Tori Types Thoughts
Tori's very average blog
Anime and manga are highly important in my life – as a young person I did not find many reprieves from the trial and tribulations of my youth until the fateful day I tuned into Toonami on Cartoon Network and was introduced to Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. Thursday nights became my oasis from bullying and the strict schedule maintained by a young, pre-professional ballet dancer. Usagi (pictued), Goku, and all their friends set my imagination ablaze and firmed my love of this genre for all of eternity. I still look to anime and manga in my daily life as one of the only hobbies I can maintain juggling my life as a dance artist, a graduate student, and a non-profit professional. Isekai is my guilty pleasure and I have become a tea connoisseur thanks to 50 Tea Recipes from the Duchess. This form of media and entertainment has only enriched my days and the days of my fellow weebs.
Through my lens as both a dance professional and my job in a non-profit that provides children with mentors, I have witnessed the impact that meaningful connections (or lack thereof) have on individuals of all ages. I believe that entertainment media is an incredible tool during hard times, not in the form of escape but in the form of inspiration. I have witnessed how manga, anime, webtoons, and print comics soothe people and bring them together at a meaningful level. Just the other day I observed a young person who calls herself painfully shy, become vibrant during a conversation about Demon Slayer – I also think that she was surprised that an “adult” shares her interests.
Queen of the Weebs - Guest Post from Cassandra
As the weather gets hotter and more consistently sunny, I am seeing more and more people eagerly emerging from their homes and spending as much time outside as they can.
While Idahoans are still adjusting to the post-COVID-vaccine landscape, and masks are becoming less integral to public safety in outdoor spaces, I'm seeing more people rocking their anime T-shirts or sporting merch from their favorite streamers/YouTubers/content creators as they carry on with their day-to-day endeavors.
It's this time of year that brings out some of my favorite types of people: my fellow weebs.
Like many subcultures, the anime/manga-loving community has developed its own slang words to describe its members. "Weeb" is loosely defined as someone who is interested in Japan and Japan-produced content, such as anime, manga, music, etc. While these individuals, like myself, are not die-hards who are determined to completely assimilate into Japanese culture and eat, sleep and breathe Japanese content (individuals that have this mindset within the community are commonly known by the derogatory term "weeaboo"), our prevailing interests in anime/manga/etc. can often make it difficult for us to find common interests with the everyday citizen. It is due to this lack of common interests that many weebs are considered social outcasts, which can often--especially in youths--lead to stunted social skills.
It is due to this exclusion in many social settings that many weebs hide their love for anime/manga/etc. and only make sly, subtle references to their hobbies in social settings as though fishing to see if anyone else in their social group will latch onto the bait. Tori King and I became fast friends when we realized we had a lot more than dance in common--we both are weebs!
Back to the point, what does summer have to do with weebs? Anime conventions, my friend! And what is one of the best things about anime conventions you may ask? Cosplay!
Cosplay is its own type of performance art in which individuals dress up as a character from any form of media, most popularly anime, manga, or videogames. That's not to say you won't also spot cosplayers representing popular characters from books--there's an entire world of book-related cosplay as well!
Cosplayers go all-out as summer anime conventions abound throughout the United States, paying homage to their beloved characters in animes, movies, and even video games with amazing technical skill and creative ingenuity. All body types, all genders, all ages are represented in this simplistic hobby of embodying a single character that means so much to so many avid fans of a series. This is a hugely important and meaningful aspect of weeb culture for many reasons, but to draw on the point I made earlier, it's the best place for weebs to be able to network and socialize with other people that have the same interests and hobbies! Yay for the development of social skills!
While I myself have never cosplayed anime characters (only original characters I've made for festivals) I marvel at the sheer dedication and skill so many cosplayers practice and perfect in their representation of a single (or multiple) character. I find myself inspired to also embody some of my favorite animated characters in ways I haven't seen before--through fusion belly dance!
There have been some absolutely iconic anime/manga characters in my life that I feel would be thrilling to breathe some fusion belly dance into, especially with a partner in crime like fellow weeb Tori King.
As many fans of the community know, K-pop (Korean Pop) and J-pop (Japanese Pop) are immensely popular dance and choreography styles in animes, mangas, and even live-action dramas.
Even people who have no interest in anime or manga have had some level of exposure to K-pop dance thanks to viral hits like GANGNAM STYLE by artists like PSY.
As any TikTok-er can tell you, there are a million different trends of any style of dance, some of which can truly lend to emoting comedy, tragedy, or joy in dance.
Incorporating elements of K-pop into any style of dance sounds thrilling, but belly dance especially sounds fun because there is already some overlap with tricky muscle isolation, articulation, facial emoting, and overall grace & fluidity!
While it's easy for me to make a very long list of my favorite anime/manga characters I feel deserve some live-action time in the limelight, more than anything I would love to choose a pair of characters that line up with Tori and I's own personalities and even movement styles. While we definitely have a million ideas, and we're not at all restricted on the amount of anime-related duets we can release, it can be difficult to nail downtime to workshop and choreograph something that only a very specific community would appreciate.
In between working on Starbelly projects, Tori and I are determined to create an otaku duet together for the laughs, the weeb pride, and the thrill of being able to highlight some of our favorite characters on a stage in true DBZ fusion style as professional performing artists!
My fellow weebs, I ask you now: do you have any characters in mind that you think we'd rock?
You can catch the Starbelly Student Salon until May 30th on demand, which features a choreography with the Starbelly Dancers. Also, Myra Kreins annual show, Invaders of the Heart, is entitled Epoch. The Starbelly Dancers will have a short set in this incredible show, which I highly encourage you to watch! I'll be watching as a fan of Mosaic and my Starbelly fam! Click the links below to get the deets on these wonderful shows.
Tori King is a belly dance artist, culture enthusiast and general weirdo. Is this a good biography? Do you like me yet? :-)