Visual Novels (Part 2)
I arrived at my hotel. I went over to my table where my crew’s bottles of liquor and mixer were. I took two shots of my friend’s E&J (sorry Rath!). After that, I grabbed a glass and specific bottles and mixers: Vodka, Captain Morgan Apple Smash, Midori, Pineapple Juice, and Sprite. One-by-one, I pour the liquids in the glass. Thanks to the efforts of the Apple Smash and Midori, the drink gave off a lovely green color. Perfect.
Just Monika I said to myself.
Just Monika is a cocktail I created for a party that I was going to throw at another hotel I had reversed (which was canceled due to unforeseen events). Initially, I was going to debut it at the party to celebrate DDLC’s first anniversary, but shit happened and I decided to do it for a friend’s party I was bartending for. I started sipping on it, letting the alcohol enhance my dark side and get me further in my zone (more on the dark side and “the zone” at the end of the chapter)
I hopped in the cold shower (cold showers help me stay awake when I’m tired) and kept Saiyan Pride on repeat. All my focus was on being the best genderswap Monika I could be (and in the world). I want people to recognize me. I want racist DDLC cosplayers to be mad at me for being a black man cosplayer a white/Asian character. I wanted to install fear in any other males doing a genderswap DDLC cosplay at the con. My aim isn’t to compete with other Monika cosplayers: Most are either women or dudes wearing skirts. I want(ed) to stand out (which I will explain in about five paragraphs below)
(Also, not gonna lie: There was a Monika cosplayer – who knew she had an ass and wasn’t shy about showing it off in a very short skirt who walked past me as I was returning to my hotel. I lowkey was thinking of shooting my shot with her in my cosplay if I saw her again.
Thank God for Atlanta.
Thank God for thick women.)
I got out of the shower, put on my Monika cosplay, and hit the con floor. And of fucking course, my legendary bad luck in cosplay had to hit me hard. I was the only Monika on the con floor. Awesome! But there weren’t any other DDLC cosplayers about. This always happen to me: Whenever I decide to put on a cosplay from a fandom, nobody is around. But when I am in not in cosplay it’s like everyone wants to wear their shit (hell, back in 2016 at Anime St. Louis, there was about 3-5 Umineko: When They Cry cosplayers in a group; a year where I decided to not wear my Goat Butler cosplayer, but I digress).
Maybe I should do my cosplays in the morning instead of in the late afternoon/night.
Not only that, nobody knew who I was cosplaying as or from. I had this problem at Anime Expo when I first did my Monika cosplay and I was doing it solo. I figured that the reason why I wasn’t being noticed was that I didn’t have her ribbon. To fix that mistake I went ahead and ordered one on Amazon for AWA…expect it was small as hell and wasn’t the size of Monika’s gigantic bow. Now that I think about it, I think I might just forego the hair ribbon and get a white headband without a bow and wrap it around the ponytail of my wig (imagine Ryu’s white headband from the Street Fighter Alpha/Zero series). Plus, I refused to wear a skirt for reasons.
The thing about these types of cosplay as a male is that every male fucking wears a skirt. If I was to wear one, I would be no different. Sure, I have my race as an advantage, but that is something I was born with that I can’t control: easy mode. I rather work smarter and harder to be different. I much rather have a blazer tailored made to fit my body type than to get a generic DDLC school blazer off some cosplay site.
I also am not a fan of competition. There are more female Monika cosplayers than male. I can’t compete against them: they’ll win. The average male Monika cosplayer wears a skirt as previously mentioned. Again, won’t compete against that. I rather dominate by taking a different route; making you Monika cosplayers study my style once I master that cosplay and get in known on a global scale.
You male Monika cosplayers can wear a skirt and be like every other males.
You guys can get your Monika cosplay outfits off ebay and Amazon.
I’m going to stand out – like Monika herself.
(My version of Monika is inspired by the Business Casual fashion look, so that’s why I wear jeans instead of a skirt. The example pictured below):
After being disappointed that nobody knew who I was cosplaying as, I headed back to my room out of discouragement (plus, a friend of mines told me he could smell the alcohol on my breath [I had taken more shots with a friend in his room prior] and advise me to get rid of it, rest up, and sober up. Thank you, John, for being real), a Froppy-Chan (My Hero Academia) cosplayer along with two of her male friends spotted me. “Are you Monika?” she said with a smile. I took off my sunglasses to make eye contact with her, replied with a smile, and said “yes”. We started talking about the game, the themes of it, and our favorite characters – although short because I was drunk as hell.
Man, she was cute. Maybe if I wasn’t drunk I could have more of a deeper conversation with her about the game’s themes. Maybe shoot my shot with her and make her male friends jealous at and hate on me.
Is it horrible for me to be inspired to sober up in order to either take somebody’s else woman or make her male friends mad at me cuz we were vibing a little bit? Yes. But it did awaken something deep inside me: What if I just not use a strong substance like liquor and have fun cosplaying as Monika and talk to women naturally who know the character? Even if I don’t get “physical activities” at the end, I still had done these things:
1. I made somebody happy that I was cosplaying as their favorite character and that would have brightened their day.
2. I could have made a female friend that was based on mutual, platonic interests and learn what makes women click and get advice on women by women.
