Otakon 2015 is in the books. Looking back, I regret not trying to organize a meet-up, but CAA hasn't had one in years, so maybe it's a good thing.
In any event -- you would not have recognized Otakon this year, at least from outside the Baltimore Convention Center. The new badge-mailing practice virtually eliminated the pre-registration lines (save for Thursday night, but more on that later). You could walk through the registration area at almost any time during the convention and few (if any) people were in line. Impressive, most impressive.
Well, wait a second on that. I had my badge mailed to me, so I didn't do my usual routine of showing up early on Thursday, frozen drinks and umbrella in hand, to wait until the pre-registration badge pick-up opened. So I missed this year's debacle (no, you are not reading the 2014 thread).
Apparently, the computers went down again, and as a result, the pre-reg line was closed around 7 PM Thursday. There were people who had been waiting in line for three hours that got sent away. Much like last year.
If there was a bright spot to all of this, it was that Otakorp re-opened the lines on Friday at 7 AM and were able to process pre-registrations fairly quickly. In fact, the longest line I encountered on Friday was the one to get into the building when the convention started. I made my 9 AM panel, and all was good.
I attended a number of interesting panels, including ones on:
- the nature of the Samurai in film as the Alien Hero using violence as an agency against injustice
- views of death and the worlds beyond in Japanese religions (Shinto, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism)
- supernatural animal creatures (Yokai) and Ghosts (Yurei) in Japanese folklore
- the concept of the Hero in Japanese literature as contrasted with Heroes in the West -- generally, in the West, heroes have exceptional powers they exhibit constantly; in Japan, heroes are normal people who are suited for an exceptional circumstance
- the resurgence of militarism in Japan, and how artists are pushing back against it, including (ironically) the manga/anime "Attack on Titan", which on the surface appears to support a martial society, but underneath strongly argues against it
I also saw intro episodes for two unfamiliar anime (Yamada and the 7 Witches, Noragami) and a live-action film ("Kumiko the Treasure Hunter"). All look interesting, and I enjoyed Kumiko: the premise is that a marginalized Japanese woman sees the film Fargo and, believing it to be a documentary, sets off on a trip to find the buried treasure.
I noted a lot fewer "Attack on Titan" cosplayers (perhaps because of its lengthy hiatus), and a fair amount of discussion over the somewhat controversial "Kill la Kill" anime.
I agree with what seems to be the consensus of attendees: the panels and cosplay are great, the management and facilities are dreadful. I worry about next year -- the last at BCC before the move to DC -- but will still attend if I am able.
Did anyone else go?