Impressions on Otakon 2008: Can’t Wait Till Next Year

By TheBigN(o Border)

Three posts in 24 hours on this blog is unheard of. But there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there? 😛

I decided to take a lazy approach to this (at the moment) last post about this year’s Otakon, which only ended a week and some days ago even though it already seems to be last year’s news the way people most bloggers stopped talking about it. But it’s okay! I want to believe I’m fashionably late with this (also why you’ll be seeing Hidamari x365 episode 5/6 thoughts “soon”), so I’ll go straight ahead with this. I had wrote a little list about the good things and the not-so-good things about my Otakon experience about a week ago, and so basically this post will be some sort of expansion on that. In my opinion, these last couple of posts haven’t quite been my best stuff for this blog, but thanks for taking a look at these impressions. Hopefully they have been entertaining. And once again, this is a long, long post, so be prepared.

It is awesome how being taken from a cell phone camera hightens the effectiveness.

It is awesome how being taken from a cell phone camera heightens the effectiveness.

The Good

–   Actually going to Otakon

  • Or in that case, actually going to an anime convention at all. Truth be told, it was a lot of effort on my part just to get me to feel comfortable enough to let other people know that I was planning on going to one. For previous years, either it was too inconvenient to go, or I was too worried that somehow, even though I’ve shown that I can take care of myself and can go anywhere I wanted to, I could still be prevented from making the journey. A lot of that is came from my worry about what some would think about knowing that I’m going to a convention for Japanese animation. And it’s kind of funny how that irrational fear almost prevented me from taking this journey, despite pre-registering for the convention and having a place to go. Again, I just need to get over myself more often than not.

–   Not feeling out of my element

  • I’m 22, and for me that seems a little too old to be starting going to anime conventions now. I don’t know how it is with others with that though. Without knowing any better, I had assumed that the two main groups of people at the convention would be of the high-school age persuasion and people with a couple more years out of college under the belt. And that mostly was the case, but I didn’t feel as isolated and overwhelmed by the experience as I thought I would. This is definitely because I always managed to find someone that I knew at an event that I went to, whether if it was Nomad at State of Industry panel or shopping in the dealer’s room, waiting for karaoke with omo, or walking with Baka-Raptor to the Game Show room. And that in itself established a comfort zone within an area that wasn’t one.
  • At the same time, you also realize after a point that almost everyone at the convention shares the same passion that you do: enjoying anime and/or the cultures and aspects that come with it. And that’s a starting point as any for relating to others. Course, it is definitely easier when fellow anime fans you meet have more ties to you, be it having the same interest in shows, or doing the same actions (meeting and interacting with fellow bloggers was like we had known each other for a while sometimes), and such. But that doesn’t matter compared to that main common thread that ties us all together. And when I look at it like that, what’s there to worry about being among people I don’t know? :3
Just to keep with that theme a little bit.

Just to keep with that theme a little bit.

–   Meeting up with RL friends and Internet friends

  • Especially considering that I live several states away from my college and have almost no free time off to randomly go and take a trip back there (much less anywhere now that I think about it), any chance that I can meet up and hopefully catch up with them is a good one. Since the convention is about 40 minutes away from my home by car, if I have the free time, lack of responsibilities to tend to, and ample resources, there’s no reason for me not to take the opportunity. And so I did. It was great seeing some of my closest friends (particularly Nomad for much collective ass-kicking money-spending) for the first time in a year, and the feeling seemed mutual, which was awesome.
  • Otakon also marked the first times that I was able to place faces (and sometimes names) with some of the people that I’ve interacted with online, anime-related or not. Given the probably excessive amount of time I spend on forums, IRC and as a member of the animeblogosphere (dammit, that’s going to stay, no matter how unwieldy it is! :D) and the otakusphere, it’s good to at least come into physical contact with those whom that time was spent with. Everyone that I met was pretty nice, cool and spicy in their own ways, and though it wasn’t a thing that I worried too much about, it was refreshing to see that people acted off of the Internet the same way as they did on it. I won’t say that I’m completely honest online, but I do say what I think (even when I’m being random of the sake of randomness), and it’s good that I’m not quite as much a minority in that aspect as I thought I was.

–   Buying random stuff.

