Living hundreds of miles away from the East Coast, flying is my preferred mode of transportation for Otakon. Travel time, four short hours, is a non-issue to me. Alas, I was forced to succumbed to Southwest Airlines, being the cheapest game in town. And let’s just say, we did not bond. At all. If you followed my twitterings during the past few days, undisguised rage was evident. But as soon as I stepped out of the airport, annoyance was replaced with school girl glee. Fangirl mode initialized.
Since I arrived well before the otaku onslaught on Thursday before noon, I had the chance relax before meeting up with my primary con-buddy this year, the awesomely hilarious Anna.
The line for Thursday night’s badge pick-up was the fastest prereg line evah. We lined up at nine-ish, and was amazed by the speedy queueing. We were done with lots of time to spare. As for the badges this year, I picked the hott bare-chested dude, for obvious reasons.
The day started with the Dealer’s Room. The trek to the cursed area was long and confusing. Possibly for traffic management, The Powers that Be decided to close the relatively easier route for the Devil’s Lair and let con-goers go around the building. You’d think they want easier access to merchandise, right?
One glance at the Dealer’s Room this year, it was apparent that only a handful of industry booths were present, Bandai and Funimation with the major booths. The sobering implication threatens to cast a slight cloud. Fortunately, a Haruhi armband freebie tossed out the unwanted thoughts. I bounce back easily.
In case you’re wondering, I did not go insane with purchases. Heck, the war wounds for the day were cute kitchen-y stuff for sushi and onigiri for my mom.
After a greasy but immensely satisfying lunch, it was time for Media Blasters Q&A. While I’m not keen on any announcement, the panelists were a fun duo. No awkward moments there, thankyouverymuch, and they made me renew my interest in acquiring Voltron DVDs.
Media Blasters was followed by Kappei Yamaguchi’s Q&A. The queue, as expected, was long. And there, I shared my laziness line philosophy with Anna. I don’t queue. More accurately, I rarely queue, really. I’d prop myself against a wall and wait until everyone has entered. More often than not, I manage to find decent seats. And we did.
I have to say this, Kappei Yamaguchi is all sorts of awesome. He is a dream panelist, flirting and teasing the audience into laughter and hoots and whistles. He does voices without further prodding, and he acknowledges cosplayers. The man is frakkin’ amazing.
I managed to record most of the Q&A, except the footage is reminiscent of Cloverfield camera work. With me laughing and involuntarily shaking the camera. The best thing about the panel, cringe-worthy questions were scarce. But the weirdest one posed was a question about his parents, which Yamaguchi easily sidestepped, fand was ollowed up by “if he liked pancakes” question. I have no clue were the pancake came from.
After Yamaguchi, I split up with Anna, and caught bits and pieces of various panels before meeting up with a couple I met last year. (Hi CJ and Tim!) The Tales of… panel was okay, but it was not enough to sustain my interest. So I headed to the Lolita fashion show. And I admit, that was pretty neat and I recorded bits of the event. I envy those with creative talents.
A couple of chatting hours later, I was off to Women of Webcomics. With four articulate and witty panelists, each of them with established audiences, it was a blast. At the end of the hour, I was more than enthused to check out the panelists’ works. Of course, being me, I did not write down their comic titles. And I forgot the names, with the sole exception of Jennie Breeden’s Devil’s Panties. The name retained in my memory because (1) hello! Devil’s Panties is hard to forget, (2) she kept referencing Joss Whedon. Dear readers, I devolve into a sad, pathetic fan whenever Jossir is mentioned.
Since I was killing time, I decided to stay for the Dorama panel. Unfortunately, aside from the fabulous Rui-cosplayer as one of the hosts, it was not fan panel I expected. So I trudged up to panel 4 and checked out the Otaku Idol. It was… Interesting. Except for one gal with a surprisingly strong voice who sang Bonnie Pink, it was fairly disappointing. Then again, a lot of factors were against the contestants. So I understand. Kinda.
Since another second of the really awful sound system (poor contestants) would’ve pushed me to snarkville, I head back to what I thought was the Touhou panel, which was one of the panels I wanted to attend. Oh, frak. It was some combative guy talking about psychology of con-goers. The dude is seriously annoying. Five minutes later, I was out the door. Looking back, I should’ve stayed for the bloodbath. I heard that the atmosphere turned deadly that staffers halted the panel. I could’ve recorded the sordid ordeal.
First up for the second day, Artist’s Alley. Personally, I’m not into fan art. I admire their talents and skill, but I rare purchase anything, if any. Only once was I tempted to open my wallet. A Sogeking Returns fanart. I loved it. Still, I opted to wait for Sunday before buying ‘stuff’. (Of course, I couldn’t track down the stall the next day.)
