Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cultures Collide-Where Manga Meets Steampunk

Recently a friend of ours from Taiwan, (Jen Wang) that loves J-pop and Manga, (but is also very active in our local Steampunk Illumination Society) published an online article in her blog mentioning her brother's "Style Confucious" inspirations blog article,  then proceeded to detail her own influences and inspirations from Japanese Manga and anime sub-culture.  As we track all fashion trends that influence Steampunk, and there is more and more interface between Anime and Steampunk in conventions and in every day life.  I was naturally very interested in both.

We are also very interested in all Asian style influences and how they may show up in more Asian inspired Steampunk ensembles.  No this is not Steampunk, nor should anyone suggest that it is.  This is a cultural style based on the Manga Japanese anime art genre, but with the number of conventions where the anime people, who have often been very supportive of the Steampunk sub-culture due to the significant presence of it in Japanese anime, thier interest in it as a interesting style aesthetic, and the many cultural values and interests they have in common, have often hosted "Steampunk" panels, acts, events, and performers within the body of anime events when our subculture was too small to put together conventions of their own.  I honor that now by trying to better understand them, their taste, their culture, and what influences this intersection of cultures is having on one another.  Since I meet more and more people at anime conventions (and Renaissance Fairs for that matter) that are interested in our look, in putting together a "Steampunk" ensemble for themselves, and in exploring our culture, it only makes sense that I make a real effort to understand theirs.

The relationship between the two cultures is somewhat unique in that Steampunk tends to attract a much older crowd than does "anime", yet that younger crowd, with their energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm for all things new, have hosted us at so many events where more people are introduced to Steampunk subculture, that this year will not only be the first where full 3 day Steampunk Conventions appear in Texas, but there will be 3 such events within one years time, in addition to dramatic increase in Steampunk programming in other types of conventions around the country.  This is met with enthusiasm by some and hostility by others.  After all, it is their convention, yet often our more flamboyant characters (yes I'm certainly guilty of this one as performers do this as naturally as breathing) attempt to attract attention in a big way even when they are not on stage, which can distract attention from anime attendee's own efforts to make outstanding and entertaining outfits.

This time it looks like little brother has been taking care of big brother in that a much younger generation has helped (among many other changes and influences) to propel an older generations fascination with Steampunk into the main stage of popular media, books, films, and entertainment art style conventions!  This is definitely food for thought and I think should be common ground to forge ever stronger alliances and mutual supports and friendships between the two communities who are very different on the surface, yet share some common goals and much more than is ever obvious on the surface.

One of the most important things I think we all share is the belief that it's not only OK to be different, but absolutely wonderful to be unique and to express that uniqueness in a world that does not always support that concept.  Another thing in common is the desire to inspire people to allow their creative side out and to try to make their own elaborate costumes/ensembles that are outlandish enough to both inspire and entertain others in a world where we desperately need creative outlets and some form of healthy escape from day to day sadness or the blankness of the world.  It seems everything is being painted gray, including people, in an effort to turn us all into good little, ultra modest, profit producing, mindless and emotionless robots without heart, mind, soul, or desires.  Both Anime and Steampunk are radical rebellions against this trend!  As such we should continue to join forces and support one another's efforts in a great variety of avenues and venues.


  1. I'm actually a native Texan (born to Taiwanese parents). ^^

    Thanks for linking to my blog and for highlighting the relationship that does exist between the anime and steampunk subcultures. The anime crowd used to get defensive when something not Japanese appeared at a convention, but I haven't seen that really happen with steampunk (maybe because of shows like Fullmetal Alchemist and Steamboy).

  2. Take a look at an article by a friend of mine. It explains our mind set better than any other I have seen and makes it clear, that we don't care about the source that much, but care deeply about the process of growth and enlightenment within each person.