Otakon 2010 – Mono no Aware

My Day 0 post can serve as an introduction. I’ve also posted about my haul and my karaoke performances. Here goes the daily details – please note that this post is pretty messy and long. I kept putting off writing it, but TheBigN is still doing his this late, and I read these inspiring words form ghostlightning that made me think something would be better than nothing.

This post will be very hard to read if you don’t keep this in mind: I have two younger brothers. One is 17, and one is 12. I refer to the 17yo one as ‘bro’ or ‘brother’, and I refer to the 12yo one as ‘baby bro’ or ‘baby brother’. If you do not see the word ‘baby’, then I’m not referring to the 12 yo.

Us about to leave. From right to left: Funeral, brother, dumbass, baby bro

Day One: The Longest Day Ever

Having written my day 0 post at 12 AM after the only 6 hours of sleep I could manage to get, I didn’t go back to sleep, and instead explored the hotel and surrounding area, much as I’d done at the same hotel in 2008, and I even took my also-unable-to-sleep baby bro around with me until the sun came up and it was time to wake the others.

We’d planned to get to the con early and see Otaku no Video, since we’d have to miss it on Sunday for the Home Made Kazoku show, and it was a yearly tradition to watch it at the end of the con. In that interest, we were in line at a little after 8 AM, but the doors didn’t open until 9:20 (as opposed to 8:30, when they’re supposed to, which I’d suspected might happen), so instead, we headed to the Japanese Mahjong panel run by sdshamshel of Ogiue Maniax and David Cabrera of Subatomic Brainfreeze and ANN’s Astro Toy (all of which I recommend reading.) The panel was pretty fun, especially because sds and David are funny guys, and they used a lot of awesome clips from Akagi, Saki, and others. My baby bro happens to be a fan of Saki, so he actually managed to enjoy the panel, even if he didn’t get most of what was being discussed.

After that, we didn’t have any plans, but I noticed that Gakuen Alice was going to come on in one of the video rooms, and I’d been meaning to watch it, so we went and checked it out. The first two eps actually far exceeded my expectations, and we all had good fun and laughs with it. Both myself and my baby brother expressed a desire to continue the series, which I may do when we get back. [Afterword: We did.]

It was then about 12 PM and time for the Dealer’s Room to open, so we headed that way, but it was hopeless – no one was gonna get in there for at least another hour or so, and we therefor made our way back to catch the tail end of the Madhouse panel (which was horribly boring, because as much as I love Masao Maruyama, he only ever wants to talk about upcoming projects, and frankly, I have a hard time caring about something I haven’t seen yet!)

At 1 PM I’d planned to hit up the Opening Ceremonies and I knew that my brothers wanted to see the Vocaloid panel (youngest especially, since he’s a diehard Vocaloid fan) which was coming on at 1:30 and luckily was in the same room as Madhouse, so I left the two of them there and headed to the opening ceremonies.

Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master, re-enacting a scene from the OVA for a pro photographer - there might be more of these if he posted them anywhere.

I wanted to see the opening animation by Production I.G., but more importantly, I knew I’d find omo and TheBigN there, with whom I could discuss the whens and hows of our karaoke performance of Someone Else. I did indeed meet them there and got things settled before the panel began, helped by it starting about 20 minutes late. I’d have enjoyed staying to hang out with TBN and omo, but then wah showed up and sat between them. Hard as it is to believe, wah is actually more annoying in real life than he is online (if that’s possible) and made me uneasy. I also heard mention of “that dickshit” Link being on his way, so I quickly felt like I didn’t need to be there. The ceremony started and was incredibly lame anyway, so I took off.

I fled back to the Vocaloid panel which was, well, it was a Vocaloid panel. They talked about each Vocaloid, played some song clips, etc., but none of it was stuff I didn’t already know about, so it was kind of boring. Once that was through, I was finally ready to hit the Dealer’s Room.

