So, Lily Girls is more than just a series of reviews we write here for MangaDen. Koala, Kero, Mary and I put on programming at anime conventions around the Great Lakes region of the US. In this case, we took two panels on lesbians in Otaku media to Anime Central in Rosemont, IL just outside of Chicago proper.
Lily has been working for a while to convince vendors in Dealers’ Rooms in the region to recognize a parity between yuri and Boy’s Love. We were thrilled to see some cute and shippy things and yuri-themed series in the Dealers; Room selling well, hopefully this will inspire more importation of the kind of materials we love and support. We still didn’t see much in the way of Artists providing yuri posters and prints, and this is something that we’re considering introducing at future conventions, the Lily Girls’ Art program is well in development.
But the actual con itself had some issues that Lily got into arguments over. Followers of Lily Girls’ Facebook Page know the story pretty well; the convention decided that any discussion at all of lesbian characters in anything immediately made the panel 18+. Assuming our MangaDen audience has read other Lily articles, you have a good idea of what tone our All Audiences panel has. We tried to get the word out that the content of the panel was, in fact, safe for work but the 1:30AM run time and the 18+ classification didn’t do a whole lot to promote a high turnout. Still, we had an amazing audience. The most impressive part was the several Anime Central staffers who atended our panel because of quite a lot of complaints about our 18+ status apologized on behalf of the con! Though Panel Programming hasn’t apologized personally, and we would like it if they did, we take the Con’s apology and intend to return in 2014.
Another thing needs mentioning, and that’s the guest Helen McCarthy. Seiyuu Yuu Asakawa and band Kalafina were both at ACen as well, but Helen was wholly unique among special guests I’ve seen at conventions. She’s an author, historian and specialist in Japan’s history and otaku culture. She had a panel about the ‘manga boys’, the three Europeans and the two Japanese men responsible for the creation of manga as an art form. She also had panels explaining what historians can learn from Japanese clothing over time and why Japan loves cute mascots.
Also, our Chicago Lilies extend to cosplay. Katie, of course, cosplayed a character from Yuru Yuri, but we also found some other cute yuri cosplay pairings. Rin and Saber from Fate/Stay Night, Pascal and Sophie from Tales of Graces, Uranus and Neptune from Sailor Moon, and so on. But it certainly is a goal of ours to try and gather our lilies while we may in future cons.
We’re looking next to JAFAX in Grand Rapids, MI and from there we enter the long dark tea-time until Youmacon in Detroit. We’re also looking at new ways Lily can advance the cause of girls who like girls and guys who like guys in the Otaku community, including the idea of Rainbow Speed Dating we’re considering for ACen 2014, the Lily Art booth for Artist’s Alley at Youmacon and any other ideas to expand our programming and spread the word.
Until next con, we’ll be here with reviews!