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Saturday, 13 July 2013 00:00

Anime Mid Atlantic 13

Photos from Ms. H's trip to Anime Mid Atlantic 13

Published in Galleries
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 20:00

Anime Mid Atlantic 13 Report

anime midatlantic13 report

anime midatlantic msh

I have to hand it to Anime Mid-Atlantic.  They really know how to throw a party!

Whether you attended the Anime Mid-Atlantic for the cosplay, costumes, dances, video games, guests, contests, workshops , videos, card games or for the other fun activities – you could most likely enjoy doing it at Anime Mid-Atlantic.

 

Background of Anime Mid-Atlantic

Now in its thirteenth year, the Anime Mid-Atlantic is an annual event where fans of anime and video games come together sometimes to just hang out with new and old friends and have fun.  You can dress up as your favorite anime  or video game character in any form or fashion you like, of course, in adherence to the rules of the event.

anime midatlantic marriot

 Anime Mid-Atlantic was held on a beautiful weekend, June 14-16, 2013  at 725 Woodlake Dr., in Chesapeake, Virginia at the Marriott Hotel and the Chesapeake Convention Center.  Yes, the fun is spread between two buildings including the walking areas between the two.

 The Marriott Hotel and the Chesapeake Convention Center are conveniently located adjacent to  other hotels – so if  you were from out of town, you could stay either at the Marriott Hotel or at the other nearby hotels that were in walking distance.

Arrival at Anime Mid-Atlantic

I arrived at the Anime Mid-Atlantic  event towards the end of Friday night, and activities were still in full swing.   As I walked to the registration area in the hotel, I was met by one of the event’s security.  Still remembering and stinging from the coldness I felt when I attended the Civil War V video game tournament that  I covered a few months earlier, I had my guard up and immediately asked him why did he come up to me.  He responded that he wanted to know if I had any questions, and decided to approach me.  He seemed sincere, so I pushed my reservations about the atmosphere of  the event aside and asked him where I could pick up my press badge .

On my way to pick up my badge,  I met a young man who was dressed up in a costume  that included a feminine looking tank top and shorts.  He smiled and literally apologized to me for the costume that he was wearing, stating that he usually does not dress that way.   I laughed and told him he was “looking good.”

From that moment on, I knew I would enjoy  covering this event for Allgames.com.  Not only because of all the interesting events scheduled, but also and more importantly, everyone appeared to be very friendly and out to just have a good time.

anime midatlantic gameroom

Video Game Room at Anime Mid-Atlantic

My plan was to focus mostly on video games the first day of the event. So after receiving my participant badge, I  walked the short distance from the Marriott Hotel to the Chesapeake Convention Center  where the video game room was located.

anime midatlantic hoop

 

On the way to the convention center, I enjoyed watching a dance contest where the participants were dressed  up in costumes. I also enjoyed the performance of a  hoola hoop dancer, who was dancing with a neon lighted hoop for a small group of admirers who had gathered around him.  It was dark outside, so the bright colors of the hoola hoop shone brightly against the night.  At one point during his performance, he jokingly said that he was getting tired, but he received a burst of energy and continued to perform when the cameras started flashing – including my own.

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When I reached the convention center, I showed my badge to the two ladies seated at the entrance, and I was happy I had  registered as a participant, because I was able to show my badge and get in.  At that time, I had not picked up my press badge.  I also like the fact that there was control as to who went where.  I, along with other attendees had to show our badges to gain admittance to several events, which in my opinion was an effective security measure.

When I reached the video game room, the moderator was writing on a white board, changing the closing time for the video game room from 2:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.  Whew! I was glad that I made it there before they closed.

Once in the room, there were about 14 monitors on tables lining the walls with a Just Dance video game going on in full swing.  Just about every type video game system was there, including the WII U.

A couple was dancing to the game, while two fully uniformed male and female police officers watched.  Yes – in addition to having staff security personnel, the event also had uniformed policemen there as well.  It’s possible that the policemen were there for the convention center security, instead of just for the event.   The police officers were smiling as they watched the Just Dance video game couple perform – so it looks like in addition to their security duties, they were having fun as well..

In the far corner of the small video game room was a guitar hero type set up with a standing microphone  and  large monitor. After one group finished playing the game, a young lady who had just sung,  asked if I wanted to play.  I complimented her on her singing and declined the offer.  If her personna was any indication of the type people attending this event, not only were they overtly friendly, but they were polite and cordial as well.