  • Sure, I spend a relative crapload (for a college/medical student) of money for anime, manga and anime-related music, it was fun to find a place where there was a wider variety of these things than a retail website/bookstore or local comic book shop held. It made finding things like the Shinkai book or a volume of YKK that much more special than just receiving things in the mail. At the same time, I’m not uninhibited enough to start spending on figures (“Once you spend a pop, you just don’t stop”, is what I figure my situation will be), illicit doujins/games and the like. And I’m fine with that. 😛

–   Epic karaoke

  • It had to take omo, Link and JAM Project to get me up onto the karaoke stages. Because once I was on there, it was fun times. And I had picked up enough confidence to sing some more afterwards, but I kept coming too late to get a slot in (orz). Better luck next year, I guess.
From Baka-Raptor. So awesome the camera can not contain our identities.

From Baka-Raptor. So awesome the camera can not contain our identities.

–    Asking questions at panels

  • And having people in the business responding back, though I’m sure my questions were neither significant nor well-thought out for them to spend a lot of time talking about. And it’s not that these people are in the business that makes things a little harrowing, but the peers sitting around and stuff. Oh well. I got some keychains out of it and a little more knowledge on how things work.

–   Getting some free stuff

  • Said keychains, a pencil board, some posters (can’t wait for the Hitohira manga to be released later this year, BTW) and a nifty magnetic bookmark from Dr. Master. Free doesn’t necessarily equal good, but dammit, it’s FREE! I still think that the majority of the tuition I’ve paid in undergrad/med school was for “free” food, for example.

–   Awesome cosplay

  • You’ve already seen some examples elsewhere, which I’ll post again because they we’re that good, but it was fun to see a larger representation of more niche things/shows that I thought I would. There was some Touhou cosplay that I saw that was pretty good with three Reimus I spotted and that pretty awesome Yuyuko I noticed (along with a Wriggle and Yukari from Friday, apparently) on the dealers room, just to see verifiable proof that there is a visible fandom for ZUN and his works here in America. I saw an Akari live and an Aika in picture, but I would have expected to see some more undines around floating around some where. And then things like Hatsune Miku was surprisingly (although probably not really) common her, so that was an interesting surprise. I’m disappointed that I didn’t see any Hidamari Sketch-related cosplay this time around though.

I also found that having friends with awesome cosplay extends and delays conversations like nothing else. 😛

If only she had a fan. Then she would be perfect.

If only she had a fan. Then she would be perfect.

The “Bad”

–   Coming to Otakon on a Saturday

  • Logistically, it would have been a terribly annoying mess had I gone from classes to the convention (counting pre-reg, finding exactly where my room in the hotel was and trying to find the line for the JAM Project concert), especially when I find myself in an unfamiliar city and situation with things getting dark, so coming on this day was good for me. Unfortunately, I missed the Opening Ceremonies (but not the OP animation, luckily thanks to the Closing Ceremonies), the Touhou panel that apparently didn’t work out just as planned, and the JAM PROJECT CONCERT!  The latter was the most important, and even though I was able to get some of my fix by going to the Q&A Panel and buying some CDs of their works, it’s not the same as experiencing it live, and the sad thing is that it could have just been a one time occurrence. But no use worrying about trying to use “what ifs” for a situation that now is.

–   Damn Carameldansen

  • I’m not surprised at how quickly some random things spread through anime fandom.   What I do get surprised at is how popular these things can be, when I just don’t get it. In the case of Carameldansen, I didn’t get why people felt like making a variation of basically everything ever, and it was both simultaneously interesting and annoying to see real people doing it. Everywhere. It’s silly fun, but it’s not something that I would be doing, unlike, say, Hare Hare Yukai.  😛 For now, my best thoughts on the “meme?” are along the lines of this:

–    Long lines are long, or small seating is small

  • It’s a good idea on Otakon’s part to leave panels and events to be sitting room only. But some lines for these panels got so long that many potential audience members were often shut out of things as a result. Mainly I’m whining needlessly (other than my failures at getting to the panel on time/a little late) about how Bandai received the reception that it did for both it’s company panel and at it’s namesake Surprise. Especially considering that if these events were in the largest panel room instead of where they were, the situation would probably be different. The lines were pretty orderly and usually well managed, and things like interest and con population have to be taken into account for how the length. Though sometimes, the setup for the lines could get very confusing.
Granted, I was not actually here in this case, but there was a lot of people.

