How Did Homestuck Get a Bad Rep?

How did Homestuck get such a bad reputation?

I actually put some research into this particular blog post, because I was curious. I’d seen Homestuck cosplayers at conventions, but hadn’t thought too much about it. I even had a friend who cosplayed one of the characters. Since I really didn’t understand, I thought I’d do some research to find out. After searching around on the internet for a while, as well as talking to some fellow cosplayers, the following points are what I’ve come up with. I’ll state my bias toward or against Homestuck at the end, so that it doesn’t affect what you think as you read this.

The fanbase reputation seems to stem from two major places—the internet, and conventions. Many people act badly on the internet, and bad manners is certainly not something only pertaining to Homestuck fans. Conventions, on the other hand, are another matter. There are several issues here that I will examine.

1) The Cos-plague. A cos-plague is when a certain fandom is overly popular at cons. Pretty much every fandom that went through a cos-plague got a bad reputation. Examples include Naruto, Hetalia (which I will elaborate on later), and Death Note. Because there are so many fans, there are plenty of crazies within the group who will do something stupid, thus earning the entire group a bad name. This can be the case with any fandom. Aside from this, there seems to be a general irritation among cosplayers over the fact that Homestuck is not an anime. (“So why are they at an anime convention?”) This, of course, wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t so popular. Cosplay of things that do not qualify as anime is quite common, but and is generally considered acceptable. However, it seems many cosplayers view the cos-plague as “taking over the convention,” leading to not as many true anime costumes.

2) Horror Stories. Again, you get these with any really popular fandom. Homestuck cosplayers have a reputation for being insensitive, rude, elitist and sometimes unintelligent. Probably the most popular Homestuck horror story is about a group of cosplayers who shared a room with a girl they didn’t know very well. Apparently, she locked herself in the bathroom for several hours and they eventually had to pry the door open, only to find a disaster mess. She’d tried to die herself gray in the bathtub with a mixture of sharpie and 70% alchohol. The entire bathroom was wrecked, costing over $700 in fines, and the girl got skin poisoning.

3) Overly In-Character. This point kind of goes along with the last one, but needs to be addressed somewhat separately. Many cosplayers take the role of being “in-character” too seriously, or they over-exaggerate it. The characters in Homestuck, especially the trolls, can be quite rude. Being “in-character” is never an excuse for bad manners or any other sort of inappropriate behavior. Nobody is going to like you if you treat them badly. That’s the way things work. It’s simple, and I find it hard to understand why people can’t grasp that concept. On that note, throwing buckets at people’s faces is never okay. Yes, it may have been funny, but it is unacceptable on more than one level. Firstly, didn’t your mother ever teach you not to throw things at people? It’s rude. Secondly, you might hurt someone—in fact, it’s quite likely. One horror story of a bucket-throwing victim ended in a broken nose. And thirdly, the implications are inappropriate for most situations. Even though we are humans and pails don’t have the same implications here that they do on Alternia, the reason it’s funny is because of those implications, and knowing what it means to trolls, you are essentially using it in that sense. This is like propositioning someone. Even if they don’t realize that, it is not acceptable.

4) War with the Hetalia fandom. The Homestuck and Hetalia fandom have been fueding for quite some time. No one knows exactly why this is. There are several possible reasons. One is that they are clashing cos-plagues, since both cos-plagues seem to have happened/are happening around the same time (But if that were the case, why not the Kuroshitsuji fans, too?) Whatever the case, the war seems to be dying down and there are actually a lot of people who are fans of both.

5) Lack of Understanding. Many people just don’t know what Homestuck is, or why these people are dying their skin gray. In some cases, people try to read it and don’t understand it or find it boring. I’ve found that many people attempt to read Homestuck and don’t get very far before they give up, bored. Some Homestuck fans will say that these people simply aren’t smart enough, and that is the kind of rude behavior that earns them a bad reputation.

