Otakon 2013: 20 Years of Otakon

Otakon has been the convention of the otaku generation for 20 years.

Otakon always has a good show, full of great guests, and programming. I got to see a lot of it, but not all of it, but this would happen at any large convention.

From Thursday, Otakon had its great matsuri with great performances, despite the massive rains that fell that Thursday. The Otakon Matsuri is a wonderful outside event open to the public, it has both traditional Japanese and pop culture artists performing. This year Adam WarRock, Chin Hamaya Culture Center, DJ Cutman, UZUHI, and The Slants were scheduled to perform. Only the rain prevented the performances of The Slants from happening at the Matsuri.

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Regardless of all the rain, it was a wonderful event, and well managed by the Otakon staffers. One I look forward to attending again, next year.

The rain and the clouds surrounding it did make for awesome photoshoots, these are usually the type of shots that require post processing to obtain these effects. Aside from my watermark and resizing, these have no editing. Thanks to Tori and Muriel for being such great models and risking the rain.

Tori Tori Tori
Tori Last Unicorn Last Unicorn

On Friday, Otakon truly began and thousands upon thousands of people all came inside the Baltimore Convention Center and its hotels. A surprise that should not be a surprise was how quickly food, water, and other supplies were consumed at such places like CVS, the 7-Eleven, and Royal Farms (which is a local mini-mart chain similar to 7-Eleven). This may be due to the fact that there was over 4,000 more people than there were last year (this year’s total was 34,892), but Otakon has never felt over-crowded, packed in some cases, but never over-crowded and there were always plenty of places to eat, do photoshoots, and enjoy the convention with friends.

Otakon made great use of its Guidebook, including very descriptive descriptions and presenters in many of its programming. This is something that more conventions should do because it lets you know who will be presenting, so you know what to prioritize to see, and sometimes know what you might see again, especially from local area panelists. (Local area panelists means the set of conventions that certain panelists go to, this is usually indicative of their convention circuit.)

Otakon is home to some of the most amazing panels, especially those involving important things in the anime industry, and Otakon did not disappoint.

My friend Roland Kelts gave and moderated some great panels. Anime versus Hollywood, and Anime’s Online Expansion were the two of his I could video with my schedule. These panels spoke much about the media changing both in Hollywood adaptions and anime distribution.

Anime’s Online Expansion, also brought in Christopher Macdonald of Anime News Network and Keith Kawamura of Crunchyroll (which I also produce content for). This panel had a lot of discussion of the history and the state of Crunchyroll and online streaming overall. Multiple important concepts were discussed such as how the Japanese industry wants to be the second and not the first when it comes to trying new things, and that multiple companies all have to approve of something with any property, before anything can be done with it. As the panel explains this is very important, because it can really mean lost opportunities in international markets, but this changing through Crunchyroll and others such Funimation as Daisuki. This panel would have been even better than it was if representatives from Funimation and Daisuki were a part of it, to give an even more complete view.

Following this was a panel with some of the pioneers of anime such as Ken Iyadomi, Robert Place Napton, Trish Ledoux, Toshifumi Yoshida, David Williams, Shin Kurokawa, and Kevin McKeever, many of whom still work in the anime industry in various capacities. This panel talked about how many things began, how everyone came to work in the industry, and how everyone came to know each other. As this panel was happening and as I rewatched it, I thought about the cosplay industries in the US and how similar it is.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5nUVnFav1E[/youtube]

One of the highlights for many people on Saturday was the Ruroni Kenshin Otakon Movie Premiere with an Introduction by Kaoru Kurosaki, the wife of the author of Rurouni Kenshin. This was such a great way to introduce the movie to the US audience, and hopefully it will have theatrical, but more likely US streaming availability soon.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDte9OuggBE[/youtube]

I also had the opportunity to interview with Mike McFarland. This was a great interview where I had the pleasure of learning directly from one of the first Funimation voice actors about voice acting, fan relations, and more.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00YiSxebO_E[/youtube]

The one event I did not get a chance to attend, which I really wanted to was the Yoko Kanno concert. It as you can imagine it was a packed event, and you needed special tickets to attend, which I did not receive. Though I can imagine and know that it was a magical performance, with magical music as all the works of Yoko Kanno are.

Cosplay wise there are always so many beautiful and amazing costumes, we already covered some of the amazing cosplay music videos from Beat Down Boogie, and I had the pleasure to shoot with many of my friends in the various locations inside and around Otakon. This included getting some fan favorite ideas into actual photos.

I shot with not one, but two awesome Starfires (one being my friend Flaming Goddess on the right) but each having mustard.

Starfire Starfire

For those of you who do not know why the mustard is funny: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHTEXi43d1U[/youtube]

Here are some samples of shots I show with my friends such as Avalon Cosplay, Spectra Cosplay, KO Cosplay, Pixiekitty’s Cosplay, Fire Lily Cosplay, Studio Eingana, and others. I’ll keep uploading the unedited versions to my facebook page and the edits up to my deviantart.

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Otakon is a great show and I look forward to enjoying all it has to over next year, its 30th year, and all the years between and after.

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Lawrence Brenner
Lawrence Brenner 22 posts

Lawrence Brenner is a journalist/writer/photographer/videographer and academic. He has also presented on the Rise of the Cosplay Economy at Anime Expo.