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Otaku Scents melts together anime and candles

Otaku Scents melts together anime and candles

Otaku Scents melts together anime and candles
January 21
23:05 2019

According to Dictionary.com, the word “otaku” refers to “a person who is obsessed with manga, anime and other forms of Japanese or East Asian popular culture.” This makes Otaku Scents, created by full-time candle-maker Ashley Roybal, truly a candle shop for the anime lover.

All the candles and wax melts at Otaku Scents are inspired by characters from popular anime shows like “Naruto,” “Sword Art Online” and “Sailor Moon.”

Roybal first discovered anime in middle school where she watched shows like “Chobits” and “Fruits Basket.” She then started watching more anime in high school when she learned about websites to watch it on, such as Funimation and Crunchyroll.

“[I originally got] the idea [for Otaku Scents] based off of people who do candles for ‘Harry Potter’ or superheroes, but no one really did anything for anime, which [has] a growing fanbase,” Roybal said. “[Anime is] becoming more mainstream, so it was something I really wanted to venture into while I still can because people are catching on.”

Roybal started making candles in 2016 with a basic candle-making kit after searching for a new hobby.

“My first [few candles] that I liked the scent for [were] ‘Super Sonico,’ ‘Sailor Moon‘ and Namek, the planet in ‘Dragon Ball Z‘ or ‘Dragon Ball,’ and then I collaborated with an artist from the Northeast [who goes by Cat Crossing Art],” Roybal said. “She did the artwork for them, and then it just kind of spiraled from there.”

Roybal makes all the candles from the kitchen of her Denton apartment. She uses vegan soy wax and weighs it out in a metal container using a food scale. Then, she puts the wax into a melting pot modified to melt wax and pours it through a spigot.

Once it is completely melted, Roybal pours the melted wax into a pouring pot and measures out her fragrance oil and the dye if applicable. She mixes the melted wax in the pouring pot with the measured fragrance oils and dyes for a few minutes.

When the wax is at a certain temperature, Roybal pours it into the jar where she attaches the wick, or pours the wax into a mold for the melts, and waits until it hardens.

“It sounds really simple, but it took a lot of research and development, especially since apartments are drafty,” Roybal said. “You can’t have a draft. Depending on what time of year it is, you have to make a lot of adjustments of what temperature you pour at or how much fragrance oil [you mix] because some are stronger than others, so it’s a lot of testing.”

After realizing she liked making candles, Roybal wanted to learn more about the specifics of candle-making.

“I had to a lot of research online on what other candle makers would do because each wax is different, so you have to treat each wax differently,” Roybal said.

After working for the past couple of years, Roybal was able to turn candle-making into not just a hobby, but her full-time job.

Ciel and Natsu candles in Roybal’s apartment in Denton, Texas on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Image by: Emily Olkkola.

Mixing and matching scents

At first, Roybal picked out scents she liked and tried to tie them to characters. Now, she picks out characters and ties them to scents after customers started requesting certain characters to have a candle made for them. Each one of Roybal’s candles and wax melts feature art of the associated anime character.

“[To tie a scent to a character], it really depends on the character,” Roybal said. “Sometimes it’s what they like. For instance, in ‘Death Note,’ [the character L] loves sweets [and] he eats a lot of strawberry shortcake. That puts two and two together. Strawberry shortcake is L.”

For others, Roybal tries to match the scent to their personality.

“For Karma [in ‘Assassination Classroom‘], his scent is very spicy and masculine,” Roybal said. “I wanted a little bit of spice and a bit of his personality because it’s Karma.”

The official Otaku Scents website and associated conventions are the only places where Roybal’s candles can be bought. However, this past December, Roybal temporarily sold them at local comic book and video game store Freaks and Geeks LLC after being named its “artist of the month.” Roybal has worked with Freaks and Geeks since they opened.

“With the imagery [Roybal] puts on the front, it begs you to figure out what it actually smells like,” Freaks and Geeks co-owner Alec Featherstone said. “You’re like, ‘Man, that’s Vegeta. What does Vegeta smell like?’ It’s so silly and playful and fun that I think that’s her call to fame off it.”

Fighting the stigma

Roybal currently has almost 4,000 followers on Instagram. Although her business is growing, there is something all anime fans must fight— the stigma of anime itself.

One of the biggest stereotypes is that anime is just a cartoon for kids.

“[Critics] don’t really understand that there are anime that are geared maybe to the younger audience,” Roybal said. “But then there is also stuff like ‘Berserk‘ or ‘Death Note’ that [are] more for adults or young adults that can handle more themes.”

Customer Heather Mowris and owner of Creative Chaotics has bought over 30 candles and waxes from Otaku Scents.

“My favorite scents of hers are her Vegeta candle from ‘Dragon Ball’ and her Grey candle from ‘Fairy Tail,'” Mowris said in an email. “They smell amazing and the smell lasts for a long time.”

Mowris said she is aware of the stigma anime has, but has found support in an online community.

“I feel like people do judge people who like anime,” Mowris said. “I live in a small town, so it’s hard to find people who share that fandom love. Luckily there is an amazing community on Instagram [that] support[s] lovers of anime, and Otaku Scents is very much a part of that community.”

Roybal believes there is more to anime than these stereotypes.

“[Anime has] really interesting stories,” Roybal said. “There’s a lot of character development. You grow really attached to these characters, and [I just want] to get people to transition to that train of thought.”

Roybal plans to make more candles for “Hunter x Hunter,” one of her favorite anime. Gaara from “Naruto,” with a not-overly spicy, masculine scent is coming soon too. Sakura, Hinata and Itachi as well as  “Fullmetal Alchemist” candles will be coming out soon as well.

Roybal will also be selling at the 2019 Anime Central convention., which will take place from May 17-19 in Rosemont, Illinois. To order candles, visit the Otaku Scents website, and follow Otaku Scents on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Featured Image: Full-time Otaku Scents candlemaker Ashley Roybal holds a Natsu and Sasuke candle in her apartment in Denton, Texas on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Image by: Emily Olkkola. 

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Emily Olkkola

Emily Olkkola

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1 Comment

  1. Aace
    Aace January 22, 05:26

    Copyrights?

    Reply to this comment

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