Otakon 2009

otakon, program

If you have never been to Otakon, let me just say that it is like a whirlwind of anime, manga, costumes, music, fans, panels, guests, and friends. You are practically going non-stop from the moment you touch down in Baltimore. Maybe it is just the way my mind works, but it seemed to be ten-fold this year! The amount of things seen and done in just one day sound almost impossible. I distinctly remember some of us talking on Friday night about how things done that morning felt days in the past rather than just hours before. But I’m not complaining, I call Otakon the highlight of the summer for a reason! This year only went on to prove that statement further.

Otakon came and went in an amazing and thrilling blur. I remember the highlights but the details even a few days later are still sort of fuzzy in my head. So in many ways this con report is just as much for me as it is for anyone reading it. This is my chance to sort out what I felt and what I did in my own mind because there was just so much information to process. I was almost always doing something. In fact, I wore myself out so much there was two or three times I just had to stop and nap or get food even if it meant missing out on something awesome. At first I was worried that there were not going to be any Japanese guests worth talking about but in the last few weeks before the con they pulled some great guests out at the last second and turned my perception of how great this was going to be right around.

otakon, badges

Friday
No Means No, Defense against Fanboys and Fangirls panel
Know Your Creators panel
Yutaka Yamamoto panel
Mobile Suit Gundam: Celebrating 30 Years panel
Anime Recruitment
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: History’s Future panel
Mecha Appreciation panel
Opening Ceremonies
Kikuko Inoue panel
I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen This!
MELL concert
Guess the Melons 18+ panel

Saturday
Gundam Model Building workshop
Funimation panel
MELL press conference
Maruyama, Ishiguro, Kikukawa, Matsubara press conference
Anime and Manga Studies panel
From Kenshiro to Kenshin: The Neo-Shonen Revolution panel
Fred Schodt panel
Fred Schodt autograph session
Return of the Anime Old Timers? panel
Otaku TV panel
The Problem with Otaku panel
Review Anime the Right Way panel

Sunday
Without Watching the Anime: Opening & Ending Themes panel
Hidenori Matsubara panel
Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy, and the Manga/Anime Revolution, with Fred Schodt panel
Naomi Tamura concert

otakon crew 2009

Narutak, Kohaku, and I all met up at my apartment. The anticipation was practically visible! Before we left I got an early birthday present of some very choice pencil boards, one of manga art Hayate No Gotoku and a cute Gakuen Kino one. We fortunately got a ride to the MegaBus pick up in front of Penn Station. I must agree with Mike Dent, MegaBus rocks! I will never ride a Greyhound again unless forced to. The free WiFi was awesome and the ride was smooth and clean. We took over the back of the bus where we pretty much had a pre-Otakon party. The Baltimore public transportation was a little slower than we had first anticipate but we arrived at our hotel by about 6:30PM. Here we encountered the first and only real major problem of the convention: the Radisson overbooked the con rooms. They tried to throw us into a super small single when we had booked a double. Thankfully Narutaki is a master of getting what he needs and they eventually gave us a bigger room.

megabus

If you saw the amount of stuff being lugged to Otakon, you would think we were moving there. Heck, at the very least you would have thought everyone was a cosplayer bringing gear, but no. However to be fair, when I say we, I mean 9 people and also a lot of it was free stuff for our panels and food that was quickly eaten up. I wouldn’t say I was nervous about MegaBus, I had done some research, but a new experience is always a little worrisome in these cases. Though really with so many friends along, a misstep can easily turn into an adventure! Luckily we didn’t have to prove that rule as the bus was great, well-organized, and on time. While the bus stop is certainly far out from the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, the price tipped my hand and everyone seemed satisfied. I was a bit miffed at the Radisson because they have served me so well in the past. In the end, things turned out fine once a larger room was acquired, remember: calm persistence! I will just mention that I use quite a bit of the tips in our Con Survival guide and they serve me quite well.

otakon, press

Since getting into the hotel took a bit longer than expected, we had to rush over to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. We met Clarissa from AWO, Patz Prime from the Gaming Dungeon, and Ed from Comics Worth Reading for the first time in real life. I wish I had gotten more time to talk to everyone there. I know they made a good impression on me. After dinner we saw the crazy long pre-registration line. I have never seen it anywhere that long. I was quite glad to be able to just stroll in and get my press badge. Some of our friends said the wait wasn’t too long. We all stayed up shooting the breeze since the first night is usually the first and last time everyone is in the same place at the same time before the trip home. I don’t know about everyone else but I was so amped up I hardly got any sleep.

