Otakon 2012: Wrap

This con, I had a lot of fun. It’s definitely one of the more memorable Otakon personally. But that’s got a lot to do with some non-con related things. It’s just that I’ve been going to too many cons and taking too many days off work, I don’t know when I can really afford a real vacation. And I need one.

If you ever do cons with me you know I take it pretty seriously. Well, you can tell just by the blogging I’m doing I guess. One side effect is that I burn out on cons; it’s like a huge party to begin with, but now not only I don’t get much sleep, I spend the entire day doing stuff. There’s very little down time, and it can be exhausting. So cons are not like vacations…with exception to maybe Animazement.

Anyway, as an effort to make this trip more vacation-like I hit up the Zelda Symphony live show on Wednesday night in Philly and then a baseball game at Camden Yards when Rays visited for a day game versus the O’s. Both are very fun and relaxing things to do. It also stretches out my actual time off by a day. Saw a bunch of people at the concert, and the concert itself is tops. I didn’t know it was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, but I’ve heard them before a few times and I know they’re the real deal. The only annoying thing was how it was an amped show (it was an amphitheater) and the crowd cheered too much during the songs, enough to obscure the music at a couple places.

The baseball game was more just to see a game; I’ve never been to a game at the Yard, even though this marks my 15th Otakon. Well, I can check that off now. Thanks to Alexd I was able to get some really good seats. The 100F degree weather aside (we sat in the shade at least), I had a few interesting eats (the deep-fried sausage was more curio than delicious; the steak and egg sandwich was almost worth the $12), and got the ball park souvenir ice cream cup. I think it’s the best souvenir to collect at a MLB park, if you’re into that.

The game melted smoothly into my usual pre-con activity–drinking at a pub. It was really hot out so that was a great alternative. That also means I miss out on the Matsuri, but I’ll live. Day 0 festivities, for the most part, went without any major problems. There was a headcount issue at dinner and because of the heat, by the time we were done with dinner our group has dropped from 20+ to just 4. We chilled at the Hilton bar for a while, it was great.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn this year; and so did half the people I know from the internet, for some reason. It was good catching up with some folks I haven’t seen in ages. At least it made it convenient. Maybe it was the complementary wi-fi?

For a lot of people, Friday was the big day at Otakon this year because that is when the Kakihara events took place. On the other hand I think all I did was score a Nanri Yuuka autograph. The Riichi panel was smooth as usual. While I bailed half way through, I wish they would explain the way how kans are deadly in Riichi. Dora bombing orz. Maybe they did.

That is my official line if you asked me about Nanri Yuuka and what she did in the dealer’s room Friday and Saturday. She did tweet a few things.

One of the best things about Otakon is how the con guests do enjoy themselves both at the con and outside of the con. I guess I didn’t see Butch do much (he did have a Q&A session Friday that I attended and half-written up…unlike AX, Otakon stuff will get posted quick I think. I hope. Still have to post that Animazement bit…) but everyone else tweeted photos of themselves enjoying things. There was this super dark picture from Aya Hirano’s feed with her and Nonaka. It’s very, very reminiscent of 5 years ago when 4chan first nutbladder exploded. When we Massugu Went?? The 2007th Summer.

Well more like 2006 amiright. Of course it’s Aya Hirano and of course it’s Haruhi for a lot of the attendees, which was just a year earlier. I didn’t have time to talk to the few guys I know who saw her at AX 2007, because one said that she gave a very different feel at Otakon than she was back then. It’s been a long 5 years, yeah.

Anyway, my highlight at the con didn’t kick in until Day 2. Rest of day 1 was mostly just chilling, eating at Fogo de Chao (you know me, you know my priorities) and it was $30 a person because they had Baltimore Restaurant Week prices. That’s amazing. That’s the stuff you can’t get in Japan, at this price.

Somehow I got to spend an hour at the game show. Otakon’s game show is an institution, and it’s elaborate. I also never go to it because it is a big time commitment. I ended up just hanging out and waiting for @thebign the entire time I was at the panel. It’s entertaining enough.

