Waku Waku +NYC Blog: Top 10 New York Anime and Manga Characters

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I wrote a post about my favorite anime and manga characters from New York City. You’ll notice that many of them are orphans or something like that.

A Nerd of Circumstances, and Better for It

As I get set to return to the United States this month, almost a year since I left, I remember my birthday, where I received a copy of Anne of Green Gables. After that, I never managed to read the whole way through, which is something I’m trying to correct now, but rather than feeling any sort of guilt over not reading it all, it makes me reflect on how my habits have changed from being in a different environment.

In New York, I have the most convenient reason in the world to read a ton: the subway. Commuting to Manhattan takes up a good half-hour to an hour (or more) depending on where you come from, and it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on manga, to read a novel, to draw, and in my younger days, to do homework. Had I still been living in New York City, I know that I would’ve definitely finished Anne of Green Gables. Same thing with my Pokemon games. I’m a long-time fan of the series, but I haven’t even touched my copy of Pokemon Black yet because of how I never finished Heart Gold, and I refuse to leave a Pokemon game unbeaten. This would’ve been a lot quicker if I had that hour or so to and from Manhattan every day, but alas.

So I ask myself a question, “What do you think of your interests when they can be swayed so easily by circumstance?” To that, I answer myself with “Who the hell is keeping count? I’m the person I always was!” Yes, I’ve taken on certain hobbies and pursued them in ways that are in line with where I was living and where I came from. In New York, I have Japanese bookstores to fuel my collection and a commute to utilize them. In Japan, due to the distances of things, I rode my bike extensively and I watched anime on TV. Here in the Netherlands, I’ve got super-powered internet and a short walk to work. Had I grown up in a mountainous region, maybe I would’ve developed a fondness for rock-climbing. All I know is that these things influence how I function as a person and as a passionate fan of media, and I’m fine with that.

A good analogy for how I’m feeling might be how manga has developed as a black and white comics medium. Manga was originally printed in black and white out of necessity. It’s cheaper than full color and thus easier to mass-produce. From that practical limitation, manga grew out, with artists figuring out ways to best utilize their monochrome palette, including strong usages of negative space and creative application of screentones. Yes, if they had the money to afford full color back then, none of this might have ever happened. But it did, and even if manga were to change to full color now, we at least have that background and history to show us that path

Circumstances exist, but what we make of them is part of what makes life wonderful.

This Has Nothing to Do with Nissan

So after  submitting my entry for NYAF’s mascot competition, I’ve been looking around at the other entries. Regardless of age, talent, creativity, whatever, I can really feel that everybody who submitted a design put effort into their creations.

I don’t think anybody plagiarized or stole from anyone else (though there’s a few questionable designs copyright-wise), so I find it interesting to see what recurring themes there are among the entries. I mean, there’s only so many things you can positively associate with New York, and I’m certainly not the only one who decided to approach it from the subway angle. What I find particularly interesting though is the large number of entries that somehow incorporated the Manhattan Skyline into their mascots, especially in the clothes. The reason I find it interesting is that it had not occurred to me at all to associate New York with the skyline.

I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn and Queens, and have spent much of my years in Manhattan, be it for school or to be with friends. With that in mind, I have to wonder if maybe growing up in NYC I’ve simply gotten too used to the number of tall buildings around. It’s easy to forget that there are places that aren’t like this, or that this feature of NYC would stand out in people’s minds.

As someone who grew up in New York, as someone who used the subway daily for years on end, I felt a more tangible connection to the underground than to the skies above, and it was something I could embrace and appreciate more, hence Chika’s design and the vague hints at her personality I gave in her information.

Second place for interesting recurring themes was taxis, which I also did not associate with NYC for similar reason to the skylines, but I’ve been told by certain people that NYC is apparently the only place you can just wave down a taxi. You learn something every day!

New York Anime Festival Review in 3 Steps

1) This con was small. The Jacob Javits Center is huge. There may have been a Magic: The Gathering tournament going alongside it, but I hope to see more panels, more rooms, more everything next year

2) Guests were good, not great, but I enjoyed the panels I went to immensely (except for the cosplay competition)

3) Unicorn Table was awesome. Also I picked up all of Votoms for 66% off. Also I got an Anime World Order T-Shirt from Daryl Surat.