Photo of Tom Moen DJingContributor (Race & Culture / Cosplay Positive)

Tom “Takeo” Moen has always been seen as a bit of an oddball. A driven, passionate, music-obsessed, anime-loving, YouTube gaming, creative writing DIYer, he’s quite a “multifaceted” oddball—but an oddball nonetheless.

Growing up, Tom was often rejected by his peers,  and he never really understood why. He was just into different things than everyone else. When most people would talk about the latest sports-related event, latest TV show or sitcom, or their favorite rock music, Tom instead focused on PlayStation games, watching Toonami, and had a rather unusual obsession with rap music and hip-hop. His experience with social rejection turned Tom into a very jaded person and a loner. All the way through middle and high school and even through most of his short stint in the US Army, he never understood nerd culture. He would poke fun at nerds and geeks at their expense, speak ill of them, and perceived them as asocial. He was like a less extreme example of the biblical story of Saul, but instead of persecuting and murdering Christians, Tom found himself going out of his way to criticize nerds and their culture.

So why is he here now, ironically, as a contributor for Twin Cities Geek? Let’s just call it an interpretation of “Saul’s conversion.”

Following Tom’s medical discharge from the US Army due to an injury during training, he found his new love and passion: Japanese anime. During his time in the army, some of his army buddies were avid readers of Newtype Magazine, a Japanese publication that covered anime and Japanese culture. Those same buddies began to educate him on the awesomeness of anime and otaku culture. By the time he was 19, Tom found himself consumed with anime a way he never expected, and he went out of his way to learn about the culture. He soon realized that it was anime that he loved watching growing up over everything else, which drove him to discover and watch more and more anime.

Around the same time, Tom also realized that he had a copy of what is now considered a beloved gem in the JRPG fandom hidden among his other (mostly) crappy PS1 games: Final Fantasy VII. He began to explore the market of JRPG’s and soon realized that he had missed out on so many great ones due to his stubbornness and thick-headedness. Both of those soon led to a revelation that he, in fact, was what he had criticized and made fun of growing up—a geek. And to his surprise, he was perfectly fine with it. This revelation didn’t hit Tom until he was nearing his mid-20’s, admittedly a relatively late start to become involved in geek culture.

Tom is still an oddball, though, even among his fellow otaku and geeks. Tom is both a devout Christian a science nerd, and has developed a passion to make a positive impact in the geek community. In particular, he is passionate about putting an end to the mutual stigmatization between the geek and nerd community and Christian community, as well as shedding a light on the difficulty of being a Cambodian-American nerd in the Midwest.

Tom also spends his time reaching out to cosplayers who have been stigmatized for being cosplayers or who’ve been shamed because of it. This led to him becoming Takeo, The Cosplay Repair Guy, an attending the anime conventions in the Twin Cities. He spends the conventions patrolling around and helping as many cosplayers as he can, repairing their costumes and encouraging them to continue cosplay and not to listen to haters.

Outside of cons, Tom in the middle of working on a musical project where he’s fusing Christian rap, nerdcore, Japanese pop, and Japanese rock as a solo artist. You can also catch him DJing Christian hip-hop concerts, music festivals, and community outreach events around the Twin Cities and the country under his stage name, DJ T-Toms. Outside of the music scene, you can follow Tom on his YouTube channel, where he does Let’s Plays of a variety of different games, but usually with emphasis on games featuring Japanese or anime influences, or that were originally developed in Japan.

At the end of the day, Tom truly lives up to the adjective of being “multifaceted” by being a professional musician and DJ (and music tech and guitar nerd), creative fiction writer, light DIYer, YouTuber, gamer, otaku, spray paint artist (not graffiti), firearms and weapons fanatic, skill toy hobbyist (Rubik’s cube speed solving, juggling, and 1A Yo-Yo), video and cheap film making enthusiast, general handyman, cosplayer, and former IT professional. He’s always looking for new ways to use all those skills to make positive impacts in any way he can.

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