3. It’ll be on some self-improvement shit. One Percent Better.
Maintaining my smile, I held my head up high and marched back to my room to recover and freshen up for the night. Even if one stranger knew who I was cosplaying as; that was it for me. Well, not really. I wanted more people to know me for my cosplay. It was motivation for me to keep doing it. Keep improving. Find flaws and errors in my cosplay and work on them. Always seeking to better myself.
This time around, I was going to do and act better. Don’t you fucking dare drink any liquor tonight, Benjamin. You don’t need that shit to talk to women or anyone else. Be you even if you’re cosplaying tonight.
Let me tell you guys something: This worked in my favor. More on that in a later chapter.
Way later in the night, I was walking around in my Monika cosplay, scanning the scene after the late night parties ended and the “secret panel” proved to be a bit boring for me without my friends around (who had retired to the hotel after a few conflicts and bullshit among us). I am about to leave when I hear a girl with a few male friends say “Hey Monika, come over here!” I walked over to her direction and she was all smiles and giddily about seeing a Monika cosplayer.
We started talking about DDLC and about our favorite characters. I remember her saying like how she likes Monika because of how it looks like she sticks her ass out when she talks to you (in her sprite) and how she wanted to select Monika but she didn’t have a route. I wanted to chop up some game with and spit but I didn’t proceed for a few reasons:
1. She looked underage. Which, now that I think about it at the time of this writing, she probably wasn’t; Given her and her crew were sitting outside the 18+ secret panel room (and the area the blocked off for anyone under 18) and they had beers. I blame myself for being an idiot who didn’t take a power nap to regain my mental focus after being up for 17+ hours with only 5-6 hours of sleep the night prior.
- She had about three guys with her. It’s not that I’m scared of any dudes around their female friend(s), but given my mental fatigue, there was no way I could have an advantage for myself to spit game with her and beat out the competition (this is going to sound pretty fucked up but trust me; usually if a woman has a few dudes around her, they’re trying to get in her pants. This isn’t always true, however).
Oh well. A lesson that I had to learn to apply in the future (but at least I’ve gotten over my fears of talking to women and I accepted the fact I don’t need liquor to talk to them and be the best version of myself when I’m interacting with them)
Going back to the visual novel panel, I remember Chris saying how the Fate series completely dominated the visual novel anime genre (as it is the most popular VN anime of all time with how strong it’s going). Which is funny, because last year, I was attending a panel ran by Kana Ueda – the voice actress for Rin Tohsaka from the fate series. She talked about how for her, attending Anime Weekend Atlanta with her fellow voice actors and reuniting with a veteran Japanese voice who was once her mentor was “fate” (for them meeting there). Hearing Chris words on the VN scene, seeing people who still have a passion for it, and cosplaying as Monika, I couldn’t help but reflect on Ueda’s statement on fate.
Perhaps it was fate for me to go to that visual novel panel, network with him (being unaware that of his work Anime News Network), talking to people about how visual novels made them happy and being upset that the genre is on the decline. Was it fate that I saw that Hanyuu cosplayer after having two When They Cry related dreams? I guess. Did fate lead me to that Floppy-chan and that girl who was happy that I was cosplaying as Monika and made me want to do better with it and inspired me to not throw in the towel? Who knows?
As I am finishing this chapter out, I am reminded of a Facebook post I made about how I remember when the fate series was a bit of an obscure VN series that was popular in Japan, but didn’t get much traction in the Western otaku market beyond your hardcore VN fans. This wasn’t on some hipster, “I knew about the series before it was popular” shit: It was me being in awe that a game made by people of humble background reached heights that nobody could imagine for the genre or in anime fandom in general.
Some dumbass accused me of being a hipster and stated that “nobody gives a fuck about shitty visual novels”. I laughed. A week later, I was in Los Angeles for Anime Expo. I was walking around the Downtown area where my eyes met this massive Fate/Grand Order poster hanging over a bank. I was with my friend (whom I told him about the dumbass saying that bullshit) and we laughed. I wanted to post a picture I took of the poster and replied to his comment saying If nobody gave a fuck about shitty visual novels why they got this poster out here? on some petty shit.
To the dumbass who said that here’s something for you:
My unforgiving pettiness aside, I really do hope the visual novel genre does make a comeback. I’ll do more cosplays from it. Hell, even if it doesn’t, I’ll keep doing it – no matter what.
Continued in Chapter 3.
In the book Relentless by Tim Grover, Tim speaks on two accepts of the human’s psyche: “The Zone” and “The Dark Side”. The Zone is the dark, quiet lonely place within your mind. You shut everything in the world out to be in your own. It’s a calm, relaxing, and focused place.
The Dark Side is that: The darkness part of your mind where only you know your deepest, true desires – your true self (Persona lol). Rather than let your dark side control and ultimately – destroy you – you control it. You use the darkest parts of your personality to push yourself towards you end goal(s).
JUST MONIKA COCKTAIL:
1oz Light Rum
1oz Captain Morgan Apple Smash
4oz pineapple juice
Top with Sprite
Combine Ingredients sans Sprite in a shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour mixture in a Collins glass. Top with sprite. You can also rock the ingredinets with sprite and then pour the mixture into a Collins glass.
(The only reason why I used vodka in this story because my dumbass left my light rum in a homeboy’s hotel room the night before)
Business Casual image source: