I’ve been going to Otakon since 1998 and I have still never visited the Aquarium. I’m thinking Makino Yui did on her first visit…
I also have never had blue crabs in Baltimore until this year, so at least I’m trying, OK?
The main theme this year at Baltimore was that it’s the last Otakon in Baltimore in the foreseeable future. The reason for the move is mainly because the BCC is too small for this con. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown DC is much bigger, and built newer, based on a better design that has fewer chokepoints and bigger spaces suitable for fan cons. The somewhat aging BCC will really need a full revamp if it were to entice Otakon back at all, which given the lack of political will to revamp its Inner Harbor area in any sensible way the past 10+ years, is unlikely going to happen any time before the next contract re-up with the DC con center.
There are a lot of other reasons too. For example Otakon has to contract with a lot of other local entities to run the con, which come with some stipulations such as lack of ticketing and the ability to stream any programming online, mainly because these contracts were signed in the 90s and things are quite different today. The move allows the con to possibly rework a lot of the policies that restricted the con today.
There are a lot of other reasons why the con has the problems it has in 2016. Many of them probably cannot be addressed by just moving to a new place though. For starters a lot of the whales are MIA this year because AnimeFest in Dallas brought over some big guests from ways back, like the guys who worked on Urusei Yatsura, a show that holds no status in my heart but I can understand why some people like it a lot. Takada Akemi, for example. A few old timer seiyuu types also showed up, so that’s very cool.
But back to Otakon. You can get a summary of the Makino Yui Q&A here. At the sign-kai she was doing Mayu’s autographs, so that was veryyyyy awesome. She is generally really awesome, too.
Song-wise, it was a really short live, and I’m glad it even happened. Leading up to the con there were some questions as to if she was going to perform or not, but they were able to confirm it about 6 weeks before, even if she was announced months ago. She did a few songs I remember and a few newer ones. World Tour, of course.
— 牧野由依 (@yuiyui_makino) August 14, 2016
I sort of skipped out on the other autographs this year, but did drop by to get to talk to the PA Works guys on Friday and Michi on Sunday. Maybe it was for the best that I avoided Kazutomi-kun and the Escaflowne/Bones guys.
I attended the tail end of the IDOLM@STER fan panel and it was pretty much groan/newbie sort of thing; tail end only because I couldn’t wake up early enough and decided to spend 30 minutes watching Kayanomi in the hotel instead. The approach and perspective of the panel was the kind of thing for anime viewers into idol anime. The presenter is well-versed in idol anime and as mentioned, at least researches her stuff. But I think the IDOLM@STER franchise has changed a lot since 2011, and she even left out SideM in the process… The impromptu showdown to defend ML during Q&A… Yeah, I’ll still try these things in the future.
Did you know TM Revolution’s shirt came off in the Raimei PV? Anyways, I spent an hour in the SME PV panel and it was LOLs.
The pre-con Otakon Matsuri was pretty fun. This year it featured two notable acts for me, Diana Garnet and Lotus Juice & Hirata Shihoko. I’d say both are pretty okay but Garnet was very much that gaijin entertainer talent type. Lotus Juice reminds me of an alternate reality where my cousin became a DJ instead of a teacher. The two doesn’t look alike, but they have similar builds and family backgrounds I guess? I don’t know the Persona music that well but I do remember some tunes he wrote for various anime, most notably that damn fight theme from Noragami.
What else? The crowd is back at Otakon 2016 with almost 30k people. The weather was extremely hot and humid, and probably as bad or worse than Tokyo. I think that made the con draining and miserable. The Matsuri being outdoors was a little over the top in terms of heat, although it reminds me of the hijinks I saw on twitter from the Nagoya Anison Fest. Otakon also still suck at coordinating with the Matusri acts during the con, but it has improved.
To wrap it up, I’ll talk about ALL OUT, the rock band that played on Sunday. It too featured an English-speaking frontman, who is a returnee from California. I don’t know their anisongs too well but I recognize the one Heavy Object OP and Mob Psycho OP. Overall a good way to end a weekend because they’re just heavy and fun enough in the flesh. Nothing to write home about otherwise besides LOL we can’t pit due to Otakon policies and people taking pictures in front of the barrier. Why even bother?? I may or may not have cycloned during their show.
— ALL OFF (@ALLOFFofficial) August 14, 2016
PS. We went to Fogo on Saturday, it was delicious if a little too expensive for what you get. Friday was crabs but we didn’t go anywhere really top notch, just places we can find tables out in Fell’s Point. Then there was Tir na Nog on Thursday, which is our traditional gathering meal. Baltimore is not exactly a foodie destination in the inner harbor but it does have a lot of fairly well-priced wells in which I visited a few times during the weekend. And oh, Shake Shack again this year, which is becoming less and less novel. I guess I do work in Midtown after all.