I attended friend PJS’s late-night panel as a matter of showing support, but also knowing that Mangagamers panel will be a dud (vetted with Koryuu earlier, thanks bro) it was more just a matter of killing time. I had a good time hanging out with a bunch of people after dinner just shooting the breeze before the 1am panel, and some more fun during the panel. Talking to @7thwraith reminds me eerily of @cowboybibimbop for some reason. Well, he’s more “normal” I guess LOL. There are a bunch of other people there like @thebign, @klone343 and @_eternal and people I don’t remember/notice like @kai989 and people whose name I don’t remember anymore lol. Sorry.

Saturday was bright and early–you get back to your hotel room after a panel that ran to 2am, and you line up for a 9am panel? Yeah. This Old House A.K.A. my Brazilian-meat-filled half-corpse was taking a beating like that. Nothing a 32oz DD coffee can’t fix, thankfully. NISA, Aipon and Nanrietta all put on a good show. I particularly like NISA’s straightforward manner as they do typically, and they don’t beat around the bush much. The audience plant for Umineko was great, because that kind of thing happens plausibly. Sure fooled me for the first 10 seconds.

Aipon’s panel is definitely the highlight of Otakon for me. Others have recorded it but, LOL. Yep, SQUEEEEEE. ‘Wonderful Show” indeed.

Yuuka’s panel is a lot more solemn, lots of serious questions. At one point she explained what Kyuushu Danji is when describing Sentaro. I lawed, because I saw a funny clip involving that stereotype, featuring NTR BL, just the night before. What’s more notable, actually, is full-on wotagei when one of the guy busted a move as one of Yuuka’s PV live clips was being screened. No photos for Yuuka so I didn’t take any.

The time crunch continued in the Aya Hirano panel–this one is a proper-sized one with a large crowd–and was able to sit close enough to get a good look at her. Nanri wore normal dresses at the con but both Nonaka and Hirano wore traditional clothes during their appearances. I was amused by Hirano’s high-heeled geta. I guess that’s just how they roll. No photos for her either, as you would expect, but I got some from the concert.

Anyway, Hirano came across as professional and personable. Very much a pro in a lot of the things she says and dodge things. Toshi was the interpreter so it was a lively discussion. Two troll questions did come up; one was phrased in the acceptable way and the other is “applied head-on” sort of speak. What is most impressive is the wide range of nerd questions. We got most of the entire range of Hirano’s voice acting career from Angel Tail to Seikon no Qwaser to Fairy Tail to White Album to, obviously, Haruhi and TIMOTEI. I think she even name-dropped her one Taylor Swift dub in a CSI episode. I’m actually kind of impressed at the questions at the panel; they give her a little bit of a hard time without being outright offensive! That Katja line was a lot of fun.

Saturday continued with my interview with Urobuchi and then finally, to get Manabi Straight DVD #2 signed (2/5). After that I ended up wasting a bunch of time relaxing as the effect of coffee has expired, but what I ended up doing is watching a bit of MJ and playing Tanto Cuore with some folks until dinner. I probably should have instead chased cosplay pics because there were some gathering of interests at the time, I just didn’t know.

Dinner continues this relaxed affair with a very long meal at La Tasca. A three-hour affair, I think it was good times hanging out with @mandoric, @linkington, @1moy, @momotato, @starcreator, and alexd. I say “I think” because that sangria was pretty delicious. Unfortunately because all of it took three hours, by the time I was done I was ready to give up and go to bed, being already 11:30pm.

Of course, what that really meant was I would go back to the hotel room and watch the GSC stage at Wonder Festival with @1moy, and @paranda_update provided the moe shochu. At dinner we were periodically looking at what new figures were being tweeted. I think a bunch of us gawked at how big the Immobile Fortress was. We were lucky enough to catch the tail end of the Tari Tari stage, and that was fun.

