After editing like a madman, here it is… My Otakon photos are complete!
A few weeks ago, I had the luxury of going to the east coast’s biggest convention, Otakon, down in Baltimore, MD. How did it go? Find out!
So Otakon has this reputation for being the east coast’s biggest convention, you’ll see lots of high profile guests and people from all over the country. The problem is that as par for the course, organization takes a dip with such a lumbering Goliath. Going to a big convention the likes of Otakon or AnimeExpo is nothing like the “Anytown,USA community college anime meetup”. You’ll never get to do everything but you want to do most things. You’ll need good preparation and a game plan. Fortunately, this con, I had the extreme luxury of attending all the panels I was hoping to make.
At cons, you should always pay attention to the circumstances. Line up at least a half hour in advance and an hour if the panel is super popular. Autographs will almost require you to wait in a huge mob before the actual lineup even starts, this is the most time consuming part of a con. And for big dealers’ rooms, the first-day line is always atrocious spanning two floors in the hours before it opens. Do something else for the time being and come back later so you’re not overrun. That said, the Sunday line for the dealers’ room was so long, it got extended all the way back to the registration tables. It somehow moved at a rapid pace, but that’s not something you want to rely on.
Cosplay was somewhat varied this year. I didn’t feel like I saw Square-Enix mobs or even Naruto mobs, but I did see Homestuck cosplay times infinitum. A huge gathering of about 100 or so fangirls on Saturday night wasn’t a panel lineup or the rave, no, it was the Homestuck photoshoot. Perhaps there was a demographic shift? There was no Hetalia takeover this year. Cosplay trends are certainly fascinating. Lots of the yearly traditions continued. I had a Souji Seta/Yu Narukami cosplay readied for the Persona midnight Dark Hour shoot and a few other cosplays under the belt too. But if I have a complaint, it’s not from the con staff but from the goshdarned lighting, photographers, the Baltimore Convention Center is your nightmare.
Amazing Aniplex Action
My main goal for Friday was all the Madoka shenanigans. Schedule-wise, everything was literally back-to-back. If you wanted to make a panel, Gen Urobuchi’s Q&A, and autographs for the VAs you had to hustle. Fortunately, Mr. Urobuchi got two signings, a wise move on the con staff, especially with Aniplex’s strong push for Madoka and Fate/Zero.
Gen’s panel was very insightful. There were lots of questions regarding the motivations to his writing and what it was like working on an anime after writing novels and visual novels. While I don’t have a photo due to his wishes for minimal photo exposure, the feel of getting my DVDs signed by him was such an honor.
A little later on came the Madoka voice actress panel, where the audience donned Kyubey masks and the actresses goofed off and said various lines. We had Ai Nonaka fly in and for the dub actresses we had Christine Marie Cabanos, Sarah Williams, and Lauren Landa. Who knew Lauren Landa could make everything sound so delightfully sultry? The generally friendly atmosphere and the fun everyone was having really made the experience a good one. But no time to hang around, by now you had to hurry downstairs to line up for the actresses’ signing.
After a brisk walk, I tore into the end of the line and proceeded to wait for a signing from Christine, Sarah, and Lauren. The three were very nice and you could even spy things like Miss Cabanos’ Soul Gem necklace, which really makes you think with this newer crop of voice actors, a lot of them are fans passionate about animation and acting. The young ones have it, so to speak.
Saturday was the night of the Steins;Gate dub premiere, so Funimation has put it on their list of titles to promote as well as Panty and Stocking, and other dubs they recently put out. But let’s flashback to what happened on Friday. So here I am, I decided at the last minute to assemble a Hououin Kyouma cosplay and little did I know of Funimation’s plans, what a surprise? With bottles of Dr. Pepper in hand I ventured through the con and lo and behold! The dealers’ room had a “set-piece” from the anime. A dirty couch, a Phone-Wave (real name TBA), gel-nanas, and cans of Dr. Pepper strewn about.
After participating in the scavenger hunts, I returned to the Funimation booth for an informal hanging out with other cosplayers. And little did I know that Jay Michael Tatum, the English voice actor for Okabe, was there just chilling at the booth. It was an incredible moment to just spend an afternoon with one of the cast, and personally it was an inspiration for my own acting endeavors.
So here we are, Saturday night, the night where the biggest and best things go down. I was at least thirty minutes early and it seems the staff let people sit in for the panel, a debatable move since everyone rushed to snag seats, but luckily this was the largest room in the convention hall and crowd management didn’t seem to be a problem in the packed house.
With Jay Michael Tatum and Trina Nishimura at the helm and an army of Okabe cosplayers, myself included, dotting the crowd the premiere was underway. My thoughts on the first five episodes of the dub? Amazing. Funimation has writers at their helm instead of just translations. The dialogue was very natural and it sounded like actual people speaking. Try listening to the the script to an anime dub, preferably from way back in the day and compare it to a live-action show. Big difference there. Now listen to the Steins;Gate dub and compare. You’ve probably thrown those types of sarcastic insults yourself. Tatum and Nishimura threw in a few words during the small intermission and after a couple more episodes, we closed out with a photoshoot.
Sunday was the day with the horrible lineups to the dealers’ room but I was able to snag plenty of goodies and plenty of artwork from the artists’ alley. An all-around good ending to a great convention, and speaking of thoughts on the convention, Gen Urobuchi had some tasty Twitter Tweets on America’s otaku with a translation here. He says this:
I thought the euphoria from visiting Sakuracon was partially the happiness hormones from going to America for the first time,
but going to Otakon this time I have confirmed it. American Otaku are really wonderful.
Because they are not fighting amongst each other. They are seriously loving each other as same-minded brothers.
They are gentlemen, that to protect their community, and to participate at the event with each other feeling well, abide by manner rules throughoutly.
I’m feeling from all of that. The edorphine is overflowing, and I’m happy at full throtle.
Even though they are holding up moderation to prevent people from making others feel bad, no BECAUSE they are doing that, you can really fully enjoy the event.
In Japan, it’s not so much about making the place feel good, but about getting your fingers on that book. That sort of people exist in masses over here.
I’m thinking, maybe they are correctly enjoying anime more so than we Japanese who create them.
Fighting with fans of other anime. What are you doing?
Do you want to watch anime, or do you want to fight? What is it? That is what I want to ask.
In the end, in Japan there are probably still tons of otaku that think of themselves as pitiful beings. So, when they so other otaku enjoying themselves, they are aggressively going “Even though they are of the same kind of me, why are they not pitifully let their head hang down?” It’s really tragic.
Of course the American otaku know they are a minority, but they would never think of themselves as pitiful because of that.
Since everyone is firmly self-confident about what they love, they don’t even think about someone else denying them that. They don’t get instinctly snappy in defense either.
I wanted to tell some fun memories, but it somehow became a complaint.
…well, if you ever think about you living as otaku along with other otaku being a sad thing, then I think it is the right thing to watch an American anime convention once.
You are getting encouraged on that we are truly spreading a wonderful culture.
Mr. Urobuchi definitely a lot on his plate, but instead of giving you my thoughts on his outside-in look on America’s geekdom, what do you readers think? Is the grass greener here, there, or equally the same? Sound off in the comments section bellow!
Anyway, that’s my experience at this year’s Otakon. Join me next time when I guzzle five gallons of Mountain Dew.