Alright guys, let's see if I still remember. Saturday morning I was hitting the dealer's and game rooms again, getting breakfast, waiting for Space Show.
Welcome to the Space Show was probably the biggest thing going on at the con as far as I cared: it's a new movie by the Read or Die and Kamichu staff. I dunno about it: it wants to be a kids' movie but really it's an animator's movie, and the animators overindulge themselves severely while the plot and characters lie mostly forgotten over two and a half hours. When the movie tries to take itself seriously at the end, it just lands with a thud.
It was also one of the few times I've ever seen a kids' movie actually make a character out of the pedophile in the audience: thankfully they only kept the outright fawning over a seven-year-old to a few scenes but it's really creepy. I don't think they'd be able to give this one a theatrical run in the states. Hope they weren't looking for one!
As the credits rolled for Space Show and we walked out of the theater, we heard an alarm. Now I'd heard a lot of things during Space Show through the thin walls-- the Yoshida Brothers unwittingly contributing some totally harsh shamisen solos to the film's score, the Hetalia fangirls squealing at the top of their lungs for no particular reason-- so I'm thinking "this is just another noise". As you might already be aware, it was in fact a fire alarm. The real thing. We were very calmly and efficiently moved out of the place, though it was seriously hard not to laugh-- even with the possibility of life-threatening danger in my mind-- when the staffer directing me out had fuzzy cat ears on his head.
None of us died, but I might have if I'd had to spend any time with all 30,000 of my fellow meme-yelling Otakon attendees standing out on the same city block. I retreated as fast as I reasonably could to the hotel room, where we all tried to figure out what the hell was going on in the aftermath of the evacuation. The official word was that "a fire alarm was pulled", which isn't very illuminating. Most likely scenario? Some kid pulled it on purpose. Could have been an accident, of course, but the former is more likely. Other scenarios that were going around at the time included basement fires and people in heavy costumes passing out from heat exhaustion. We'll probably never know the whole thing.
To their credit, Otakon and the fire department took care of this situation very quickly. We were all back in the building in an hour, when I'd expected the scare to put us out for at least two, if not three.
Around this time I had to cover the modeling competition for ANN and here's how that went. This is not an event that tends to get any major website coverage, so I thought it would be cool to use what little power I have as The Toy Guy and give it a little attention. Models are kinda like toys.
Unfortunately, after covering the contest I couldn't make it in for AWO's panel scheduled a little later: they were full long before they started anyway.
After that I spent a couple of hours talking with an old friend by the terrace as what Surat might call "THE TRUTH" took place all around us. While I was waiting for her and watching the people around me, I realized I just kind of hated the con crowd. I hadn't really had extended contact up until this point of the day, because I was always in transit from one event to the other or hanging out someplace with friends.
Sitting by the terrace, I got to see that yes, somebody on the con floor really would scream an internet meme as loud as their lungs could manage every two or three minutes, usually followed by ten more kids doing the same. The worst was the self-propagating "buttscratcher" scream, followed closely by impromptu games of Marco Polo. People aren't exaggerating when they tell you about this: the first couple times you brush it off and say "oh, kids", but they never, ever stop. The worst was when I was crossing the bridges, because there were so many people in such a concentrated space. Their voices-- from right behind me-- bounced off the walls, back and forth into my ears, over and over again. It's a serious annoyance.
It's irritating to the point where people wanted an (unenforceable) ban on such behavior even before the con, and it's just what happens whenever anybody has an anime convention anywhere. Otakon is actually pretty strict on annoying anime fan stuff: signs, yaoi paddles and (pre-emptively, after they were rampant at Anime Expo) vuvuzelas were banned as anime fans immediately demonstrated that they could be absoutely fucking unbearable with any one of these implements.
For whatever reason, a lot of the people who will go to anime cons are dead set on being as obnoxious as the con will let them get away with. This is why New York Anime Fest, which has no such rules, can be such a horrifying picture, for example. Signs are everywhere and getting in the way, people are whipping out live steel that they bought in the dealer's room in the middle of a crowded convention hall (someone's going to lose a limb at NYAF and I sincerely hope it isn't me), and the kids are running, screaming and crashing into each other the whole time.
