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