August 9, 2011

:::Otakon 2011 by Deretsun:::

Hey everyone!  It's my turn for my take on Otakon!

Well, where do I start?  Oh--how about the favorite anime of a very famous talented duo known as CHEMISTRY?  That's right!--You heard me!

At the end of their concert Kaname Kawabata (one of the two people who make up CHEMISTRY) shouted out "MY FAVORITE ANIME IS..."

(click "Read More" to find out!! =P)

"...ONE PIECE!!!" and the crowd roared and shouted and jumped to their feet and thunderous applause ensued.  I mean--how else are you supposed to respond to that? =P.

Now let's go back in time a bit, shall we?

I apologize for our lack of pictures such as the Dealer's Room and the Convention layout--but you have to understand!--the excitement was encapsulating and we felt that every moment we stopped to take a picture was a moment wasted instead of a moment gained!  There was just too much to capture on camera so we moved pictures down our priority ladder.  Alright--anyway, はじめましょうか? / Shall we begin?

Getting 0 (zero / ぜろ) sleep the night before, heading out to Baltimore, Maryland at 5 am, practically running for the BoltBus which was about 5 minutes away from leaving, taking a 4 hour ride from NYC, and arriving at our hotel which didn't feel like giving us the room we reserved was all fine and dandy but the real fun started when we first stepped into the Baltimore Convention Center.

We had arrived at the Convention at around noon on Friday and so we expected standing in a huge line while melting in the searing heat (it was 94-98 degrees the whole weekend!) to get in but we were all pleasantly surprised when there was absolutely no line to get in and we just had to walk in side and stand in a very short (i.e. 10-15 people) line to get our Badges!

We did have somewhat of a plan for what we were going to do over the weekend but after watching #2 on This 3-Part Top Ten Tips Video we decided to surrender a majority of our time & schedule to pure spontaneity.  And we were right!  We did not expect to spend more time in the dealer's room than anywhere else but that's what ended up happening =P.

But we did see and do a lot such as:
  • Cosplaying twice, 
  • Handing out post-cards to advertise this blog for our FREE GIVEAWAY CONTEST
  • Spending up a majority of our free time in the dealer's & gaming room. 
  • Going to a CHEMISTRY Concert and getting awesome seats (it's unfortunate that we weren't allowed to take pictures to show you!),
  • Going to the Rave (dance) with the AWESOME DJ SAOLILITH (more on her later), and
  • Seeing an AMAZING panel called Iron Editor (pun on "Iron Chef" if you didn't know =P)!
And that was just at the convention!

Outside the convention we ate THE BEST SUSHI I'VE EVER EATEN at a place called "Geisha Sushi" which deserves a LOT more popularity!

And at the hotel we:
  • Sang karaoke (and probably disturbing our neighbors a bit =P) at the top of our lungs, 
  • Ate a wide variety of random Japanese snacks from Pocky to Calbee-wanna-be Shrimp Chips, 
  • Played Super Smash Brothers Brawl to our hearts content (after trying to find the jacks in the back of the tv that were obviously positioned in a way so that we couldn't plug things in to it... but after using our ipod as a mirror and a key-chain flashlight and experiencing some arm cramps we finally got it to work =P), 
  • Chilled out at the swimming pool after losing too much body fluids from walking to and from the Convention Center (even though it was 2 blocks away... they were VERY LONG blocks... or at least seemed to be...), and--of course--
  • Watched lots of anime (such as One Piece, Sugar Sugar Rune, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Ouran Host Club, etc.) via laptop to TV connections.
And now I'll talk a little bit about these...

I think RPGHero pretty much summed up the CHEMISTRY concert in His Take of Otakon but what he didn't tell you was the annoying lead-up to their actual performance!  While we were waiting for CHEMISTRY to start their concert (for about 40 minutes after they were scheduled to sing) the huge monitors next to them were showing all their music videos!  And it was on a deadly loop so we were all getting really tired of hearing the same songs over and over again!

