I decided to book a room near a light rail station to avoid “event parking” rates. The only drawback was that I’d have to forgo most of the 18+ panels, as the light rail turns back into a pumpkin when the clock strikes midnight. It was a sacrifice I could somehow bring myself to make.
I stayed at a Motel 6, where the motto is, “we’ll leave the light on for you”. However, the pamphlet in the room recommended turning the lights off when you leave. This betrayal of corporate values was a sign of further inconveniences to come. They didn’t change my towels after the first day, which really sucked because I blue all over them. Then they kept bugging me to complete some survey. When I didn’t, they sent me an email saying:
We noticed that you did not have time to complete the survey. We are concerned that you may not have responded because we have somehow failed to live up to your expectations.
The Motel 6 was about two miles north of the convention center. I figured I’d walk to pick up my badge since I had time to kill. However, when I stepped out, I noticed two things. First, it was raining. Second, it was Baltimore. I thought it might be more convenient to get a ride, so I hung around and looked for anyone who might be driving to the convention center. I saw three girls who looked like they were headed to Otakon, but they looked like they were headed to Otakon (i.e., they were fat), so I was inspired to walk.
Two miles looked a lot shorter in Google Maps. I got lazy and took a break at a pretty good/cheap Vietnamese restaurant. It was packed with otaku. I was the only one who enjoyed breathing enough to eat alone.
I finally got to the convention center and got on the line to pick up my badge. There were nine badge designs to choose from. I hadn’t seen the anime on any of them (this would no longer be the case on Friday). Did this mean I’d become out-of-touch, elitist, or just plain old? I ended up going with Sword Art Online. “If you’re bored, pick the sword”, is what I always say. It’s much catchier than, “if you want to bang your underage sister, go with Oreimo”, or, “if you want to wear a badge with naked men, choose Free”.
I blue myself in my room and headed to the light rail station. Some otaku at the station started talking to me. I did them the honor of talking back. They informed me that the Yoko Kanno concert now required tickets to get in, unlike the light rail, where nobody checks for tickets. I had three days to get on line for a ticket. Spoiler: I did not.
Japan 101: Lessons Learned (+)
Fairly edutaining panel, but there was considerable overlap with Otakon’s five million other Japanese travel panels.
First-Timer’s Guide to Sewing (+)
Even though I blue myself with tremendous skill, nobody at Otakon was impressed with my sweatshop-bought costume. I figured I should learn a sewing technique or two for future reference. Besides, it was still Friday morning; nothing else was going on.
Information-wise, the panel started out fine but lost its first-timer appeal as veteran seamstresses in the audience hijacked the panel to a more advanced level. Entertainment-wise I was still satisfied though. The only panelist who did any talking had a great stage personality.
Went to Five Guys. Got a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and hot sauce. I was motivated by a Steins;Gate cosplayer to drink some Dr. Pepper. Didn’t get fries, since I’m not a fatass.
Oreimo 2 Final Episodes World Premiere (+)
I still wasn’t turned on by any of the panel offerings, so on a whim I decided to watch the final episode of a show I’d never previously seen. I did it for the same reasons I’d go to a hentai panel or a shitty anime panel: the audience reactions. I was not disappointed.
The room was full of pedophiles. I did the best I could to blend in. When the guy next to me asked me what I wanted to happen, I said I totally wanted the main dude to end up with Kuroneko (that’s the only name I remembered from skimming other blogs).
The author, director, and editor were present for the screening. They had a translator for most of their lines, but one of them attempted English anyway by saying, “duu yuu rabu rittaa shisutaa?” The audience cheered emphatically.
The episodes themselves put together an unexpectedly entertaining story (+). I was under the impression that Oreimo was one of those typical anime romances where nothing happens and the main dude gets cockblocked at every possible opportunity. The final three episodes have none of that. It’s all drama and shit goes down.
Science in Anime (+)
Not bad, probably could’ve been much better. They did an interesting calculation for the air pressure required to power Attack on Titan’s 3D gear. They also showcased Kunyan’s mastery of physics.
Awesome Women in Anime (+)
Pro: Awesome women are awesome.
Con: Finding awesome women in anime is about as hard as finding traces of cocaine on a one-dollar bill.
I was hungry and didn’t see anything particularly appetizing on the rest of the day’s schedule, so I headed back to Motel 6 on the light rail. Nobody checked my ticket. My bizarre adventure then took me to a pizzeria called Joe², or as I call it, JoeJoe. The pizza was pricey but quite excellent. I brought it back to my motel room at ate it while watching preseason football. Somehow that made me feel more like a loser than attending an anime convention.
I blue myself again and headed to the light rail station. The ticket machine wasn’t working. I threw caution to the wind and hopped on without a ticket, thereby exposing myself to fines and/or imprisonment! Once again, nobody checked.
I Love the 80s: Anime Edition (~)
I love 80s anime. I’ve seen some great panels hosted by Mike Toole. In this case however, two rights made a wrong. Mike got through a lot of clips, but the clips didn’t do a great job advertising or exemplifying their respective shows. Mike’s commentary was fairly uninspired as well. Each segment effectively amounted to, “hey, this show existed!” His comedic panels are light-years better.
In the past I haven’t gone to industry panels and never even saw what the point was. This time I figured I’d check one out in the interests of broadening my horizons and being too lazy to walk to a different room. I’ve now been using Crunchyroll for about five years, so if I was going to find any industry panel worth attending, this was it.
This is the only panel in the history of Otakon that ended early. Way early at that. The whole thing was basically a huge Crunchyroll infomercial. The only new announcement was perhaps a few shows that they’re picking up. Even then, I’m not sure the info wasn’t already public. All in all, a waste of time.
