Otakon 2014: Wrap

TL;DR – I partied too hardily, so tired, didn’t get to do all I wanted to do.

Long version: There was a drastic shift in the way I live the life of fandom in 2014 and Otakon sort of bares it out. I think like AX, I struck out on some big categorically important items but in the end I still enjoyed my time there. It’s like suddenly you are living for something else.

At one point at the con I was just hanging out at someone’s hotel room watching the Os and Cards play from the Hilton. It was a great time. The weather cooperated and the low 80s temperature marks this 2014 Otakon the coolest one in a long time. We jumped around like idiots to seiyuu lives late at night, and somehow the suite we were in was mostly soundproof. It was participatory fun in the best way?

It isn’t like what happens at the con wasn’t important. It had to be “right” for all the good stuff to happen, in fact. I would say things like getting the schedule down, getting the autograph policy right, and having the right types of guests are the utmost important for a good time to happen. Maon’s milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, so to speak. I think it’s just that after this many years I no longer think waiting in line with bros and hanging out there is the way to enjoy a con, even if a sketch or autograph await at the end of the rainbow, at least for me. Ironically though, the best line this Otakon had to be the Hayamin autograph line, where some people showed up hours and hours before when they were suppose to show up for the actual line up. I think it was my biggest sore point this year but instead I went and visited ALTIMA, and it isn’t like I got a lot of face time with Hayamin in some other ways. Her panel was probably not what most would consider best but she’s totally on “Freestyle” mode all the time she’s doing her PR stuff.

“Hayami Saori’s Freestyle♪” is the name of her solo radio show. Leading up to the con a bunch of us studied up on what we can do to shower Hayamin with our affection, basically. Part of that was to check out her now-kinda-long running solo radio. She has a more popular show with Aoi Yuki in “Aoi Saori New Radio Program” that gets even a home page but somehow we didn’t really pay attention to that one. Anyway, Freestyle is a solo radio where she goes through the usual corners and what not. We farmed some info out of it and this is where we got the idea of the “kouza” on “contempt.” It’s actually kind of hilarious how it turned out, but because she was so … pro, it was not as embarrassing as it could’ve been. It’s that type-A personality I guess. She has a particular voice and style that she projects in that show which is not too different than what happens when I threw some softball vague-general questions at her during the press interview. I had only 10 minutes for the press interview so I couldn’t really do much to get a grasp on how she’s putting out these type-A personality waves. Having it come from a cute girl like her is definitely something special, if almost dissonant.

One of the question during the Hayamin Q&A was which of her character was closest to her in personality, and the answer came pretty quickly: Sawa. Another question came in terms of how her high school life was like, and it was like she was part of a bunch of school committees and was involved in lots of stuff. I guess that explains a lot.

I guess the real lamentation for me is just that her busy travel schedule had her land at Otakon early Saturday and depart early Sunday, which means she had only maybe 5 hours of operational time for the con. But, yeah, she’s totally 100% pro in spite of that.

The rest of Otakon is probably just as important and I was happy that I got one Katabuchi panel in, and it turns out that throughout his panels (I think he had like 4) at Otakon he’s basically revealing his new movie to the world. I have seen and loved Mai Mai Miracle so the new work about the child from the 1940s is not exactly treading unfamiliar territory. What I didn’t know is how Matsubara got involved in the thing, but now I know. Speaking of which, I was able to catch Matsubara at a panel for half an hour. Definitely looks more aged and refined now than I last saw him so many years ago. I didn’t catch Maruyama at all unfortunately, but he’s partly here to help promote In This Corner of the World.

That seems to be a thing–Otakon was also a big promo for Under the Dog, a kickstarter for an original anime project by which Yura cobbled together some cool dudebros of anime and game industry. Seems like, at least this is my own feelings after seeing some promo material and what Yura said at the Yousuke Kozaki live drawing panel, this is a bit like Canaan take 2. I wonder if that was because they had to compromise on Canaan the first time. Kickstarter aspect of it aside, I don’t know how to feel about UTD, other than that to no offense to Takeuchi but Kizaki is just that much cooler of a designer. That all said, I backed it anyway. I mean, Masahiro Ando does good work, and while this has “awesome eyecandy but not much else” written all over it, it might still be worth the money (even at Japanese OVA prices).

Yoshiki was a thing. I ran into a couple of their party at Saturday night dinner, but that was it in terms of the extent of our involvement.

ALTIMA, on the other hand, was friendly, personable and open to access. I approve. I hope Maon had a great time at Otakon and got to look around beyond her duties, but I guess they also didn’t have much slack time. Motsu is just as I expected and is really the spiritual leader of the group, where as Sats is the business person. I wore my WUG happi coat and ran into them a couple times on Friday and that leaves kind of an impression. It’s way orange.

I was 2 people away from asking them a question about the I’ve Sound special performance during this year’s Chokaigi and where did Takase and Maon got the idea to do backup dancing for Princess Bride. For the unaware, there was an epic I’ve special  unit performance on day 2 of Niconico Chokaigi 3 this year, and that’s when they announced their 15th anniversary live in 2015. One of the performance at that Chokaigi live was Maon dancing with Takase while Ray covered Princess Bride, and later on someone showed me a nicom@s video dated like 2008 with the same dance moves, to Princess Bride. I suppose I should’ve known that Sato and I’ve Sound guys were a thing back during the earlier Visual Arts days in Osaka when Fripside covered Shooting Star at the said live, but this is the best Nico video integration.

mioyui

On Sunday, when nothing much was going on, we decided to just hang out in the karaoke room. I’m suppose to catch up to these wildcats for some MOVE karaoke but that didn’t happen. Instead we sang Knight of Sidonia (which is universally coined the coolest anison OP this year) and did Girlish Lover with four singers. It was a little hard with just 3 mics but we made do. There were two Japanese girls cosplaying as Don’t Say Lazy Mio and Yui at the karaoke and they were really into cheering for us, which is nice on a Sunday morning/afternoon with a fairly empty room. But as you Otacafe vets would know, Sunday is when the serious singers come out to play.

I think I’ll do a part two for this write-up. Pictures are slow coming, and I haven’t even talked about the fun surprises this year at Otakon.


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