Conclusion: Don’t be rude. I know there are plenty of wonderful Homestuck fans.

Now to state my bias—Yes, I am a Homestuck fan. However, at this point, I don’t plan on involving myself very much in the fandom because of the reputation it wields. I will, however, review the webcomic in an upcoming blog post.

~Raven

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People You’ll Meet at the Fabric Store

My cosplaying hobby has brought me on many occasions to the fabric store. Whether it’s to pick out fabric, search the catalogues for a workable pattern, or making a “quick” stop to get velcro, I always meet interesting people. I’ve noticed that they tend to follow a pattern. There are certain kinds of people you will always (or at least frequently) see. Let me introduce you to a few of them.

You walk into the fabric store. It’s lit in flourescent lighting, the floors are white tile, and there are shelves covered in things that are in no way related to fabric–jewelry, home decor, children’s toys, candy, etc. You walk past these shelves until you find a table (usually next to the racks of colorful thread) that is covered in books. Some of these books do not belong there–they have simply been dropped there by irresponsible children. There will undoubtedly be other people sitting at this table. One of them might be an otaku, recognizable by a cat-eared hat and buttons all over his or her messenger bag. Or maybe it’s a woman with her baby.

 

Once you’ve picked out your pattern, you stand up and walk to the drawers of patterns to find it. A middle-aged lady is standing in your way, and you politely ask her to move. Now it’s time to find the right fabric. You walk up and down the isles, and you run into a few kids with their mothers, pointing to sparkly fabrics. These children are usually too loud, and they never watch where they’re going until they’ve run into something.

So you pick out your fabric and wait in line to get it cut. Here, you see a pair of twins, dressed in matching dresses and holding on to a shopping cart full of wildly-patterned cottons. There will undoubtedly be a few old ladies. The one in line behind you strikes up a conversation. She’s very friendly, and tells you about how wild the store was on Black Friday, asks you what you’re making, and tells you all about her projects and her grandkids.

Finally, you get to the front of the line, and tell the grouchy lady behind the counter how long the fabric is. She tells you about their special offers in a bored, droning voice, and takes her sweet time folding the fabric. The lady next to her, cutting another person’s fabric, is cheerful and smiley and strikes up a converstation with the customer.

The same old lady that was behind you in line for cutting fabric is in front of you while you wait to check out. She tells you stories, and you listen politely. The cashier is helpfull and waits for you to arrange your coupons in the best way to save money, and sometimes she even gives you advice on how to get the best deal out of it. The cashier at the next register is grouchy and impatient, and you’re glad you got the nice one.

Now you leave the fabric store.

Where Have We Been?!

So the Ninja Gang, as you might have noticed, has been rather dormant in terms of blog activity as of late. Below is an explanation, which includes an update as to what’s happening with us.

Senioritus.

That’s the overarching factor. You see, the most active writers on this blog are Zepher and Raven. Both of them are seniors. They are busy pretending to not have enough time for this blog, or for schoolwork. And while it’s true that we do have tons of other stuff going on, it’s mostly a lack of inspiration. I’ll give an update on each individual.

Zepher – She’s up to her usual stuff, really. She’s preparing for graduation and college and keeping her grades up, and occasionally takes breaks from this sort of work to practice her chimney-sweeping hobbies.

Raven – Also preparing for graduation and college. She has taken on some major projects that she’s trying to finish, and is generally frustrated with life, which is dreadfully mundane in all its busyness. Despite this, she has not neglected to keep up with her daily fire-dancing routine.

T. – She does little else than schoolwork, as she now has night school on top of everything else. There, she hangs out with vampires. She sleeps an awful lot, like normal.

Hugo – He’s been playing Pokemon at tournaments. And working as an inter-galactic ambassador, as usual. It pays well, and he’s hoping to eventually use the money for his college education. Aren’t we all proud of Hugo and his travels as a representative for our meek planet?