otakon, cheesecake factory

Thursday night is the only planned dinner that I have, everything else is on the fly based on who I run into when the time is right. In fact, I wasn’t even going to do the usual Thursday thing, but hey everyone’s gotta eat so why not do it together! You would have found many voices from the internet at our table including Carl (Ogiue Maniax), Scott (Anime Almanac), Evan (Ani-Gamers), Keith and Joe (The Pokemon Times) who we traveled with plus the new faces that Hisui mentioned. It was quite a gathering! Every year it seems to be more and more true that a big part of Otakon is meeting up with people. I was planning on picking up badges before dinner but the unexpected delays prevented that from happening. Considering the line, there was no way our friends were getting badges before dinner anyway. Press Ops was fully operational so the slue of us were in and out in a matter of minutes. Most troubling was that a lot of our contact information didn’t seem to be entered in the database. This lack of communication seemed to fluctuate throughout the convention. However, there were no interviews in our future and I wish this was communicated to us rather than me finally giving up on the notion. Their twitter account was very informative though giving us little tidbits of info during the con including attendance numbers and the like. Also from talking to staff, it seems they got almost 10,000 badges out on Thursday night! While line management seemed to be handled, I did see people still waiting in line for non-pre-registered badges around 4PM on Friday.

otakon

No Means No, Defense against Fanboys and Fangirls was a fairly light panel and most of the advice was common sense. The girl who ran the panel was rather amusing and she had a good collection of pictures to go with each slide so everyone was having a good time. I missed the part were the audience shared their stories and I am sure there were some good stories because I had to get to the press briefing. I went to Know Your Creators with natural born enemies Daryl Surat and the Geek Nights guys it was an entertaining panel to watch just for the natural amount of underlying tension. Still they had a good mix of prolific and influential anime and manga creators, what they had done, and why you should care about them. They mentioned the panel would have new creators on it all the time so it is always worth checking out. It is a great panel for anyone who is just starting to get into anime but wants to go deeper into the art.

I was truly sad to miss out on Otakon’s opening animation last year, so I made it a priority this time around. Opening ceremonies was actually in the mid-afternoon of Friday, probably to make sure all the guests had arrived as well as having as many attendees already in the building. We were first shown a reel of all the guests with music and clips of the things they are best known for. Since the room was filled to capacity it was telling to see who people cheered for the most, not too surprising to me after so many years, but the American voice actors were easily who the crowd favored. Matt Smiechowski the con-chair talked to us a bit and then introduced some of the Japanese guests. Yutaka Yamamoto, Naomi Tamura, Yukio Kikukawa all said a brief hello to the crowd while Kanon Wakeshima made a surprise appearance. And at last we were privileged to see the Madhouse produced introduction to Otakon staring their two mascots, the con staff, and a deluge of references from anime and science-fiction. It had a lot of energy and we all laughed to see our favorites parodied so it was a nice way to officially open the convention up to what would be a memorable weekend. It was a sad moment at the end when were were informed the director Takuji Endou had passed away just a short while ago.

autograph, otakon, hidenori matsubara

My first panel with a Japanese guest was Yutaka Yamamoto’s. He was quite amusing as he looks like a mild-mannered salary man. I was surprised by the detail he gave in his answers. I did not expect him to so frankly talk about his feud with Akiyuki Shinbo and his views on the industry. Japanese guests usually give very polite but ultimately empty answers. I noticed this year all the guests starting with Yamamoto were rather frank while still being polite and cautious. Some joker had to ask him about him getting fired from Lucky Star but Yamamoto gracefully deflected the question. Omo did a great transcript of the panel if you want to learn more. I also saw Kikuko Inoue that day. She was very charming and answered all the questions with a smile. I was a little miffed that I never got to ask her a question but the panel itself was enjoyable. We all got to hear her sing “My Heart Iidasenai, Your Heart Tashikametai,” “Cruel Angel Thesis,” and “Seikan Hikou.” That was without a doubt the highlight! Welcome Datacomp has all the highlights of the panel as well as some from Yutaka Yamamoto’s panel.

