I can’t say that right now, I’m still under a post-con hangover or something like that. But it still hard for me to make an effort to type something up about it since there was a lot of stuff done during the con. But for general impressions of Otakon 2010, I was very pleased with how things turned out. Despite there not necessarily being anything present for me to really care about as a focal point, the panels I went to, guests I experienced and (as always) people I met and re-met were awesome. It gets me fired up for going next year if I can, but unlike this year, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that. As always, we’ll see what happens in the future, but it would be hard for me not to make every attempt possible to come next year. That being said, here’s I guess a (quick?) summary of Thursday and Friday.
Thursday was sort of a blur, starting with the mad quick pre-registration line. Two of my roommates from my hotel room let me know that they basically went in grabbed their badges, and went out with no line at all. I did have a little line by the time I got there at around 4:30PM-ish, but it still took less than five minutes to do what I had to do. This was followed by a meetup at Pickles Pub, where I met up with good friends like omo, moy and Link among others, as well as meeting face to face with some people who I’ve really wanted to meet for the first time, like the “elusive” and legendary Momotato (even if he claims that he’s not). Following dinner with said friends, returning back to Pickles, I managed to meet calaggie for the first time, and I also learned that I might worry about others more than i need to. A good, alcoholic time was had by many, while I just had a good time, which was fine by me.
Friday started with joining a long line of people with badges waiting to get into the Baltimore Convention Center in the morning. I was kind of surprised that there was a failure to communicate in that the building basically opened at the same time that panels started, leaving everyone, including panelists and dealer’s room scrambling to make things on time. And in retrospect, I realized that I totally should have just went through the adjacent Hilton, as the first panel I wanted to see was there. That panel happened to focus on Japanese mahjong, and it was a very well done panel by SDS and Sub. Both clearly knew what they were talking about in terms of introducing people to this variation on mahjong, with helpful illustrations and the best video clips from shows like Saki, Akagi, and Legend of Koizumi that demonstrated how epic mahjong can be in anime… and in our dreams. ;_;
I followed that with the Vertical, Inc. panel featuring Felipe Smith, creator of Peepo Choo, Marketing Director Ed Chavez, and Ko Ransom blazing a new trail. It was interesting hearing how Felipe set out to deliberately highlight culture clash and how things can be interpreted differently in both Japan and America with Peepo Choo, and it definitely made me want to go and pick it up. Him signing the book when I finally bought it was definitely a highlight of the con, and though the work is fun, it’s definitely not something easily accessible to everyone, nor is it particularly safe for work. If I go to future cons where Vertical is presenting their wares, I definitely need to check them out, since watching Ed describe his company’s titles and his impressions on what they mean to him and why the company picks them up is entertaining, and I like how the presentation listed future promotion plans and ideas for their products. It’s definitely the first time I’ve seen plans from an anime or manga company to try to utilize their plans for education, in terms of Twin Spica for classroom and libraries, and I only hope it’s successful.
Another notable thing about this panel was that it was the one where I saw the most Internet anime-blogging/twittering peeps in the con, and while I already saw people like wah, 21stcenturyDigitalBoy, and (for the first time! \o) OneGreatTurtle, it was fun running into others like Ko (who’s slowly moving up in the world :3), both of the Reverse Thieves, and others. That and the fact that the audience was so personable that Ed was cool with several members of the audience already, and was able to call them by their (screen in some cases, real in others) names. I thought that was pretty cool, and while it’s a little insular, I do hope for that sense of familiarity to grow in the future. Maybe with myself included. Maybe. 😛
Following that was the Madhouse panel, featuring Masao Maruyama. We got some good clips and trailers from works such as the 3rd season of Black Lagoon (which is already in progress), Highschool of The Dead, The Tatami Galaxy, the final trailer (I think) for the upcoming movie Redline and a trailer for the upcoming Iron Man anime, along with information on a future work that he’s planning with the Chinese government in Tibetan Dog, and some thoughts from Maruyama regarding these works and more. From what I saw regarding some works I haven’t seen or heard much about beforehand, I’m interested in how Tibetan Dog will work when it comes out, and based on the slick, flashy trailer of Redline, I’m going to have to see it as soon as I can.
