Just like everything else about Otakon’s 20th anniversary, they went all out with their musical guest selection. Home Made Kazoku and T.M.Revolution were perfect fan favorite choices that have graced the halls of Otakon before. Chiaki Ishikawa was a beautiful new voice to add to the line-up. And then, Otakon shocked everyone by announcing that Yoko Kanno would be performing a special beta version of her new concert series Piano Me.
With nearly five hours of concerts to see at Otakon, it promised to be a weekend of music heaven.
I tend to focus a bit of coverage on the blog to Japanese production guests from anime and manga mostly because they get ignored by more fans than I would like. Bloggers and podcasters tend to pay a good amount of attention to them but that is mostly because anyone that deep down the rabbit hole is the type of person who naturally would be interested in such details. (You could then complain about such talk mostly just being preaching to the choir but that is beyond the scope of this report.)
But there is one type of Japanese guest that is beloved by anyone from the most casual fan who watches nothing but a handful of popular shows to the most dedicated scholar who compile Sakuga MADs. Japanese musical guests have that appeal. Even more than even Japanese voice actors they can really bring in an audience. There is even a distinct group of anime convention goers that just comes out for the musical guests and only the musical guests.
Otakon usually does a great job in getting a wide variety of musical guests with everything from JAM Project and VAMPS to the The Yoshida Brothers and the Eminence Symphony Orchestra. So for the 20th anniversary they went and got some of their most popular musical acts and created one blockbuster lineup.
But without a doubt Yoko Kanno was the keynote act. If she were the only guest (musical or otherwise) at Otakon 2013 I think most people would think the lineup was very thin but acceptable. She is one of the few universally beloved names and a distinct crowd-pleaser that transcends boundaries. She is synonymous with anime composition and her discography covers a wide variety of shows and countless different genres. It is probably easier to find someone who has never heard of Naruto at the convention than someone who does not love at least one of the songs she has created. In a fandom that is usually divided she is a wonderful unifier.
But lets us not discount the other guests as well. This was a stellar and unforgettable collection of artists that should not have been missed (even though I did miss some of them.)