otakon, gundam, panel

I seemed to hit a lot of robot related things on Friday. I had heard good things about the people who run the Gundam panel at cons, so this time I decide to catch it for myself. The Mobile Suit Gundam: Celebrating 30 Years panel was a quick run through of the major parts of the Gundam franchise that have been animated though they didn’t mention the MS IGLOO OVAs. The “celebrating 30 years” part of the panel consisted of talking about the 1:1 scaled Gundam recently erected in Japan as well as a little speculation about the coming Unicorn anime. It was lightning fast information with an anecdote thrown in here and there, so while I didn’t learn anything new, recent fans to the franchise would do well to attend this. I skipped out on the last half which was a quiz show. I also attended the Mecha Appreciation panel because everyone should really appreciate such things. This started off in rather a flurry as we all yelled out “Sieg Zeon!” The panelists were really knowledgeable especially regarding Go Nagai which got a lot of attention unsurprisingly. They went through an explanation of Super Robot vs. Real Robot (and something they deemed Super-Duper Robot!) There were many good laughs had at the expense of robots everywhere. They really got caught up in the 70’s shows so had to rush through the rest practically skipping present day series. They also lacked any visual materials which was a shame. I would love to see them do this again with a bit more organization, it was a lot of fun.

otakon, cosplay, gundam, zabi otakon, cosplay, gundam, 00, feldt

The two guys running the Legend of the Galactic Heroes: History’s Future panel were appropriately dressed as Wenli Yang and Reinhard von Lohengramm. Besides being dressed for the part they were quite knowledgeable making it a great intro to what Legend of the Galactic Heroes is and why you should care about it. I am pretty sure that most of the people who went to the panel were already LotGH fans but if they were not the panelists’ enthusiasm hopefully got them to check out a great space opera. Later at the convention I talked for a bit with the man cosplaying Reinhard. It turns out he is one of the people behind Hero Legends and is extremely knowledgeable about Gundam in addition to LotGH. I wish I had caught his name because he seems like someone you should check out whenever he does panels. I peeked into the Evangelion panel which looked to be going well but I was really starting to fall apart due to lack of food. So I went back to my room and got a snack that carried me to 7-11 to get a more substantial snack. I actually could feel my spirits rising as I digested food. I made sure for the rest of the con to never let myself get that hungry again.

doujinshi, hataye no gotoku, fate/stay night, umineko no naku koro ni

Both of our panels took place on Friday which was actually quite nice since it meant we’d have the rest, and busiest, day of the con to concentrate on events. Panel Ops was efficient and quick, they even allowed us to leave some stuff in the room for later in the day. Anime Recruitment was held in the very panel room where it premiered in 2007 so it had a nostalgic feel to it! We had a good crowd, definitely more than 50 people, and a plethora of questions that we just plain didn’t have time to get to. With so much extra free stuff leftover it was kind of a free for all at the end. While I was happy with Anime Recruitment, nothing could have prepared me for I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen This! which was held in a very, very large panel in the new Hilton section. We easily had more than 250 people in the room . . . YIKES! Since this panel line-up changes every time we do it, I was a little uneasy. Plus, we were also doing this panel for the first time showing the openings for each show. But somehow we pulled it off and had a happy crowd by the end. We had zero time for questions so once again a mad dash that made us look like celebrity superstars was done in the pursuit of free swag. I can say though that I won’t ever be scared about doing a panel again, after that many people we can handle it!

otakon, i can't believe you haven't seen this, panel

Anime Recruitment went fairly well as it usually does. One day we will learn to be more snappy in our answers but I think we did okay in our Q&A section. As always people loved the free stuff. It was good I took the time to recharge myself before our I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen This! panel because we were in a huge room and had an overwhelming turnout. It was the first time that we ran the panel with the openings before we started talking about the shows. We had to cut down the number of shows we talked about but I think that the shows we talked about had more impact this way. Whenever we run these panels I am always surprised by what people know already. The amount of reaction to Princess Nine caught me off guard. Shows how little I have my finger on the pulse of fandom!