Day 3 was even simpler. I suppose I could have gotten something else other than an Aipon autograph, but why would I? She looked much less tired Sunday morning than she was Saturday, definitely more chipper. Got my Imo-chan plush and a copy of Ai Ranger signed. Timing worked out perfectly with the Hirano concert, too…

I don’t have a lot to say about the concert. It’s time to replace my Streetlight MultiX though, it kind of crapped out after Lost My Music. The set is mostly made up of Fragments songs, which means they all sound familiar but I don’t remember their names. I think track 1 is actually song #1. Song #1 is Riot Girl. Song #2 is Kiss Me, and she threw her towel at the end of that one. MC followed. Songs 3 through 5 was press-photo-able, so I took pictures but I don’t remember what she sang besides they were all Fragments songs [see comments for set list.]. MC followed song #5 and it was God Knows, Lost My Music, Super Driver after that. For encore, it was Bouken Desho Desho and MonStar. No Pizza song :( For song #2 we “toweled.” At her merch booth at the concert, they were selling only towels. I don’t know why, but it’s nice that there is a towel song LOL. At the end of the show we zerged for a photo from the stage.

I hung out after the show, largely in the autograph line. Manabi 3/5 get! Because we were still somewhat separated, at one point I went out and went to search for people in iM@S cosplays. That is how I stumbled on the Tsuritama Dance Party.

As per Otakon fashion I wish I had a clone to go to see all the things I missed out:

  • Trawling the con on Saturday night – Best time to soak in that mono no aware, at-the-con feel. And meet up with random internet people.
  • Karaoke – 2+ hr wait. Only time was Sunday AM and that was killed by Aipon autograph session.
  • Maid Cafe – Line, and didn’t really have a good time period in which I could just go. In retrospect I probably could have gone there instead of going to the game room on Saturday.
  • Charity Auction – Same as karaoke, death by Aipon.
  • iM@S crap – There just wasn’t any. I guess that one crossplay Kotori was there? Anyone else? I was told later that there was a gathering. But blah.
  • Actually playing MJ – I could have if I waited. Saw some people with tiles! But I didn’t want to intrude and timing could have been better.
  • Kakki – Too much competition and panel conflicts
  • Maruyama – I saw him more in the dealer’s room and at Yuuka Nanri’s panel, lol. Well at least I saw him a bunch of times. Having to miss out on his panel was kind of tough as I was looking forward to it.

Loot-wise, well, not much. I picked up a Carnival Phantasm Neko Arc pocket watch, put in $40 in the MG raffle and won a bunch of consolation prizes, picked up the Otakon apron on top of the t-shirt (not pictured) that I always get, got another free CR t-shirt, ate some Hi-Chew, propped Mikako Joho’s merch table, got Hirano’s towel (not pictured), picked up that cool hard cover book from Ed and called it a day.

I ran into a lot of people in the autograph area, among other places. I didn’t even spend that much time there; I think the system they have this year is pretty good, minus the big rush to the line when the staff opens it up. It’s like the only place I see @jdcsenken and his group, @hisuiRT, @narutakiRT, @sdsamshel, @animemiz, @jpmeyer, @lvlln and probably some other folks. I bump into @greatsg a few times in his Kotomine outfit, and @calaggie before he went to the ball game on Saturday.

We got to see the O’s shoot some fireworks after the game, despite a typical O-style loss on Friday night against the A’s. It’s a nice view at the Hilton. When you walk to the Hilton using the crosswalk, you can see the lights going off as you walk towards the hotel. Quite neat.

On the way home, I took 95 instead of 295; it’s got less traffic, more winding roads, got me home sooner, and much more fun to drive. I mentioned that I could see myself setting up my new car as a Kuroyukihime itasha, but that just seems way too daunting at this point. Even if it is just putting custom-made decals on your car. Maybe I should start small: a chibi Makoto fuel port cover? Heh, yeah, right.

Well, that’s it for me for now. Here are what few photos I got that I can share. Check out the coverage from some of these other folks. I wanted to meet a lot of people, I ended up meeting a lot of people, but I still haven’t met up with a lot of people. I also did not name drop a lot of people I met, because I forget or whatever. So let me know.

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