This is where, if they hadn’t already, things started to go downhill because of my baby brother. While he’d enjoyed the Dealer’s Room at Nekokon (which is about a tenth of the size of Otakon’s, for what it’s worth), he was quickly overwhelmed and disappointed by the Otakon Dealer’s Room. This perplexed me, largely because his favorite series, the likes of which include K-On!, Lucky Star, Clannad, and all things Vocaloid, are the most abundant items at the con, and yet he showed no interest in products from any of those series (I thought for sure he’d walk out of there with a Yui figma, but the only K-On! thing he bought was a random box which gave him comedy-face Mio).

As for me, the Dealer’s Room is my zone. It’s the biggest part of my love for Otakon. At first, things went great, as I sent my bro to explore a designated area of the room while I hit up Hen Da Ne for the doujins (I wanted to get in early this year so that they couldn’t sell out of anything I wanted.) I was there for at least half an hour having a complete blast, because the guys there are awesome and the crowd there is awesome, and the atmosphere is everything that I love about Otakon. I bought two Railgun doujins and a Touhou yuri doujin that starts off with RemixSakuya and then transitions into SakuyaxChina.

But anyway, upon reclaiming my brother, we began exploration, and he just seemed angry and uninterested the entire time. I like to go very slowly and erratically through the Dealer’s Room looking for what I want, but I felt like I couldn’t take my time with him being so impatient. Instead, I just scan-searched everywhere for anything Canaan, Railgun/Index, Kara no Kyoukai, or Touhou related (my four big fandoms at the moment, evidently) and wasn’t having any luck. I also wanted to find MangaGamer so I could buy the Higurashi visual novel, but they were unfindable (as their ad put them on the opposite side of the room of where they actually were).

Bored of having to drag my baby brother around the Dealer’s Room, we met back with my bro and headed out. I didn’t really have any plans for the time, having intended to spend about three hours in the Dealer’s Room (and instead only spent one and a half or so), but my bro wanted to watch the first Zeta Gundam movie, so we went to that.

Space Pirate from Metroid. He stood there being 2D and moving his arms up and down for something like an hour.

While we were there, I told my bros to hang out and watch the movie while I took care of other things. First things first, I went to the Dealer’s Room in search of MangaGamer (now possessing a Dealer’s Room map, also incorrectly labelled) and had no luck. So then, I decided to flee to the car and drop off my doujins (whose bag was ripping) but only halfway there realized that Funeral had the key. I then made several failed attempts to call him on my brother’s phone (mine’s battery had died) and missed his several attempts to return my calls.

After having walked all the way to the locked car and then walked all the way back (the entire length of the con), I was utterly bushed, and plopped back down in the video room where I promply passed out through 40 minutes of Zeta Gundam. After this point, my tiredness began to really take some out of me.

After Zeta Gundam, we had no plans for a couple of hours, so we headed to the karaoke room, where I signed up to do my first performance. Here, I really began to think about how karaoke and the Dealer’s Room are truly my favorite parts of Otakon. It’s because of those things that I think I could’ve still had a great time if the stressor of my baby bro hadn’t weighed me down all the while.

It was actually on the way to the karaoke room, however, that I had one of the most surreal and interesting experiences of the con. I was suddenly approached by this guy (a young-looking, skinny Asian dude that I didn’t recognize) whom asked if I was Digital Boy. I replied that I was, and he asked to have a photo with me. When I asked who he was, he told me that he had no account name and was a lurker, but was apparently a reader of my blog. I was floored that this guy had found me and knew me, and even took a picture with me (hope he doesn’t mind the funny face I made, seeing as he didn’t stop to check back and see how it came out lol).

(Read about the karaoke experiences in the karaoke post)

Feeling pretty good after karaoke, we lined up for the Yoshida Brothers concert, and it was here more than ever that I realized just how much my baby bro was the thorn in this con’s side. My brother and I were totally absorbed in the show, which was amazing and had a terrific crowd. The Bros. played an even mix of technically brilliant and emotionally moving songs with as much passion and manliness as anything I’ve ever heard. However, my baby bro was totally bored by it and on the verge of passing out the whole time. This wouldn’t have bothered me if he hadn’t kept making sure I knew this. I told him ‘dude, just go to sleep, but don’t keep bitching to me about it’ because there’s nothing I hate more than a companion ruining the fun, but he nonetheless continued to act exaggeratedly bored and kept asking when the show would end, which pissed me off and distracted and detracted a lot from the otherwise amazing show.

