Otakon 2007: A Casual Attendee’s Report, Part I

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

That about sums up the quest for press passes for Otakon 2007. I was not able to get a press pass, but since I’m the only staff member of The Nihon Review to attend Otakon this year, I figure I’d better write something about the con. Don’t expect any industry news or exclusive interviews, there are plenty of other places you can get those; this is nothing but an account of what I did on my trip to Baltimore to attend the biggest anime convention on the East coast.

Day -1.

Day -1?! How many con reports start off with the day before the day the writer left for the con? I did say this wasn’t going to be like most con reports. I packed my bags before I left for work at 12:30 PM, so that I could leave from work and go to my friend DJWolfwood’s house to spend the night. DJWolfwood is a moderator for suburbansenshi.com and the two of us were planning to travel together and stay at another Suburban Senshi moderator’s house in Baltimore. After getting off work at 8:30 PM, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my watch. Rather than not know the time for the entire weekend I stopped home to get it before heading over to DJWolfwood’s house.

I arrived at around 9:20 and was surprised to see no one there. After ringing the doorbell for some time, I went to a local convenience store to call him (I don’t own a cell phone). After receiving no answer, I returned to his house and this time he was home. I forgot that DJWolfwood got off work at 9:30. Oh well. After printing out directions to Otakon and our pre-reg information, we packed my car and hit up the local Giant Eagle for Jolt Cola, Gatorade and Chips for the ride down. Before bed, we watched the movie 300; it was my first time seeing it, great movie, but I really don’t get the hype.

Day 0.

After waking up at 7:30 AM, we got gas and began the 5.5-6 hour drive to Baltimore. The weather was overcast with a light drizzle, that intensified into full blown rain when we crossed into Pennsylvania. At one point it was so bad that we had to pull off the highway and wait for things to improve. We stopped for lunch at a Denny’s in Breezewood PA, and as we crossed into Maryland the weather improved and we had beautiful sunshine. We finally arrived at the house where we would be staying at about 3:00 PM.

Upon first stepping into the house, the first thing I noticed was how hot it was. It turned out that the air conditioning was broken and remained that way because it would cost an exorbitant amount of money to fix. Even so, the house was a huge improvement over a hotel room and everyone was awesome, so I really couldn’t complain. After unpacking, we headed over to pre-reg, arriving at about 4:00 PM, just when the line started moving. Things did not go off without a hitch, as con staff pulled DJWolfwood out of line and took him inside without giving a reason. We later found out that Otakon was singling out people carrying 4chan signs, due to some problem they had with 4chan people last year. However, all the staff did was give him a stern talking to, and we were able to get our badges and return home.

After meandering around downtown Baltimore to find the rest of our group, we returned home to a nice dinner of sandwiches and stir-fry before spending the rest of the evening watching MXC episodes on DVD and AMV Hell 3. I managed to fall asleep after moving a fan so that it blew air directly on me long enough to cool down. Thankfully, the rest of the nights weren’t so hot.

Day 1.

We all woke up at 7:00 AM to get an early start on the day’s festivities. By 9:30 AM we were at the convention center ready to have a blast. After eating breakfast at an Einstein Brother’s Bagels insite the convention center, I split off from the group to do my own thing, which for starters would be attending the State of Otakudom panel. Upon arriving there and waiting for quite some time, the panel was cancelled, and I decided to head over to the Mushi-shi panel. Upon arriving, the English dub was being shown for what I guessed to be the first time. The dub was pretty good, a worthy companion to the original Japanese version.

The rest of the afternoon was spent attending the Jennifer Sekiguchi Q&A panel, waiting in line to get her autograph on my Haruhi DVD (She played Mikuru in the dub), and then quickly hurrying over to get Steve Blum (Spike in Cowboy Bebop) to autograph my copy of the Cowboy Bebop movie. Both of them are awesome people, especially Steven Blum, who is a funny, funny guy in person — striking a different pose in every picture people took of him.
After a quick bite to eat at a Thai restaurant that was accessable from the skywalk, I decided to give the Dealer’s room my first, and what would turn out to be my only, visit. I ended up buying this T-shirt, a FLCL wallscroll, and a handful of manga, far less than I thought I’d spend — it’s good to see I showed some restraint.

The next thing I wanted to do was check out the AMV contest, but that wasn’t until 9:00 PM, so I killed some time in the game room playing Soul Calibur III. They were also handing out for free a new limited edition brand of Mountain Dew called Gamer Fuel. It has a higher concentration of caffeine than regular Mountain Dew, and I thought it was pretty good. It ships sometime in August.

I had high hopes for the AMV contest, but it turned out to be a little disappointing. The videos were good, but there really weren’t any outstanding ones like The Wizard of Osaka, or Wedding Rings like in years past. Since I agreed to meet up with my group after the Friday Night Fan Films, I stuck around after the contest to see them. They weren’t anything special, a few AMVs I had seen before, AMV Hell 3.14, and a slightly funny Witch Hunter Robin parody called, “The Anime Zone”. After The Anime Zone, we decided we’d had enough Otakon for one day and headed back to the house to rest up for tomorrow.

So what do you guys think? Is this interesting to you? Should I even bother writing the second part? Comment away!


5 Responses to “Otakon 2007: A Casual Attendee’s Report, Part I”

  1. Yes, moar! It’s interesting to see what people on the ground thought, given that most reports only give the press POV.

    (Did you happen to see the Noto Mamiko panel?)

  2. I was the lurking ex-reviewer who told no one on the forums she was attending Otakon.

    Write a second part!

  3. Yes, I would like more please. I was enjoying your commentary until you abruptly cut off… (Kind of like a certain show I’m watching.) 😉

  4. I’m actually glad you didn’t get a press pass, simply because most Press Passed people’s con reports aren’t that impressive. Simply a lot of “I talked to the voice of Dead Guy #3 in the crowded news room for 20 minutes, then cut in line for such-and-such… etc.”

    I like the fact you covered -1 and 0. Keep it up.

  5. You’re lucky, the AX AMV contest was canceled because someone stole the electronics >_>;

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