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Otakon 20 – Alicia’s View

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This convention has been running for 20 years and each year it gets more jam packed! I arrived to the convention Thursday night and as usual all the attendees are excited, enthused, and happy to be at the convention. The convention located in the heart of Baltimore Maryland. The city gets decked out in Otakon galore. Restaurants that were accommodating to the attendees with specialty menus having popular anime characters like Pikachu and Eden of the east. Hotel clerks wearing anime hats, cat ears and the like to celebrate the weekend.

The line for registration was intense as every other year. Waiting to purchase or pre order for a badge is about a 2 hour + wait. Luckily I was picked as a masquerade judge this year,

Once inside the actual convention center it was pretty packed in it. I have been attending this convention since 2005, I have seen the attendance grow in an alarming rate. I have noticed that they made a lot more food stations throughout the whole convention center, that’s if you didn’t want to venture outside to get food.

I did not attend any panels as well as I did not attend the dealers room this year. So I cant go over these aspects. I attended the “fountains” for the most this weekend. If you do not know about the fountains, it is the hot spot for cosplayers and photographers to network. That’s where they all want to shine and show the big toys. I felt for a Friday the quality in costumes wasn’t as good as previous years. It really seems people have migrated to bringing the big costumes to Katsucon. I wore 2 costumes on Friday and did 3 photo shoots.

One of the new exhibits they did offer at the con was the Otakon museum. It was a miniature museum showing items from the very first Otakon to current. It had all the original convention badges they offered each year, program guides, list of guests, staffers, and how far the guests travel to this convention. Each year had a trivia question and number of attendance of attendee’s. And at the end of the museum was a cardboard cut out of the Otakon mascots as you can stick your face on their faces to take pictures of yourself in.

Saturday for me was the big day as that is masquerade day. I had time to roam around till 7pm when I was needed. So I had a couple of photo shoots taken of me that day. I noticed a lot more cosplayers had a a lot of their flashier costumes on. Which is what I expected from Otakon cosplays. I was happy to see all the elaborate costumes being showcased on the show floor. Earlier that day I was given 3 special ribbons to give to 3 cosplayers I felt had the best costumes on the show floor. I gave the ribbons to a Sakuragi Hanamichi from Slam Dunk, Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 4, and Shining Blade from Guild Wars 2.

After being at the fountains and just giving out those ribbons, I had to head over to the masquerade. The masquerade is in a separate building from the convention center. You have to go to the 1st Mariner Harbor. Which is in a giant stadium for acts, concerts, performances and many more. I was back stage meeting the other performance and craftsmanship judges. We were given a brief description on what we had to do and what to expect. They gave us really awesome swag for helping out and fed us dinner. The masquerade had 25 skits perform and Best in Show went to a lovely Hit man Reborn group. Congrats to all the winners and particpants, you guys did an awesome job!

The next and final day being Sunday was the big day. Yoko Kanno who is a musician was to perform her concert “Piano Me”. My friend was able to snag me a ticket to see the concert. As well as the rest of the vidgle group was able to watch the concert. She performed 13 songs and did a fantastic job. She had so much energy playing her piano and singing along with the songs. She even encouraged the audience to sing along with her. Many fans were in joy and in tears on how great the concert was. When I came to the concert I did not know what to expect but I was amazed on how well she did. I even purchased a limited edition concert t-shirt saying ‘Piano Me’ on it.

The concert was the final event of the con. And it was a great way to end the weekend. I wish I spent more time able to do more events. This is also just a fraction of what is offered at this convention.

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