Otakon 2011 Day Minus 1: Not Wotakon

I remember when I first started giving less of a damn about cons. It wasn’t even that long ago. Cons are a lot of fun, but it ceased to be all nerd-prom-like (which is a pretty interesting social phenomenon) for me years ago. And even so it wasn’t so much like a nerd prom but a game of chance: will I run into any really weird internet people at my “offkai” type things or not!

Thankfully, odds are overwhelmingly favoring “not a weirdo.” Maybe it’s just the kind of places I frequent online.

Otakon holds that special first-con-cherry status for me in that way. I remembering exploring it during my earlier days and running into RL acquaintances there. It continues to happen every now and then over the past however many years at Otakon. Its status as “the con” to go to for East side folks remains. And usually I see it as an adventure, an exploration sort of thing. Even if over the years Otakon has gotten to be very familiar to me, it never got old.

But ever since that life-transforming trip to japan, I think I’ve been hit hard by that wota nonsense. I’m not sure if I’ll ever recover (or if I could, or if want to). By “wota nonsense” I mean the whole tribe of people who pushes up the anisong/idol industry side of things: Blowing money on glowsticks; waiting in line for these guests; chasing their info on the net.  I’ve always been partial to that side of the industry, but seeing how it is today as opposed to how it was when I first started all of this, things have changed a lot. And for the better. It’s a lot of fun in that nerd prom kind of way, but actually much more… normal. It’s just fanboys and fangirls going after their idols.

Because you can’t “pirate” real human beings, cons have become this nexus of hope and despair for fans of real-life Japanese entertainers. For years this was something monopolized largely by J-rock types and people getting into visual-style music. But just like how anison is bigger and things like VK is getting smaller, will we see the same trend ripple across the pond? I don’t know. All I know (and somewhat lament) is how over the years I’ve been increasingly focused on those guests, over guests who might actually be behind the moe-moe 2D lovers of my days beyond the cloudy memories of a time wasted on anime-related fandom.

Well, I always chased guests basically. Not that is a problem, and as long as the guest is responsible for something interesting, I remain interested.

  • Makoto Shinkai is going to be pretty cool. World-class animator and director, he probably typifies a new breed of animator. One better suited for this century than the last. On the other hand, he seems just more straight-faced and isn’t as, shall we say, entertaining. But that’s fine. Definitely curious as to his experience at doing animation in the past few years. He is still a neophyte compared to most. The screening of Shinkai’s new film is icing on the proverbial cake.
  • I’m slightly amused by Ishiguro’s idol project Angel ScandyS! Amusing in that “how did Otakon become status for trash idol projects”? I guess it does get Japanese-domestic coverage as a proper event, but if I was Otakon I’d be pretty wary about things like this–spending con money on proper guests people actually care about? Then again maybe 15 people out of the 20k-30k present might care about them, so who am I to judge? The three seiyuu he is bringing over is, well, unknowns. I guess we’ll see.
  • Iwakami didn’t start doing anime stuff until 1997, but since then he’s been doing a lot of cool stuff. With Aniplex of America dipping into the US industry in more direct ways, Iwakami has been making the trip more often. Googlers will discover his interview at the Rakkyo screening in California earlier this year. Probably a good person to ask questions for Fate Zero, yeah?
  • Masao Maruyama is also back. I hope he is still doing well. If the rumor mills are of anything there’s a lot of interesting stuff he will be sharing with us come this weekend.
  • But what’s up with Ozaki? I don’t have a grasp with this besides a very focused take on Tiger & Bunny. Hopefully they have some good news (Blu-ray)?
  • Speaking of interesting stuff, generally speaking Uematsu is pretty interesting. I hope that is magnet enough to draw away people I have to fight for in the various lines!
  • Bob Shirohata is another interesting guest that I won’t have time to see. Diamond Daydreams is an interesting thing!
  • “Interesting” however would be not apt to describe the CEO of ASCII Media Works, Toshihiro Fukuoka. I mean, it’s either “boring” or “OMG he is the CEO of the moe-est publisher of them all, the origin of all these interesting IP!” And I’m like, orz. Maybe he knows a thing or two about licensing light novels for the US.
  • Cosplay-DJ from Osaka lands in Baltimore probably some time tomorrow, but DJ Saolilith will be doing a set for Friday night’s rave. This could be interesting. She’s most notably a Gainax-related personality, and she’s done some vocaloid-related work, both in terms of mixing and utattemita [vocal cover]. Say hi to her on twitter! I hope she’s bringing over some goods for sale.
  • Speaking of cuter-looking girls, there’s also Kylee. She would be at the right age to be at Otakon as an attendee, LOL. Not expecting much from her, but she probably has some live presence at least.
  • CHEMISTRY should be old hat, and good value. I probably shouldn’t miss this!
  • I probably shouldn’t miss the K-ON concert too. Christina Vee is actually pretty okay at it. And I want to see if they play the tunes like their Japanese counterparts, LOL.
  • What is Hiro Yura doing again at Otakon? Will he have new, more discriminating pictures to show us this time? What happened to that CD I paid for last year? Dude!

Anyway. Here are some other items of note:

  • Friend is running this panel for hanky-panky for the ladies. I’m wary of it but I might show up just for support. The alternative is Mangagamer’s panel, but since it’s just Kouryuu… No offense but I need a little more excitement at 12:30AM on Otakon day 2.
  • The panel that I help ran at AX will also appear at Otakon, but with now with Super Rats and Colette (of Tomopop’s ex-EIC) instead of Andy and I. No jokes this time! And I think they will go over different things. We’ll see. I think the RevereThieves is throwing a best-manga-you’ve-never-seen panel at the same time, and such is just how things roll.
  • Charity: Please pick up those Little Hands doujinshi at Hen da Ne! Otakon has a beef’d up auction this year too, it all goes to charity–dealer’s hall on Sunday 11 AM. On top of the Aniplex Madoka poster. Man, that’s pretty awesome. Oh, and Uematsu’s autograph is also for charitable purposes.
  • ComixWave has a booth.
  • Bandai has booth autographs this year too, including Shinkai. It makes the dealer room a higher priority place to schedule into my list of to-do’s.

Some random junk:

  • I know Digitalboy is going to sing it up. Just a matter of catching him. If you want to catch both of us, Sunday bright and early is the best bet. I’ll probably lug around my copy of Tanto Cuore so there’s something to do between songs.
  • There’s that dinner on Thursday that I always go to. Anyone want to hang out afterwards do let me know, maybe we’ll get something going again.

I’m probably missing out on stuff, like, say, the new FMA flick. Or things that I outright forget or don’t know. As usual, you can’t get everything; fill me in!

Anyone got good questions for Shinkai? What do you want to know from him?

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