Baltimore, August 1 – This summer I went for the trifecta. After attending both the New York Asian Film Festival and the San Diego Comic-con, I crisscrossed the country again to attend Otakon 2010. I must admit I was a little burned out by the continuous travel and media circus. I was content on letting the event just happen and following the crowd like a lemming.
The Barcode Lines
The Line for the AMV Contest.
Speaking of lemmings, the early registration line situation was strange. The convention began using a barcode system in order to streamline the registration process. The con organizers started with two seperate line: one for barcode registration and one for non-barcode registration.
Initially this seemed like a good idea, but it quickly became a victim of its own success. The barcode line was slow and overwhelmed with attendees while the non-barcode line was short and quick. Eventually the con staffers got wise and combined the separate registration lines.
However, this remedy didn't apply to lines for popular panels and video rooms like the AMV Contest.
Vertical Panel. Right to Left: Ed Chavez, Felipe Smith, and Ko Ransom
I attended several panels at the convention. It was a mixture of friend's fan panels and industry related ones.
At the Vertical Inc. panel, the company celebrated some of it's major releases including Peepo Choo, Chi's Sweet Home (チーズスイートホーム), and Twin Spica (ふたつのスピカ). Ed Chavez, Marketing Director, re-introduced Felipe Smith to American audiences with Peepo Choo. Smith, an American Manga-ka, moved to Japan and published his work in Kodansha's Morning 2 Magazine.
Mad House Panel with Masao Maruyama
I also attended the Madhouse panel with Masao Maruyama (丸山 正雄). He seemed a bit quite and somber at the time. According to Satoshi Kon's (今 敏) last message, Maruyama knew of Kon's losing battle with pancreatic cancer. Although he did not mention Kon's illness, I can only guess that the head of Madhouse was deeply affected by it.
History of Hentai by Gerald Rathkolb
In addition to industry panels, I attended many of my friend's panels. Some of the best ones were:
- Riichi: Japanese Mahjong, Anime, and You (Carl Li and David Cabrera)
- Portrait of a Fujoshi: The Psychology of Ogiue Chika (Carl Li)
- History of Hentai Panel (Gerald Rathkolb)
- 10 Anime You’ve Never Heard of But Must See (Anime World Order (AWO): Daryl Surat, Gerald Rathkolb, and Clarissa Graffeo)
- Anime Cult Classics (Mike Toole)
I was pleasantly surprised by the huge audiences at obscure panels. The mahjong panel was absolutely packed. When I got to the panel room, all of the seats were taken. I had to sit on the floor. At AWO's 10 Anime You’ve Never Heard of, there was a ridiculous line. I accompanied Gerald to the room, and we noticed the huge crowd.
He remarked that, "This can't be for our panel."
I politely asked one attendees about the line. He confirmed that it was for the AWO panel. It was pretty amazing.