What’s the difference between an anime convention and a highland game?

It’s a celebration of a unique culture where people put on costumes, perform songs, dance, and take part in events that can only be seen at their unique event. What am I talking about exactly? You wouldn’t know from the description I just gave you, and that’s exactly the point!

I’ve been playing the bagpipes for about eight years and have been to my fair share of highland games. A highland games is a huge (usually outdoor) event where there are bagpipe competitions, sheaf tossings (where people throw bales of hay), sheep herding demonstrations, Scottish dancing competitions, caber tossings (where people throw telephone poles), and a lot of people in kilts. In addition, there are all sorts of stalls selling Scottish food and paraphernalia. Highland games are a celebration of Scottish tradition and they are a lot of fun. Almost all of my friends know that I play the bagpipes and they think it’s cool and interesting that I spend my free time competing in the bagpipes and having a fun time at highland games (at least that’s what they tell me).

I am also a huge fan of Japanese anime and have been going to conventions for the past four or five years. An anime convention is a huge (usually indoor) event where there are costume competitions, masquerade contests, panels with your favorite voice actors, concerts, posing for pictures, and lots of people in costumes. In addition, there are all sorts of venders that sell anime merchandise. I’m open with my nerdy friends about my con-going, but I honestly don’t talk about it with my not-so-geeky friends because I know they’ll judge me.

Lady Saika and I in an epic face-off

And here’s the point of this entry: If walking around in a Scottish ‘costume’ and doing Scottish things is considered cool and interesting, then why don’t people think walking around in a Japanese anime costume and participating in anime things is cool and interesting? In general, other people appreciate the fact that I participate in Scottish cultural activities and are interested in highland games. If I tell people I go to anime conventions, I receive a look that translates to, ‘that’s creepy, you’re a weirdo.’

Moral of the story: Don’t judge people for appreciating different cultures. Because all cultures are awesome.