This year marks my 5th year attending Otakon, and I must say -despite the obvious Thursday strife- it was overall a great experience. I have lots to type about so click the link and start reading.
I wanted to get this journal out a day or two earlier but with the number of photos to edit and being swamped with real work I was delayed. My journey began Thursday morning where I, Sierra, Monique and Jordan departed from the far north (Toronto, ON) and began our adventure to the tropical-like city of Baltimore where Otakon is held. This year marked Otakon’s 21st happening, and despite some small hiccups and my GF Alex of missing (teaching) in Japan, I think I enjoyed myself again for different reasons.
Wacky Tube Man ecstatic to see Pizoobie
On our way down, the four of us in the car decided to play a little game, we called it “spot the American flags”. So we kept track of every single flag we passed, rounding up best we could with 2 cemetery loads, I never expected to get as many as we did. “How many Mike!?” you may be asking, I’ll tell you it was over 50. It was actually even more than 200, more than 500, our total was approximately 885 US flags (or items with US flag on them) in the 8 hours we were on the American roads. ‘Murica!
So we arrived in Baltimore around 8pm and I dropped of our two carmates at the con for them to pick-up their artist badges and setup their display. I drove us to our hotel and got that setup, we stayed at the Baltimore Harbor hotel (Formerly the Sheraton which we stayed at last year(!)), and overall I have to say was happy with their service. We did get a room with only 1 bed which was a problem but they quickly fixed that problem, free wifi and breakfast was bonus. Kudos to them.
Talented Mugen Cosplayer holding his high kick
Sierra and I attempted to pick up our badges Thursday night around 10 but found out the line was closed, and we didn’t really want to line-up in the long line anyway. We decided to go to the Kona Grill instead. As we entered, there was a group of people in front of us, attempting to take a closer look I realized it was the ProVoltage group! We were happy to see each other as it was about 9 months since the last time, we ended up getting a table and eating together. So that made the evening a lot more memorable and fun!
I woke up first thing Friday morning at 6:30 to get in line for 7am. I did not expect the line to be as long as it was at that time. Luckily I was called over by the friends the night before and wasn’t too far back in line. The con managed to get reg open at 7:30, an hour early, I think that really helped move things along; good on them. Now I’m not sure what actually happened regarding pre-reg and the con’s computer/network difficulties; one story says their internet was throttled and they couldn’t access their servers, the con’s story is that that wasn’t the case. I’m not an expert on network stuff, but can say it pissed off a lot of attendees. Whatever happened, should not happen again. I was lucky enough to not have to stand 3+ hours in line waiting for a badge that was possibly never handed to me that night, I can feel people’s frustration. There needs to be a redundancy when running things like this, I’ll likely be posting an article in the near future that covers this item in more detail.
Ruby Taki shows off her impressive Metal Gear Rex Costume in front of a crowd
So what happened at the con? Well, lots. The weather was a lot more mild this year, cloudy but thankfully not rainy! I still did get thirsty a few times and had to purchase some of that delicious Ice cold water, for only 1 Dollah. I think many of the cosplayers appreciated the heat being 5-10 degrees below its typical for Otakon. Less sweat = better time. Panel-wise I think I wanted to attend 2/3 but couldn’t due to Photoshoots or them being capped. I did attend an 18+ video panel on Saturday night with some friends, and boy it was a panel I could have lived without, haha… I’m still upset that Anime Mythbusters was again absent, it was a fav panel between myself and Alex. Fingers crossed they come back next year.
Regarding my actual shoots, I had about 8 total over the weekend. This unfortunately doesn’t include the 3 that were cancelled. This strangely left me with some unusual free time that I haven’t been accustomed to at cons in a while. I understand things happen and with the rising number of shoot requests I am receiving for cons nowadays I may have to consider possibly implementing some sort of pre-payment system; leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on this. The shoots I did have though all went great and even had a chance to try out some multi-gel lighting sets for more ooompf. I’ll be hopefully sending those within a week. Especially excited to proces the photos of the giant Rex from MGS! This convention also marked my first time doing an engagement shoot! I was asked by a friend to photograph her brother’s proposal which happened during a HunterXHunter photoshoot, afterwards we did some additional shots. Luckily everything went to plan and I had a chance to try something new, congrats to the newly-engaged! : )
Both Friday and Saturday nights we had dinner with Larina and her BF and some friends, PF Chang’s and Cheesecake factory, respectively! For lunch the Noodle place was the choice, not the best but for quick easy meals it worked for me.
I’m not sure what the attendance was this year but certain areas of the con felt a little emptier than in previous years. I know that many of my Canadian and US friends omitted Otakon this year for various reasons. Cosplay population felt about the same as year, with the typical clever meme costumes and mind-blowing costumes included. Despite there being plenty of awesome costumes roaming around the con, I think approaching the attendance cap is something to keep an eye out for.
There was a lot of highlights for me this year, difficult to describe but just connecting with many of the photographers, cosplayers and general attendees. Maybe I’ll just make a small checklist of pros and cons instead.
-Finding a lost badge and handing it over to Staff
-Awesome Dealer’s room to explore
-Bought some mangas and other goodies
-Enjoying the harbor atmosphere
-The concrete spiral staircase with catwalk being removed : / (It was falling apart apparently)
-Thursday night/Fri Morning Reg lines
-One of my borrowed flashes getting damaged, I’m sorry T.T
Genderbend Ganandorf and Kratos pose for the camera
So there you have it, a rundown of my weekend in Baltimore. I seem to be doing some live tweeting with selfies on Twitter, so follow me on there to see what crazy characters I’m meeting up with.
If you have any comments leave them below otherwise check out the gallery some jaw-dropping amazing costumes. Till next year, keep frosty, and continue drinking that ice cold water.