Granted, I was not actually here in this case, but there was a lot of people.

–    I could only find one volume of Yokahama Kaidashi Kikou

  • Volume 5 is pretty awesome in it’s whole right. Though I was kind of wishing and hoping that I could get lucky. I can still probably find it online and stuff, but still… 😦

–    Nervousness decreasing my karaoke efficiency in half (at least)

  • Even though I was able to get onto stage and have everyone listen to my song, I wasn’t as good as I could have be. And I attribute the majority of that to being to worried about what people would be singing about. And that also translated to why I didn’t sign up for singing a song at other times. This is something that I have to deal with in the future, and singing in front of fellow fans would probably be one of the easier ways to get through it. Hopefully next time, things will be different~

–    I didn’t get to meet up with everyone that I had wanted to

  • I had heard that there were some other people present at the convention that I would have liked to meet, such as momotato, SDS, Anna, Ten and Sub, for starters.  It’s not like something magical would have happened had I had done so, but I feel like it’s good to try and meet as many people as you can if you have the time too. At the same time, it’s not like I didn’t meet a lot of people from many other areas as well (and I think I forgot to give a shout out to rabidkimba from my other posts. Sorry for that mistake), and it’s always surprisingly pleasant when people I wouldn’t expect to know who I am do.

–    I didn’t know how pricey Japanese CD’s are. Or that I fail at bargain-hunting.

  • Yes, 30 bucks does sound reasonable for CDs in Japan. So all that does is make me feel a little spoiled that they cost at least half as much here in the States. It was very disconcerting to see that I had spent almost $100 on only three CDs with what I’ve been used to. Jeez. 😛
But was 30 bucks worth it for this? Hell yes.

But was 30 bucks worth it for this? Hell yes.

–    I didn’t plan quite as well as I should have.

  • Meaning that I didn’t quite actually plan things out. I managed to get to the majority of what I wanted to look at panel-wise (probably because I’ve seen a lot of what was being screened at the convention so there was no point in me for watching already seen anime. Oops. :P), but I might need to research a little better in terms of what I went out to see. Or have the willingness to leave a panel when it’s not actually giving me information that I want to do other stuff like sing more karaoke or play video games (my Melty Blood skills, as small as they are, have gotten even rustier, which isn’t good). I need to use the tenuous freedom I have more often. Or something like that.

So given that Otakon is in mid-July next year, and given that for all intents and purposes, my third year of medical school (yay clinical experience GET! :3) should start in late-July, there shouldn’t be any reason why I shouldn’t be present for the convention from at least Friday this time around, Lord willing. Granted, JAM Project probably won’t be the main act again even though they’re awesome, so I might not have the opportunity to see them again in concert anytime soon. But Otakon is what you make of it, and for me, I feel like I made out in spades from this opportunity. If I have the ability to come next year, I hope to meet more people, see more things, sing more karaoke, be more honest with myself, and so on.  And I hope that others are also willing to meet me for the first time. It’s definite a unique experience at that. I need a camera of my own for the future~

And again, if you want me to take down any pictures, please let me know and I’ll be happy to do so.

Awesome example of how to do age-appropriate cosplay.

Awesome example of how to do age-appropriate cosplay.

19 Responses to “Impressions on Otakon 2008: Can’t Wait Till Next Year”

  1. 1 Mikoto August 21, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Last cosplay pic is awesome.

    Look on the bright side. Compared to me, being the shota-looking anime fan I am (that finds it very hard to find an adult to have a decent conversation with without assuming I’m the type of person to run around the expo yelling RASENGAN whenever I DO go to conventions), you are at a golden age. Just the same, I can’t find a person my age to have a decent conversation with… that doesn’t run around yelling RASENGAN. ;;

    As for me, I’ve NEVER seen Hidamari cosplay. ): At least, not that much. And that REALL REALLY sucks. ;;

  2. 2 xephfyre August 21, 2008 at 6:16 am

    I actually dislike crowds in general, I would go down for something as fun as this though.

    The last time I went to a local cosplay con, I spent….50 on wallscrolls alone. Gratifying yes.

