Sundays at Otakon are always a cool down period for me. Part of it is that usually the panels scheduled on this day tend to be ones that I don’t particularly have much interest in (though I really wish I did check out the Director’s panels when they used to be there. I missed out on something special there). Part of it is the anticipation for going back to my regular daily grind and wishing that I had more of a respite from it. Part of it is gearing up to say final Hi’s and Goodbyes with friends. And so on. So I don’t really run around during this time and try to get something more out of my leftover time there. I’d like to think this was the case on this Sunday…
…which started off waiting in line for my final opportunity for an autograph from Aipon. Not too exciting by itself, but sitting with the usual suspects, meeting with friends waiting in lines for other guests, and pre-gaming for the later Aya Hirano concert was a nice way to pass the hour before the autograph line opened. It was nice actually getting to meet Ai Nonaka and at least let her know my favorite of her roles (hint) while getting a Kyouko ending art postcard signed. The line was moving fast enough that some decided to move to the back to get another autograph, but as the line for the concert was already beginning to get long. But again, that’s why it’s good to go with people you know, as connections made it easier to be closer to the front than would have originally been possible.
As to the concert itself, I managed to be in what I thought was a good spot in the fifth row in front of the stage next between Moy (who helped us out with several sets of glow sticks for support) and @starcreator, with Momotato on the other side of Moy. Reports of the concert itself would probably be best gotten from here, but from a personal experience, it was pretty good. I fed off the energy from Ms. Hirano and the accompanying band (who I believe played with her for the first time), and spent most of the concert standing and doing some sort of wotagei with glow sticks along with Moy and Momotato (accidentally almost squashing Moy as he was between two people with 6’0 build and wingspan). It was my first time doing such that I can really remember, and it was fun for me getting a kick out of being a part of a collective effort to essentially let your enjoyment be known to the performer. Just wish there were more glow sticks as a whole though, though I think this sort of thing might be coming along in conventions. I’m hoping at least that there will be more wotagei present during the music festival that will come to pass in November.
There are moments where it’s sort of telling what people come to events at a con for, like the majority of questions asked at Q&As and such, and here the majority of the crowd waited for songs from Haruhi, and Aya did not disappoint. But it was a little comical that people didn’t hear Aya mention “God Knows” in English at the end of brief speech in Japanese, and didn’t start getting into the song until after the first bars of the song came up. After that, however, all of the crowd got into it and stayed at it for the rest of the show, where at the end, Aya asked the audience to come near the stage for a group photo. Following that, chaos did reign in trying to assemble the line for autographs, and in waiting for autographs from Ms. Hirano. Given that the concert ended around 2:00PM, at first the con staff tried to establish a cutoff point where signatures could not be done. A bunch of people left, however a fair bit stayed, and they were rewarded when Aya decided to sign to the last person in line, which made what would have been a sucky situation for me (I was just after the cutoff point only after advancing to where other friends were – I can’t be proud of it though) and tens of others into a nice memory. My con guide was signed (and Aya noted that my real name was difficult to write), and with that done and thanks exchanged, the goodbyes started. But not before a run through Jimmy John’s, which still has the best submarine sandwiches in the submarine restaurant chain business.
All in all, Otakon 2012 refreshed my spirit. It’s fun to run into friends that I haven’t seen in years, to meetup with people only seen online, to meet guests and see panels about topics that I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy directly otherwise. While I feel exhausted afterwards, there is also a sense of peace that comes with going through the con. I think it also helped that some of the more annoying aspects of the conventions (especially the meme shouting, transit throughout the con and such) were drastically reduced from previous years for me (can’t say the same for others). And it’s always strange to see how a city is so welcoming of the convention, but because Otakon is such a boon for Baltimore, it makes sense. Every year I go, I do feel like I need to do something more than just “experience” the, like being a panelist or a member of the press. However, I’m never sure whether or not things will break in the right way for me based on my residency schedule, so whatever time I do get to enjoy is enough. After residency though, who knows? Either way, I’ll hope to be back next year, if not in November for the return of JAM Project!
And my Otakon 2012 photos, cosplay or otherwise.