Otakon is here! How will this one measure up against previous conventions? First, where am I coming from? Well, I’m not part of any tight anime blogsphere, nor am I press. I’m new to talking about anime online. I have always lived in Maryland and have attended Otakon for all 3 days since 2002(when there were the hordes of Vash and Wolfwood). So, this will be my 8th Otakon! I was recently looking over the schedule and felt compelled to get a few things off my mind about it all. I even decided to go a step further and get a bit nostalgic in my comparisons. I can’t find my Pocket Guide from 2008 so details from last year may be a bit shaky.
Here’s the bottom line: I’m not thrilled about the programming for Otakon this year. I’m very exited by this point about going, but not as pleased with Otakorp for what they are bringing to the BCC. There are always many reasons to addend Otakon and I go for many of them;hence, I’ll outline what’s good and bad about the main attractions. Kareoke, Otachan, restrooms, location,artist alley,dealer’s room, rave street hustlers, weather, should be as solid as ever.
Video Games: Should be same as in years past. With new games including: Blazblue, SFIV, Resident Evil 5, Naruto Storm and Nobi Nobi boy!?
Live Action: WTF! Damn! Damn! @#$%! There are no Japanese films here. Last year, they had brought back several classics from past years and I had hopped this trend would continue. It’s mostly goofy horror from India, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, and Tailand. There may be a few good movies, but there is NOT enough genre variety and Japan is not on this year’s lineup.
2008 At least had insane Japanese exploitation films such as Machine girl and Tokyo gore police. These are not classy but they are hella fun to watch in a backed video room at night.
2007 had the bloody movie Meatball Machine. Sinking of Japan, Kill!, Ping Pong and The World Sinks Except Japan.
2006 was Godzilla 2000, 2LDK, Sanjuro, and my personal favorite: Survive Style 5+.
2005 had Dead or Alive Final, Dark Water, Last Life in the Universe, SARS War, Kekko Kamen, Yojimbo, Memories of Murder and OLDBOY on the 35MM. Damn that was a hard year to stay out of the damn video rooms.
2004 had Electric Dragon 80000v, Hero, Zatoichi, Dragonhead, Save the Green Planet, and MPD Psycho.
2003 Infernal Affairs, Wild Zero, Battle Royal, and one of my favorite movies of all time- Ichi the Killer.
2002 showed Avalon, Full Time Killer, Ran and My Wife is a Gangster.
Musical Acts: This year is not looking so hot. They are brining the quantity of artists but I question the calibur of some of the acts. I have no idea what the deal with Becca is. Do not want. Kanon Wakeshima seems to promise a trance inducing moody set that will ether leave you tripping or snooring. Naomi Tamura should bring a class of anime Jpop that has rarely been seen at the convention. I’ll look forward to her gig. It would be great if she brought a band with her-otherwise there will be no rock at Otakon. I am still not drolling over any of the artists here, and it’s a clear downgrade from past cons.
2008 had JAM Project which covered so many great anime songs that their show should be enjoyed even though they forgot their band in Japan. You could hear One Piece, Superrobo, Scrapped Princess and Macross 7 all in one show. It helped that it was in the 1st Mariner Arena. Then, Sunday had a triple header of bands that was unprecedented in the way it brought together three rock bands back to back. Marbell was particularly strong and sexy on the stage.
2007 had AAA-Jpop with a surprisingly hardcore beat. A fast paced and enjoyable show. Then it had the Eminence Concert. They are an orchestra that plays video game songs. How can you knock that?
2006 was Nana Kitade/MUCC concert. This was the best in recent memory. It was in the Ram’s Head so it was a more close knit concert experience. Nana Kitade is at the top of my Jpop list and it was a killer show for both of them. MUCC assured everyone left with there faces rocked off.
2005 was The Indigo which is pretty easy listening. It also had Piano Squall and Kumiko Kato. Not a good lineup for Otakon.
2004 had L’Arc~en~Ciel, Possibly the biggest act they ever hosted.
2003 had a TMR concert. Another big name that needs no explaination.
2002 was just Yoko Ishida. I didn’t see the concert but she is a strong, Traditional anime vocalist.
Japanese Guests: Otakon is a huge con, and that means it can bring in lots of huge names. Unfortunatly, this year none of the names set me on fire with excietment. Kikuko Inoue, Seiyuu for Kasumi, Belldandy, Misty May and many other roles. Noboru Ishiguru, the man for Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Hidenori Matsubara, design and animation for Ah! My Godess!, Animation for Gunbuster and the new Evangelion films. Charachter designer for Sakura Wars. Finally, Yutaka Yamamoto, director for Kannagi, and scripter and episode director for Lucky Star and Haruhi.
It’s an impressive line up, but nobody I would personally wait hours and hours to see.
2008: Had Kazuko Tadano, who worked on several key shoujo TV shows. Kappei Yamaguchi, the voice of Inuyasha, L, Ranma, Usopp, and sang a few theme songs.
2007: Morio Asaka, how directed Card Capotr Sakura, Chobits, Gunslinger Girl and NANA. Ryuhei Kitamura, who directed Versus, Azumi, Midnight Meat Train, and Battlefeild Baseball. Kenji Kodama, who directed Lupin Part II, City Hunter, Meitantei Conan. They also hosted seiyuu: Mamiko Noto and Tomokazu Seki.
2006: Had Hirotsugu Kawasaki who directed Spriggan and worked on the Naruto movies. Kazuto Nakazawa, charachter designer for El-Hazard, Samurai Champloo, and Legend of the Black Heaven. Nobuteru Yuuki, charachter designer for Battle Angel, Record of Lodoss War, X movie, Five Star Stories and Angel Cop. And the creator of Hellsing, Kouta Hirano, who was so popular I failed to get an autograph.
2005: Offered Seiji Mizushima, director of Slayers Next, Shaman King and Fullmetal Alchemist. Yoshinori Kanemori, charachter designer for X, gokushen and Yawara! Toshihiro Kwawamoto, charachter designer for Wolf’s Rain, MS Gundam 0083 and Cowboy Bebop.
2004: Had screenwriter Ichiro okouchi, who worked on RahXephon and PLANETS. Tatsuo Sato returns after his visit in 2002.
2002 had Yasuhiro Nightow, creator of Trigun. This was a red hot guest especially at the time of Trigun’s peak popularity. I was sure to get an autograph. He was just at Anime Expo this year, but Trigun had finished well before 2008. Hiroyuki Morioka, creator of Crest of the Stars is not a bad addition. Tatsuo Sato, main man for Martian Successor Nadesico.Takehiko Ito, original creator of Outlaw Star. Yutaka Minowa, who was charachter design and animation driector for the Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D movies.
As far as anime showings go, there are a few things that look good, but not as many as in most years past. Showing the dub premier of Evanelion 1.0 is NOT SPECIAL!! Showing the subtitled premire of Evangelion 2.0 would be a hot ticket event They should at least have version 1.11!
As far as pannels go: MOOT is still missing! I don’t care if you love 4chan or hate it, but it’s pannels in 2006 and 2007 were the most exciting, dynamic and unpredicable you will find anywhere. They even had a semiformal afterparty! Waiting to get in was also the best line experiene I’ve ever had. Try to prove me wrong. Not inviting Moot and friends back is a big loss for pannels. Evenmore so because he is the Time person of the year, and it would have added to the prolific nature of the pannel.
If you want to see what we are not getting this year, there are videos of the pannels and parties online. If you really want them and can’t find them, drop me a message.
All of this just means that this year its more about the convention scene in gernal and all the excitment and surprize it has to offer.