Editor’s Note: When manga, anime and fan culture hits the blogosphere, what time is it? You guessed it — Your Manga Minute, making its epic return to Newsarama! Leading the charge on this brave new venture is Julie Opipari: You’ve seen her on Manga Maniac Cafe, Mania.com and When Fangirls Attack, as she writes reviews and helps cover the latest manga hits. With the seconds ticking and the books flying fast and furious, tune in every Wednesday for your latest dose of Your Manga Minute! And now, we’ll let Julie take over the show, as she starts her tenure with a look at anime cons — and their surprisingly similar equine counterparts.
By Julie Opipari
Hi! I’m the new kid on the block, and I thought I’d dip my toe in the water with a post that compares my two favorite things – manga and horses. Now, before you start thinking that they have nothing in common, let me point out that they are more alike than you would think. There are these grand outings planned by both comic fans and horse enthusiasts that are the pinnacle of fandom. In the manga world it’s known as an anime con, and to horse folk, it’s called a horse show. If you haven’t attended either one, you should! Shows, whether they feature manga or ponies, are a great way to network with other fans. There isn’t another venue where you can meet people who are as excited to talk about your hobby as you are, and better yet, they listen to what you have to say! None of that zoning out from your significant other when you start blathering on and on about the latest happenings in Bleach or how you finally perfected the sitting trot. Still not convinced? Read on for proof!
Cosplay: Just as anime fans feel the need to celebrate their favorite series by spending hours crafting the perfect costume, cosplay abounds at horse shows. I’m mystified as to why it’s necessary to dress up like fox hunters or a reject from a Kenny Rogers movie in order to ride a horse, but it’s generally required to wear these outlandish costumes in order to participate in the festivities. Driving classes demand fussing up in dresses or sparkly tops, which makes about as much sense as wearing flip-flops to either show. Besides getting nasty blisters walking around the dealer hall at a con, who knows what you’ll step in at a horse show.
Gender-bending: Gender-bending doesn’t only exist in manga! Check out the local saddleseat show for proof that it happily exists in real life. Look at all of those women decked out in their Sunday finest. Wait, why are they all wearing suits? And ties? Like many an anime series, this ritual makes little sense, but it sure gives you a feeling superiority knowing that your Double Windsor looks so much neater than everybody else’s! And, with your spurs and your riding whip, you feel strong and confident, almost like you are striding along in a mecha, ready to take on the world!
Really bad, expensive food: This is the number one reason to eat a healthy breakfast. Like you’ll find at anime conventions, the food at horse shows is over-priced, and just plain bad for you. Full of empty calories and not especially appetizing, the day is much too hectic to strike off in search of cheaper, better options. Trapped at the fairgrounds, or the convention center, you’re a sitting duck for the greedy food vendors. Don’t even get me going about the price of a bottle of water!
Lack of sleep: Trying to catch another anime episode or hit that late night panel? Horse shows are jam packed with too many activities as well. Getting up at 5:30 in the morning to help wash tails or braid manes, the day is just crammed with too much to do! Even after the last class of the evening, there are still horses to be worked into the wee hours of the night. Catching a catnap while waiting around soon becomes a required art at both events. A quiet corner in a video room will work wonders recharging your drained batteries. An empty stall works just as well!
Constant schedule changes: Just missed that panel on cel collecting because of an unexpected schedule change? Did the arcade not open until two hours after the official posted time? Just like the frustration at anime cons, the printed schedule at the horse show can be just as worthless. Class run over because a horse threw a shoe? Was there a hold between classes because of a necessary equipment change? These unexpected schedule delays at anime cons and horse shows are one of the major reasons that we are forced to eat the really bad expensive food! You’re taking a gamble if you count on the schedule running smoothly and try to actually make plans around it.
The Noise: Oh, my! Everyone is so excited to be surrounded by all the cool graphic novels or clean, shiny horses! There is so much enthusiasm and it is so contagious! Go to a BL manga panel, but take a pair of ear plugs. Each new announcement will bring on a wave of delight, expressed by everyone screaming at the top of their lungs. Go to a Park Saddle or 5-Gaited class, and you get the same thing! Whistling, yips, and a whole lot of cheering. Better bring along something to soothe your aching throat, because it is going to be sore from yelling by the end of the weekend!
The Parties: Come on, you can admit it! One of the biggest reasons to hit either show is to socialize! There are parties every night, and that is one of the biggest reasons for all of the fatigue you are going to suffer. You didn’t travel halfway around the country to go back to your room and watch an overpriced, rented movie all by yourself. There are dances and loud music, and even all-night gaming to enjoy! It is true that things are much more technologically advanced at the anime con, where you’ll probably be blasting away at zombies or high stepping to the latest DDR tunes, while at the horse show, you’ll be chucking a duck or riding a buck. But, hey, it’s all good!
The need for soap: And you thought only otakus needed to be reminded to shower! While most participants at the horse show do start the day off with a liberal application of soap, wearing a three piece suit in 90 degree weather soon makes that shower a distant memory. Since many of us only have one costume, we are stuck wearing that smelly thing the entire horse show. Yuck! Lots of cos-players are in the same boat, and by the end of the weekend, you usually know exactly which ones only have one pair of duds.
Well, there you have it. Anime conventions and horse shows are just flip sides of each other. Can’t make it to a major con this year? Don’t worry! Just trot over to the local horse show! Just don’t wear your flip flops!
This article is an expanded version of an article posted at Manga Maniac Cafe on June 24, 2007.
When Julie Opipari isn’t mucking around the barn, she can be found trying to make a dent in the massive pile of manga that keeps following her home from the bookstore. Not wiling to admit she has a problem, she blissfully continues to anticipate the latest releases despite the cries of agony from her credit card. She cheerfully blames her addiction on the stresses of college and post traumatic work disorder, and is grateful that her family grumbles only occasionally about the amount of time she spends buried in her books. In addition to reading Your Manga Minute every Wednesday, you can read more of Julie’s work on her blog, Manga Maniac Cafe.