Skipping the end of that panel, I went to the Opening Ceremonies next, where they introduced most of the guests present at the show. I felt like Home Made Kazoku killed with their boundless enthusiasm at saying hello (Otakon! 一番!, though Vic Mignogna’s adoption of the phrase afterwards felt a little mocking and killed the buzz ), the opening animation really left much to be desired (especially considering the previous two years which I saw at the convention), and the brief concert by Hiroaki Yura (who’s an awesome entertainer, whether playing music or just talking) playing a song by Hiroki Kikuta and Shihori singing two songs (including one by Nana Mizuki, though it wasn’t my favorite song by the artist, though that song is apparently her favorite as well. Long story. :P) was nice. Nice enough for me to buy $175 of Eminence music. But not long enough for me to talk about how I felt after realizing what I’d just done.
The Aniplex Panel afterwards was interesting to me because of the fact that Aniplex is attempting to directly bring their projects to the fans without necessarily using intermediaries to do so. That they’re still trying to bring Kara no Kyoukai here still (I’m surprised it still hasn’t been picked up) and Bakemonogatari makes me happy. And while I’m not sure that I’ll buy Durarara! when it comes out here in the US, I’m glad that they at least have Crispin Freeman voicing the best character in the show (Shizuo Heiwajima, btw).
In the same room after that was a panel run by OneGreatTurtle, Pontifus and someone else (I’m sorry for not knowing, to be sure) about both the complexity of moe and on some of the traits that are considered as such. While I liked the fact that the panel tried to explain how the concept of moe is more than what people have apparently adopted here in the US as (i.e., “moeblobs”, whatever that really means still), I did feel like in trying to explain that, it’s easy to lose people. When Pontifus has to explain post-modernism in 5 minutes in order to try and relate that to moe, something’s kinda wrong in that explanation, as you’re already going over many people’s heads by doing so (including mine :P). I was also a little troubled when discussion of characters that have various “moe database” traits were more of personal thoughts on the character from the panelists instead of how those characters fit those traits. Or better yet, more analysis on the traits themselves would have been awesome. Besides that, I thought the panel was cool, though I kind of worried that the crowd would get out of hand, especially one person who was miffed at “all moe” because it supposedly ruined Darker Than Black season 2 for her. I’m glad at Link trying to talk to her about it, since I’m not sure I could have done so as nicely as he did. It’s that whole “using moe as a scapegoat” thing that gets me annoyed quickly.
At night, I went to the Yoshida Brothers concert, which was pretty awesome. Besides another person on percussion for accompaniment on some songs, it was just the duo of brothers playing the shamisen and having fun with it (that’s when music is at it’s most awesome – see K-On!). The two were great showman, playing off each other and the percussionist well, and demonstrating excellent plucking technique. It was hard not to feed off the energy they gave off, and I guess that’s why a lot of people came out to fill out the concert hall, to the point where I was really amazed at the turnout overall. I do hope that more acts like this (not necessarily the big names in J-Rock and J-Pop) come to conventions in the future, since there’s a lot of stuff out there. Naturally, I spent about $80 on their music afterwards, so yeah. This was on-top of $80 on music from a nice 50% booth at Kinokuniya in the Dealer’s Room. So, now I guess you know what my con kryptonite is.
After buying CDs and getting a signature from the duo, I ended up late to a panel on Ogiue from Genshiken by SDS and Viga the Otagal. From what I saw, there was good chemistry from the duo, as they talked about what they learned from Ogiue’s character, as well as lessons that others can see as well. Of the panels/events that I missed/came late for, this was the one that I felt really bad for. It’s not that Ogiue is one of my all time favorite characters, but she’s definitely one of my favorites from Genshiken, and her life story from how she ends up at the club to where she is at the end of the work (including the newest chapter :3) definitely grabbed me in reading the work. That, and I feel like I didn’t get to see anywhere near even a quarter of the extent of SDS and Viga’s focus and interest on the character, which I feel would be educational in itself.
To finish off day 1, I saw the Visual Novels panel, which had a nice quick and dirty (intentional) rundown of what these types of games can contain, followed by MangaGamer hawking their wares, which wasn’t as exciting. It was enough for me to pick up a copy of their game KiraKira at their booth later on in the con. And if you’re wondering, I picked up the free T-shirt.
My impressions on days 2 and 3 of Otakon should come in the future somehow, but I don’t necessarily know when. Again, I feel like I’m forgetting some more “important” events, and I know I’m forgetting some important people, so please, feel free to let me know. And I’ll link to my flickr site for more pictures where these came from. More will come, I assure you.