 In addition to the newer games, there were also retro video games to be played.  The retro game was centipede/space invaders, which I got the chance to play .   I witnessed a high score obtained by a video game player. Interesting enough, within the next few minutes, I also witnessed the high score of the retro video game being broken by a much younger video game player.

Unfortunately, the video game room closed at about 1:00 a.m., and we all had to leave.  But not to worry.  There was still a crowd of people out in the convention areas as well as back at the Marriott Hotel.

 

Saturday at Anime Mid-Atlantic

Technically I was at the Anime Mid-Atlantic on Saturday, since it was about 1:30 a.m. when I left. I was prepared to make a late night appearance at the event  Saturday night, but looking at the schedule, most of the events I wanted to cover had already happened.

 

The neat feature about the Anime Mid-Atlantic is that there was a schedule of events to cover just about every hour or so  of the three days.  You could either wander around and catch some of the happenings in an impromptu manner, or you could follow the  schedule and pick and choose which events you wanted to attend. 

anime midatlantic dougsmith

Interview with Doug Smith, Graphic Artist/Voice Actor

My first order of business on Sunday was to pick up my press badge, which I’m happy to report was ready and waiting for me at the registration desk.  When the volunteer staff handed my press badge he suffixed  it with “Have fun! – which I’m glad to say  -- I did.

Located next to the registration room where I picked up my press badge was another conference room where a group of people seemed enthralled at listening to the presenter.  I decided to attend this workshop that was headed by Doug Smith, a graphic artist as well as a guest at the event.

He gave training on graphic art drawing using the software, photoshop.  In addition to demonstrating graphic design techniques, he also took interesting questions from the audience.  Some of the questions asked and answered included how to show perspectives when drawing figures and objects, as well as how to show texture of items such as brushed metal, etc. 

At the end of the workshop, I got the opportunity to interview Doug Smith, and in so doing, I found out that he was not only a graphic artist, but was also a voice actor.  He told me the story of how he got into voice acting by accident when a company was looking for someone to play a part in voice acting, and he just happened to be seemingly there,  at the right place and at the right time.

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anime midatlantic animeroom

 

 

Other Anime Events

After leaving the workshop,  I got the chance to see part of an anime movie in the video room, which was located next to the rooms where board games were being played.

I perused some of the tables that were located outside the conference rooms in the hallways.  Some people were promoting other upcoming Anime events. In fact, I discovered there are several other  Anime events that are happening in the near future.

 

anime midatlantic cosplayer1

 

Anime Pictures

 

As I continued to walk down the hallways that were bustling with people, most of whom were dressed up in costumes, I met a young lady who was dressed in a cute victorian type outfit and she had black and red ringlets for hair.  I asked her if I could touch her hair, as well as take her picture – of which she replied yes to both.

Yaaaa!! I had taken my first of many pictures of creatively dressed anime costumed participants at the Anime Mid-Atlantic.

I decided to leave the Marriott and take a short walk over to the Chesapeake Convention Center to see what was happening over there.

 

anime midatlantic slender

 

 

When I reached the convention center, a group of people dressed up as their favorite anime characters were just outside  the center playing a game similar to vogue – where you struck a pose  when the music stopped and was eventually eliminated from the game.  Everyone seemed to be having fun.  This is where I took my second picture of an Anime costumed attendee who was dressed in a black suit and tie – which appeared ordinary enough; however there was one big difference.  His face and head were completely covered in white cloth.  Someone who was also taking a picture of him told me his name was “Slender” when I asked who he was portraying. 

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anime midatlantic cosplayer2

 

Anime Mid-Atlantic Territory

Two nights before, I did not realize the full extent of the Anime event that was going on in the convention center.  At the time, I had only visited the video game room.

On Sunday, I found out there was a whole lot more at the convention center than the video game room.  Apparently the Anime Mid-Atlantic covered a lot more territory than I thought.

The hallways were  crowded with people, as well as vendors and it looked as if each conference room was also filled with people.

There was a large conference room set aside for autograph signing.  I decided to stand in line to get my Anime Mid-Atlantic book  signed.  As I waited in line, I had an interesting conversation with a woman behind the desk leading up to the autograph signing about a topic I would not have correlated with anime.  She told me about a website where there is an Anime cookbook.  With the increase of cooking reality television shows, I should not have been surprised that cooking had made its way to anime!

