Otakon 2019: Wrap

This was my 21th Otakon, and it was the 25th Otakon. I enjoyed it, it was fun and kind of laid back.

Laid Back Camp, the new Fruits Basket, and Tensura were the three big IP being pushed at the con, guest-wise. We had director, producer, and CV Hara Sayuri for Yurucamp; CVs Iwami Manaka, Shimazaki and Furukawa for Furuba; and lastly director, character designer, and CV Kobayashi Chikahiro for Tensura. Well, those and Promare (Koyama, Wakabayashi, Imaishi). On the side we also had the usual Maruyama panel, but Nagahama also did a thing, so that was cool. Inoue Kikuko had a thing also, both a panel for her and a panel for Mix with producer Suwa. Well, I wish I could have gone to all those.

I went to see the music producer Wada Kaoru, who has produced a ton of anime soundtracks over the years. Only got him to sign Princess Tutu though… I also wish I could have gone to his panel. I might be beholden to my past as an anime OST kind of guy but I am innately interested in this stuff…

It also feels like this Otakon had a lot of conflicts for JP guests, it was conflict-town all weekend. I don’t know why but it felt like by committing to getting Yurucamp signs I missed out on everything else. On the side, I was able to score autographs by industry purchases (Funimation’s lol twitter thing aside), and just hitting Wada Kaoru’s line is e-z mode. It was a nice haul in that sense because I even got a couple light sketches, without doing a lot of work.

Guest-wise, Otakon always hits my spots when it comes to non-seiyuu, but this year it wasn’t off the mark either on seiyuu, making the situation sort of annoying. But somehow it felt completely opposite of how Acen was.

Music-wise, there were 4 things going on at the con, practically–Nano, Diana Garnet, the Nujabes tribute group, and Bradios. I caught the latter half of Bradio’s set and they were great. I wish more bands like them gets US booking. I missed out on the Nujabes tribute concert despite buying a priority ticket, because I kind of had too much food and am tired? LOL. Should’ve went. In retrospect, it felt like the scheduling of Bradios concert could have been a lot better.

Sunday’s usual concert slot went to Nano and Garnet. Garnet was better this year than last year. She did that medley stuff but her original songs are alright. The tie-in with Dragon Marked for Death is actually great, so maybe she can do that one more at more shows. Feels like she’s destined for Otakon though, just in terms of who would pay for her to come and do stuff… I guess on some level she is still mostly a panda and doesn’t have that millennial appeal, even if she is talented and an overachiever in some sense.

Nano, on the other hand, brings in that usual neutral-tone, positive energy that is also as dark as her eyeliner. I don’t know how to parse her appeal but the music always do more of the talking than anything, so it is easy material to get in to. I should have brushed up on her songs before the show, but most of it were tie-ins I have watched.

I did go to her panel and that was really my first look into her as an artist. It was both informative and not really turning my light bulb on, I guess. It could have been more illuminating. As an asian-American of sorts I wonder how she feels about America.

Big reason why I was able to hang out with friends at all at this con is Hara Sayuri. The woman who plays Honda Mio has a following and I happen to know some producers? What a coincidence. I got my penlight signed but I was really on the fence on what else to get signed, so I ended up with a shikishi as my second autograph. I liked how the line for Yurucamp was literally a very laid back camp, and the line wasn’t even that long. It was just the right length (and long enough to possibly be looped actually)…

The guests with Meshiya were pretty friendly too, director Kyougoku worked on also Yama no Susume so it’s a nice drop that I did. Rest of the time they were polling us who we liked most in Yurucamp while Meshiya telling us to pick Chiaki. I yielded on day 2 and said Chikuwa.

There were both a solo Hara Sayuri panel and a Yurucamp panel. In the former Hara panel we just asked random questions, varying from Yuru Camp and IM@S and about Detective Conan. She gave a straight answer to the Detective Conan one, which was kind of like Nano’s “favorite anime and why” answer. Is she also a shotacon I have no idea.

You can really tell Hara is brimming with a certain kind of sharp energy underneath. Rather than to say she is intelligent, it is more like she is sharp. Small difference but that’s how it came across. She opened the panel saying she had a really long delay during their layover in Seattle, and they missed their original flight due to long lines at immigration. In the end they took a red eye to DC so they have not had real sleep for over 24 hours by the time the panel had started. But it made her more hyper? I guess.

I ran out half way in the second panel, dedicated to Yuru Camp, to get an autograph at the Bannam booth for Tensura. I didn’t have to do that, in hindsight, but I did anyways just in case. It was kind of a long hike to get into the dealer’s hall.

The Fruits Basket content at Otakon was great if you are into seiyuu entertainment. It was also great just in general for fans. There was a genuine “second generation” feel and Iwami Manaka is also kinda like the real deal Honda Tohru, which helped no matter if you were female-leaning or male-leaning, interest-wise.

The most amusing thing was in line for the watashikai and seeing the excited fans getting emotional after their chance with them face-to-face. It did not “happen” in the same manner for me but I enjoyed it nonetheless. These are the real jewels of JP guests that needs to be brought over, but it’s not so simple. And “enjoyed” it short I think.

I mean, for starters I think FUNi did it correctly, other than messing up the ticket distribution. Secondly I think it’s good that they took a lot of questions ahead of time, because that also seemed like a better way to do it given the style of the people on stage. It’s not a perfect method but they did it the right way.

I wasn’t able to attend any Tensura stuff. So it was just mainly Fruits and Camping. I was able to attend part of the MIX panel, and got a glimpse of Kikuko-san!

Let me wrap up by saying I had a blast at Otabrew again. It was a great way to meet some more people I normally don’t see on my normal con tracks, and good to hear what’s going on. This year the brews were real nice and I need to figure out how to get that nitro blonde stout from Modern Times Beer… The panel part was fine too, I enjoyed it.

PS. This was great. Like, Kikuko-san just walking around the con in cosplay? Maid cosplay?? LOL.

PPS. There were some tributes to Kyoani at Otakon. There was these drawing walls set up and one company was doing crane collection at the exhibit hall. I guess what I did was rep Liz merch at Eleven Arts, who also had some cheap good movies…

PPPS. Food-wise, we were pretty tame this year. I hit Yard House. We went to Otabrew without eating before that. Sunday night we had early dinner out around in NoVA at a Korean place. It had fairly authentic and fairly cheap food, which I cannot complain. It is the only photo-worthy thing probably.

I was just going to get some jjajangmyeon but well. Ended up getting both.


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