One schedule conflict that came up was our panel butted up right next to the MELL concert and since we tend to be chatty after a panel it was inevitable that I was going to miss a bit of it. After we skedaddled we jogged over to the other side of the con where the concert was being held. Luckily the press area was near the stage and we were able to jump in rather easily. MELL started off in a very elaborate Victorian-esque costume dress and fan which made it a feat that she was able to move around so fluidly on stage. She did several numbers of heavy beats then exited the stage for a wardrobe change and returned in another white dress that was only slightly less complicated though it was missing the wide skirt. She sang some slower and more melodic pieces before amping it up with the Black Lagoon opening and others then rocking so hard she broke her dress! For her encore she came back on stage in a red kimono and started off by singing the opening from Rideback which was really the one thing I wanted to hear most of all. Easily one of the best parts of the convention, I would certainly love to see her back in the U.S. I was also able to attend her press conference where she was very gracious and talkative. I asked her about the process for doing an anime opening, she went on to explain that the production studio contacts her. After her manager has laid down some sound she then starts to work on the lyrics. MELL also mentioned that this was the first time she was invited anywhere because of her involvement in anime openings and endings. Afterward she was kind enough to even take a photo with me!

mell, otakon, concert mell, otakon, concert

After the concert a bunch of us hooked up with Clarissa and had dinner with a big crew at a local sushi place. It was another delightful dinner and I got to meet Daniel Briscoe from The Anime Chop Shop. After that I tagged along with Gerald and Daniel as they went to the Guess the Melons late night panel. It was a game show where they showed you the cleavage of an anime, video games, or manga character and you had to use that to identify who they were. There was one guy on the panel who was pretty good at the fighting game girls were but other than that most of the people from the audience were more knowledgeable. Gerald would have schooled them all had he been picked to play.  It was a funny panel but I found it most amusing that despite being an 18+ panel there was no nudity. Even when they had a Queen’s Blade character! Daniel and I left about 3/4 of the way through because it was getting late.

otakon, sushi

If it was not absolutely clear that I am a mere amateur when building models, the Gundam Model Building workshop made this fact 100% obvious. The man giving the panel was extremely knowledgeable and skilled. He quickly went past where I was and went straight to advanced techniques to make your kits look both professional and unique. He mentioned he has a web page but I sadly did not stick around long enough to get his card. I popped in on the Otaku TV panel with Viga the Otagal of the site of the same name. She looked at various anime about otaku and then played clips to show how they each had a different look at fandom. She looked at shows like Genshiken, Cosplay Complex, Comic Party, and Welcome to the NHK. After relaxing for a bit I went to the always entertaining Return of the Anime Old Timers? panel. It was fun to see some of the first wave of anime fans tell about their experiences. I asked what shows they felt everyone else had over looked and people should check out. I was surprised that everyone on the panel said Sentou Mecha Xabungle.

gundam, g falcon, x

There was a last minute press conference with 4 of the major Japanese guests at Otakon. One has to wonder why this was planned at the last minute to begin with. So entered Masao Maruyama, Noburo Ishiguro, Yukio Kikukawa, Hidenori Matsubara to a fairly empty press room. Maruyama and Ishiguro tried to slip in the back row and were amused by us and the rest of the press room pretend interviewing their interpreter. Once they were corralled on stage they were very talkative and each answered the questions with solid responses. Kikukawa talked a bit about the production of Legend of the Galactic Heroes going on to say that he thinks it went on so long because the top people at the studio just didn’t notice it. When a show was just staying in the middle they had free reign to do what they wanted. Matsubara mentioned that he would really like to do a Dororo anime and in addition to that Maruyama said they were considering the project very seriously at Madhouse. Ishiguro hinted at a project he has had in his heart for many, many years but fears he will never be able to make it. He also talked a bit about Nagahama Tadao, the long deceased director, and gave us some insights into how he worked. Near the end Ishiguro went on to talk at length about the lack of preservation for film in Japan and how envious he was of the care given to American films, even bad ones. The press conference went on longer than expected and was really diverse in the questions, good job press!

otakon, yukio kikukawa, masao maruyama, noburo ishiguro, hidenori matsubara

I took a little nap before catching the tail end of the Funimation Industry panel. The couches in front of the panel rooms at the Hilton are quite comfortable let me tell you. I got  in pretty much as they were announcing licenses so I got to hear what everybody really cares about. I was surprised that they got Eden of the East. Narutaki and I expected it to be picked up by Bandai. I was sort of shocked that they picked up Casshern Sins. I have heard it was an amazing series but I wonder how many people care. I will probably pick it up based on sdshamshel’s recommendation alone. I am still a little surprised no one has picked up Toradora! or Rideback yet but the con season still has a little while to go. I guess they have to save something for NYAF. 

