The Convention of the Otaku Generation
Thus is how Otakon labels itself, and rightly so. The attendance this year was capped at 35,000, there are plans to move the convention to DC to allow for greater numbers and it’s easy to see why. Despite having badge pick ups available on Thursday, the line to pick up badges on Friday was still massive. Despite arriving 2 hours after the con had officially started, the line was still wrapped around the entire convention center… twice.
However you’d be hard pressed to spot a single unhappy con-goer, everyone was smiling in excitement, and the overall mood was inspiring. Once inside I was quite impressed. This being my first Otakon, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. There was simply so much to take in!
We spent the first few hours cruising around, exploring the ins and outs of what the con had to offer. The dealers room was massive, and sported dozens of booths touting all sorts of anime goods. In terms of big companies, Funmation Crunchyroll, Aniplex, Sentai Filmworks, and Manga Gamer were all represented as well as countless others.
The artist alley was equally as impressive, there was simply such a great variety of beautiful pieces on display! One could spend days (and many hundreds of dollars) in these two rooms alone, but unfortunately we had much more to see and do!
Our first stop was the Crunchyroll panel, headed by DarlingDaniChan and VamptVo who went over a brief overview of the site and the direction in which it was going. Crunchyroll Manga will continue to be ramped up over the coming months, and will offer numerous improvements to the service as well as dozens of new titles, many of which will be simulpub. They also touched on the fact that while Crunchyroll is very much attuned to simulcasting, they also offer a large back library of content including dubbed content! In fact they even brought up that shows such as Rose of Versaille and Cardcaptor Sakura are both available in their entirety on their site. The duo also went over what they were watching this season and why you (the audience) should be as well. Mentioned were shows such as Akame ga Kill, Barakamon and Free season 2.
Almost directly following the Crunchyroll panel was the Aniplex USA panel. This panel was a lot more formal, mainly addressing the products that Aniplex offers as well as their upcoming releases. They also announced the opening of a new US webstore, the purpose of which is to offer the same exclusive merchandise as the Aniplex Japan webstore. Overall, Aniplex showed a lot of promise as a growing outlet for the production of anime releases for the US market.
That evening, ALTIMA held their concert and it was absolutely fantastic. I will go more into detail as well as provide pictures of the concert in a followup post.
Saturday was a bit of a different story, with not many panels being on the agenda. Much of the day was spent just having a good time, spending time with friends, checking out the massive gaming hall and taking pictures of the numerous cosplayers attending the con.
While Otakon is generally a very anime-focused con, there are some smidgens of videogames to be found. Besides the dozens of gaming stations playing everything from Mario Kart to Espgaluda Black Label, there were many indie devlopers touting their games, including the appropriately named Bacon Man.
Another very prominently featured showpiece was Under the Dog, an original animated action thriller that is currently making the rounds on Kickstarter and features a plethora of veteran talent including Masahiro Ando (Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell), Yusuke Kozaki (No More Heroes, Fire Emblem) and Hiroaki Yura (Haruhi, Steins;Gate). You can learn more about the project (and back it!) right here.
One of the headlining guests, Saori Hayami was doing a Q&A session, so we figured we’d check that out. For those who don’t know, she provides the voices to some very notable characters such Ayase from Ore no Imouto, Miyuki from Mahouka and Chiriko from Ano Hana. Over the course of the Q&A we heard everything from her favourite food (Gyoza) to why she became a voice actress (Her grandmother loved movies and got her into it as well).
Come Sunday we were very tired, but we carried on going to Mike Toole‘s (of ANN fame) infamous Dubs that Time forgot panel, something I’ve been wanting to see for many years now. The general gist of the panel is that often times there is more than one English dub produced for the same show, oftentimes a whole handful of dubs! In the early days of anime this came from multiple companies dubbing it, or swapping out voice actors for the movie version of a TV show. These days generally the only English dubs that fly under the radar are those produced in Hong Kong by television channel Animax who are legally required to produce an English dub for any show they air, resulting in some extremely cheaply produced dubs.
This panel however focused mainly on Space Pirate Captain Harlock and it’s dozens of spin-offs and sequels but had a bit of Fist of the North Star and other shows mixed in for good measure.
Unfortunately by going to this panel we shot ourselves in the foot a bit and were unable to attend the Yoshiki (of X-Japan fame) concert. However, those who did attend can attest to its greatness!
Overall Otakon 2014 was a great success, with some fantastic guests and events on every day. I cannot recommend the con highly enough and will definitely be attending again next year!