But when CHEMISTRY finally came up to sing everyone was instantly energetic and the songs that had the PVs being played before they performed turned into AMVs of the animes!  I was disappointed because I thought they were going to show the PVs again while they sang but instead they had the full versions of the opening sequences that they did for Gundam Unicorn, Seed, etc. which fully redeemed the endless montage of pre-recorded CHEMISTRY videos in the beginning.

Unfortunately though there was some technical difficulties for like half their songs and there was no video other than static that looked like it was trying to play something--but nonetheless CHEMISTRY still rocked the crowd and gave it their all!

We took a sneak shot of what the concert looked like (left) even though pictures weren't allowed... I mean we had to show you what it looked like, right? =P

And then towards the end to get the crowd pumped up even more that's when Kaname shouted out that his favorite anime was One Piece!

The second musical guest that was incredible was DJ Saolilith who I guessed would be awesome in my Otakon Expectations post!  And I was right on the mark!  DJ Saolilith, coming straight from Japan, was one of the major highlights for the whole weekend!  She's an extremely kawaii--and as RPGHero said-- "moe" DJ, and it was easily one of the best performances I've ever been to!  You would normally think "How can a DJ put on a show?" but once you've seen DJ Saolilith you'll take that back.  In her awesome Miku cosplay and with Vocaloid and Anime songs at her disposal she's unstoppable!  The crowd never once died--she kept everyone on their toes as they jumped, screamed, and fist-pumped into the air to the very very familiar anime and vocaloid music.  Although we seemed to practically lose two of our senses (voice and hearing) as well as our muscle composure it was a blast and we walked out--or rather, limped out--with a wide grin.  It was a perfect way to end Friday night and we'll probably remember that moment for quite a while :).

Lights, Camera, Random Videos!--it's time to talk about Iron Editor 2011 at Otakon!

This was an extraordinary treat for many reasons.  Because, you see, we had gotten to the AMV Contest too late and we were unable to get in (because we were preoccupied in the dealer's room and... just like from being in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber from DBZ... time seemed to fly by).  But when we got to our backup plan:  Iron Editor--we were very thrilled and surprised at what happened...

First, some background:  Iron Editor is a competition that's not solely Otakon-related but it has been going on for many years and in many conventions such as SakuraCon, WaiCon, etc.  It consists of two contestants--the champion and the challenger.  What they have to do is create an AMV in 2 hours with the provided anime clips and a necessary "secret source" that their AMV must contain while adhering to a set theme.  For those who don't know--creating an AMV is quite a feat and it usually takes days if not weeks to plan, execute, and complete the process.  But these people only have 2 hours.

Here's the Iron Editor Intro they played:

I was disappointed yet pleased at the same time that they didn't just sit there as we watched the competitors creating the AMV using The Adobe Master Collection Suite.  I was disappointed because I wanted to learn how to use Adobe Premiere (since I only use Sony Vegas) yet I was pleased because I realized it would probably be boring to sit there for 2 hours and just watch them cut & compile random anime clips together.  Instead, what they did, was play a few trivia games involving the audience as well as showing us a montage of random AMVs from the internet.

After the 2 hours finished we saw both the competitor's submissions and the Champion won even though both of their submissions weren't too great--but I'm not a big fan of vampire animes to begin with so it might be good to people who have seen the featured series and/or like vampire animes =P.

Oh--here's one of the clips they played that made everyone laugh their lungs out.  Enjoy =P:

I was also pleased to see one of my Random Videos (the "Do You Know Your Anime" AMV) used as one of the audience games--the "Do you know your anime trivia" quiz.  Basically they had to watch this anime once and then take turns naming as much anime as they could remember.  They also played the game again later on in the panel but with silhouettes of anime characters (I can't find the video which leads me to believe that it was an original video).  I thought that was really hard but the 3 volunteers picked up a lot more than I thought was possible.

So in the end we all really enjoyed ourselves in this panel that no one seemed to know about (because there wasn't a line to get in unlike every other popular panel that you had to get to 1 hour before it started otherwise you wouldn't be able to get in).

And now I'll talk about the amazing Geisha Sushi Bar for a bit.