otakon, fred schodt

Fred Schodt was one of the guests I was looking forward to the most. I read his book Manga! Manga! many years ago and have recently read both Dreamland Japan and The Astro Boy Essays making me a certifiable fan of the man. His Q&A was just that, there was very little introduction and for the people in the audience there seemed little need for it. From the moment the first question was asked it just went non-stop until the panel ended much too soon. He was very soft-spoken and patient with the audience which created a very comfortable atmosphere. Schodt started off by telling us the answer to a question a lot of us were asking each other over the weekend, “how do you pronounce Schodt?” apparently it is simply “shot.” Other highlights included Schodt’s telling of how he met Osamu Tezuka, what cultural parts are hardest to translate, and the Pluto manga which he is currently working on for VIZ. When asked about the rise in manga and anime studies, Schodt replied simply that people should read more and watch more, that was the most important part. He also seemed disinterested in writing another book about manga because the awareness had grown so much. I didn’t have a chance to ask if he would think about writing commentary on manga, but he did say he hoped to translate a biography about Tezuka in the future. Directly after his panel was an autograph session that I rushed over to and happily got my copy of The Astro Boy Eassys signed. 

I tried to get into Daryl Surat’s Anime’s Craziest Deaths panel which had a huge line on which I ran into Dave and Joel. We were eventually told that there was no way on God’s green earth we could get into the panel so we all went down to the video games room. Unsurprisingly, I hung out by the Type-Moon fighting games. It really made me want a PSP and Fate/Unlimited Codes. I then ran into Ko Ransom who mentioned that they shut down Anime’s Craziest Deaths for being a 18+ panel despite not being marked as such. Daryl argued that he came close to the border but never crossed the line. This would quickly become a constant topic of conversation. Yet again AWO almost gets kicked out of Otakon. That is why you have to love those guys. Maybe next year Clarissa will run a panel that will come close to the danger zone and they can have a hat trick. I sort of lost track of time browsing doujin so I was a little late for From Kenshiro to Kenshin: The Neo-Shonen Revolution. I missed the first third of the panel but it was rather good. Daryl was really well spoken and proved that he can be very even handed and moderate when he wants to be. He gave an excellent analysis of how shonen has changed over the years which I found fascinating. Not that I really have to tell anyone but Daryl is another person who you should go out of your way to see if you get the chance.

otakon, cosplay, ghibli, kiki's delievery service, nausicca, porco rosso

I attended Reviewing Anime the Right Way because quite frankly who know what we do on this blog? The panel consisted of Mike Toole of Anime Jump, AWO/OtakuUSA‘s Daryl and Clarissa, and ANN’s Bamboo Dong. Since all of these people get paid for their writings I was hoping to at most pick up some tips, and at least see an amusing panel. Throughout the session each person gave examples of how they work and talked about their own approaches to things like having your own voice and writing consistently. I wouldn’t say I was surprised that everyone said they take notes while watching shows but I know it is not something I subscribe to doing. Of course hearing that made me reconsider my position so we will see. I found the advice about how to avoid falling into the trap of just summarizing helpful as well as their suggestions to write too much and edit down rather than the other way around. They finished off the panel by mentioning how to get paid writing gigs and answering a few questions. So if you were just thinking of writing reviews for the first time it was worth a listen and a laugh.

I eventually fluttered over to Anime and Manga Studies which was an overview of how to look at anime and manga from an academic perspective. Alex Leavitt, who was on the panel, was surprised how many teachers and professors asked questions about ways to convince their school to let them do anime related programs. It was a good panel for anyone who wanted to start looking at anime from a more intellectual perspective. After that I headed over to the The Problem with Otaku also chaired by Alex. This panel looked at the word “otaku” and how it has evolved in Japan and the U.S. I did not learn much I did not already know but it was a good and even-handed discussion on a somewhat controversial topic in the U.S. that has inspired myriads of debate in the fan community. It definitely helped me organize my thoughts for our next Otaku Dairies article though!

As I mentioned previously, dinner plans during Otakon after Thursday just sort of happen by chance. So on Saturday evening a gathering emerged of some familiar fellows from previous dinners and some new faces like Alex Leavitt of Department of Alchemy who we’ve met briefly before and Link. The gang rounded up and headed over to the food court with the insane notion that since the masquerade was in full swing it wouldn’t be as crowded. Once it became apparent there wasn’t much room for us people grabbed food to go and we ate and talked leisurely outside one of the con entrances for a bit. Some of us headed for Mike Toole’s  Dubs That Time Forgot panel but to no avail! Wow, what a line!

otakon

Narutaki, Kohaku, and I all went back to the hotel to rest up for the Big Dave and Joel party. This was a good idea because me and Evan ended up there until about 3AM. Without a doubt I don’t think Otakon would feel right without going to Dave and Joel’s extravaganzas. It is a excellent chance to talk to everyone you would ever want to at a convention who was not a Japanese guest. Dave and Joel were charming and hysterical as always and everyone else was equally chill. Some people in attendance were the Ninja Consultants, Viga, AWO, Matt Burnett of For Tax Reasons, and Mike Toole after his panel. I was utterly drained by the time I left the party. It did take us a little while to get to bed because someone accidentally locked the deadbolt to the room so we had to keep calling people until someone unlocked. This always has to happen to someone during a con.