After Yoshida Bros., I got my 18+ armband for later, and then we headed over to wait for sds’ Portrait of a Fujoshi (The Psychology of Ogiue Chika) panel. This was another fun and interesting panel, once again largely due to the personalities of sds and his co-panelist (who does podcasts for theotagal.com, which I’ve never heard of) and once again actually managed to be somewhat relevant to my baby bro’s interest, as he’d just marathoned the first season of Genshiken two nights before.

Following this panel, I had plans to immediately rush over to the 18+ How To Draw Yuri panel, which I’d been pretty greatly looking forward to, partly because I love yuri, and partly because it would be my first 18+ panel. However, when I got to the door, the Otakon staffer there basically explained to me that the panel was apparently very terrible (I guess a lot of people had left in the first hour of it’s two-hour run) and didn’t advise that I enter. Heeding his warning, I thought it would be best to just get the others and leave. Earlier, my brother had contacted Funeral, who was finishing up the 18+ movie Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, and I was pretty sure that we’d all be leaving thereafter.

But it’s then that I faced the worst nightmare of that first day – I got completely fucking lost in trying to find them. Somehow, my brothers had gotten way ahead of me, and I didn’t manage to catch up with them. I also got confused trying to find Funeral, and didn’t manage to locate him – and I’d seen that when I entered the video room he was supposed to be in, the movie’s credits were already rolling, so I figured he’d have left and found my brothers and gone somewhere to wait for me.

I couldn’t find them, though. I looked around, saw nothing. Then I went all the way to the car to see if they’d gone that far, but didn’t find them. I came back into the con, and I searched it from end to end three or four times, with no sign of them – I searched for almost an hour, exceeding even the amount of time that I would’ve been in the workshop. After searching and searching, I finally found my brothers, and got filled in.

Apparently, they’d gone to the karaoke room to wait, as when they told Funeral that I’d gone to a panel, he decided to stay in the video room and watch Urotsukidouji, which was coming on next. So they sent me in to go get him. I went in and told him that we were all ready to leave and such, but he gave no sign at all of intending to leave the room. So I headed back out to sit with my brothers. At this time, it was about 1 AM – my baby bro and I had been up for about 25 hours, I was completely exhausted from searching, and Urotsukidouji wasn’t going to end for another hour.

So I said ‘fuck it, you guys can stay waiting here, I’m going to go watch Mnemosyne’, which happened to be airing at the time in the HD Theater (incidentally, convincing me not to buy Mnemosyne on Funimation’s shitty blu-rays.) At the very least, I felt pretty satisfied watching most of Mnemosyne episode three, and remembered how awesome the show was in spite of having largely forgotten about it. The show ended before 2, though, so I had to go into Urotsukidouji and get the car keys from Funeral to take my brothers to the car. My bro was quite pissed since apparently Funeral had come out earlier and gotten my message to come get me as soon as he came out, but said ‘fuck that’, and went back in to finish the movie. He told me it wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t had our baby bro with him, and that the thing which really set him off was when the two of them tried to sleep and were antagonized by some Otakon staff who laughed as they told him no to do so.

All in all, the day was very long and tiring and heavily marred by my little brother’s lack of enthusiasm. At the end of the day, I felt pretty good about it all, having lifted my spirits with anisons and flipping through my purchases, and I was confident that day two would be much better. I figured that the mild disappointment probably came from the Fridays of the last two years having been the days when all the big stuff happened, and this year, well, there wasn’t any big stuff. But I was still pretty satisfied with thoughts of Day 2 when I finally passed out at 3 AM, setting my alarm for 8:30 and hoping to show up at the con around 9:30.

