Dramacon 6: Finale

But it doesn’t end there.

After being assaulted by Derek, Christie wisely runs away from her drunk, violent ex-boyfriend to Matt’s hotel room. He’s sharing it with his friend, Greta, and Sandra, his sister. Everyone’s surprised to see Christie turn up at their door, crying and with her shirt torn open. When they find out what happened, Matt is furious and wants to fight Derek. Sandra stops him, saying that getting arrested won’t fix anything.

All of this is moot, though, because Matt beats the crap out of Derek anyway. The only reason I bring it up at all is because the characters acknowledge that reporting assault to the police is something they could do, but only in the context of Derek calling the cops on Matt. No one ever suggests that Christie report Derek for assault, which is what started the whole mess.

Ah, well. I already talked about that enough in the last post. Let’s move on to the morning after.

We need to talk about a couple panels starring Greta, a character who’s so forgettable her face has no features. 20190304_1112408281691373915480480.jpg

I’ve always been baffled by Greta’s response. “I’m glad”? What does that even mean?! She’s glad that Christie’s traumatic experience feels surreal? Like they can pretend the night before just didn’t happen? Because they do for the rest of the series.

But as the con ends, so does the manga. Christie meets back up with the group she came with, and says goodbye to Matt.

She leaves, reflecting on her con experience. Her heart is broken, and she’s been through a really scary event. But she has Matt’s phone number, and the book ends on a hopeful note. Christie looks forward to going back to the con again, which I take to mean that the good outweighed the bad.

And I want to talk about how the attempted rape hung a pall over the rest of the series, but…well, the final page left me smiling, too. In my chapter notes, I even wrote about how cute the series is as a whole. Except…

The attempted rape scene is so much darker than the rest of the series. I thought it was unnecessary and poorly handled in later books. And yet I’m still left with warm, fuzzy feelings at the end.

There are few works of fiction that I’m 100% satisfied with. That this blog exists is proof enough of that. So the question remains: was there enough that Dramacon did right, that it outweighs the things it did wrong?

Surprisingly, my mom helped me figure out the answer to this question. I moved out from my parents’ house around three years ago, leaving my mess behind. Now retired, my mom’s taking on the daunting task of hauling my old bedroom out. It’s almost like a new branch of archaeology: digging through layers of dust and old clothes to find any treasures worth keeping. Which is why I get texts every so often with pictures of various objects, most notably books. One of these pictures was of a cupboard that housed a considerable amount of manga. “What do you want me to do with these?” She asked.

“You can get rid of most of it,” I told her. “But keep Dragon Knights and Dramacon.”


I will be taking a break starting today, and will return with a brand spankin’ new reading and writing project on April 8! Thanks for reading along with me!

Dramacon 3: Big Eyes, Big Mouth

In the last post,I talked about how Christie grows as a character throughout the series. At first she’s a shy girl who lets everyone walk all over her. By the final volume, she’s a self-confident young woman taking steps towards a writing career.

She’s not there, yet, though. When she and Matt go for a coffee, she shows more of the “real” Christie. She’s witty and teases Matt, and it’s totally out of character of what we know of her. So much so that Matt calls Christie out on it.20190204_1128112218555465877020755.jpg

It’s kind of a jarring shift that gets hand-waved off. I interpreted it as Christie acting like her true self, a side of personality that gets subdued when Derek’s around.

We also get more information about Christie and Matt’s life outside the con. He’s a freshman in college, she’s a barely legal high school junior. I’m glad that the manga makes a point about Christie’s age. Otherwise, I’d just be too weirded out by the age difference to enjoy the story. Christie’s age also works well in terms of her character. It offers an explanation for her naivety, and reflects in her relationship with Derek. She’s in an unhappy, floundering relationship, but is still trying to make it work. She holds on to Derek too long because when you’re young and in love, you think you’re going to be that way forever.

We learn more about Matt, too, but not the full story yet. He wears sunglasses at all times, which Christie finds disconcerting. When she takes them off, she apologizes after seeing what he’s hiding. The audience doesn’t know exactly what she saw, but it’s enough to make her understand why he’s always wearing his trademarked sunglasses. Their banter and flirting come to an abrupt stop when Derek returns to the hotel and catches them in the act. He’s not happy with her, but she finally stands up to him. For a minute. 20190204_1130395556471477410251673.jpg

But when Derek says that he came back to the hotel to check on her – the bare minimum of what a good boyfriend should be doing – she instantly caves. It’s fair, I guess. I can’t get mad at Christie for not having a total change of character in a span of only a few pages.

