What an Otakon was this year. I got some insider look at how the sausage was made this year, so at first I was a little apprehensive. But it turned out this year was actually better than the usual years because the seiyuu guests came through big time.
There were actually 5 JP voice talents at this con, so that’s already above-average. There were two of them actually older than me, so props to Otakon for catering to its boomers I guess? One of them was Ikezawa Haruna, who is best described as literary princess as seiyuu-turned-SF purveyor. She also writes her own SF and more importantly, came up with a very welcoming way to describe some of the key cultural notions that she represents, so to be able to present them in a very brand-ambassador-y way. It’s clear to me that she has put a lot of thought into the world of voice acting and SF lit. She embodies two things that I am interested in (RIP Haikasoru), in one package.
The panels Ikezawa presented were a lot of fun. The SF lit panel was cohosted with Jim Vowles, the long time Otakon chair/GR dude. Nobody really brought up SF lit when Ikezawa was just asking it from the crowd, which struck me as humorous. But she was mindful and had statements on things like generative AI, labor, and the concept of kawaii. She is a voracious reader it seems, so she name dropped her recommended Seiun award winners during the SF lit panel. She even namedropped Haikasoru and how it died, lol. There was just so much I want to actually discuss with her with SF, despite how poorly-read I am.
In her kawaii panel, Ikezawa explored the concept of kawaii and about character creation from a seiyuu-voicing-mascot point of view, which was also refreshingly rare. It’s not just a biographic perspective, but it was discussed kind of like an academic-abstract style with real life examples and audience interaction. Only if my law school profs were cute seiyuus kind of vibe?
I think just her content made Otakon for me. Otakon was always more of a cerebral con versus the average anime con, with creators who geek out their own stuff. More over, its Japanese guests had consistently delivered really high quality content on this. Just ask anyone who went to Kawamori’s panels, for example. So Otakon was a great fit for Ikezawa I think. On Sunday Ikezawa also cohosted a dubbing-around-the-world panel with MX dub legend Mario Castañeda and FFXIV’s Alisaie CV Bethan Walker from the UK. That one was more normal, off-the-cuff, but for those of us not familiar with dubbing in other countries, it was definitely enriching.
The other senior Japanese voice actor, Iwao Junko, talked about her life experiences. Unfortunately I was only able to go to her panel on Sunday but it was her telling her story from the start to today. She gave us a nice present by singing the lullaby from Card Captor Sakura and it was just quite amazing for an early-Sunday-morning Otakon panel. I also talked about the one thing she dropped about Shine Post here. If I hadn’t have to work on Friday I probably could have went to her other panels, unfortunately.
The voice actor fun times continued with TMS’s crew. They brought over the editor for the manga and two seiyuu from the upcoming anime adaptation of the Four Knights of the Apocalypse, which is the sequel to the Seven Deadly Sins. Having to see us horse out with Nakamura Kanna was just delightful and I am floored that I got something signed. Somehow this also meant we went to all of TMS’s presentations, which was, I guess, fine, and I took some very basic notes here.
Turned out a fellow trainer that we hung out at the con with was really into Narita Top Road, and here we were. It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that seeing all the interaction we had with Nakamura, and, more over, the anticipation to it as the days leading up to the con, was a big source of joy at and surrounding the event. At the same time, Nakamura is still a newbie seiyuu. I don’t know how many characters Nakamura has played, nor how many times had she interacted with fans to this degree, I only hope we have given her some good memories to take home with.
Having to work the day job one out of the 3 days at Otakon does crib a lot of my exposure. I missed out on the creative team on the Quints anime, and I missed seeing Watari again this year. I also somehow missed out on the Yaiba concert, probably because I had to find time to eat dinner between all the things.
I even almost missed all the Kawamori/Macross stuff, but I did get to sit in on his panel with Aramaki for a while, and it’s more or less what you’d expect. Even the Q&A was pretty okay. On the Macross note, I did buy some Big West authorized Macross Delta stuff. I mean, what merch are even there to buy for Delta? I got a Mylene badge, a Walkure badge, a VF31 pin and both YF19 pins.
I was able to drop by in Idolspace, which is Otakon’s ever-slightly-better indie idol content track. This year they had even more programs than ever and shows lasted into the night. There was even a separate idol show. This Phoebe person seems, I don’t know, amusing. Got to see also a friend belting it out. The Aniwaza folks which are a wotagei group were doing degen stuff at the Idolspace also. Feels like that area is just full of that “stuff.” How do you articulate that chikaidol-driven wota stuff versus the normal music things you see at otaku events?
I also got to see some rare guys like Dave, the usual suspects working autographs and GR, and LOL this guy–
Joke aside, it was a rich Otakon experience, the convention did its best to not get in my way after things started. Worries like how TMS might block us from getting Uma autographs melted away in the sheer force of opportunity. Even autographs were super smooth and not super crowded versus prior years for some reason.
There were plenty of time to hang out with friends too, we had time to spend with Sujay which was amusingly unexpected. It all made me warm up for that same party-with-friends vibe that I hope we can recreate in Vancouver in a few weeks. I really appreciate all the folks I got to hung out with.
On a more personal note, I probably got more random loot shipped to me home over the weekend than I got from Otakon dealers. It was pretty crowded but the room was laid out very well and spread out, so it didn’t feel bad. Artist Alley also wasn’t too bad. I did walk it this time and it wasn’t bad, just nothing jumped out at me, no more than the occasional bunny Karin from Blue Archive would. Still I probably spent like, $100, between the one collapsible penlight from YeahLights, the con shirt, and at the Macross booth.
PS. Foods. We went back to the Cuba joint down the street on Sunday and did not really take any pics, sorry. Inflation sure was a thing. Also spent and ate more at the Dignitary just because it’s so convenient.
The real culinary expedition was at Busboys and Poets, which is a solid soul food chain by most means. I guess it’s suppose to be more African-inspired? The fried chicken was very solid.
PPS. Yeah I also have an AX post coming up soon-ish..as soon as I finish watching ML10th act 2 I guess.