Triela from Gunslinger Girl

Day 2: I Searched For the Path to Alsatia, but I Didn’t Arrive

My hopes for Day 2 began to fall apart from the moment I was woken up – at 11:30. Somehow, all of us had managed to sleep in and the alarm had never gone off, leading to a very late arrival. I hadn’t that much planned for Saturday, wanting to spend a lot of time in the Dealer’s Room, but one of my biggest plans was crushed right off the bat – I’d wanted to see the premiere of Welcome to the Space Show, which ran from 11:30 to 2:30, but we were already too late for that. I didn’t take this too hard at first, since I’d had no set of expectations for the film (except the knowledge that the team making it was the same who made R.O.D. and Kamichu!, two of the highest-quality anime I’ve ever seen, and both among my favorites), but when I later saw a lengthy trailer for it, I was instantly full of regret for missing it.

Instead, I went straight for the Dealer’s Room as soon as we arrived, and had a great time spending two hours in there – like I’d thought, the Dealer’s Room is really my favorite part of Otakon, and this time I’d told my baby bro to stick with my brother in the Dealer’s Room, since my pace was too slow for him. I scoped out every last booth, trying to make careful decisions on how I’d spend my money. I’d come to the con with 250 bucks and had gotten down to 170 or so after finally finding MangaGamer and buying the Higurashi game.

It was hard, but I managed to keep from buying anything that I strongly suspected was fake, such as an attractive but less-than-durable-looking Toradora backpack, a similar Toradora clock, some supposedly-imported T-shirts, and various barely passable figures that were being sold everywhere. This, however, left my options limited to high-end prices. Among the things I debated over were a $40 Vita Figma (the face and ugly elbows kept me from buying it, though) an $80 Taiga Aisaka figure (attractive, but just not cool enough to be worth it), the Supercell album (I just can’t justify paying Japanese prices for music – shit is ridiculous), various artbooks (most notably the Strike Witches artbook that Yi blogged about a little while ago, which I’m still hoping to get [afterword: got it]), some other nice figures, such as a Manabi and Mutsuki pairing and a Chiri Kitsu and Fuura Kafuka pairing, among others (by the way, every worthwhile figure was at the same booth. They were the only ones carrying the good stuff, which is perhaps why their prices were pretty high.) But what ended up winning my cash was a $130 Good Smile figure of Alphard from Canaan. I would’ve preferred Canaan herself, but this was the only piece of Canaan merchandise I could find in the entire con (and there were no good (nor real) Railgun figures, no Kara no Kyoukai figures or merchandise, no Touhou figures that were relevant enough to my interest to be worth their price, and I didn’t want to spend another $100 on another Black Rock Shooter or Hatsune Miku figure so soon), so after much deliberation, Alphard won my lust.

Otakon Evacuation 1

I didn’t, however, have time to buy her immediately, as at 2 PM, the fire alarms went off. No one was taking them very seriously at first, but before too long, the entire convention was literally evacuated. This, while terrible, was actually quite exciting and chaotic in it’s own ways, as you can only imagine what an entire 30,000-member anime convention suddenly dumped en-masse onto the streets of Baltimore looked like. Pics abound, and with the number of cameras I saw flying around, I’m sure you can find plenty of youtube vids on the event. In spite of the apparent chaos, though, the Otakon staff handled it like champs, and we were all inside the con again within an hour and made it to the 3 PM Space Show Creator’s Panel on time and orderly.

The Space Show Creator’s Panel was very interesting, even if it mostly served to make me depressed about missing the Space Show, but it was still cool to meet the men behind Kamichu and Read or Die and hear their thoughts. Those were sadly the only guests at the entire con that were of any interest to me whatsoever, but at least they were worthwhile.

After the Space Show panel, I headed to The Phenomology of Shinji Ikari, which wasn’t actually about Eva, but about existential anime in general, and then wasn’t actually about anime at all really, and was instead an hour of one big room full of philosophically-minded intellectuals randomly discussing all sorts of massive, masturbatory philosophical constructs and having a blast doing it, totally aware of how masturbatory it was. This panel was unexpectedly fun (and I was quite vocal), even if it didn’t really go anywhere at all.