I asked the guest who was signing my event book if he did any voice acting for video games.  He said he would if he was asked; however, right now he did voice acting mostly for anime characters.  I liked the fact that when he autographed my event book, he addressed it to me, Ms. H! –  with an exclamation point after my name – very fitting to show just how much fun I was having at the event.

 

anime midatlantic beachball

In fact, I was not the only one having fun there.  In the autograph conference room, there was a large group of people sitting in the audience who were in amidst of friendly conversations, when I noticed a beach ball being hit back and forth over the crowd.  Of course, I could not let this get by me without taking a picture.

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anime midatlantic cosplayer3A Real Live Anime Character at the Anime Mid-Atlantic 

I next walked to the large vendor selling area.  If you were in a buying mood, you could purchase items from any of the vendors set up in the hallways and some of the rooms.

In fact, the hallways were filled with tables where people were selling any and everything related to Anime. 

Additionally, there was a large room set aside strictly for vendors which appeared to be  filled to capacity.  As I walked around the vendor area, I came across a booth where there was a young lady where I had to do a double take because she looked so much like a real life anime character.  She was Japanese and had very long blue hair styled with bangs and two very long ponytails.  I was getting ready to ask her if I could take her picture when her attention was drawn to someone else who was talking to her. 

I found out later that she was Yunmao Ayakawa, one of the guests when she appeared at the closing ceremony of the event with an interpreter. I got the chance  to take a picture of her at that time.

 

anime midatlantic ac cosplayer

Art Auction at the Anime Mid-Atlantic

I checked the schedule and decided to make my way back to the Marriott Hotel to cover the art auction.  While waiting for the art auction to start, I found a comfortable  and convenient sitting area at a table located right next to the front window that faced the front of the hotel.  It was here where I took lots of pictures of attendees dressed up in costumes.

In fact, I noticed a young man dressed up in an Assassin’s Creed outfit, which I took a picture of from a distance then, and closer pictures later when he made an appearance at the closing ceremonies.

By this time, it was about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday – almost time for the art auction!  I went to the information desk and asked her where was Restaurant A which is where the art auction was held.  She checked the schedule and told me the art auction ended at 12:30 p.m.  Unfortunately, the schedule I had was not the very latest, or had been changed.  Even though the art auction was over, I still had time to take more pictures of all the interesting anime costumed attendees – so all was not lost.

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anime midatlantic closingceremonies

 

Anime Mid-Atlantic Closing Ceremonies

The closing ceremonies were scheduled to be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Chesapeake Convention Center on Sunday, June 16, 2013.  To make sure there were no schedule changes, I verified the place and time – which had not changed.

I made the short trek from the Marriott Hotel back to the convention center.  The weather was absolutely beautiful outside, with sunny, blue skies – so the walk was an enjoyable one for me, in and of itself. Plus I met interesting costumed characters along the way.

After reaching the convention center and before going to the closing ceremony, I quickly checked the video game room to see if any changes had been made in the set up, etc..  The video game room was a little crowded than before; however, the set up was the same.

After leaving the video game room, I went to the closing ceremonies. 

Everyone entering had to show their badge – which I again thought was a good security measure. 

The closing ceremony consisted of the MC, Daniel Taraschke , thanking every body – jokingly, for not tearing the “place” down.  He then thanked everyone for coming and hoped that everyone had fun.  Next the guests were introduced and took the stage to additionally offer their thanks as well.  Most of the guests were there with the exception of a few who had to leave early.  The guest who I had interviewed earlier, Doug Smith, was introduced by the MC as their very own Tarzan -- took the stage and thanked every one.  Some guests actually ran up to and jumped up on the stage as a way to show their enthusiasm for the event.  

After presenting fan favorites awards, the MC ended the show requesting a group picture of the audience, with everyone posed with one arm outstretched with a finger pointing.  I moved over to the center audience section to be sure I would be pictured and joined in the fun.

 In the midst of taking the group picture, someone asked if there was a beach ball around.  Sadly, there was no beach ball to be thrown; however, the audience made up for it afterwards, by some posing for pictures and others doing impromptu dances.

After waiting in line, I was able to interview Daniel  Taraschke and obtained his assessment of the overall event.  In his words, he dubbed the event, “a success.”

