This year was Otakon’s 20th year, and they decided to try and make it the biggest year they could. While in the same location, the Baltimore Convention Center, they managed to get some big guests in the anime world. Composers like Yoko Kanno (who did the music for Cowboy Beebop and Wolf’s Rain), and groups like T.M Revolution. It was a pretty exciting year for anime fans.
A shot from the Yoko Kanno concert, not taken by me.
Otakon is the biggest anime convention on the east coast. This year alone they estimated over 34, 000 people attended this massive anime convention. The location has been the same for the past 20 years, in Baltimore Inner Harbor (though it looks like they’ll be making the move to DC in 2017, read more about it on their site here). The main area of the Inner Harbor has been great for a convention, having many different food options and hotel options. The con itself is next to three hotels, which tend to sell out right away. Thankfully the option to stay within walking distance is available. There are many different options for food, fast food as well as decent sit down restaurants. One thing I will stress about the area, which is important with many major cities, is that not all areas are perfectly safe. The main area around the con is fine, but if you want to explore, just be sure to be cautious.
Part of the Inner Harbor
The concerts were some of the highlights of the cons, the biggest one being the Yoko Kano concert; Otakon premiered the Evangelion 3.33 movie as well as Oreimo 2. The panels offered were generally focused on anime, the con itself was focused on anime, but it offered Japanese culture and cosplay how to panels. There seemed to be more history panels (100 years of Japanese animation to A study of Heroines in Shoujou series). While a con as big as Otakon can have many different types of panels, it seems as though they were able to keep up with a majority of the quality of the panels.
The dealers room for Otakon featured some of the bigger anime companies, Funnimation, Good Smile Company, etc. Funnimation was running an even with cosplayers for the newest anime Attack on Titan. They had volunteer cosplayers helping to promote the anime, as well as other cosplayers who were handing out ribbons for members. With a con this big, there were many different booths to purchase things. I think my only real complaint about it was how crowded it was. So many people packed into one room, trying to look at different wares. And the dealer’s room hours have always been a bit frustrating for a con. They closed up at 6pm on a Saturday. Most likely for the nighttime events, but I think there are plenty of people who would prefer to shop rather then go to the rave or masquerade they have at night. They did manage to keep the Artist Alley in a different room, which was a smart idea. The Artist Alley was nearly as large as the Dealers Room, offering the chance to individual artist to sell their wares at the con. One booth in particular was selling anime related leggings, which were extremely creative.
Indoor Fountains Area
The amount of amazing cosplay that people brought out was astounding. With the amount of people there, there was a pretty healthy variety of different anime, manga, video games and western cosplay. Most US cons tend to have a good mixture, even if the con is focused on anime like Otakon.
View more Otakon pictures here.
Overall Otakon was a pretty fantastic experience. If you haven’t been to a con before, Otakon might be a good place to start. It’s large enough to encompass many different interests. It may be the con to get you hooked onto going to conventions.