Thomas – He’s learning German. Cool, right? Also, he recently discovered a confidential secret regarding the practice of alchemy. However, because he’s highly secretive, we can’t reveal much else about him.

Due to the classified nature of Thomas’s life, I’m not allowed to put any sort of a picture here.

Aside from all of this boring day-to-day dullness, the cosplay season is just starting for us, and we’re all scrambling to finish our costumes and perfect our skit and things like that. And we all have spring fever. So that’s about all the excuse I can give. I can’t really guarantee when we’ll be posting like normal again, either. The thing is, we only want to write posts that are interesting. And nothing is really interesting right now.

How to Hold a Normal Conversation

Thomas should be the one writing this post–not me. I’m not particularly great with social interactions, which is strange because I’m the president of my student council and yada, yada, yada. I’m not the only one in the ninja gang that has this problem, either. I’m not going to name names, but there have been many a time the ninja gang has mused among themselves: “What do normal people talk about?” What do ordinary people talk about that doesn’t revolve around literature or a specific fandom?

I’ve found that it varies from person to person. For example, when my mother wants a conversation starter, she immediately talks about health issues–that is, all the things that are ailing everyone she knows. It seems to work rather well. Everyone she talks to about these health issues seems fascinated by broken bones, allergic reactions, surgeries, gluten intolerance, radiation treatment, and heart attacks. If you’re under the age of thirty-five, however, this tactic is likely not going to work for you. So lets move on to a few more realistic ways to start conversations.

1) “Did you do your homework?” and variations of such. This category covers anything school related, from “Isn’t that teacher a bore?” to “Gak! I can’t find Somalia on the map!” Of course, this will only work if the person you’re striking a conversation with goes to the same school you do. Thus, it is somewhat limited. I’d advise you to use it sparingly, because it can be a real downer and a bore, and it only goes so far, unless the assignment you’re talking about is really interesting. Cough.

2) An ordinary common interest. If you don’t know much about the person you’re talking to, you can start with something that a lot of people have in common. Like dogs. Who doesn’t love dogs? Ask if he/she has any pets. Or ask if they ski. Common sports can be a great topic of conversation. It’s easy to go off on tangents from these.

3) Childhood. Talk about things you did as a kid. If the person is your age, likelihood is they played similar games and did similar activities. Talk about how times have changed since then. This usually only works if you’ve already been talking for a while, though, because it’s an awkward conversation starter. It works better as something to keep the conversation going when it’s dying.

4) Jokes. Nothing breaks an awkward silence like laughter. Of course, if you tell the joke and nobody laughs, then things only get worse, so you have to be careful with this one. Don’t tell a lame joke. This is harder than it seems, because when you’re racking your brain for something to say, the first joke that pops into your head is often a lousy one. Also note that inside jokes don’t work here. If you have to explain too much to make your audience understand, then it usually falls flat. Go with things that most people would get. Blonde jokes are good. Other stereotype jokes are also good. Puns are usually bad. Knock-knock jokes are always awful. Never tell a kn0ck-knock joke as a conversation-starter.

5) Observe your surroundings. Is there something interesting to point out? “Ooh, look at that, um, bicycle over there! Doesn’t it have nice, um, tires?” If there is nothing interesting to comment on, move on to another tactic.

6) Observe your surroundings in a different way. Where are you? If you’re at a dance social, you could always ask something along the lines of, “So where did you learn to dance?” This can sound rude, however, so it’s better to word it like, “So have you ever been to one of these things before?” or “How long have you been dancing?” If you’re at a college visit or something of the sort, ask about other colleges the person is interested in, and other college-y stuff. If you’re at an airport, ask where the person is going, coming from, if they’re visiting family or on vacation. If you’re at a cosplay convention, you already know that the person you’re talking to has similar interests. Ask about their favorite anime, how long they’ve been cosplaying, what conventions they’ve been to, etc. But whatever you do, do not ask what their OTP is. Likelihood is that you will be stuck there for an hour listening to babble that you never wanted to hear. You may be scarred for life.