(Listen to Ms. H's interview with Daniel Taraschke below)

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Pros of the Anime Mid-Atlantic 

  • Very well organized
    • Professionally made brochure and badges.  Brochure included rules of the event which were clearly and concisely provided.
    •  Friendly, safe location including staff security and police officers
    • Convenient location with other hotels in walking even
    • Eating available in the establishment
    • Impressive caliber of guests
    • Suitable time frame for the event – 3 days.

 

Cons of the Anime Mid-Atlantic

  • . In my opinion, I did not like the use of the term “black man” that was thrown around  in jest during some of the exit presentations.  For example, at one point when a person went on stage, he said, “I have the imprint of a big black man’s hand on my behind.”     At another  time, someone in the audience  yelled out in response to something the MC said, “I’m glad I’m not the only “black man” here.  Even though these were said in fun – I think the event was brought down a notch – since, again, in my opinion, we were all there to have fun – regardless of our race.
  •  I think it was mildly disruptive when two young ladies during the closing ceremonies in the audience yelled out one on one conversations with some of the people on the stage.  They would yell out their comments and the guests would respond, which was again done in fun – but I think this sort of alienated the rest of the audience. Happily, their comments were few and did not dominate the presentations.
  •  Video game area need to be larger to accommodate more people.

Recommendations for the Anime Mid-Atlantic

 

  • Even though it may be difficult due to the size of this event, I recommend the event organizers try to keep last minute changes to the very minimum.  For example, closing up the video game room l hour earlier than posted in the schedule as well as  changing the time for the art auction were, in my opinion last minute changes.  If I had arranged my video game room visit according to the schedule I had, I would have arrived at the event at 1:30 a.m. and found a locked door instead of video games.
  • Have a large sign posted somewhere in either the hotel and/or the convention center announcing the event – including a marquee – if available.  I did not see any Anime Mid-Atlantic signs posted, unless I missed them.  In fact a couple drove up to the front of the hotel and asked the costumed characters what was going on out of curiosity.  If a sign was posted, it would have been obvious that the fun-filled Anime Mid-Atlantic event was in full fling!

Closing Remarks  -- Anime Mid-Atlantic

All in all, the Anime Mid-Atlantic looked to be not only a success but a great one at that.  It was an event that you can go to and conversate with and be around others who share your interests in anime, and video games and all that goes with these fun venues.  You can dress up as your favorite character and in a way, bring to life  anime characters who you have probably admired virtually, and can now  give them the breath of real life, so to speak, at an event such as the Anime Mid-Atlantic.  If you have a competitive spirit, you can participate in the many contests to see how you measure up – or you can enter just to have fun. If you want to learn more about the different facets Anime, there were many workshops available as well. 

The saying that would wrap up my personal assessment of the Anime Mid-Atlantic event would be –“ And fun was had by all!”  Well done.

 

Published in All Games Blog
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Otakon 2014 Gallery

Kitsune and Burr from Cat & Fox went to Otakon 2013 and brought back some great photos of the anime convention.

 

Published in Galleries
Monday, 21 April 2014 00:00

Wondercon 2014 Photo Gallery

Allgames was at the 2014 Wondercon convention held in Anahiem CA.  For 3 days nearly 50,000 comic book, scifi, and fantasy fans came together to celebrate thier favorite pastiime. Here are some of the sights from inside and outside the convention center.

Published in Galleries
Saturday, 23 May 2015 00:00

Tidewater Comicon 2015 Gallery

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Ms. H from Mom's Minute went to the 2015 Tidewater Comicon . Here's some of the great cosplayers and sights from the convention

Published in Galleries
Sunday, 23 April 2017 18:55

About C2E2

A little while ago I wrote about why the small cons have an advantage over the gigantic San Diego Comic Con. So it was in this spirit that went down to Chicago, IL for C2E2. The trip simply confirmed everything I said before.

The show floor itself is divided into three sections. The autograph area, where for a small fee you can get an autograph and a picture from one of your favorite supporting cast members.

The main floor, where you can buy just about anything comic book or fantasy related. Unlike the big cons there’s nothing new here, none of the big companies whose name you’d recognize have a booth. Even the independent publishers are rare and difficult to find. It’s literally a giant swap meet of nerdiness. With alcohol. Revolution Brewing, a local brewery, provided the event with a nice selection of beers on tap.