  3. 3 TheBigN August 21, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Os: It would be cool if we could meet up there again. But then again, we might be able to meet up randomly in the DC metro area sometime as well. 😛

    dreamsofthequill: I’m sure it would be fun times. :3

    dm00: I think I like way too much stuff to be able to limit myself like that regarding figures. And most times, it’s less about where the character is from but how the figure looks. And I tend to like how a lot of figures look. 😛

    I would think it would be more fun to meet *in* the con, but that’s because I haven’t really been able to do so outside of it. Though I do think you might be missing out on some things, even if it’s just the convention atmosphere.

    Baka-Raptor: Or is it that I just haven’t watched enough? o_o

    And if I take off my facial hair, I think I could look as young as 19-20. But my weary eyes from college/med school would quickly give me away. 😛

    Ten: It would be cool if we could meet up. I was apparently seconds away from doing so one time, but you and Anna had already left by them, which sucks a bit.

    I don’t know how I would react if I met Momotato face to face. I only started blogging after he had pretty much finished up, so I didn’t really get to know his style. But I do know how influential he has been for many in the animeblogosphere, and it would definitely be a great honor to meet him though.

    Hoshi: I think 19’s still in that fun range. But I worry too much about that.

    moyism: Well it makes me feel better, but how old are you then? 😀

    And the prices do make me wonder a little if music piracy was/is a big deal in Japan…

    shonen jidai: Again, it did help that there were people I knew and saw everywhere I met, which made things more comfortable. Besides, I probably wouldn’t crossplay if my life depended on it, so it’s more power to you that you can do that. :3

    W-General: It may be a ripoff place, but I don’t know too many other places where I can find things like that so easily. 😛

    Mikoto: Well, I feel that you could still fit in more easier than I felt like I did initially. But as always, I need to stop worrying about it as much as I do.

    With x365, I’m hoping that this lack of Hidamari cosplay representation is rectified. I wouldn’t think it would be that hard to do. Unless you were trying to be Yoshinoya-sensei. 😛

    xephfyre: It definitely does help if you have the experience with someone else that you know. I wouldn’t think you would have much of a fun time if you were by yourself and felt crowded from all sides.

  4. 4 Shin August 21, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Run the Rena picture through a couple of filters and you’ll have a truly horrifying image.

  5. 5 dm00 August 21, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Like one of your earlier commenters, I’m not happy in crowds, and life is too short to stand in lines. And, if you think 22 is a bit old to be attending a con….

  6. 6 omo August 22, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I call linecon linecon for a reason. Life is too short to be doing nothing, in a line or not in a line.

    Glad to see you enjoyed your first anime con N, it was great meeting you and we really need to chat or something :V

    Regarding import CDs; I recently cataloged all my region-1 anime dvds and realized I probably spent twice as much on imported CDs, and those CDs took up maybe just 1/4 of the shelf space XD

  7. 7 TheBigN August 22, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Shin: That would be brilliant. But alas, my Photoshop/GIMP skills are lacking. Perhaps you could do it instead? 😛

    dm00: Fair enough. And my thoughts about the age range mostly spanned from what I saw on forums and blogs, which usually aren’t biggest sample size possible. :3

    omo: We’ve met before (does the Kennedy Center mean nothing to you?!? ;_;), but this was the first time that it was just hanging out in a way. Chatting would be pretty cool to do in the future. If just to show how inexperienced I really am with a lot of stuff regarding anime~.

    And especially considering how I tend to buy DVDs and CDs on the cheap, discount style, it totally makes sense how importing CDs cost an arm and a leg.

  8. 8 Lainforce August 28, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    The panel scheduling was totally against me this year.

    I mean, my plan was to go to the Phoenix Wright Mock Trial and the Touhou panel, but they both had to run concurrently with the two major events of Friday and Saturday. So I missed them both.

    All in all, I find the con experience is more about who you spend it with than anything. If I’m lucky I might find one or two people around me who are as hardcore about anime as I am; but once every year in Baltimore I get to see over 20,000 of them.

  9. 9 Keiichi!!!! January 13, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Jesus ! Is that actually a very cute and very good looking Yuyuko cosplay?! Dam With I was there to See that or atleast take pictures … o.o ”

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