ASU digital culture freshman, Dana Ragsdale, began creating content for anime-enthusiasts during the fall 2018 semester, with his brand, no sauce.
Since then, his following has continued to grow through making podcasts, selling merchandise and building a social media presence.
“It became a weird collective,” Ragsdale said. “About four months ago I decided to just start making internet content and now I’m at a point where I have a collective following of about 50,000 people.”
For his newest project, Ragsdale is sending a plushie of the team’s original anime character, Sauce-Chan, into outer space.
The self-funded team will spend $500 to have the organization Earth to Sky Calculus send Sauce-Chan to space.
The plush doll is ready, and the team hopes to launch her in the early months of 2019.
The anime character will travel in a weather balloon with a camera attached, in order to capture footage of Sauce-Chan in space. Once the footage is downloaded, Ragsdale will share it on the no sauce social media accounts for his followers.
Ragsdale said that “(the doll is) going up in a balloon and when it reaches the stratosphere, the balloon is going to pop." The team will decide later if they want to leave her in space or attempt to bring her back to Earth.
Ragsdale hopes this project can be an inspiration for other ASU students, and followers of the no sauce brand.
“The project is relevant to ASU students because it sort of shows what they are capable of within their own spectrum,” he said. “It hasn’t been done yet and for me to be so small and already doing something so big, it’s interesting.”
Ragsdale’s team consists of two main artists, Ben Mortensen and Jessica Conn.
Conn, a junior majoring in film and art at ASU, designed the Sauce-Chan character for the project. Conn said the character and the brand was initially a joke, but it gained momentum because of meme culture.
“All of this started as a joke, his brand and everything,” Conn said. “I kind of personified it and she got very popular and now she’s going into space on an interstellar journey.”
Conn said she was inspired by Elon Musk, who has been promoting anime lately on his social media platforms.
“What got me to accept the idea is that Elon Musk is very into anime suddenly and is wearing these anime shirts,” she said. “If Elon Musk can do it, then we can too.”
Mortensen, 24, who goes by the artist name Skeletallest, said he has been interested in art since he was a child.
“I actually make little plushies and stickers of thousands of my own designs,” he said. “So I just have been making art on my own, trying to make a living.”
Mortensen’s role in the project is sewing the doll together to make the final product.
“My part in the job is making the actual doll,” he said. "I’ve been making stuff for Dana, and for the no sauce group for a while, so I was on board immediately.”
Conn said that the no sauce brand provided her with a chance and a platform for her work as an online artist.
While the character started off as a joke, she said working with Ragsdale allowed her to personify Sauce-Chan and now the project is sending it on an interstellar journey.
"All I can hope is that some alien finds it and can find his new love for anime," she said. "I know Earth has sent out records and pictures of famous people and now we have anime too."
Correction: Due to a source error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the doll went into the exosphere, rather than the stratosphere. The article has been updated to reflect the changes.