 Then we have artists’ alley, where you can buy art prints or commission an original piece from the artists themselves.  The advantage of not having so many giant flashy promotional booths on the show floor is that it frees up more space for the artists with bigger names like Neal Adams, Peter Tomasi, and Dan Jurgens. But get there early because there will be a line and they can only take a limited number of commissions. Plus they tend to get a little testy when they realize they’re going to have to draw Superman over and over again all day for three days (don’t ever meet your heroes).

The other half of the con is the panels. Nothing really new here. But there aren’t any mega stars promoting the next summer blockbuster or upcoming show. The panels are where you can listen to discussions about what’s going on in the industry or even provide feedback to writers and artists about where the future of the major titles should go.

As you walk around the convention floor you’ll notice that this is where the fans go. You see it in the diversity of characters being cosplayed. While you’ll still see a variety of Deadpools, the Harley Quinns are at a minimum, and none of those women trying to sell you a picture or get you to subscribe to their Patreon.

C2E2 is a con for the true fans, I hope to see more of you out there next year. Tune in to the April 26 episode Fantastic Forum to hear more about my C2E2 adventures.

Published in Fantastic Forum Blog
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Otakon 2014 Event Report

Even though the basic concept is the same, every iteration of a convention has a different feel to it. If you read my review last year, Otakon went bigger in celebrating its 20th anniversary, pulling out all the stops in terms of special guests and exclusives, as well as taking stock of its history in inviting old friends. This year was a bit more subdued, partly because 2013 was such a hard act to follow, but also because of a major snafu to kick things off.

First, let's go with what went right on Thursday, which is technically the day before Otakon officially begins. The outdoor matsuri in a nearby park by the Inner Harbor of Baltimore was a bigger success this time around, with more acts and booths set up. It's still lacking that traditional Japanese feel to it however with the lack of true festival games and street food, but there was a much bigger crowd this time to see the multiple bands performing live (I caught the Ricecookers in action as well as Peelander-Z) and a highly entertaining sumo wrestling demonstration by the largest Japanese wrestler ever, Yama, his American counterpart Kelly Gneiting, and volunteers from the crowd to boot!

otakon sumo

Sadly, part of the reason for the crowd at the matsuri may have been the ridiculously long pre-registration line at the convention center, which wrapped around the building at least a couple times. I tried standing in it with a friend (despite having already obtained my press pass) and it was just too much after a half hour of barely getting anywhere. It turns out that their new registration system was getting gummed up by the convention center's network issues, but attendees really had no idea what was going on, finding the end of the line was hard enough. While Otakorp eventually got the word out on Twitter and in a press release, I feel like a lot of grief could have been avoided if the troubles had been directly communicated to the line sooner, and people turned away earlier so that when things shut down close to midnight there wouldn't been people denied just outside of the door. LineCon 2014 soon became the meme afterwards and you could see some of the enthusiasm subside the next day, though fortunately so did the technical issues.

With the con proper underway, it was time to break out the cameras and catch some cosplay on the way to wherever you're headed! This year did not disappoint, particularly if you were a fan of this year's breakout series: Kill la Kill, but there was plenty for fans of all stripes, including games like Final Fantasy XIV and Borderlands to classics like Dragonball Z . This time around, the Guidebook app on a smartphone was not only recommended, but practically required as the printed schedule of events was immediately out of date and only provided at information booths by request. Attending panels this year was a blast as I couldn't think of one that disappointed, including two panels put on by a friend of ours, TheRobD: Anime Openings Around the World and The Other Way Around: American Comics Localized in Japan, both of which featured other countries' humorous takes on source material we were quite familiar with. New Anime for Older Fans was back this year and fully updated with great suggestions for veterans, A Brief History of Anime: 100 Years in 50 Minutes did an admirable job of identifying the major trends of the medium while planting some seeds for thought. And for all those Kill la Kill fans in attendance, there was even a panel dedicated to piecing together all the references in the show, which gave me an even greater respect for it.

otakon cosplay

Those are just the events I was able to make, from the reaction online there were several other ones I could regret missing, but that's just the nature of a good con, there's just never enough time to do everything! The key is that when most stuff is worth your time anyway, you can't complain, and this year's Otakon still delivered, at least in my book. I also caught showings of anime like Psycho Pass and Dog & Scissors that were a welcome respite from the crowds, which were thankfully tamed for the most part thanks to the expansion of the one way lanes to the Hilton skybridge. From what I understand, while I wasn't able to attend, the Yoshiki concert also went well thanks to an organized lottery for seating unlike the line of past years. The only real disappointment was the Game Room this year, which was lacking the arcade cabinets of past years and felt considerably bare as a result. Another common complaint was also the laggy TV's used, particularly for fighting games. Hopefully that can be turned around for next year, as while games obviously aren't a focus of Otakon, they can be a great way to pass time between things on your schedule.