Derek’s real motivation for returning to the hotel was to sleep with Christie while they had the room to themselves. It’s established earlier in the book that Christie lost her virginity to Derek, which is one of the reasons she’s holding on to him longer than she should. But she’s also expressed discomfort about sex throughout the book so far, to the point where she can barely say the word “sex”. Her blush when Derek pulls her close and general hesitation about sex  lead me to believe that she was pressured into sleeping with him for the first time.20190204_1133072403960851287740108.jpg

One of the things that’s disappointing to me reading this now is that Derek is just flat, flat, flat. He’s a bad boyfriend, and at no point is he given a shot at redemption. He’s manipulative and an all around antagonist. I would have liked to see more nuance from him, other than, “he’s a jerk.”

Well, I think Matt is right about this one.

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Dramacon 2: Tentacles~

First of all, I apologize for the late post. Two big life events over the last week left me with not enough time, energy, or focus to work on this blog. I got engaged last week (yay!), which was shortly followed by my brand spankin’ new fiancé having knee surgery. His recovery is going well, but it also means I’ve had to step up a lot more around our home. Fortunately, things are settling down, so I’m going to try to keep a regular schedule again. Just don’t be alarmed if, instead of a normal post, you see a long, confused rant about color palettes and guest lists.

But we’re not here to talk about how planning my wedding scares me shitless. Instead, we’re here to talk about Dramacon, and pick apart a fictional character’s romantic relationships.

You see, Christie has a type. Unfortunately, her type is “snarky jerks”. She’s found an ally in the mysterious cosplayer Matt, but he’s also a total heel to her, too. He and Christie have chemistry, though, and he has a single advantage over Derek. Matt actually listens to Christie and wants to hear about her problems. Derek’s a pretty flat character, and he doesn’t get much development throughout the book. Matt at least has more facets to his personality, even if they’re hiding under mean one-liners.

I think there’s another reason that Dramacon appealed to me when I first read it at age eighteen. Apart from fantasizing about a con romance, Christie and I are similar in less than ideal ways. She’s a writer who creates comics, which is still an aspiration of mine. But she’s also a pushover who doesn’t always communicate her desires well. Like Christie, I’ve held on to relationships for too long, and put myself in uncomfortable positions to make a guy like me more. I’m glad to say that I’ve learned from those mistakes and I’m happier for it. Christie has a voice and a mind of her own, but right now, she’s holding herself back from speaking out.

Dramacon isn’t just a series about a girl falling in love at a con. As the series progresses, Christie finds her confidence and learns to advocate for herself. But she has to go through a lot of pain to gain that confidence and say what she really needs to. As someone who had a hard time with this for years – and still struggles on occasion – I think seeing Christie grow and change was something that really drew me to Dramacon.

To my credit, though, I at least knew what hentai was.

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To be fair, that’s how I feel about hentai, too.

Girl, I know you’re supposed to be an innocent character, but you’re at an anime convention. How do you not know what hentai is?!

The rest of her friends are going to the hentai screening, but Christie’s not into it. Instead of just saying she doesn’t want to go, she lies about having a headache. She goes back to the hotel, and runs into Matt in the elevator.

And Christie totally has a crush on him, even as she reminds herself she has a boyfriend. But it’s so cute! She and Matt don’t end up together by the end of this book, and that’s probably for the best. Apart from both characters’ need to mature, sometimes a romantic fling is as much about the setting as it is the person.

I developed a couple crushes at cons myself, one I even tried to follow up on by trying to friend the guy on Facebook. I knew I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, with him living in Canada and us only having known each other for a few hours. He never responded to my friend request, and I went on with my life. No pining or lovesick sighs. When I did send that (ignored) friend request, I was trying to capture that moment. I wanted to extend the time we spent together, re-live the thrill of clicking with someone I’d never met before. It was all the potential of a relationship – romantic or otherwise – that would never become anything.

Christie’s crush is just that. A chance meeting and a bit of chemistry with someone who’s marginally nicer to her than her boyfriend. They become friends over the course of this book, but as of right now, their attraction is based purely on those fleeting moments.