After that, we migrated to the karaoke room where we spent about two hours until my bro and I performed Ai Senshi from Mobile Suit Gundam II. Our performance was, I daresay, amazing, and the crowd loved it in spite of the obvious fact that not one of them knew the song. It felt really great, but that feeling was almost completely destroyed when we found out that Funeral’s dumb ass, who’d shown up and been entrusted with the camera, entirely forgot to film the fucking thing (in line with a tradition he has of doing something radically stupid or aggravating at least once a year at Otakon.)

Very disappointed, and now planning to repeat the performance tomorrow, my brothers and I headed off to blow the last hour or so until it was time for the Touhou panel. We headed to one of the video rooms where they happened to be playing Genshiken 2, which was relevant to all of our interests at the moment, and had some fun watching that. After a a little while, it was time to head off to the Touhou panel.

Which in turn produced the biggest, most night-ruining disappointment yet. We were in line for the panel, but the room filled up with literally five or six people in front of us. They told us that we wouldn’t be able to get in unless other people left, and that they could only let in amounts of people equal to the amounts being let out at the same time. Extremely frustrated and disappointed, I decided to lead the group back to Genshiken 2, which the schedule had down to run for another half-hour – but when we arrived, the fourth episode was ending, and rather than play the fifth, the staff was instead clearing the room so that they could do sound testing in prep for the Saturday Night Fan Parodies videos. Way to fucking label that on the schedule, Otakon!

I saw at least 1 fight that almost broke out, when some guy pissed off some angry driver, and he got out of his car and into a screaming match. Luckily, someone was there to calm them down.

To make matters worse, as we passed by the Touhou line again, it looked like a number of people actually had left and a number of others had in fact gone in, which just made us look pretty stupid and disappointed me even further. It didn’t help either that Touhou panel was literally all I had planned for the night. I was hoping to do karaoke afterward with Omo and co., but Omo said that TheBigN would be busy all night and we’d be doing it Sunday morning – so we had literally nothing left to do. Defeated, we finally headed to the game room to burn time while Funeral was doing whatever he was doing.

I got a little bit of my groove back in the game room when me and some guy played a Fate/Stay Night fighting game for upwards of half an hour uninterrupted (he kicked my ass 95% of the time, though) and then Funeral finally offered to leave, having cancelled his plan to watch Robogeisha because he had a headache. And so with that, we headed back to the hotel.

Once again, it’s not that the day was bad. The things that we actually did were a lot of fun, but it was hugely disappointing to miss out on the only things I was actually looking forward to from that day, and once again, the utter lack of enthusiasm on the part of my baby brother was incredibly draining. Especially because tomorrow, the only thing going on is the Home Made Kazoku show, which I’ll sadly have to miss the second panel with the Kamichu guys to attend. Actually, to be honest, I’m not even sure that I want to see the show as much as I want to see the panel, considering that I don’t know any HMK songs beyond Shounen Heart, and haven’t cared for much of what I’ve heard – that said, I’ll probably go because hearing Shounen Heart could be very very special. Besides that, I plan to spend the whole day between karaoke and the Dealer’s Room – and hey, those are my favorite parts of Otakon anyway, so maybe they can cheer me up enough to end on a high note.

No matter what, this year’s con can’t live up to the last two years’, nor did I expect it to, but it doesn’t have to leave a bad taste in my mouth. It won’t be the life changing/affirming event that the last two were, but it’s fun, restful in some ways, and the time spent afterward is what ‘ll really count. My room is clean at home and waiting to be filled with my new stuff, I’ve got things to do and shows to watch, and I’ve got a whole 20 days or so before school starts, plus my parents will be gone for a week starting in a few days, so I can have some friends over and perhaps marathon anime all week in the living room – plus, I’m going to start back on my novel with a whole new sense of inspiration and a well-rested and rounded mind. So all in all, I think this con will be very good for where I am in life – it’s just that right now, I can’t help but be a little sad about the way things have gone down. But I’m very optimistic for the future.

Gundams, apparently from Wing. Interestingly, both female.

Day 3: At Least I Have Cirno (note: I didn’t write about this day on the actual day as I did the last 2, so my memory’s not as awesome.)