THE TRUTH is the truth. It's not fair to just blame this on the kids, because they're not the only guilty parties. Many anime fans, especially the con-going ones, are just inherently obnoxious. Hell, a lot of con-goers don't even care that much about anime. You can't just make all these people wake up in the morning and decide they're not annoying as hell. They're here to scream unfunny memes and go to the rave, they're here to stay, and they are probably in the majority. This bums me out when the Madhouse panel is barely occupied, but the numbers are not going to change. We've got to live with the nerds we've got, and thankfully they're not all bad.
That said, I didn't really have the kind of strange encounters this weekend that I've had in past years, like Morrigan-who-really-shouldn't-be-wearing-that trying to pick me up, or a grown man not understanding why my friends and I won't vacate the our hotel room so he can bring a 15-year-old girl in for sex, or anything like that. I guess the more downtime you spend at these cons, the more likely something is to go down.
I dropped by wah's panel on Akiyuki Shinbo for a bit but I had to go for uh, reasons, and then we all looked for lunch on the harbor, which was impossible. Thank god for California Tortilla, the only damn fast food place in the area brave enough to remain open past 10 or so. The food was okay, but the important thing was that they were open. We saw some drunk guys, not con-goers, throw water bottles at each other in the line. I also crushed wah's Japanese girlfriend t-shirt dream somewhere in there.
After dinner it was off to drink a bathtub full of Yuengling's at Dave and Joel's party. I believe I'm in Erin's audio of the event for about a few minutes making fun of Ageha magazine with Clarissa and Gerald from AWO. This was very relaxed, despite a physically packed room. It was great to chat up all these people I've been having so many online conversations with in person and, of course, over a couple drinks. That's when the best conversation comes, don't you think?
Dave asked me what my Otakon Dream was and I'd had enough to drink that my answer was obviously "even more to drink!". So I got more to drink, except I just passed out (in an orderly fashion, okay!) in the hotel room when I got there. In the end we just left the extra booze as part of our tip (I actually gave the mousepad to Vertical later) to the wait staff on Sunday morning. Hope you guys enjoyed the Black and Tan!
Sunday is pretty much Out Out Out day: I hit up the dealer's room, scoring a Giant Robo cel and a Megazone 23 Part II poster. I hadn't bought anything all weekend, but the seller that always comes by with cels and 80s/90s posters just broke me. If I'd been weaker I'd have bought one MORE of each, especially that cel from-- NO IF I SAY YOU'LL BUY IT
I dropped my stuff off with Ed at the Vertical table and headed off to the Home Made Kazoku concert. The first thing they played was Shonen Heart, and the press people I was with immediately ran up to the front to snap pictures. Mine all suck, unfortunately, but man, I was up there, and I love that song! It was great! The HMKU guys were a lot of fun, and I regret not being able to stay the whole show (they did Thank You at the end, a song my VF bros got me hooked on back then), but that's how Sunday is. Everybody's really got to get the hell out.
(Anyway, if you're gonna get people who did Naruto theme songs, I would love to see Sambomaster do a con show. You know they'd say yes, Otakon. You know they'd pack the house, and their show is guaranteed to kill.)
We loaded up the Komobile and were on our way. Before actually leaving Baltimore we went and got BBQ at Chaps, which is next to a strip joint, across from a porn warehouse, a few buildings from a cheap motel, and absolutely delicious. The platter is a spectacular combination of the meat of your choice, fries, bread, and enough gravy to make everything melt together into a delicious semi-solid. It was the only thing I ate that day and I still couldn't make it through all those fries. Just be careful what trash can you use: here there be flies.
Despite doing quite a bit of sleeping in the car, I just put down everything and passed out in bed once I got home like I always do. Being so busy and getting so little sleep (I'd say four or five hours a night) for a full weekend really beats you up, not to mention all the drinking I did on Saturday night. A few days later I was sick, and I heard all my roomies got sick too. This is another sacrifice of living well at an anime con. If you get sick, that just means you maxed out. Just like I'm hung over on this fine Sunday!
So yeah, Otakon went great this year. Not Jam Project great, but great. You can tell I only participated in a few of the events, and not a lot of the big ones, but I still had an awesome time. The con's so big that it's hard not to figure something out you're going to enjoy. It's also so big that half my Internet friends on the east coast were present, and I got to hang out with people I hadn't seen in a really long time. There are a lot of reasons to go, even if the con still doesn't announce anything until it's way too late. I'm already in the process of booking a room for next time.