All in all, after some early hiccups, Otakon 2014 closed out as another successful chapter in the books. Everyone I knew and attended the con with left happy and we were all only disappointed that it was over so soon. While there is always room for improvement (particularly in getting folks their badges, though in fairness, Anime Expo in LA suffered its registration disaster earlier this year), I feel confident in the direction Otakorp is charting overall. Here's looking forward to next year's edition!

 

Check out Cat and Fox's Pictures from Otakon 2014!

otakon 2014 gallery title

Published in Cat & Fox Blog
Thursday, 06 April 2017 20:41

People Should Go To Wonder-Con

More people should be going to any and all of the little “baby-cons” across the country. I’ve made this statement to as many people as would listen. Partially in the hope of reducing the giant crowds at the real Comic-Con in San Diego, but also because these little cons are what SDCC used to be.

Each year I make the trip down to San Diego I see more and more of the comics being swallowed up by whatever the latest upcoming blockbuster needs to advertise that year. It’s gotten to that point that more and more people are referring to it as “Pop-Con”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I completely understand the need for the big spectacle. Something to shine a spotlight onto oncoming awesomeness to as many people as possible and keep up the quality of the products we enjoy. But there comes a point where it becomes way too big to truly be enjoyed. Are you really getting the Con experience waiting in a line for a day and a half to get into a 20 minute panel?

This is where an event like Wonder-Con becomes a necessity. A throwback to the early days where you stop to take a picture of a cosplayer without worrying about the thousand people traffic jam behind you. Just being able to walk from booth to booth without people bumping into you, or worse, nearly crushing you as a mass of bodies rushes to where the Game of Thrones guy was just spotted. Even the prices on comics are better (if you’re into that sort of thing). The panels are smaller but you can show up within 10 minutes and still get in. There are far less exclusive items at these smaller cons but a lot of the cool show exclusive everyone is going crazy for during SDCC end up on Ebay the next day anyway.

Every year a billion people descend into SDCC looking for the Comic-Con experience. I say that experience has moved on to Wonder-Con, Kamikaze, C2E2, etc. Go there while you still can.

Published in Fantastic Forum Blog
Saturday, 17 August 2013 01:34

Otakon 2013 Report

When you've been at something for two decades and only keep getting bigger and better, you know you're doing something right. Otakon has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a Days Inn in Pennsylvania, exploding from a humble gathering of 300 or so to a horde of nearly 35,000 otaku taking over its current home in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. In fact, the convention has gotten so large that Otakorp has already announced a move to Washington, D.C.'s more spacious convention center for 2017's edition, despite some sentimental reluctance.Otakon13 inside

 

Otakon celebrated its 20th anniversary in style, for sure. They brought in a smorgasbord of huge guests like Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe, world famous composer Yoko Kanno, and various animators and directors from recent blockbuster hits like Sword Art Online and Oreimo. Along with these guests came announcements of new titles like Watanabe's Space Dandy, and the world premieres of Oreimo's final episodes of the 2nd season as well as the English dubbed version of critically acclaimed film, Wolf Children.

 

Having only been to one previous edition of Otakon the year before, I don't have a lot to compare to, but this year's absolutely topped the last both in numbers, events, and sheer enthusiasm. It felt like there was even more cosplay than ever, particularly from fans of shows like Attack on Titan, which allow you to participate in army uniform without necessarily representing a specific character. Despite the larger crowd, I did not feel any real degradation of foot traffic, especially once they organized the unfortunately narrow sky bridges into one way lanes. Speaking of which, organization is Otakon's strong suit. While there will always be some hiccups and confusion in herding so many cats, I was still impressed with how most lines were handled, both for registration and panels. My only annoyance was discovering the huge rush for 18+ bracelets for Frday night's more racier affairs. I feel like that could have been addressed at the same time as registration (where you have to present your ID anyway) to alleviate those lines, especially when that was only a prelude to waiting in yet another line to get into the event. Besides that though, everything started on time for the most part and all of the staff was very courteous and helpful, always willing to take questions and find the answer for you.

