Otakon came and went. This year it was a “miss” for me guest-wise so I spent a lot of time chilling. This is also the first Otakon in a very long time in which I did not get into the con area until Friday morning, breaking some kind of a streak. Turns out the con was so chill I just went to hang with a friend in the area the night before, so there you have it.
Despite DC being farther than Baltimore, it was easier for me to bus down and up. A ride on Megabus or OurBus or any of the many other carriers is easy. There is a Chinatown bus stop right down the street from the con too. Taxi are plenty if surge fares on Lyft or Uber got your tongue, plus it’s so close. In this way DC is already way superior than Baltimore, and I didn’t even mention the Metro, which was partly under repair that weekend.
There was also a whimper of a white supremacist rally scheduled Sunday afternoon but the counter protestors came in droves and it didn’t go anywhere. The lead up FUD (like that kek ANN drama) was IMO more damaging than the actual protests by probably a multiple, in terms of the wet blanket on the Otakon population. To me, the city of Washington DC is more dangerous than any white supremacist (circa 2018) rally, just by default. To put it into perspective, Otakon was in Baltimore all this time until 2016, and even the Inner Harbor is probably 10x more dangerous than the area surrounding the DC convention center. Otakon attendees are already a hardened bunch.
I’m also glad about the good attendance numbers. Otakon had 29k or so uniques, which is a nice bounce back. It shows that a well-run con with reasonable price scheme (lol selling single-day badges this year) will draw.
Otakon this year is just as well oiled as any other year, except I feel they are still not that organized if you want to do year-to-year comparisons. The downstairs concourse was basically completely screwed during the lead up to dealers room opening, as there is nowhere to put that line and not enough staff to police it. Swelling lines snaking along the walls choked the actual thoroughfare. Sunday morning, even, I was stuck in that passageway to the panel room areas (along with Nagai and the Bandai/FUNi folks) trying to get there on time, LOL.
Dealer’s Room supposedly had some issue with vendors unable to show for whatever the reason, but it was overall an improvement over last year (not the least without a giant leaking problem this time). The rain was a minimum.
Autographing was done somewhat differently this time, but it was clubbed with the dealer’s room which meant doing two lines if you wanted in. It has to be addressed next year because it is compounding the problem, although I don’t know what that would be like. Right now, everyone gets into the autograph area and form a single lineup, which is parsed into buffers for individual sections that lines up by the autograph tables. If the lineup exceeds the area by the tables it backs up into the main line into segments. It’s a mess.
Still, mailing badges was good. I picked up mine on site and it took 20 minutes or so from Friday morning. Getting into the con took a while Friday as well, and during peak hours both the front-of-con and the Marriott underpass can get backed up. The latter is a tad slower, but it is air conditioned.
What did I do at this con…mainly attended the two Kawamori panels, in which he goes over some ancient history and explains his approach in designing stuff and creating stories. They weren’t mind-blowing but all very interesting in beyond just an academic sort of way. I got a couple autographs from the IBO guys, and attended part of Nagai’s panel on Sunday plus the IBO panel on Saturday. I also went to the wotagei workshop friday after midnight but that was just anikura with a bit of cringe leading in. Amazingly, there was this Japanese dude there who was a passing traveler at Otakon. Knows his wotagei!
That is probably more panels than I have attended since a long time ago, which is just to say Otakon this year is a big snooze, or actually chillax enough that I can go to panels. I passed on the Final Fantasy music stuff, although I’m sure it was good. I killed some time goofing around to anikura guerrilla style on Saturday night, after Otabrew.
Otabrew was also an unusual experience, since the organizer used it to launch a manga publishing imprint/company. I guess it is very Ed to have this happen. The beers were all pretty good and conversations are fun, so is getting tipsy. This is the year of the Sours, isn’t it.
I tried to not go into the dealers or do autographs, but I ended up walking the dealers and picked up some Million Live things. Thanks Sahvin &c for bringing back the first anniversary stuff for Million Live in July. Compared to Otakuthon, which I did not plan to spend anything, I spent almost nothing at Otakon dealer’s room. I guess I bought a couple keychains and pin badges, and that was it.
What else are of note?
- There’s a makerspace this year, which was neat
- I did the preview screening for Release the Spyce, that was neat.
- Our hotel room got upgraded to a suite in the Washington tower. It had a walk-in closet lol.
- Breakfast was business as usual, but we didn’t go to the lobby restaurant this time.
PS. Eat-wise, we hit up a Cajun place a short way across from the Marriott Marquis, across the square. It was restaurant week a weekend earlier there, so we used their promo menu. It was very good. Friday I also went to have small plates at a modern Greek place, supposedly kind of famous, that was just blocks south. Both very Instagram-worthy and the price was reasonable (for a Manhattan kind of person). Beats Fogo I think. After LA’s M-Grill I’m not sure I’ll be in the mood for Brazilian cuisine for a time anyways.
Looking at the photos, only the glazed roast duck over dirty rice is worth posting here…