I had less time for panels for Day 2. But Kappei Yamaguchi Q&A got another round. Why? Because he is awesome. And his greatness is multiplied when sang the Sogeking theme. Okay, I know I’m starting to fanwank but damn, I love him. Not because he is a talented voice actor but because he knows his audience. I love those kinds of guests. One thing to note, the translator dude, who was the same guy from the previous day (I swear I’ve seen him before), was the teensiest bit off that Saturday. On Friday, he was the picture of calm and cool. With day 2, a subtle difference was noticeable. Also, I have to give kudos to the fans who asked questions. There was no hyperventilating and crying, unlike last year with Seki.
After Kappei, we tried to check out The girl who leapt through time. Unfortunately, my line philosophy was completely crushed by the crowd. I mean, seriously, it was ‘that’ long. Two adjoining ballrooms were filled with people. Lots of them.
We managed to track seats, only to realize moments later that it’s a dub. I’m sure the voice actors did a decent job with their respective roles, but I’d like to view the film in it’s native form.
My last panel of the day was the One Piece fan panel. Again, similar to most fan panels, it was okay but it wasn’t exactly a humongous crowd-pleaser. But I have to give props to one of the hosts who was wearing a scarecrow costume. The dude is funny.
Day 2 went by fast, mostly with me hanging out with Anna and talking about random stuff. During one of the chillin’ sessions, we got to meet Os (who I met last year), his friend Steve (?), and baka-raptor. It was brief, though. (Os, we need to hang out some more and talk about dorama next time.)
Later that evening, we also got to meet some more animu bloggers, Omo, moy, Link, wildarmsheero (who I briefly met last year), and other guys whose names I couldn’t catch (sorry, it was really loud at the otacafe). Too bad, I missed the karaoke madness of omo&co. I saw a clip, and that was insane. We chatted a bit with Moy before leaving. The dude is pretty cool.
The third day was slow and laid back. Again, it was chillin’ and hanging around. I suppose I’m the type who enjoys taking her time and not jam-pack her itinerary. It works for me.
Out of all the Sunday panels, I was looking forward to the Udon Q&A with the understanding that the fabulously talented Jo Chen will be there. Alas, it was not so. It was mentioned that she was stationed on the Udon booth at the Dealer’s Room, but my heart was heavy with disappointment when she was not included in the panel. So with a sigh, we immediately left the panel and joined ADV’s. And oh boy. This panel only strengthen my resolve to ignore anything ADV related. Their announcement of titles were met with blank stares. And their standard response to questions was the bs of we can’t comment on that crap. Okay, they really bug the heck out of me.
After the annoying ADV, I had enough time for the Dealer’s Room. And man, as soon as I spotted the Udon booth, I immediately recognized Jo Chen. I devolved into a shitty fangirl I usually try to supress in the outside world. It was embarrassing, really. And worse, I saw a big poster for the Buffy comics Season eight #1 cover art. Okay, just to let you know, I’m a bigger Whedon freak than an animu fan, and I love Chen’s cover art more so than the variants by Georges Jeanty. So I had to calm myself before asking her to autograph the poster. I had to restrain myself from purchasing more of her BtVS covers. I am so pathetic but she is so nice to talk to. Sigh.
And so Otakon ends with me fangirling at non-animu related things.
The four-day weeked ended up with me mostly chillin’, talking, and observing people, mostly cosplayers. Cosplays were varied this year, with no major series that stood out. Interestingly enough, my favorite costumes were not anime stuff. On the top of my list stood Dr. Horrible in red, after his Darth Vader-ish transformation. And it tickled my funny bone when I noticed several Captain Hammers. Another stand out, Hellboy. I mean, c’mon. It’s Hellboy. Okay, so the dude was not exactly Ron Perlman buff (but who is, anyway). It was the thought that counts. Plus, I loved the make-up. Another is the Joker in nurse outfit. Nah, not the gal who did it, but the dude. That was hilarious.
On the anime side, there’s a Skip Beat! Love Me duo, presumably of Kyoko and Kanae. Technically, the anime will be out this fall, but still. Unfortunately, I saw them on Friday around the Dealer’s Room when I didn’t have my camera with me. I wasn’t able to find them in the next two days. Darn.
Otakon ’08 was definitely a fun experience. I’m not the friendliest or the most people person evah, but I enjoy meeting other people with the same interest as mine. Random people in lines, internet folks, waiting moms (they are a hoot to talk to), animu bloggers, con veterans. I really had a great time, especially hanging out with Anna.
Next year, Otakon ’09 will be smack in the middle of SDCC and AX. It’s SO not fair. And they are all in July too. A seventy percent chance says that I’ll be visiting Baltimore. Then again, a whole lot of things can happen in eleven months.