Otakon 2010: General Impressions

hisuiconI am sort of in the haze of con time dilation as I write this; almost no sleep for four days while simultaneously running on the adrenalin rush of the weekend. All my memories of the con seem like a combination of mere seconds ago and ancient history as my perception of time during the weekend was utterly obliterated. I was either talking to someone who was fascinating, listening to someone talk who was incredible, or was running around at high speeds only taking a few moments to eat and sleep. So it seems like the Otakon weekend lasted forever and went by in the blink of an eye. All I know is I am eventually going to crash and crash hard so I am going to try to sum up my feelings really quickly before I shut off like a toy with dead batteries.

Otakon is always my most anticipated portion of the summer. Considering that the guest announcements this year, and many other years, cut it close, even announcing some guests mere weeks before the con, it is the fans and friends that really make Otakon the best part of the summer. But luckily there were also guests from directors and producers plus the inevitable bumps along the way like an impromptu fire drill that made doubly sure Otakon 2010 was a memorable one.

hisuicon I am used to be press at cons now to the point that I can’t really imagine going to a convention without a press badge now. I love doing interviews and going to press only Q&A sessions. Being press has distinct responsibilities and drawbacks but the benefits are far greater and more rewarding than any inconvenience. I also like writing con reports which helps a lot. And every good con report puts me one step closer to the dream. As a side note I would like to mention that if you ever have any questions you would like to ask any guest at a con we attend just send me an email before the convention. I will do everything in my power to get you the answers you want. Nothing makes me happier than being able to get our readers the information they need from a convention or panel they cannot attend.

Organization was at an all time high this year minus the continual late openings of the doors in the morning. They implemented the new barcode system for pre-registration which seemed to keep things rolling. A few of our fellow friends who had to pick up regular badges were in and out in moments. Even both registration lines on Saturday morning after 10AM looked a bit ghost town like. And we know that wasn’t because attendance was down, heck with more than 29,000 people for the weekend it was the biggest Otakon ever! This made emptying the building incredibly messy with the prank of pulling the fire alarm in the middle of the day Saturday (culprit not apprehended). There were even a few instances of dehydration and passing out. Accommodating for this one hour delay in scheduling was no easy task but their best foot was put forward in order to let programming make up for it. As for scheduling the rest of the weekend, I was surprised to see so few changes and glad to see the biggest events coming off without a hitch. Traffic control within the building was well handled, in fact it seemed like there were less people from previous years so bravo for making that illusion happen Otakon staff.

hisuicon I guess the biggest thing to talk about that does not go anywhere else is the Otakon fire alarm. I myself did not really get caught up in the madness. I had gone back to the hotel room to get a snack before heading to the Podcasting for your Fandom panel (which I still really want to see). After stocking up on some portable food I ran into Lwelyk who informed me about the situation. I decided to check out the madness and I will tell you that any pictures you see do not fully capture the sea of otaku spilling into the street because of the bozo who pulled the alarm. I have to applaud the Otakon staff for getting everything back in order as soon as they did. If nothing else it gave me time to have a proper little meal and relax with everyone in the room. (By the way I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that they saw Vic Mignogna pull the fire alarm while moot started a grease fire in the convention center.)

In a rare turn of events I attended the Masquerade. I can’t actually recall the last time I did this, especially with the jam packed schedule that was Otakon this year, but there I was to see Yoshiki of X-Japan. The guests all seemed to require (worthy) sacrifices like I just mentioned because everyone had conflicting schedules. We all get used to this at conventions, it is just part of the game and guests available time, but for whatever reason many people were feeling it more readily at Otakon. Though I wonder if in part it was done on purpose to help with crowd control especially for things like American voice actors where lines can be ridiculously long. Even with two people covering as much as possible we surely didn’t see it all. In any case, there was no time to spare, it was run, run, run for the entire weekend and (un)fortunately eating meals kept getting in the way.

hisuiconThe dealers room was impressive as always. I was so busy I only got to make two very shorts trips to the room to get an overview. I noticed that Funimation had a free photo sticker booth this year. It was a cute idea and I would have used it but there was always a solid line waiting for it and I hardly got to explore the dealers room as it was. My biggest disappointment was I did not buy anything for myself. Hopefully next year I will have a little more free cash to splurge in the king’s treasury. I really wanted several things including a Jessica figure, a Lady Oscar figure, or a Fate/Stay Night art book but my budget did not allow it. I wanted to get Alliance of the Golden Witch which I would have splurged on but I could not remember what table sold Link the one he got. But that is a minor bit of sadness in an otherwise wonderfully magical weekend.

This was Otakon’s second year having the added space of the Hilton and they learned from last year how to better utilize it. This time panel rooms 4, 5, and 6 resided there among other things. With two of these rooms being incredibly large plus the Hilton having hallway room to spare there was plenty of space for lines to form. It is a really comfortable space too with couches and such throughout. Though it still seems many attendees don’t know the Hilton exists as I passed a pair wondering why people were “leaving the con when it has only been open for a half hour.” This indicated to me that more signage would be great. Something like road signs throughout would be a big help. Things like artist alley and the dealer’s room where hit infrequently over the weekend. However, a little shrinkage in both was noted, nothing major, but just a slightly leaner feeling from last year’s group. I was feeling it too as I picked up only a couple of doujin and a volume of Black Jack.

hisuiconAs always my favorite part of the con was talking to a bunch of my real life friends and Internet friends in one location. I will never forget the sublime feeling of being surrounded by people I respect and admire. I enjoy taking my time during a meal and just shooting the breeze face to face. The Fast Karate party was spectacular as always and the blogger picnic was news this year but equally as memorable. More than any guest or piece of merchandise I treasure seeing people like One Great Turtle, Ed Sizemore, the boys from Insert Disc, and the AWO crew, who I cannot normally see in person. But the panels, guests, premiers, dealers room, and con staff were all spectacular this year and made me happy as well. None of them were prefect but they always met and then exceeded my expectations.

For myself, cons are an absolute thrill, especially when you are staying in a hotel it’s like being on another planet for a few days. Otakon is is like this more than any other because of the non-stop nature of it. Directors. Screenings. Parties. Fans. Voice Actors. Figures. Panels. Concerts. It is no surprise that days later I have to rack my brain to remember exactly what happened (and often not in the right order). With the numbers of attendance up I am impressed how smoothly things came off. Walking away from Otakon 2010 was hard, it was a blast, you gotta try it sometime.

More Otakon 2010 posts:

Otakon 2010: Industry
Otakon 2010: Guests
Otakon 2010: Events
Anime3000 Podcast: Bonus Round – 8/5/10 – Otakon: It’s Fantastic!
Otakon 2010: Fan Panels

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14 thoughts on “Otakon 2010: General Impressions

  1. Aorii says:

    For as much as everyone complains about the fire, yeah Otakon staff really did an amazing job at getting everything back in order (and normality) so quickly.
    Need panel reviews :P I always wonder if some of those panels (especially given long lines at major cons like Otakon) are worth it or not.

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