Otakon 2001 - The East Coaster's Con
By Dai Kou
After the rush of summer cons has fled, very few remain. One of the remaining I attended happened to be Otakon - - The East Coast Con.
Some say that Otakon is the East Coast equivalent to Anime Expo, the biggest West Coast Anime Con known to date. Anime Expo has it's favorable moments, and sometimes even lack of such, and Otakon has theirs as well. Let's take a step back in time to early August, where the fun began.
After a long flight consisting of a couple connections, I finally arrived in Baltimore, Maryland. The weather was considerably different than California, but I adjusted quickly. The sights were a bit eye-catching, and I finally caught a glimpse of the Convention Center in which the con would be held. The size of this place was rather huge, and it was quite similar to Comic Con International's location in San Diego, CA. I knew that this would definitely be a great con.
Upon picking up my Industry badge, I decided to comb the locality for great cosplay pictures and just see if I actually knew anyone. I met a lot of great people, I might add, and I was actually flattered by the select few who actual knew who I was. One really good thing I can say about this convention is that CosPlay is really appreciated. Not "just saying so", but it really is. It's something you can't say happens at every convention, and Otakon is one of the few that really display this genuine like for it's Anime Art. Way to go, Otakon!
Steadily, I made my way to the Art Gallery. Again, great art was displayed, and a lot of pieces I actually wanted to take home persuaded me to bid on them. The Art Gallery itself spanned a great length, room-wise, and it was just one of the many showcases at this con.
Of course, there were quite a few panels. Two in particular that I attended were Digital Manga, Inc. / Synch-Point Productions and Hikaru Midorikawa. Synch Point shed some light on their current projects in their panel, such as their production status of "Tenshi ni Narumon! / I'm Gonna Be An Angel", as well as future projects "FLCL / Furi Kuri" and "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure." Synch-Point also debuted their first commercial here at Otakon, which will be aired in residential Los Angeles to promote their upcoming store, opening September 15th, also in LA. This commercial features the characters of the recent version of DiGi Charat, a familiar Anime to all Otaku, as well as the second Fan-gone-Professional Voice Actress DMI has hired, Karen Hsin as the voice of Deijiko. As for the Hikaru Midorikawa ["Tamahome" of Fushigi Yuugi, "Lin" of Cowboy Bebop, "Heero" of Gundam Wing, "Fiore / Ail" of Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon] panel, fans of the much loved and adored voice actor gathered, asking the natural round of questions, some even flirt-oriented...! This was Midorikawa-san's first time in the U.S, might I add. The panel gathered many a flock, as did the autograph signing which was held not much later after the end of the panel. I was one of the lucky individuals in line for this, and nearly in the first portion of the seemingly mile-long line. Female fans fell fluttered while leaving the signing table, as Midorikawa-san left each with a flushed face from his mellow-toned "...arigatou..." My, it even gives me shivers now just thinking about it. ^^;
Video rooms and whatnot featured random Anime, however I did not partake in these in particular. The gaming room, however, caught my eye faster than anything else. This thing was pretty dern big, if I do say so myself, and I only wish I could've played longer. DDR, Tekken, and more attracted Anime Gamers - - Man, cons need more gaming rooms like this!
Now, to the bigwig: the Dealer's Room! If you thought the Art Gallery was big, just check this place out. It might have been the same size, but it was rather big. Dealers from across the country came to sell their goodies, and I went on a CAPCOM hunt. Hehe. Successful! I found the new prized possession of my Capcom Collection - - The Capcom Gals Summer Set! Yatta!
And of course, no report would be complete without a discussion of the Masquerade. I certainly cannot express how impressed I was with the arrangement of this event. The division of contests and awards was very well thought out, and I'd never seen it used anywhere else. The Masquerade performances and showcases were great, too, and congratulations goes out to all those who participated!
On the whole, I felt that Otakon was quite an enjoyable convention. I'd like to return next year, given the opportunity. Now, Otakon down - - Next, Ani-Magic!