Otakon just released an estimated attendance of 26,000-plus people, and that sounds about right. Particularly on Friday morning, the convention was the most congested I have ever seen it. Because most of the regular events that typically absorb a lot of people weren't yet open (in particular the dealer's room), all the traffic was stuffed in the area around the panels and workshops. The hallways were completely choked. I ducked into the Voltron/Saber Rider panel, but I didn't stick around for too long. Because there's so little to do in the early hours of a con, it's a nice time to simply people-watch. I'm probably going to do a separate post for cosplayer pictures, because we did a lot of that.
And here's the dealer's room line. What you have to understand about anime convention goers is that a line like this doesn't start because it's necessary (it's always easy to get in after the initial rush), it starts because somebody wants to sit in a line. At ten, my friends split up for the Sonic and Metal Gear panels: the one for Sonic came back in about five minutes because the room was full before he could even get in: plus, he added, these people looked like they still liked Sonic. Then I forgot to see Dubs that Time Forgot (sorry Mike! you have to admit it's appropriate though) and got lunch instead. The food situation around the con center is, well, tourist-priced. A decent meal isn't at all hard to find, but expect to pay double.
(moee) I didn't spend much time there, but I do want to briefly note that Otakon's game room is excellent: from the usual anime convention stuff to the really cult and obscure-- including, for example, a whole table of vertical-screen 2D shooters playing on flipped monitors, and another table loaded with Saturn hits like Sexy Parodius and Asuka 120%-- there's really something for everybody in that room. Even if everybody only wants to play Soul Calibur: that just means more Senkou no Ronde for us, right guys?
We made a really quick run to Hobby Link Japan's table at the dealer's room to see what wonderful treasures they were going to sell out of next. I picked up a very nice figure of magical girl Arc for the steal price of $50 (and the staff broke when I took it out of the box last night!), and talked one of my buddies into buying BMX Rei, the greatest thing ever cast into PVC, for $20. HLJ's con prices are great, their service is good (the guy who runs HLJ gave me a full rundown of a Totoro resin set just because I was looking at it), plus they give you a 10% off coupon when you buy. Definitely a first-visit booth whenever they're at a convention.
Now looking at the program guide, the description gives the impression that the "Lantis/JAM Project" Q&A merely involved Lantis reps. I figured I wouldn't miss anything-- and of course JAM turned out to be there. I guess I've learned my lesson, Lantis. I'm sorry.
Around 2, we headed over to the First Mariner Arena to see what was up with the JAM line. At that early hour, the line consisted of this fellow. He had been there from 1 and was, sadly, later told to leave, as the line did not technically begin until 5. At 3, we decided to wait across the street at a bus stop with the fellow from earlier and some other fans. Only six JAM fans present, all told. We talked about the kind of things that JAM Project fans talk about, and it was pleasant. A staffer was there, telling people IT'S AT FIVE GET OUT OF HERE (Why are nearly all the Otakon staffers I've dealt with in my years at the con so consistently rude and condescending? A lot of people are really nice, too, but man, I think dicks are in the majority here) while standing with some people who were either press or simply friends of his. I dunno. I'm just saying.
An hour before the line was to formally open, people started to creep in and form a line. We hopped in before finding out that this was actually the Masquerade rehearsal line. Then, steadily, more and more people started to hang out in the area. Eventually, the staffer in charge simply gave a signal to line up, and a mob scene ensued as people sprinted for their place in line. The people who got to the front of the line did so by physically throwing themselves against the door. There's got to be a better way to handle a lineup than this. I've been to a lot of big nerdy lineups, and "let them rush the door" is probably the worst possible solution (see Wonderfest). After that, though, it was taken care of reasonably. Waiting with OGIUE MANIAX's SDS (Carl), we killed time by responding to the super robot songs being sung up front with classics like Isao Sasaki's English Mazinger Z themes (hey sds hook me up with those mp3s man ok?), and the English Macross OP. Macross-- the arm of the new wave! Champion and knight of a new day!
Fa came by, and it turned out she was munching on a little something when I asked her for a picture. Carl said to her that it's more natural with the candy bar, and as silly as it sounds to say "wait-- leave the candy bar on", I had to agree with him. It really is more Fa-like.
After a while it started to rain, and they let us in, and I said "oh man, oh god, oh man" as they let us into the arena to-- oh man, oh god, oh man-- see some JAM PROJECT. We grabbed seats in the fourth row: close enough, but not so close we were staring up at the band. From this point on I was kinda high: as though I had entered into a fantasy wonderland where beautiful things I could never have imagined simply occurred-- with neither warning nor explanation-- in front of me.