Early on Sunday morning was the Without Watching the Anime: Opening & Ending Themes panel run by Alex Leavitt. His mission statement was to show us the history of anime with just openings and endings and to show how they have evolved over the years. We started with some classics like Astro Boy and Mazinger and even a hilarious English version of Mazinger! A little too much time was spent on the openings to Cutey Honey. He went on to talk about the lack of synchronization of animation with music which has changed in more recent times, the example he used was K-ON! Additionally he talked about experimental openings that don’t necessarily reflect the show at all like the opening to Honey and Clover. There was some weird scheduling conflict that seemed unknown to our host so the end of the panel was rather rushed along. While I liked the overall concept of the panel since I too am a big fan of openings, I think the examples could be more effective and diverse combined with more discussion. Also I wouldn’t mind seeing the focus possibly switched to the more experimental or innovative openings.

otakon, hidenori matsubara

The Hidenori Matsubara panel maybe had a dozen people so we did a little roundtable discussion. Link and I both asked a bunch of questions sometimes following up each other’s inquiries. It was a shame more people did not attend because he was very open and talkative. I got to gush a little about Sakura Taisen and mention that I really liked Gemini Sunrise’s character design. He was willing to give some insight into the Rebuild of Evangelion movies as well. I was surprised how casual about the movies he was, according to him there is almost no chance that the 3rd and 4th movies will play together in theaters like originally planned. I did notice three things that Matsubara and Yamamoto both mentioned. Both had very vague definitions of moe when asked about moe. This leads me to believe that the Japanese are just as confused about moe as we are. Both felt there was an increasing trend among Japanese otaku to want nothing bad or horrible to happen to characters. And both conveyed a fondness for American conventions were they can sit and talk with fans. Why they don’t have these type of conventions in Japan is an eternal mystery. After the panel I got his autograph which made me happy. It was the best panel almost no one went to.

otakon, cosplay, star fox, captain falcon, smash brothers otakon, cosplay, sengoku basara

Since the panel with Matsubara ran on as late as it could I was a little late to the Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy, and the Manga/Anime Revolution, with Fred Schodt panel. Schodt comes off as an amazingly scholarly asset to the anime and manga community in the U.S. And I must agree with Mike Toole’s assessment that he looks remarkably like Revolver Ocelot. It was a  good overview of Osamu Tezuka and Astro Boy much like a live action version of his Astro Boy Essays book. At the end someone had to ask the age old question about whether or not Disney stole the idea of the Lion King from Tezuka’s Kimba. While Schodt has written and probably spoken about this numerous times over the years he didn’t bat an eyelash at the question and in fact answered quite succinctly. I think everyone came away with a little more knowledge after the panel.

naomi tamura, otakon, concert
Dave Wujcik/Copyright 2009 by Otakorp Inc.

There was a double concert session on Friday. No I’m not talking about Becca, I’m talking about the rockin’ tunes coming from the Otacafe where on Sunday you could find Carl, Big N of Drastic My Anime Blog, and Omo of omonomono singing! And then the Naomi Tamura concert rounded out the con with a very exciting performance. Naomi is best known, atleast to me, for her songs from Magic Knight Rayearth and I hadn’t really looked much further into her repertoire. She quickly proved to me that I should have as she had some very hard rock sounds to share with the audience in addition to her Rayearth more pop-rock pieces. I am happy to report that she ended her concert (minus the encore) with my favorite piece Yuzurenai Negai the first opening to Rayearth. I jumped up and down, I waved my hands, I screamed, and I clapped for the song I had been waiting for! I was very worried I wasn’t going to hear it because we had to catch a bus but the con gods smiled upon us. It was the perfect way to end the incredible weekend.

