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Otakon 2015: General Impressions

July 30, 2015

hisui_icon_4040 What a difference seven thousand people make.

Any discussion about this years Otakon is going to bring up the attendance drop so I might as well get it out-of-the-way. A lot of factors have been blamed for this decline. The after effects of the riots in Baltimore, the crowding from last year, people waiting for the move to DC, the increase in the price of membership, the line problems last year, Otakon’s timing in relation to Anime Expo, and the lack of big guests, as well as several other possible culprits have all been blamed. I’m guessing that it was no one single factor. The only one I don’t really see a factor is the registration problems last year. Several convention have had similar problems and their attendance numbers only grew the next year. Individual people might not come back after such an incident but overall it never seems to impact overall attendance. That alongside Otakon giving people the option to have their badges mailed to them makes me think that it was the other factors that were far more important. I, with a bit of a Freakonomics outlook, feel the biggest factor was probably parents being worried about the riots. My own parents brought up the issue and I’m 38. I guessing a bunch of tweens and teens were either not allowed to go when their parents saw the convention was in Baltimore. But that is pure speculation on my part.

While I am sure it has led to lots of agitation and stress among the Otakon staff it did mean that the BCC felt far less crowded. I could usually zip around quite easily. There were the always present choke points on the sky bridges but even then they were far less of a Gordian Knot then they usually are. I don’t think I was ever late anywhere due to crowds. It was true proof that there is a silver lining to any cloud. Also overall while the overall attendance was down the panels were actually more filled than usual. That in of itself was surprising but given the overall turnout it was even more impressive than usual.

That said while the attendance numbers were down the convention itself felt vibrant and packed with things to do. The line up at Otakon was not Anime Expo or Japan Expo levels (I am still salty) but I still always had panels to absorb and guests to see. Romi Park alone is nothing to scoff at and the rest of the Japanese guests had a good deal to say if you attended their panels. We actually got quite a few great interviews this year. If you’re a fan of Gundam, Type-Moon, Garo, or Adventure Time we actually got some powerful information for you. That might not make sense right now but you will just have to trust me.

With that elephant out-of-the-way we can discuss the con itself.

narutaki_icon_4040 I think a lot of people have speculated about the drop in numbers but also about whether the staff are still putting their all into improving the convention experience in Baltimore with D.C. looming in the not-distant future. From what I saw, there were a number of good changes this year and the staff seemed as attentive, if not more so, as year’s past.

Otakon listened!

There were more maps of the convention center about. There were end of the line signs. Position of programming ops was changed. The convention center opened on time everyday. There was more variety in the game room. They mailed out badges!

Was everything perfect? No. Can I think of a few things that still need fixing? Yes. But I don’t think the staff is just phoning it in for the next year or so.

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Otakon 2015: 15-minutes with Director Shinji Takamatsu

July 29, 2015

Shinji Takamatsu started his career with giant robots, working on shows in the seminal franchises of the Brave and Gundam series. He has, in more recent years, moved on to making fans laugh with his work on School Rumble, Gintama, and Daily Lives of High School Boys. His latest project Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! follows in his line of comedies. We were lucky enough to sit down with him for a few minutes to speak about robots and magical boys.

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Otakon 2015: Tweets

July 27, 2015

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Otakon 2015: Romi Park Thunderdome

July 22, 2015

IHateSports_OTAKON2015_1 copy

(note: No Type-Moon Weekly News Round Up or All Points Bulletin this week)

Rejoice! It is Otakon time once again!

This year’s guests include a number of staff from GARO the Animation, Masao Maruyama, Yuichiro Hayashi, Yasuaki Iwase, Toru Kubo, and Romi Park. Other exciting guests include Shinji Takamatsu (director of Brave Police J-Decker, Gundam Wing, Gundam X, Daily Lives of High School Boys), Seiji Kishi (director of Hamatora, Persona 3 and 4 anime, Game of Laplace), Toshiyuki Toyonaga (voice actor of Mikado Ryugamine in the DURARARA!!, Flit in Gundam AGE, Mahiro in Blast of Tempest), and Ei Aoki (director of Fate/Zero, Aldnoah.Zero).

With all those guests plus fan panels and other activities, Otakon promises (as always) to be a delightfully exhausting weekend.

We got panels, be sure to attend!

Sat. 7:00PM – I Hate Sports: A Sports Anime Panel
Panel 5

Sat. 9:30PM – New Anime for Older Fans
Panel 5

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Pre-Otakon 2015 Podcast

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Our tentative schedule for the convention:

Friday
09:00 AM – The Nose Goes!!!: A FKMT Panel
10:00 AM – Shinji Takamatsu autograph session
10:15 AM – 70s Anime Funtime! panel
11:30 AM – MAPPA w/ Maruyama panel
12:45 PM – Kuro Fashion: African-American Influence in Animation and Japan panel
12:45 PM – I Love the 90s: Anime Edition panel
03:15 PM – Durarara!! Guest panel
04:30 PM – Shinji Takamatsu Q&A panel
04:30 PM – Garo: The Animation Official Panel
07:00 PM – The 3/11 Earthquake and Manga panel
08:15 PM – Feminism and Lesbian Representation in Yurikuma Arashi panel
08:45 PM – Skin Deep: A Historical Look at Diversity in Anime & Beyond panel
09:30 PM – Macross: The Walking Shadow panel
11:45 PM – Terror in Resonance: A Cultural Analysis panel

Saturday
09:00 AM – Fansite Bootcamp panel
10:15 AM – Awesome Women in Anime; 2.0. panel
11:30 AM – Seiji Kishi Q&A panel
12:00 PM – Maid Cafe Show
12:45 PM – The World Outside the Walls: Militarism and the Individual in Anime panel
02:00 PM – Aldnoah.Zero Guest panel
02:00 PM – Otakon is Alive with the Sounds of Anime panel
03:15 PM – Romi Park Q&A panel
03:15 PM – Sekai Project industry panel
05:45 PM – Shirobako and the Real Anime Industry panel
05:45 PM – Behind the Stand: Jojo’s Bizarre Discography panel
08:15 PM – The Wanderer’s History: The History Behind Rurouni Kenshin panel
08:15 PM – Bits of Victory – A Game Design Panel
10:30 PM – Anime Luminaries of Questionable Merit panel
11:45 PM – Twinfinite’s Shame-free Intro to Adult Visual Novels panel

Sunday
09:00 AM – The Ikuhara Trio: Analyzing Themes in Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Yurikuma Arashi panel
10:15 AM – Art of Animation Featuring GARO panel
10:15 AM – Great Ugly Manga panel
12:00 PM – Breaking down the membership fee panel
12:45 PM – Discotek Media industry panel

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