Saturday started early around here. Of course I didn’t sleep very much. :-)
In the lobby, after a little adventure with a broken elevator and a very heavy suitcase that left me stranded in the basement for a few minutes, I managed to hand off the heavy suitcase to Serge, shouldered my computer and Pattie took the smaller suitcase, still filled with snacks. Bruce stayed back in case anyone showed up in the lobby and needed an escort and we all headed out to Koujimachi.
The next hour was a flurry of unpacking and set-up, as all such things are.
People began to drift up at 12:00, and by 12:30, there was a small crowd outside ready to be let in. We were still trying to get some last things done, like setting up the computer, but that was fine. By the time we got going, slightly late, as such things always do, we were mostly organized. :-)
After opening remarks, which Rica and I kept short, the guests did their intros.
Then we had the most hysterical Opening Ceremony act *ever*. Healerin did a koudan show – a traditional form of half narrated-half acted one person show. Instead of doing his koudan to a tradtional story, Healerin performed two scenes from the Cutey Honey live-action movie. All I can say is, that it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a really long time. His rendition of Black Claw was simply genius.
One of our guests was Itou Bungaku, the man who created the term “yuri.” In 1971, he was editor of Barazoku, a magazine for gay men, and he termed gay men the “barazoku,” the rose tribe, and lesbian “yurizoku,” the lily tribe. That was later shortened to yuri.
We had a little break, and I prepared for my “panel” which in my head was “Erica’s third-degree torture.”
So, there I was, all alone, faced by a room full of people taking pictures and who wanted to know the why, what, where, when and how of yuri in America. I find questions like that maddening, because I really can’t answer for “American fans,” only myself. (Just like at yuri panels at anime cons where I’m asked these huge questions about Japanese culture and acceptance of homosexuality or somesuch…like I can answer for all of Japan…but I digress.
So, with Ive at my side to render my insane ramblings into coherent Japanese, I told the story of how I created Yuricon. Then I answered questions I have no authority or ability to answer. I expect it will be fascinating to see what I said end up in print somewhere. The last question was from Glenn of Anime Tourist – he asked how did I differentiate “yuri” from lesbian porn made for men. I was a bit glib and answered, “If I like it – it’s yuri.” But, as far as I’m concerned, that is the answer. To me, “lesbian” means two women who love/desire each other. Cheesy porn doesn’t have that – just two woman having sex on each other. That’s never really read “lesbian” to me, so I don’t see where there’s a disctinction to be made at all.
After more than an hour, I was let off the hook, and we had a break before the next panel. To my shame, I was so burnt, I really didn’t listen at all to our brilliant guests who were taking questions and talking about their experiences as writers and artists. (I know, I know…)
After the guest disussion came the AMV contest. I showed a wide variety of anime music videos from Yuri Studios to (what seemed to me) a shell-shocked audience of uncomprehending faces. I hope they liked the music anyway. LOL I came out to watch my favorite video and, as I predicted, all the English-speakers laughed their butts off. I’m sorry the Japanese speakers couldn’t figure out what we were laughing at….and everyone hated the music too – but I love it, so there. Nyah.
The last panel was entitled “Yuri Panel by Yuri Women”. We talked alot about the term “yuri”. Like with porn movies for guys which are labeled “lesbian” but are really two straight actresses who having sex on each other, “yuri” waas taken over by hentai doujinshi creators for porn comics with two female characters having sex on each other. Sometimes the characters are actually a couple – but mostly its just fetishy, bodily-fluid-filled porn. Lesbians kind of lost control of the word yuri.
A lot of the day was spent talking about the word itself, in fact. I think it’s a really good term, and I see no reason why it has to mean porn for guys, when really, its only a teeny, tiny percentage of the world who thinks that’s what it means. When the press release about ALC Publishing’s contract with Diamond Comics went out, the term “yuri” genre was seen for the first time by many people.
So I asked that all the lesbians in the audience go out and reclaim the word for themselves, particularly the writers and artists, because they can make the biggest effect.
Our final guest list was:
Itou Bungaku – creator of the term “yuri”
Matsuura Rieko – Japan’s most famous lesbian author
Mori Natsuko – lesbian essayist and sci fi novelist
Morishima Akiko – shoujo manga artist and yuri doujinshi artist
Mizoguchi Akiko – lesbian scholar of yaoi
Tadeno Eriko – yuri mangaka
Matt Thorn – shoujo manga scholar
Hagiwara Mami – editor of Anise magazine
And, of course:
Takashima Rica – yuri mangaka, con chair, genius and all-around goddess.
We also had some stunning industry people there, and a host of translators – so many that I can’t even list them all. All I know is that I thank them all from the bottom of my heart and I owe Ive and Trevor my first and second born children. :-)
It was a pretty amazing cast of characters.
After the last panel, we all milled around and chatted and got to know each other, until it was time to clean up and go. The American staff was mightily fried, and when they learned karaoke wasn’t beginning until 11PM, most of them begged off. But Pattie and Bruce and Serge and I were there and…yes, we sang. :-) Serge, Pattie and Bruce have pleasant voices. lol
The songs started as anime classics, and by the time I left at 3AM were old TV themes from everyone’s childhood. It was pretty funny, even if I didn’t know the shows.
And so, just a few hours shy of 24, the day ended.
But, I believe that the Revolution has just begun….