A Closet Extrovert?

During a conversation a while back, a family member of mine said something to me that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since:

“Sure, you may be introverted, Alex, but you’re a closet extrovert. Look at how you act when you’re onstage, or at one of your anime conventions!”

This statement baffled me. I’ve always considered myself a complete and total introvert; if you were to give me a codified personality test like the Meyers-Briggs, I would score as introverted every time. I love alone time and need a lot of it. I’m rarely excited to be around large numbers of people aside from during special events, and on the rare occasion I am around a lot of people for a long time, I have to withdraw immediately to “recharge my batteries”. How on earth was I capable of being extroverted in any way?

Not only was I not sure how I could even be considered extroverted, but didn’t want to be. Once upon a time (and by that I mean only a few years ago), I gloated in my status as a personality type that I mistakenly saw as being a minority, and saw myself in an elitist “I’m a super special delicate and sensitive snowflake and better than you” light. While I’ve since left that mentality behind, and I’m definitely happier for it, I’m still comfortable with my introversion and see it as a simple reality of what I’m like as a person. For someone to suddenly define me as something I’ve never considered myself before was disconcerting, to say the least. Continue reading

Knoxville Anime Day 2015: The More The Merrier

It’s time for yet another installment in my ongoing travels to nerdy events around the area! This one was actually held in my own backyard, or pretty close to it, in the Cedar Bluff area of Knoxville. This tiny one-day convention was actually not on my initial “con schedule” for the 2015 season, and it just goes to show that some of the most fun adventures aren’t always the ones that you plan far in advance! Continue reading

Yama-Con 2014: The Best of Times, The Busiest of Times

Well, readers, it’s that time of year again – and no, I’m not talking about Christmas! Last weekend, December 5-7, was Yama-Con, Northeast Tennessee’s own anime and comic convention, and definitely one of my favorite conventions that I attend regularly. I’ve been going to Yama-Con for all three years it’s been happening, and have always had a wonderful and memorable time there. This year, however, was a little different: I wouldn’t just be going as a normal attendee, I would actually be working for the convention as a volunteer!

I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew it was going to be awesome. Continue reading

A Heart Made Fullmetal

Edward understands my addiction very well, it seems.

To my established readers, this may be obvious, and to my new readers, it will quickly become apparent: I am something of a bibliophile. I love reading, I love collecting books, I love merely being around books. Whenever I go to a bookstore with other people in tow, they always have to drag me out after about two or three hours, because if it were up to me I’d probably never leave. There’s an unmistakeable comfort in being surrounded by stories – and while I do love traditional literature, there’s no place that comfort is stronger than in the manga section.

This is the first in a small series of posts that will be analyzing my favorite graphic novels, manga or otherwise, but manga in particular has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve loved Japanese graphic novels for years, since middle school at the very least. I started out reading things like Naruto, Pokémon Adventures, and Tokyo Mew Mew, mainstream action series or ones geared toward a younger audience. In my freshman year of high school, however, I was introduced to my first “grown-up” manga, one that would (at the risk of sounding cliché) change my life: Fullmetal Alchemist, written by Hiromu Arakawa. Continue reading

ETSUCon 2014: Getting Into Character

The more I delve into the “convention scene” of my area, the more I realize just how much I live from con to con.  After the aptly-named large convention ColossalCon I attend in the summer, I spend the next six months prepping for Yama-Con in December, which I wrote about previously.  After that con comes another favorite local convention of mine, ETSUCon!  This particular Japanese animation and pop culture convention is unique in that it is run and organized by various student organizations of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, just a few hours from LMU.  I attended this small con last year and was incredibly impressed by not only the many wonderful attractions and guests of the event, but also the organization and smoothness with which it ran.  This convention is organized almost completely by college students – if that doesn’t show that we’re capable of amazing things, I don’t know what does!  Needless to say, the second year of the con was just as amazing, and perhaps even more so, than the first.

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Me on the left as Petra with another cosplayer as Levi, a member of the main cast of Attack on Titan. Hugs all around! (Is that an Assassin I see in the right background?)

One of the main things that made this con stand out to me was the character I chose to dress as for the day:  Petra Ral, a soldier from the ultra-popular and fairly new anime series Attack on Titan.  The show is one of the few animated series that I have followed from its beginning; this makes it a series that I hold very close to my heart and am extremely invested.  Because the anime and its characters were so dear to me, I wanted to be sure that I did the character of Petra justice.  One way I did this was by pouring a good bit of time and resources into the costume’s construction – the cosplaying hobby can get quite expensive and time-consuming, believe it or not!  I made sure everything was as perfect as I could get it within my time frame and budget, from investing in the sturdiest parts I could find to ensuring that my wig was styled perfectly.  I attempted to emulate my character in abstract ways as well: getting inside her head, so to speak.  I tend to cosplay characters who have personalities similar to my own, so this part wasn’t too difficult!  Petra is very kind, caring, and respectful, all traits easy for me to emphasize in my interactions with other at the con.  I remember as I was posing for one picture with three more cosplayers, one said “Petra! Don’t worry, we’ll protect you!”  (I’d tell you why this offhand comment was actually very touching, but I wouldn’t want to spoil anything if you decide to check out the show…)  “Getting into character” and interacting with the many other cosplayers from my series was one of the most fun parts of the convention!

Continue reading

Yama-Con 2013: Nerds Have More Fun

As a member of the collective community of fandoms and interests most often known as “nerds”, I’ve begun to associate the concept of home with not only where I live and study, but also with the constantly changing places that I’m able to gather with other members of the nerd community, which are most often in the form of conventions.  One of the most amazing things about this group of people is that we’re all so varied in our interests, and yet see ourselves as a huge family.  Whether we like Japanese animation and manga, American animation and comic books, science fiction, fantasy, or some combination of all of the above, we’re able to interact with each other coming from a place of understanding and comradery.  I was fortunate to be able to experience this comradery once again when I attended Yama-Con in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, only about two hours away from LMU.

This particular adventure began when a friend of mine asked me if I would help him run an educational panel he would be presenting at Yama-Con.  Realizing that this would be an amazing chance for me to obtain practice with both public speaking and teaching, I told him I would think it over.  When my best friend Hayley’s mother asked if I would help her chaperone the students who were a part of the Anime Club she ran at a local high school on a trip to the convention, the deal was sealed for me.  I began planning the trip immediately! Continue reading