Look the Anime Expo In the Eyes

By Frank Ahrens
Sunday, June 25, 2006

Anime and the Internet go together like Kirk and Spock, Han and Chewie, Gates and Ballmer, Dungeons & Dragons.

I think you get the point.

Anime is a popular style of Japanese animation, typically featuring characters with pie-size eyes. As a broad umbrella, it includes everything from Pokemon to science-fiction films to pornographic drawings. (Here come the e-mail lectures on the fine distinctions of anime sub-genres . . . .)

Before the Internet, the anime underground in the United States spread its enthusiasm largely via comic books, or "manga." The Internet allowed for global proselytizing. I really don't want to use the word "geek" in this column, so I won't. Let's just say anime fans have a proclivity for the Web. Naturally, every movement needs an annual convention, in the tradition of Comicon (for comic book fans) and sci-fi gatherings, such as Lunacon and Philcon.

This year's Anime Expo is scheduled for next month in Anaheim, Calif. If you can't go, you can log on to Stickam, http://www.stickam.com , and watch live.

Stickam ("Broadcast yourself live!") is a media player that sort of takes the YouTube model and runs with it. Imagine live Web cams broadcasting 60,000 egos. Hey, here's a shirtless mook striking a pose in his bedroom! Here's someone playing ping-pong! Okay!

Users can "stick" Stickam on almost any modifiable Web site, such as MySpace, Stickam says, letting them broadcast and talk live to individuals or multiple users. As for broadcasting the anime convention: "There is a natural connection between the technology-savvy anime audience and Stickam," said Hideki Kishioka, chief executive of the company that created Stickam.

Thanks for saying it so I didn't have to.

Emmalina, the Sequel

Last week, I introduced many of you to Emmalina, the burgeoning YouTube star. Over the past couple of months, the 18-year-old has posted 30 videos of herself sitting or dancing in front of a webcam at her home in Tasmania. Doing nothing special, she has become a phenom: Her videos have received (as of 6:30 p.m. Friday) 432,000 views.

I e-mailed her to ask some questions; she wrote back to say she would respond but then never did. I chided Emmalina in the column. A day after last week's column appeared, she pinged me, saying my follow-up e-mail had gone into her spam filter. And even though I had snarked on her in print, she gamely responded to my questions. So I owe her a little follow-up column time.

Emmalina said she's been on the Internet since she was 10 years old, posting profiles and blogging. She uses a PC running Windows XP with a Logitech Fusion Web cam. Thanks to advertising and donations, Emmalina says she makes in the ballpark of hundreds of dollars per month from the Internet.

I asked her if she hoped the "vlogs" would lead to a reality show or an acting gig.

"No way," she wrote. "As you've seen, I'm 'talentless' in the field of entertainment as a lot of video bloggers are. My talent is more written than spoken. I would never dream of landing an acting gig -- I'm studying [information technology] at the moment and also have strong interests in writing, photography and psychology (my college major)."

I took a little swipe at Emmalina, so I'll give her the parting shot at Web Watch: "I was a little ticked off by your article on me, since you made me come across as a ditzy Paris Hilton wannabe. I am not. The Internet provides only a very small window into my life, and I'm growing a little tired of people making unfounded and rude assumptions."

Things We Like

? http://www.wherethehellismatt.com : Matt, 29, is a Connecticut native who, in 2003, quit his job in Australia, took the money he saved and started traveling the world. He started the Web site so friends and family could keep up with his travels. But his genius creation is a video he posted on YouTube. It's Matt, dancing in front of global sites -- the Great Wall, Machu Picchu, underwater in Micronesia, even on a snow-covered mountain in Antarctica. It's set to music and works so well because it is a variation on something we all recognize -- "here's me in front of (attraction)" -- and because he's such a goofy dancer, it's strangely sweet. Not to mention its appeal to the desk-bound wanderlusters in all of us.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company