Seattle Sights & Sakuracon

Riza Hawkeye in my combat boots

Miss T has been a fan of cosplay and animecons for several years now. Nearly all her friends are caught up in the same obsession. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think people dressed as Spock and Klingons among swarms of other Trekkies inside a hotel convention space. Only this is for Japanese anime and manga (cartoons and comic books). Cosplay is to dress up as one’s favourite character. The cons are conventions, of course.

She’s still young enough that I won’t let her attend a con in Seattle without me. I decided to go ahead and book a room at the con, let her go do her thing, and hang out with my brother Ian while she’s busy.

On the three-hour drive up, T shared some of her thoughts and anxiety. Months ago, all her teen friends were talking about going to Sakuracon. That’s when she begged me for permission to go, so that she could join them. One by one, her friends found that they would not be able to join Sakuracon after all. In the end, T is the only person of her group to make the trip.

Then they started trash-talking Seattle cons.

A group of cosplayers at Sakuracon
click to enlarge
click to enlarge

“They said the people at Seattle cons are all stuck up, and that they don’t accept people from other places,” Tara mentioned, not a little concern in her voice. “They said Seattle cons are nowhere near as fun as the Portland/Vancouver cons, because people are so competitive and mean. I’m a little worried. I mean, I just want to have fun, not to try to prove I’m better than anyone.”

I tried to shape my voice into as casual and offhand-sounding as I could before I asked my question. “Have any of the Portland anime fans had a chance to get to a Seattle con before?” My deception worked, and she answered the question instead of responding to my accusation. She thought about it a minute and answered, “Um, I’m pretty sure none of them have.” “That’s too bad,” I said, again, as casually as possible. I dropped the topic, hoping the message would seep through and catch her later.

Ian met us at the hotel while Tara was dressing as Riza Haweye from Fullmetal Alchemist. We walked with her to an entrance to the convention, and watched her for a little while to see how it would go for her. There was a large gathering of people. Many with orange, yellow, and red curvy horns – from an anime I am not familiar with. Tara walked to the outer edge to watch what was happening. There were the usual shockingly short miniskirts, the always-present black capes with red clouds from Naruto. In about three minutes, she was approached by a tall, thin boy dressed as Colonel Roy Mustang. In the story, Riza is the Colonel’s bodyguard.

Too far away to hear, I saw Riza telling something to Colonel Mustang, and gesturing with her hands. He motioned to her to follow and they wound through the crowd and up the steps around a corner out of sight. She didn’t even look back. *Sigh!* My little girl, so grown up she doesn’t even need Mom when she’s in a swarm of people in an unfamiliar city. I looked at Ian and he made some comment regarding that too. We both agreed that at age 14, neither one of us would have had even a fraction of the emotional constitution required to just do what she had done: dump us in 5 minutes in the heart of a major city.

By 9pm that night, she had joined a whole troupe of cosplayers there with parents, spilling into all available corners and horizontal spaces of two adjoined hotel rooms. T begged to stay the night with them but I said “no.” Introductions were made all around and I apologized to the parents, “Please don’t take it the wrong way, but I wanted to spend this time with my kid.” They assured me that the group of teens was large enough already and they weren’t TOO upset about not having one more. Instead, facebook friendships were firmly established.

Seattle Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus

That evening I explored the city with Ian, who has lived there for several years now and was a good person to show me the place. I always love to see what architecture is on display in a place, and since his studies at the University of Idaho were in the field, I knew he would point me in the right direction. We beelined first of all for the library, but it had just closed. Ian said the inside of the building is remarkable, but I was impressed with the outside too.

Reflection of the Space Needle on the side of the music, sci-fi, and pop culture EMP Museum

We passed some other interesting buildings, then took the monorail to the EMP Museum. Ian says he rides the monorail every day in his commute to work. How fun! The EMP Museum is a work of art in itself. Frank O. Geary designed the building to evoke the spirit of Rock n’ Roll. Well, I didn’t read it as rock music per se, but I did get a distinct sense of colour, movement, and fun. It actually evoked more Disney than Hendrix, but don’t tell Geary I said that. Far from insubstantial, I found the building design truly eye-popping. Astonishing curves rose to unlikely heights and imbalances. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this place before. The monorail went right through a gap in the museum!

We didn’t go up into the Space Needle, since I had just done thatlast summer with my friend Vladimir. We did walk to his house, since he lives practically at the base of the needle. We hopped into his sunflower-yellow pickup truck and went on up the hill.

Freezing my tush at Kerry Park

“Have you been to Kerry Park at Queen Anne?” he asked. Since I didn’t know what he was talking about, my answer was a pretty solid “no.” Queen Anne is his neighborhood. Well, nearly. Ian is not a millionaire, but he lives nearby. He told me the viewpoint is the location for all the amazing Seattle shots that feature the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier. Postcard scenes. The clear sunny skies were growing darker, and without the sun to keep me warm, I was getting downright cold. But it couldn’t keep me in the truck. The view was spectacular!

Seattle, Space Needle, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier

We got out and stood at the railing with the other folks, and gazed out across blossoming cherry trees and syringa, across the city lit up in the setting sun, and all the way to the snow-capped and majestic Mt. Rainier on the horizon. The bay waters wrapped around the west side of the city and glanced reflections back to us.

People gazing out at the view of the city at dusk.

Then he took me to dinner at a really awesome restaurant. The atmosphere, the good food, and the beer warmed me back up.

As is typical in any kid-on-her-own scenario…T’s phone battery died. I had been attempting to text her for an hour, and finally got a text message from an unknown phone number. “Hi I’m borrowing Stacey’s phone. My phone died. I’m ok. Can I stay the night with Stacey?” I realized it was time to go back and find my kid.

From our hotel room, we could spot clouds and moon good enough for any Halloween scene.

Ian came back in the morning to share breakfast with us. For convenience sake, we ate in the Hilton restaurant. It was way too expensive, but it did have an astonishing view, so that partially made up for the expense. We said our goodbyes and went back to Portland.

The verdict in the end? “The Seattle cons are just as much fun as in Portland,” Tara assured me on the way home. “No one was stuck up and I had a great time.”

“I wonder what all those Portland people were talking about,” I said.

“Well, it was really only Sam and Alex,” she admitted. “Maybe they were exaggerating. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure they’ve never been to a Seattle con before.”

“Maybe,” I agreed. And I knew my girlie had just learned a life lesson.

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