Dramacon 1: Welcome to the Jungle

From the amount of manga reviews on this blog, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I was an otaku when I was growing up. When I got to college, I started losing interest in anime, partly because I was cut off from my steady stream of Adult Swim and weekly allowance to buy manga. There were still some series I liked and followed, though, and Dramacon was one of them. I read this series for the first time only a month before my first anime convention. I was so excited to go, and ended up using it a template of what a con would be like.

It wasn’t exactly like Dramacon, though. I waited in line for six hours for registration, and by the time we were let into the con, all the panels were over and the merchants’ room was closed. We got to see the masquerade show and visit the artists’ alley. It was a fun and tiring time, and I really hoped that my next con would go a little smoother.

That’s the kind of memory that stirs up when I start Dramacon now. The excitement and anticipation of going to my first con, not really knowing what to expect, and at times being overwhelmed with it all.

I like the way the manga starts as well. Christie, her boyfriend Derek, and two friends are going to an anime convention. She and Derek have a booth at in the artist alley to sell a comic that they’ve created together. It’s the first day of the con, and she’s already having a hard time. Along with her friends accompanying them to the con driving her crazy, Derek is blatantly flirting with girls right in front of her. This all gets covered in the first couple pages. There’s not a lot of build-up and background, because it’s not needed.

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  Read from left to right!

The art’s not as good as I remember, and something about the way the artist Svetlana Chamakova draws mouths bothers me. I’m not entirely sure what it is, and complaining that they look “cartoonish” seems silly when I’m talking about a comic. They’re overexaggerated, which is okay for humorous scenes, but the first few pages are all done in this style. It makes Christie’s dilemma look funny, which makes it harder for me to take her seriously when she’s mad at Derek.

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That’s right. She’s mad at him, but she’s the one apologizing.

And rightly so. Derek is a tool, but Christie also lets him walk all over her. Throughout the course of the series, Chriss gets more confident and learns to stick up for herself, but that doesn’t happen here. Frustrated with her boyfriend, she runs off into the crowd, where she meets Matt.

I think this was the real appeal of the story to me: that serendipitous meeting with a handsome stranger at a con. Of course I secretly fantasized about meeting someone at a con and having a runaway 72-hour romance with them. I did meet some cool people, and developed a short-lived crush on one of them, but nothing ever came of it. I didn’t keep in touch with the people I met, and never got kissed by a cute cosplayer.

Christie’s story is the one my teenage heart always wanted to have, but following it would come with some serious drawbacks. Other than having a jerk boyfriend, Christie is also dumb in the way she approached the con as a whole. For instance: she didn’t know her favorite manga artist and writer would be there. At the last con I went to, I went specifically for a chance to meet an actor I loved. Christie also didn’t know that there was a program detailing the different panels and events going on. How did she miss this? I’ve never been to a con where there wasn’t a program right at the entrance or registration booths.

If I really wanted to get into the nitty gritty, I guess this could be read as Derek trying to gaslight his girlfriend,  but to be totally honest, I just don’t think he’s that smart. He’s an asshole, though, but Christie is a wet blanket. Until Chriss stands up to him, he’s going to get away with everything.

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