And those are Raven’s thoughts on conversation starters. I use these techniques all the time. By the way, I take no liability for anything that goes wrong following these steps. If you mess it up, it’s your own darn fault.

CMVs

I’ve posted AMVs several times already, so I thought it was time that I do one on CMVs. A CMV takes a lot more organization, skill, time, and money to make than an AMV does, and thus there are fewer of them, and even fewer still that are really great. A good CMV has everything a good AMV has, plus more. Not only must the timing, editing, quality, and creativity be good, but so must the cosplays. And so I shall proceed to show you some of the best CMVs I’ve seen. I’ll go in order of cosplay groups.

(Zepher here. For those of you who don’t know, and because Raven never explicitly states it, a CMV is a cosplay music video)

Fighting Dreamers Pro.

FDP is a Canadian cosplay group, and they’re one of the most famous cosplay groups out there. Because youtube is stupid, most of their CMVs are now on vimeo. I will try to put them on this page, but I’m not sure how well it will work.

Rejected Cosplay

They’re a Swedish cosplay group.

VandettA Cosplay

Another Swedish group, and some of the best cosplayers I’ve seen. They do mainly Hetalia stuff. Their CMVs are phenomenal.

Anyway, those are my favorite CMVs. There are plenty of other great ones out there, but I didn’t list any CMVs  in which the music annoyed me. I’ll probably add more to this list later. If you’ve seen any great CMVs, tell me about them in the comments.

~Raven

Top Ten Anime Guys

Hello, masses of readers! It is I, Raven, who brings you a list of the top ten hottest (in my humble opinion) anime boys that I’ve encountered in my many anime-watching adventures. I’ll give each character two or three pictures. The rule is that I won’t repeat an anime–only one character per anime. Because of that, this isn’t the same as my list of favorite characters. It’s based mostly on looks. So here it is.

10) Light Yagami

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Okay, so he’s a serial killer. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s hot. I’d have to say he’s just about tied with L, but as I’m only using one character per anime, he wins on the hotness scale.

9) Okumura Rin

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Rin has a really intentionally impish look to him. It’s that mischievous countenance that really works for him. That’s probably why he beats his brother, Yukio, onto this list.

8) Uzumaki Naruto

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Yeah, he was just a little obnoxious punk in the first show, but when he came back in Shippuden, he became amazing. And every time he gets some sort of an upgrade in his powers, he’s even cooler.

7) Howl Jenkins/Pendragon

Top Ten Anime Guys

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Gak! I don’t know what to say about him. He’s one of my favorite characters, for more than just his looks. Howl’s Moving Castle was one of my first anime, so it’s sort of nostalgic and. . . yeah.

6) Tsukiyomi Ikuto

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I admit it, I didn’t actually watch this anime. I just read the manga and saw a few scattered episodes of the anime.  But about Ikuto. He’s got it all–cat ears, blue hair, musical talent, a “bad boy” character, the cutest “chara” in the series, etc. Actually, he’s not my favorite character in Shugo Chara (Nagihiko is, because I have a thing for long hair and the color purple), but he’s definitely a fan favorite and he’s by far the best in looks.

5) Sabastian Michaelis

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What can I say? He’s one hell of a butler.

4) Yatogami Kuroh

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The art in this anime made all the characters beautiful, but Kuroh was the best. The long hair, the collected aura, the coat, the contrast of white and black (Y’know, Yashiro) and his cute side all added together. He can cook and sew and is really a lot softer than he seems. He’s called the “black dog,” partly because he’s so incredibly loyal. I finished K after I originally wrote this list, so I had to edit it some to fit him on in the right spot.

