashing lettering (made out of either mirrors or metal – I’m not sure). As someone who does write a very diverse cast of characters, one would think I would feel like I could sell any of my books at this particular convention. My first publication, Portal to Gaming, has a gay main character.
As an ally, you’d think this would not be intimidating for me. Yet, at the same time it is.
At least, for right this moment. As it stands, I have time to consider this, meditate upon this, and to make a decision. If I decide to go again, I will make the announcement when Shuto announces their registration and upon securing vendor space for that weekend. I am also seriously considering trying another March convention before making up my mind about ShutoCon.
Again, I did have fun at this convention. There just wasn’t a lot for me to do because I don’t know a lot of the newer anime series anymore, I wasn’t interested in the voice actors they had there (aside from Ian Sinclair), and I did suffer from the introvertedness that comes with being a self-published writer who has had to spend more time away from making public appearances due to finances than has been wise.
This will be a “we shall see” convention and as long as finances remain the way that they do. Finances are one thing that can change, one thing I am working on changing, and that I know I have already changed in the future. Confidence is key here, right?
I will be browsing around for a March convention and am working to do more than just one convention every other month or so.

I did cosplay on Friday at ShutoCon. The wig was not my friend after a while (I will give the wig one more chance before Anime St. Louis – I have an idea on how to get it to work with me; again, finances are the current issue), and the coat was still relatively incomplete. The braiding hooking the buttons fell off. It was to the point of “oh, there’s another. Oh well”, and one of the buttons fell off, which I did pick up. I don’t want to buy a packet of buttons just for one button.

Wearing that green coat was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to fixing it up and getting some dragon-themed bracers to go with it. Seriously. A guy was selling his own designs in leather work at ShutoCon, and they just inspired me to add them to the Fayt Leingod cosplay and to incorporate the dragon theme into the armor choices for some of my Arc of Fantasy characters. I have to be careful because not all of my people wield swords, and dragon bracers may not be 100% functional in a battle.

Anime St. Louis is coming up next. I will have more bookmarks and postcards and business cards to hand out to people. I will be adding on to the Fayt Leingod, Captain of the Dragon Brigade cosplay. Fiore Brunelli has some unique weapons that look like materia from Final Fantasy VII but are not equipped in the same way. Given everything I’m doing to Fayt in this yet-to-be published fanfiction, he’s going to need more than just a sword as a weapon!

I have already announced to facebook about a change in plans regarding Otakon. I’m not registered, and, at this point, I will not be registering. Silly me, I didn’t pay attention to where the convention was being held for this year. I presumed it was going to be in Baltimore. The convention has always been in Baltimore. A vendor at ShutoCon informed me that they announced last year a change in venue.

Otakon is going to be in Washington, D.C., this year. I really dislike the current administration, but my dislike is only one of many factors in changing my mind about this convention. Again, according to this vendor, there are no actual hotels in D.C. Parking is either going to be outrageous or even non-existent, due to the hotels being in places like Maryland and Virginia. Trying to schlep a cosplay and product on a public transit system is not something I want to do. I had to do that while living in Philadelphia with everything I owned that I had brought with me from Seattle, until I found a place where I could at least safely stash my belongings. People get irritated with you very quickly because they think you’re doing it on purpose when your stuff bumps into them. Given the convention is also in August, one of the hottest months of the year, and it’s a recipe for trouble.

I am not necessarily reconsidering heading to GenCon. Again, this is something I need to consider, meditate upon, and I was given an alternative that’s later in the month of August. I’m going to do some more delving into August conventions and see what I can find.

I found two Marvel Loki cosplayers at ShutoCon. One of them declined a free book, stating he didn’t read. A bit of a bummer, really, but one cannot force a person to read if he does not wish to do so. The other accepted and will be receiving a free copy of The King and Queen of Wands within the next 3-5 weeks. The book is ordered. I’m just waiting on delivery so I can sign it and send it on its way to this young lady.

The Cosplay Giveaway is still in effect. Send me those pictures or catch me at Anime St. Louis. Be on the lookout for me as I’ll be on the lookout for you!

Finally, a huge shout of thanks to everyone who has downloaded a free copy of Sigyn’s Flowers at this point. Every download means the world to me! I will be making an announcement the weekend of Anime St. Louis, a very important one.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Thursday!

One Week Until ShutoCon, Fandom Life

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Cosplay Giveaway for ShutoCon Weekend
First, this is not being run by the staff, but by me, Elise K. Ra’sha. (Hi there!) They have their own cosplay competition, and I . . . well, I have a little more specific aim and am running this rather indefinitely.
Second, I will not have books on hand for this convention. Finances have been a little tight as of late.
However, the Cosplay Giveaway is still in effect for ShutoCon. I will have a notebook on hand to take down names and addresses, and I will personally mail the copies to the cosplayers who fall into these two areas after the convention is over and after I’ve returned home:
Star Ocean (all characters)
Loki (Marvel, Norse mythology, Fairy Tale)
If I find you or you find me (I will be in cosplay for the weekend), I’ll snap your picture, take down your name and address and then mail you a copy of one of my books, either Portal to Gaming or Sigyn’s Flowers, signed. For free.
It’s a limit of one book per person TOTAL. Please allow up to 3-5 weeks for delivery – I do have to order the books upon my return from ShutoCon.

Adding to this: It’s paperback copies, not ebook or audio book. My books are unavailable on audio (Amazon wants exclusivity), and Sigyn’s Flowers is already available as a free download. I’d rather people have more permanent copies for this giveaway than something that can be revoked on a whim.

With all of that said, I have one week left to finish all of my convention preparations, and I have work, starting tomorrow. All, gotta love the balancing acts at times!

I shut down the GoFundMe campaign. I’m rethinking a few things, and I have a major goal I want to accomplish by July 1st. I’m not entirely sure GoFundMe is the best site for what my next goals are. And, believe me, I have something very huge in mind for Tokyo in Tulsa!

Still have a lot to do get ready for ShutoCon as my time is slowly dwindling to get everything done. By the time Anime St. Louis rolls around, I want to have flyers and cards for more than just my publications. I’m so into Star Ocean. We are all fans of something.

More will come soon. I have a lot to do at this point and need to focus on that.