Have you ever seen something that rings so uncomfortably true that you aren’t sure whether to laugh, cry, or rip off your own skin and send your newly freed skeleton sprinting into the sea? That’s the feeling I had while watching  2Kawaii4Comfort, a web series about five friends taking a road trip to an anime convention from filmmakers Luke Palmer and John Bickerstaff. Anyone who has been to an anime convention will instantly recognize the characters in 2Kawaii4Comfort because they feel like echoes of real people you’ve probably met, for better or for worse.Billed as a “weeb series,” 2K4C leans heavily into the sort of real-world existential discomfort of being a gawky outsider in a community often perceived as on the fringe–even in today’s more accepting pop cultural climate–and mines both humor and horror from it. Inspired by the likes of Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent, the works of Lynne Ramsey, Bojack Horseman, and Napoleon Dynamite, the series not only boasts incredibly high production value, but one of the most honest looks at fandom culture that I’ve seen. The first season is available now for your viewing and squirming pleasure, and the filmmakers are currently looking for ways to make a second season too.

aAfter watching the series, I caught up with co-creator Luke Palmer, who you may know better from his YouTube channel RhinoStew (and their viral Willy Wonka/Snowpiercer fan theory), to ask him a few questions about how the series came to life.Nerdist: What was the impetus behind 2Kawaii4Comfort?Luke Palmer: There were a lot of different factors that went into it. In a broader sense I remember being initially inspired seeing Big Fan with Patton Oswalt in theaters and loved the way it examined the bleaker and more raw aspects of fandom. At the time, I was going to a lot of conventions and I saw the season of The Guild where they went to Mega-Game-O-Rama-Con. I was really amazed by it, since I never saw a show tackle a culture that was so closed to me but I couldn’t help but feel it glazed over the messier and darker aspects that defined the con going experience for me and a lot of my friends.After I had a death in the family, my producing partner John [Bickerstaff] and I decided to focus on making a really ambitious project that had meaning to us. In the end the script for 2Kawaii4Comfort spoke to us the most since it’s about losing innocence in a way that’s super universal and not just exclusive to the con culture. We also both saw the potential to have it address issues that aren’t being discussed in the mainstream in a way that’s label-free and have the message be felt rather than outright stated or shouted at the audience. We wanted to make a show about fandom culture that took itself seriously as a drama, like Skins… but with weeaboos.N: What were some of your stylistic influences behind the series?LP: We wanted to make a series that felt like an independent film rather than “television.” There were a lot of eastern influences like Yasujiro Ozu, Satoshi Kon, Hideaki Anno and Bong Joon Ho. Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent definitely had a big influence on the story structure. Western-wise, it was Lynne Ramsay, Skins, and Napoleon Dynamite. Say what you will, Napoleon Dynamite still holds up. Webseries-wise, I think The Guild showed that you can make a compelling show about a niche community and High Maintenance demonstrated that you can make a web show that’s not a straightforward laugh-based comedy.N: What was your first experience at an anime convention?LP: Fittingly enough it was kind of a sad one! It was the second year of Anime Boston and my mom and I got there after registration closed on Friday night but they let me in anyway. I got to go around the artist alley and even catch a few anime screenings and I was over the moon. When we came on Saturday we were late because of a doctor’s appointment and the con had completely sold out. That was the kind of emotional devastation that’s rough on a hyperactive sixteen year old. I ended up going to ConnectiCon later that year and got a full taste.N: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen at an anime convention?LP: I feel like all of the weirdest stuff I experienced was outside of the cons at house parties. When you’re with that crowd, the con doesn’t really end. One moment that stuck with me was a person with a large set of angel wings struggling to get into an elevator. I thought it was so naturally hilarious, perfect, and adorably human that I included it in the show.N: What anime if any are you watching right now?LP: I just finished the Castlevania series on Netflix, which yes, is definitely more  “anime-inspired” than 100% true cvlt anime. Other than that, I’m so busy I pretty much just have time My Hero Academia. I like to watch subbed so I need to be able to fully watch it to enjoy it rather than just leaving it on in the background.–What’s your weirdest memory of an anime convention? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Rhino Stew

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