otakon, dealers room

The dealers’ room was impressive as always. There was a wide variety of items and a huge amount of dealers. As per our Con Survival guide I only looked at what I had priced beforehand (expect doujin) so I was easily able to keep my spending under control. I mostly looked through the doujinshi because I did not see the Maria figure from Jun Planning. I got some good stuff and picked up a doujinshi for OGT I thought he would like. I also picked up a Nirvash kit as a birthday present for Patz, and then grabbed up some items for my travel companions that couldn’t get to the dealer’s room again which included a Souther Revoltech for Carl, and a Red Comet Gundam action base for Narutaki. Patz got me the Gundam Double X with G-Falcon as a birthday gift earlier in the convention. Did I mention that I love Paula Cis? It is only tangentially related but I figured I would bring it up again. I wish I had had a little more time to just look over the dealers’ room in hopes of finding something rare but my schedule was a little too jam packed for that. While my heart was sad my wallet was happy.

otakon, artist alley, big o

I really didn’t get a chance to spend as much time as I normally like to at the Artist Alley probably because there were so many events going on I barely even had time to eat let alone meander. However, I did make a point to check out the art auction and to see the very large Big O model that was for sale. A mere $9500.00 could net you that behemoth, atleast that was the starting price! I haven’t heard anything about what it sold for. There were other unique pieces like quilts and door shades as well as traditional paintings and the such. I am always amazed to see people willing to pay top dollar for prints, PRINTS, of stuff that you can buy right over in artist alley just because they are framed. They aren’t even numbered or have a limited printing. The alley itself seemed to a little less crowded but the artwork seemed to be a bit higher in quality over all.

d.gray man, kanda, blind box figure

I had a ton of fun with people I have known for years, people I know casually, people I only know through the Internet, and with people I just met for the first time. My biggest problem was usually deciding what to go to because there were too many good options. If your major problem is too much fun then that is always a good thing. Without a doubt Otakon once again proves that there are major benefits and experiences you can only get out of a big convention. I know that Narutaki and I are already planning to go next year.  If you are on the fence I suggest you attend as well. The only other conventions that are going to give you anywhere as much bang for your buck on the East coast are New York Anime Festival and Anime Weekend Atlanta. So I hope to see everyone I met at Otakon next year and I hope to see some new faces as well.

Otakon is a special convention that is not without its problems but they more than make up for it in enthusiasm for the fans themselves. With the new addition of the Hilton the convention seems poised to continue growing in the many years to come in Baltimore. Crowd control over all never seemed to be an issue for me and congestion seemed to be kept to a minimum. The events were top notch and very rarely started late, even the concerts were efficiently run on their time schedules! Being our first year as press we still have some things to get used to and learn. And while I would have liked better communication about interviews and the such, it didn’t wholly overshadow the experience. I can honestly say overall praise is what Otakon staff deserve this year! If I haven’t made it clear in my report then let me say plainly that Otakon was amazing, full of people and events that were second to none, and plans for next year have already started taking shape in my mind.

Top 5 Model Kits I would like
5. 1/144 PTX-003-SP1 Alteisen Riese & 1/144 PTX-007-03C Weissritter
4. Moebius Zero & Sky Grasper 1/144 Scale EX-15
3. MRC-F20 Mobile Sumo / Gold Type (1/100)
2. 1/100 MG Nu Gundam
1. 1/35 AT-05E Rodeo-Star

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6 thoughts on “Otakon 2009

  1. Alyce Wilson says:

    I’m glad that you had such a good time at Otakon and that you are planning to return.

    As far as the interviews are concerned, we try to schedule as many press availabilities as possible, within the guests’ time restraints. Unfortuntately, some of the guests on your list had very limited time to do interviews.

    For next year, we will be looking at methods for notifying the press if we discover their requested interviews will not be possible. And of course, you’re always welcome to come down to Press Ops and ask us. We’ll do our best to help you out!

  2. Reinhard Cosplayer says:

    Hey there,

    I was the Reinhard cosplayer you had mentioned in the report, and I stumbled upon your blog upon googling about Ishiguro.

    Thanks so much for attending and promoting the panel. This one went under the radar for a lot of people, but I’m really happy to know that people enjoyed it so much since LoGH deserves more attention these days. Gundam fandom has grown a lot since I began hosting panels for it in 04, but LoGH is just starting to gain more prominence.

    If you want to keep in touch, just reach me at the above e-mail.

    Thanks for coming, hopefully we’ll have more panels at Otakon in future years. Check out the mecha panel we’ll be hosting at NYAF if you can.

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