Anime 15 Minutes or Less (~)
Third strike in a row. This panel was hosted by Daryl Surat, another guy I had pretty high expectations for. As the title suggests, the panel was dedicated to short anime. Where the episodes were short enough to view in their entirety, as with Ippatsu Kikimusume, the format worked well. However, most of the shows had to be significantly cut to fit into the panel. If you’re doing a panel on short anime and still have to cut them, they’re not short enough.
I needed to make this a quick lunch so I could get in line for the next panel. I ended up buying some food that’s prepared near the street. Got a jumbo hot dog. Wasn’t as jumbo as I’d envisioned. By the time I demanded a refund, I’d already eaten the hot dog.
Jojo’s Posing School (+)
I got on the line 45 minutes early and was one of the last people allowed in. Everyone who waited 44 minutes or less got screwed. The panelists went over a whole bunch of Jojo poses and went into a fair amount of detail into the history and culture of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. My only real complaint, aside from the line, is that most of the posers weren’t hot chicks.
Concert: Home Made Kazoku and T.M.Revolution (++)
My reaction during the entire concert was basically, “Oh, THAT Home Made Kazoku! Oh, THAT T.M.Revolution!” Turned out I knew a bunch of their songs without knowing it was them.
Home Made Kazoku have great stage personalities. TMR is an incredible singer. They even did a piece together at the end. Overall a strong concert.
I opted for more street food so I could get back in line quickly. This time it was a Korean food truck. Got some bulgogi. It was especially awesome since I never get the chance to eat Korean food. Somehow Korean restaurants don’t exist on Long Island even though there’s a Korean-run Japanese restaurant on every third block.
Otaku Hotspots in Tokyo (+)
This panel was run by bloggers omo and wah. They also had a third guy I didn’t know who put on an awesome summary of the best arcades in Tokyo. The panel was very informative and the panelists clearly knew their shit. The downside is that so many names were dropped that I retained nothing of practical value. Maybe somebody posted a summary on his blog. I’m too lazy to look.
UPDATE: It’s all summed up right here.
Dealers Room/Artists Alley (+)
An extensive, breathtaking variety of stuff I didn’t buy.
Kuroko’s Basketball Cosplay Shoot (+)
- About 35 cosplayers total
- Each player was represented
- Most organized shoot I’ve ever been in
- No hoop
- Overheard some spoilers
- Too much BL gossiping when fangirls gather in large numbers
Deadman Wonderland 1-2 (+)
By the time the cosplay shoot was over, the 18+ panels had already hit max capacity, so I wandered off to the nearest screening room for the first two episodes of Deadman Wonderland.
Pro: Callous disregard for human life.
Con: The main chick’s pedophilic mannerisms. She was almost as bad as Yoko Kanno (see below).
I left after the second episode to catch the last light rail car headed north. Nobody checked my ticket. The line normally heads much farther north, but since it was the last car, my stop was as far as it went. Another otaku who intended to go much farther north had to get off. I invited him back to my motel room until he could secure a ride, but he declined. I wonder if he thought I was gay.
I tend not to cosplay on Sundays. If I blue myself on the final day of the con, it’d be all over me for the ride home. Instead I donned my Chihayafuru “Caruta” shirt and headed to the light rail station. Nobody was there. Apparently the light rail doesn’t run early on Sundays. I had no choice but to walk to the con, which was much quicker this time around with virtually no traffic holding me up. The streets were completely dead, and not just because everyone in Baltimore shot each other earlier in the week.
AMV Contest (+)
There were a lot of strong AMVs here in terms of concepts and scene selection, but nothing blew me away on the technical side. The best part was the unexpected ShizNat.
Got some generic food court Chinese combo. I passed by some other food court stands first, but their clerks tried greeting me, so I ignored them out of principle. Clerks mustn’t speak unless spoken to.
Concert Simulcast: Chiaki Ishikawa & Yoko Kanno (+)
I could only attend a simulcast of the concert because I never got on line for a concert pass. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the simulcast also had a line. The waiting and seating process took over an hour. I had enough time to write half a post and three novel proofs of the Pythagorean theorem. (Then security made me throw it all out.)
The simulcast room was half-empty once the entire line had been seated. Anyone could walk in and out at will. Waiting on line was a total ripoff.
Chiaki Ishikawa didn’t allow the visuals of the concert to be simulcast, so we got stuck listening to her performance set to visuals of random clouds, landscapes, and power lines. The audience began to get unruly. Somehow singing only four songs worked in Ishikawa’s favor, for it allowed the furor over the visuals to dissipate quickly.
Yoko Kanno then stepped up and did some great piano pieces. They were almost overshadowed by her pedophile act. Seems she’s been taking cues from the likes of Shizue Nana, Yui Horie, and every J-pop idol ever to exist. She’d play some crazy piano piece requiring godly levels of skill. Then she’d get up and do that uncoordinated pedophile wave. The audience ate it up. Assholes. Otakon chose the wrong performer’s visuals to black out.
Attempting to meet people at the last second (~~)
At various points during the con, I met a bunch of people I knew online for an average of about 3 minutes each. I’ve always been lazy about scheduling time to meet people, yet things always fell into place. Not this time.
After giving up on meeting everyone, I got on the light rail for my final ride. Nobody checked my ticket.
Best Cosplay: This guy (+++)
Cosplay is about more than dressing up. The goal is to BECOME the character. This guy was in character literally every second of the con. He’d roam the halls in his jerky 8-bit running style. He’d randomly fall down—on purpose—and get back up to keep running in discretized movements. I never saw him in the bathroom, but I’m pretty sure he also pissed in stiff, exagerrated jerks. Nobody will ever top this.