3) Heiwajima Shizuo

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The cigarette. In real life, I find it gross, but with an anime character like this, it’s not. He wears the clothing his younger brother bought for him all the time, because it was a gift. He hates violence, but he has a terrible temper. He has a hot nemesis and the two of them literally tear the city apart fighting each other. Add some points for his blond hair. Pretty damn sexy. I’m tempted to put him in #1 or #2, but I’m afraid they’re already taken.

2) Edward Elric

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I’ve yet to see a picture that does him complete justice. He’s one of those characters that looks better when animated than frozen in place. His long hair is so pretty! (I like the braid much better than the ponytail, by the way.) But I think what really does it for him (aside from the hair) is the metal arm. It was really cool. The alchemy, too. Edward really doesn’t look like your typical anime character, and I’m glad for it. He’s dimensional, well-rounded and altogether an incredible character.

1)  Lelouch vi Brittania/Lamperouge

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This is it. Number one. Some people would call Lelouch a villain. Here at the Ninja Gang, we disagree. Lelouch gave his life to save his sister and his people, even fighting his family and those he loved. He did what he believed was right until the very end. Anyway, he’s at the top of this list because he’s freakin’ gorgeous.

By the way, I take no credit for any of the images.

My Top Six Convention Events

Why do people go to cosplay conventions? Mainly, it’s to socialize. It’s quite common to see groups of friends in costume sitting around in the hallways, talking and playing card games and the like. Of course, Artist’s Alley and the Dealer’s Room are always large attractions, too, and are often packed. There are people who spend the entire weekend in the arcade, and others watching anime that they could just as easily watch at home on their laptops. The thing is, you can hang out with your regular friends any time you want. You could wear costumes, too. And overall, it would cost a lot less money. Why bother? That’s why there are events at a convention. These are often great opportunities to meet people, and they can be a ton of fun. Why pay to go to a convention if you don’t attend any of the events? I am going to list six of my favorite events that I would recommend to anyone.

6) Panels. Depending on the size, these can be pretty interactive. I’ve been to panels with voice actors where everyone sits in a circle on the floor because there are so few people there. Most of the guests have a good sense of humor, so panels are usually pretty entertaining.

5) AMV Contest. I can’t really say much about this event because there isn’t much to say. You know, they play AMVs on a screen and everybody cheers. Being a creator of AMVs myself, I like this event a lot. At small conventions like mine, they’re rarely impressive, but it’s still fun.

4) Dead Town/Paranoia. These are RPG events. Even if your convention doesn’t have these specific games, it probably has something similar. They’re interactive stories, kind of. Dead Town is a sort of multiple choice game where the audience talks and collectively decides how to deal with a situation. Paranoia is every man for himself, and you really only know what’s going on in a couple of situations, until everything is revealed at the end. It’s confusing at first, but if you know what you’re supposed to be doing, it can be a lot of fun. These are some of the best ways to meet people at a convention, because you’re forced to talk to them.

3) Battle Karaoke/Karaoke Quest. At the conventions where I live, these are common. Karaoke Quest is a little like Dead Town in that the audience gets to decide what to do, although the story isn’t as flexible. Then the characters run into some sort of obstacle, and the audience sings to get them out of it. Battle Karaoke is a contest in which there are several teams that take turns singing and performing amusing tasks that often involve the audience. The audience is also the judge.

2) Battle Cosplay. On one hand, this event can be incredibly lame, with characters you barely recognize pretending to attack each other, swing after boring swing. On the other hand, you can get lucky and there will be a lot of characters you know. If you’re even luckier, the cosplayers will be creative with their attacks, and this can be really funny and sometimes even produce fan service.

1) Cosplay Contest/Masquerade. Contrary to many people, I find that the skits are the best part of this event. If you come to a convention to see costumes, then this is the best place for you. It’s usually the biggest event of the convention.

Overall, I find that I like events that are interactive more than those where you sit there and watch or listen to something/someone. Of course, it’s all personal preference, though. If there is one of these events that you haven’t attended, I think you should definitely give it a try at your next convention.

~Raven