That time of year once again, the air gets cooler, the leaves turn and…. Actually no none of that. This is Arizona and most of that doesn’t really happen. What does happen, however, (and the best sign of autumn in my opinion) is Saboten Con. I’m proud to say I have been to Sabo for the past several years and Saboten was the very first anime specific con I had ever attended. Since then I have been to Kikori and Con-Nichiwa (Both anime cons presented by the same group) and we always have a blast.
Those of you who have attended Saboten or any of the Monkey Paw cons have probably noticed that there is a difference between them and other cons like Phoenix Comicon or Fan Fest. That difference is the community. We all love different anime but the underlying fact is we all love anime. As I have mentioned in other articles in the past. I have been a lover of anime since diapers. Watching Voltron way back when there was a very limited amount of anime available in the US. I always watched any anime I could and even remember a time where if one wanted to see new anime they had to “know some one who knew someone“. If you wanted more than what was being shown on American TV you had to go to the comic shops and gaming shops to make a connection. This was before Downloads, and streaming services like crunchy roll and even before you’d find an anime or manga section even in the best comic shops. This was even before Toonami.
Today we live in the golden age of anime in America. Saboten Con is, to me, a wonderful thing that really reminds me just how far it’s come and awesome the anime community is now. It’s an inspiring thing.
Saboten Con is more than just anime though. Let me share a story from the con that I believe captures the true power of this con and its community.
Beautiful BJD dolls
I spoke with a woman who was part of the BJD (ball jointed dolls) panel.I hadn’t ever seen one of these dolls before and I didn’t know anything about them. When we walked into this panel room multiple people stood up to greet us and bring us in. They brought us to the table where they had their dolls displayed and showed us all the different dolls and shared with us the community and stories of how each of them came to be involved and how they met each other and how they found and selected all the different elements of their dolls. They shared their passion with us and we were total strangers. They continued to tell us just how thankful they were for Saboten because their group was accepted and allowed to do panels and have meet ups and the overall environment was just peaceful and accepting of them. Apparently, even in other cons the BJD community isn’t so well received and aren’t given much consideration for panels or meet ups and as this woman shared with me, they even good looks and glairs at other cons. She said I know that what we love is considered a little weird but here we can be who we are.
To me, this was the best panel and best conversation I had at con this year. A woman I knew for all of 20 minutes, who was so excited to be around people who loved what she loved and who wanted to share what she loved with me a total stranger, is the essence of Saboten. It may look like other cons but that is only how it looks. We have a lot of real substance in our community, a lot of love and respect for each other and we are all just like this woman. Happy to be around people who love what we love and whom we can tell about the things we love.
Live Music at Sabo10
This year’s Sabo was the best one I’ve been to and I’ve been to quite a few. There were great concerts and performances, as usual. There were great panels. Also as usual. As my wife and I walked around outside con this year we were asked by many people who saw our badges or saw my wife’s Japanese dress, what we were doing or what event we were attending. When we said Saboten and were asked what that was we were both surprised that the explanation we may have thought we’d give wasn’t exactly what we ended up saying. We didn’t say anime con cause there’s more than that, we couldn’t refer it is soly as a pop culture event or a japanese cultural event or a concert or place to shop or… We just had to say to those who asked “ it far too much to explain, but there is something here for everyone”