On the morning of Day 3, we packed up and cleaned up our hotel room (which we’d thrashed like old-school rock stars) and headed off to the con. Today, everyone seemed to be in pretty high spirits, like it’d taken too long, but we were finally in the groove. Literally the entire day, my baby bro pretended to be Cirno, and kept calling himself ‘the strongest’ while pretending to freeze things that didn’t need to be frozen – he was having a lot of fun with this, and has since proclaimed Cirno his second-favorite character (after Hatsune Miku).

On Sunday morning, we were there right when the doors opened, and headed straight to the karaoke room, where omo and TheBigN soon followed, and the Ai Senshi redo and Someone Else performances were filmed. After karaoke, we went to the Dealer’s Room. My baby bro had been eyeballing this katana since the day before, and using professional stealth techniques, I got him to point it out for me so I could go buy it for him. With the sword purchased, we re-convened with my brother, who’d had to save his money till the third day for various reasons and was now buying everything on his carefully-calculated list. I think he purchased something like $350-400 worth of mecha, and I got him to give me $25 of ‘birthday money’ so that I could buy the Shimada Humikane artbook I’d been eyeing.

I left my baby bro with my bro to continue shopping while I went and picked up his sword, since the Otakon staff would only let me claim it if I was going to be leaving the Dealer’s Room. I headed out and phoned/waited for Funeral and my brothers to be done with the Dealer’s Room, and then we all went back to the car and packed in our purchases. Then there was only one thing left to do – see Home Made Kazoku.

It was a pretty boss show. HMK opened up with Shounen Heart, unexpectedly, and they played their songs from Naruto and Bleach (the latter as an encore) along with a myriad of other things that few people in the audience seemed to know, myself included. It was a very fun and energetic show, and the crowd was into it, but it was funny, because I could tell that HMK was used to crowds who knew their stuff. Their songs involved a lot of instructions and motions that HMK seemed to expect us to know, and then had to double-take when they realized they’d need to show us what to do (thankfully, both MCs spoke very fluent English, so communication wasn’t too much of an issue.) It was an overall fun show, and my brother and I both realized was our first rap show. I had ‘thank you’ stuck in my head like all damn day afterward lol.

With that show over, our time with Otakon was at an end. As we left, I felt pretty good about the whole experience. Having just read all these notes from the con, it sounds like I could’ve taken it a lot worse than I did, but Otakon has always been my personal paradise, and even if you find yourself bored in paradise and saddled with a burden that mars your stay, it’s still paradise, and there’s still some good to come of it.

I definitely feel that in the next year, I owe it to myself to attend more big cons than just Otakon. I think part of the disappointment came from it being a once-a-year event, and it wouldn’t be such a blow if I actually got to experience (good) cons more often.

And that does it. Now I can stop worrying about this damn post lol.

14 thoughts on “Otakon 2010 – Mono no Aware

  1. > Gundams, apparently from Wing. Interestingly, both female.

    -_-

    You correctly identified them as _Gundam Wing_ fans, and you’re surprised they are female?

    *cough*fujoshi*cough*

  2. gwern beat me to it.

    It is interesting that the Gundam W cosplayers actually did the suits (Wing Zero Custom, and Epyon) as opposed as just crossplaying Quattre and Wufei, or Zechs (low-hanging fruit, but definitely fruity).

  3. I read the caption as suggesting both of the Gundams were female. *facepalm

    The BRS cosplay images would look much better without that terrible background, what the heck? ;;

  4. Wow, this was quite a long post. I tried to read most of it XD

    Nice to hear you had good times even if things with your baby bro didn’t go smoothly the first day (he is a kid after all, and they tend to get bored and tired of things faster). Just curious, when you got lost, you guys didn’t have cell phones to call each other?

    Sorry you had some disappointments, but glad to hear you had some fun too. Guess you gotta take the good with the bad.

    And the Dealer’s Room is my favorite part of anime cons too =)

    • We’re all idiots who epic fail at charging phones. Also most of the calls I tried to make to Funeral got dropped. I guess cause there were 30,000 phones there.

  5. Pingback: Sayonara, Otakon. Be Forever, Otakon. (Of Maduka, Gintama, Touhou, and Protomen) | My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull

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