 

Otakon13 panelWhen you arrive at Otakon, I highly suggest you take a look at the schedule (and download Guidebook if you have a smartphone) and plan your attack. There's way more things to do than there is ever enough time to see (which is not a complaint, but a sign of a great convention!). At any moment there's at least 4 anime showing in video rooms and multiple panels, Q&A's, and workshops to boot. You also have to account for how popular an event is going to be and factor in getting early to secure your spot, so there's going to be a lot of concessions made. Personally I was happy catching some of the smaller fare and avoiding some of the world premieres with their 2 hour long waits. I started off my schedule on Friday with a viewing of Otaku No Video, a comedic anime from 1991 that inspired Otakon according to its members' lore. It wasn't hard to see the connection as it traces a similar meteoric rise for a small band of otaku who take the world by storm and eventually construct their equivalent of Disneyland. I also caught showings of stuff like Hunter X Hunter and New Hurricane Polymar. Panels wise I found a lot of variety as I attended ones about Lolita fashion, sports anime, and the real of a manga artist. My favorites though involved reminiscing about the early days of anime in America with I Love the 80s: Anime Edition hosted by Mike Toole and the Anime Industry Before Times panel hosted by special guests who were founding members of such greats as AnimEigo, Animerica, ADV, and more.

 

Otakon13 cosplayersNeedless to say, there's no excuse to be bored at Otakon! Even if none of the anime or panels happens to be your thing at a given time, just wandering the halls and seeing all the cosplay is entertaining enough. Of course there's also a huge gaming room open all day long with a wide selection of arcade and console machines and software both old and new. I checked out Hatsune Miku Project Diva F with a real arcade controller among other rare Japanese imports, and tons of other rhythm music games like DDR, Rock Band, and Dance Central. And then there's the shopping, with both Artist's Alley and Dealer's Hall jam packed of goodies. My only complaint about the latter is that many dealers seemed to be working from the exact same stock, so there weren't many rare finds to be had, but that could also have been the fact that I didn't get in the first day. The good side of that is it made it easy to comparison shop and find the best deal if you were willing to put in the leg work.

 

Otakon13 outsideAnd for those moments where you absolutely have to step out of the convention and get a breath of fresh air, the Inner Harbor is there for you with entertainment options like the many display ships in port, from submarines to tallships like the U.S.S. Constellation. You can even take a water taxi and get out on the water. There's of course plenty of food options in the area that run the gamut of low cost chains and food trucks to fancier fare like the great Spanish tapas restaurant I ate at on my last day. Hotels are a bit tricky and can be expensive for the weekend but they are mostly clustered around the convention center for easy access to and from Otakon. If you're looking to save though it might be cheaper to stay near the airport and take the light rail in, but I'm not as familiar with the viability of that option. I was skeptical about Baltimore at first, but it's found a place in my heart after two years there. A fondness has grown between the convention and the city and you can see many of the locals actually enjoy having us around. It's a shame it will be moving on in a few years and I have no doubt it was a difficult decision for Otakorp.

 

Otakon13 kitsune deadpoolOtakorp has also created a spinoff convention in Las Vegas that starts this January 2014, so if that's closer to you it may be worth a look as well. Just keep in mind it'll be going through some first con pains, but I have confidence in this crew considering how well they've done with their first baby. Anyway, I had an amazing time at my second Otakon and look forward to doing it all again next year. There's a reason why this con has been so successful and made to the 20 year mark, and I hope you will join us out there next time, because despite everything else I mentioned, it's the people and the friends you meet that really make it great!

 

Click Here for the Otakon 2013 Gallery

 


 

 

Published in Cat & Fox Blog
Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

Free Comic Book Day Gallery 2014

 The first saturday in May means one thing, Free Comic Book Day! This year Lawrence Young from the Fantastic Forum, Chip Cella from the B-Team, and Derrick Hopkins from Dead Pixel Live visited two of the best comic shops in Los Angeles to chronical the event. Geoffrey's Comics and Comic Bug were both filled with comic lovers of all ages. Geoffrey's added to the fun with a sale of 25% off of everything in the store and while Comic Bug gave you the chance to meet and greet some comic book royalty. Check out some images from the day below and feel free to share how you spent Free Comic Book Day 2014.

Published in Galleries
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