This Sushi place was located around our hotel (Sheraton: Inner City/City Center (Baltimore, MD)) but it seemed to be in like a quiet/deserted area for some reason. When we walked in the atmosphere/ambiance was very unrivaled in terms of sushi bars.

As we walked downstairs into the cool underground lair we were greeted with an actual Japanese greeting: "いらしゃいませ! / Welcome (to our store)!"  They actually had Japanese people in a Japanese restaurant!  And that seems to be quite rare for some reason.  And if you're saying "what are you talking about I see Japanese people all the time in Japanese restaurants"--make sure you can tell the difference between Chinese & Japanese and then come back and say that to me... unless you live in Japan =P.

(Off topic:  I once went to a Japanese Restaurant in a Mall's Food Court and asked the "chef" if he was Japanese (because not everyone is easy to tell apart).  He said "Oh, yes, absolutely!" and so I started talking to him in Japanese and he gave me a "What?" before mumbling in Chinese!  What a disappointment!  It seems all the Japanese chefs are in Japan!)

But anyway the food was amazing!... everything--from the baby octopus to the Dragon Roll (see below).  The only disappointment was that the music they were playing was Indian music as opposed to Japanese--but it still strangely seemed to fit the traditional atmosphere.

So if you end up going to Otakon in the future, make sure to look out for Geisha Sushi!  I highly recommend it!  (I have never once felt so compelled to willingly advertise for a restaurant online so believe me when I say that their food is VERY GOOD!

Just take a look at their Dragon Roll that Chansu ordered!)

And finally, it's time to talk about the Gaming Room and Dealer's Room!

First up is the Gaming Room!

Although we said we would participate in the SSBB tournament it just didn't happen--we wanted to do other things and the tournament would've eaten up too much of our time... + we were out of practice so we didn't feel very confident in winning =P.

And I'm glad we didn't participate either!  Although it would've been fun to watch the finalists battle it out--we were clearly outmatched.  I know this because there was friendly Brawl matches throughout the whole weekend and on Friday and Saturday we met Atomsk who's like top 50 in the world for SSBB... >.<... to make a long story short he & his friend utterly destroyed me in battle after I was destroying everyone else and it was quite humiliating until I found out that he was top 50 in the world lol.

But we had some pleasant surprises in the Gaming Room such as a Taiko no Tatsujin system and a section where they played Panel de Pon (although it was the gamecube version and not the superior SNES version =P).

Now for the Dealer's Room!

...There was a huge line to get in.  Enough said... 

(なんちゃって!/ Nanchatte! / Just kidding!)  Like never before, this Dealer's Room was by far the largest I have ever experienced.  It completely destroys Connecticon's & NYAF's Dealer's Room and makes the little store I visited at California's Little Tokyo seem inexistent.  It was practically the whole underground floor of the Convention Center and seemed to stretch on to horizons (ok... I may be exaggerating just a little bit =P).

They had everything!  From Free Posters @ the Bandai Booth to Amazing Wall Scrolls to amazing (and expensive) Japanese imports (figurines, plush dolls, cosplay outfits, etc. etc.)!

There was so much to see that we had to visit the Dealer's Room every single day to make sure we bought everything in sight that we deemed was worth it.  Hence we spent a LOT of money on spoils.

Here were my total spoils:

Spoils from the Dealer's Room:
One Piece banzai! XD
Mika from Manabi Straight
Hanyuu from Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai
Kuroko from Toaru Kagaku no Railgun!
Sakura from Tsuabasa Chronicles!
Madoka Magica
My Cirno CD:  "Touhou Hyousetsu Kashuu"
My new favorite (tsundere) shirt!
Got this for free! XD

And so that's about all I have to say for Otakon 2011!  I think I've pretty much summed it up.  And I'm sure Chansu will cover what I missed in his take of Otakon!

So as they say at the end of every Nichijou episode...

K:  おたのしみに!
R:  Otanoshimini!
E:  Don't Miss it! / Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading ^^,

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This blog, "The Otaku Reviewers", was started in February of 2010 on this very same platform, Blogger. At first, it was a venture into the informational and informal world of comics, anime, video games, and Japanese culture. In other words, just a random blog.

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