Nothing says Italian cuisine like Japanese anime and good ol’ American hot dogs. At Teena Mia in the West Loop on Saturday night, this combination sets the tone for a cultural collision.
Animefood hosts a night of anime viewing and discussion with author Patrick Drazen to promote its upcoming magazine release. As people arrive, they are greeted at the door by a hostess handing out Pocky (chocolate pretzel candy) and Ramune (Japanese soda), not exactly cannoli and espresso.
“I put [the film viewing] together to gauge what to put in the magazine,” Carmilla Green-Kupritz explains about her endeavors. Green-Kupritz, who “animeniacs” might know as Rodrian Stone, is moving beyond the land of message boards and into the world of magazines with Animefood.
But why all this at an Italian restaurant? Green-Kupritz explains it as she fiddles with the cat ears that top off her Sailor Moon-esque outfit, “I work with a guy who works [at Teena Mia] and he offered to help me set the event up, even though he said that the only anime he had seen was ‘Drawn Together’.’” She laughs about his obvious confusion about the Comedy Central series.
If getting a sneak peek isn’t enough, Patrick Drazen, author of “Anime Explosion,” is more than ready to answer every question the audience can ask. But he’s just being helpful because, “Once you do know [the historical context], it makes the experience much more worth it.” And although he explains in detail how anime fans have changed over the years, from primarily male sci-fi junkies to a more even divide between men and women, tonight’s audience must be from the past. Teenage boys outnumber the few women who stumble in—and out again once they realize what is about to go down.
The crowd situates itself in the makeshift theater with their hot dogs in red-and-white-checked baskets. Yet a few more tasks need to be taken care of before the films start. “How do you open this thing?” Drazen asks as he struggles with his tiny Ramune.
The room fills with the stinging smell of mustard as Drazen introduces the first film as, “[putting] a new meaning on the phrase ‘Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings.’” Then the audience is treated to a film of female angels whose wings violently rip through their skin splattering blood, reminiscent of a child devouring spaghetti sauce. While the average viewer might be scarred, anime fans are anything but average, as one viewer observes, “It was beautiful.” (Molly Sullivan)