Friday, October 11, 2013

Otakon 20: A First Timer's Perspective (Part 2)

Previously, I talked about some of my experiences at Otakon 20, mainly about the time I spent at the concerts. Of course, there was plenty of other things I did besides standing in line and listening to live music. I also went to panels and bought a bunch of stuff. Also, I stood on more lines. I never was a fan of lines.

While I was at Otakon, I did manage to go to a few panels. Unfortunately I missed a handful of panels I wanted to go to due to either the concerts or me not managing my time correctly. I especially wanted to go to more industry panels than the one Funimation panel I went to, but that’s life. It’s no big deal.

One other panel that is worth mentioning was the Otakon Game Show. Basically, it’s a Jeopardy!-style quiz show where most of the questions were multiple choice. They had four people qualify to be on the show ahead of time to duke it out on stage and try to earn the most points. The really cool part is that everyone in the audience can participate via their cell phone. The best part: it actually worked! The categories ranged from topics such as vehicles, death scenes, song lyrics, and even panty shots (both male and female). By far the funniest category was “Magical Girl, Porn, Both, or Neither?” where a title and a single piece of art from a show are shown. Everyone had to guess if it was a magical girl anime, a porn (a.k.a. hentai), both, or neither. The results were hilarious, especially the one question where the three female contestants guessed “neither” for an anime and the one male contestant guessed “porn”. The male was correct. As for me, I was pleased with my results. I surprised myself with the amount of anime knowledge I had… as well as my ability to guess.

I also checked out the large game room they had at Otakon. There was quite a diverse selection of games with relatively minimal lines at each game. I’m really glad I finally got to try Pop ‘n’ Music for the first time. It’s a fun rhythm game. Definitely more challenging than it looks. I also got to try out Pachinko for the first time. They had a charity station where donating money got you the tiny metal balls you need to play the games. While I am glad I got to try it, I don’t suspect I’ll play Pachinko for non-charity reasons ever again. It’s was fun, but I don’t feel the need to play it again.

Speaking of the game room, the Baltimore Convention Center isn’t exactly easy to navigate. Sometimes you had to go up a floor in order to get to a room that’s currently on the same floor as you. Then you add the fact that some entrances/exits are either blocked off or one way passages and the entire place can seem like a giant maze to a first timer. Heck, there are some areas I’m still wasn’t sure how to get to by the end of the convention.

You know what wasn’t hard to find? Artists’ Alley. To be perfectly honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the area in most conventions since I almost never buy any art. However, there were some things to look outside of the vendors. One notable thing was a giant chalk drawing by Eric Maruscak. For those who don’t know, Eric is often hired to do giant chalk drawings live at conventions. At Otakon this year, he drew the convention’s 20th anniversary cover artwork. It was really cool to see him draw it in person and the finished product really was a sight to be seen.
Otakon 20 chalk drawing by Eric Maruscak
Speaking of memorable art, Artists’ Alley also had an art auction section. In that area, various artists had their works of art (usually based on anime or video games) on display for people to look at. If you wanted to, you could place a bid to buy a certain work you liked. If you had the highest bid on Sunday, you get to buy it. Some of the art was really well done (photos were strictly forbidden in that area). I especially liked the set of four glass plates based on Yu Yu Hakusho. I would have bid on least one of them, but the prices were already too high for me and I had to pass.

While some of the art was good, there were some art in the auction that was really bad; especially if you went into the 18+ section. Oh my goodness, I am so glad I waited in line to get my 18+ bracelet because the art in the adult section was so bad. I mean hilariously bad. Some random guys and myself had a good laugh just looking at how poorly drawn some of these pictures were. Seriously, you can find some excellent canvas painted drawings in the non-adult section, yet there I was in the adult section looking at a crappy pencil drawing of Rukia from Bleach on paper where one of the faceless men was given the most detail. Also, there were crappy adult drawings based on My Little Pony. Hilarious.

Now that I’m done laughing about that, let’s finish this recap with the Dealer’s Room. Simply put, the Dealer’s Room was awesome. There was a good variety of sellers featuring prices they were, for the most part, very fair. There wasn’t a lot that I passed up because I felt the price was too high, except for Aniplex DVDs. I ended up buying a good amount of anime form both Funimation and Discotek’s booths because they both have a tendency to license the things I want to buy. Also, I bought anime licensed by Sentai Filmworks for the first time. I feel like they really have been working on improving their image since the Kids on the Slope incident. I think it’s working.

Going back to Funimation, while at their booth, I got to talk to Funimation’s Senior Manager of Social Strategy and Development, Justin Rojas, who spent time talking to fans on the floor. I specifically wanted to talk to him about Dragon Ball. You see, Funimation just released the original Toonami dub of Dragon Ball Z on DVD. As someone who’s really interested in the history of anime dubbing, I instantly bought the set from the booth and used it to pitch an idea to Rojas. Since I knew he couldn’t comment on unannounced anime licenses, I told him that if Funimation was to acquire the Harmony Gold dub of the original Dragon Ball that was done in the ‘80s, I would buy it. I already own both Funimation dubs of Dragon Ball on DVD, so I would love to complete the set. I think he was genuinely surprised that someone requested so obscure, but he did seem interested in the idea. We then talked about how the new DBZ set came to existence and about DBZ in general. It was really cool.

I think that’s the best way to describe my time at Otakon 20: really cool. I’m really glad I went and got to experience so many things I never got to experience at a convention before. Sure, there are some things I regret missing, but past experience has taught me that’s going to happen some times, especially if it’s your first convention. You just learn from your mistakes and move on. For example, I’m definitely going to book my hotel a lot earlier next time. That way, I won’t be so far away! Regardless of the mistakes, Otakon was a blast and I recommend it to any anime fan looking for a fun convention to go to.

Below you’ll find almost everything I bought while I was at Otakon. Easily the booth I got the best deals from was for OtakUtopia. They were selling a copy of Yu Yu Hakusho: The Movie: Poltergeist Report brand new for only $15. Considering what it typically goes for online, I instantly bought that. Much to my surprise, they were also selling Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete for a reasonable price, especially since the box actually was complete.

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