There I was: at the mecca of Otakus: Otakon! I was so excited I kept trying to take pictures of every cool costume I saw, shouting characters’ names and grabbing my friends’ arms with excitement.
For about 30 minutes.
And then I was bored.
The real fun
That’s when I started digging through the little bag everyone was given upon entry. In the bag was a magazine filled with interesting facts about Otakons past and present, tips about what you could bring (good to know for future visits) and more info about the Deejays and special guests present. There was also a guide and an awesome sheet of awesome (hey, I didn’t name it, because if I did it wouldn’t name it that).
After reading through the material I realized that there were A LOT of things to do. I could learn how to draw manga, make music for anime videos, create masks, get autographs from voice actors, Q&A with studios, practice my Jpop dance moves, watch anime and kung fu movies, visit the dealers booths, look at artwork and peruse a manga library. Oh yeah, and go to a rave, watch Hentai and learn all about fetishes beyond tentacle rape and… yeah. You get the picture: there was lots to do.
I ended up watching Patrick narrowly beat out Luna for the title of Otaku Idol and yelling along with everyone else watchng 13 Assassins.
Otaku Idols! Peter on the right was the winner
I found that my favorite parts were watching anime, the dealers room, the art room and the rave. The rave is self-explanatory (I mean come on… it’s a party!), the dealers room was fun because there were so many interesting things to buy (and an awfully flirty man who wanted to put a corset on me) and the art room was awesome because it was amazing artwork.
My corset connoisseur
Goku and Dr. Gero catch some games in the gaming room
My overally-very-most-favorite-of-all-time was just sitting around watching anime and kung fu movies. There is nothing like sitting in a room full of nerds watching something awfully nerdy while listening to the nerdy comments. From that venture, I highly recommend Durarara as a great action anime and Garden of Sinners as a mind-boggling horror/mystery anime. Garden of Sinners is VERY artistic, to the point of feeling like yelling at the screen to pick up the pace. At the same time, it is also beautifully done so if you have the patience for that sort of thing definitely check it out. I’ve already started watching both!
Here are some tips if you are a first timer like me!
1. If you have never cosplayed before, consider not coming in costume
If you are not an experienced cosplayer, think about not coming in costume. There will be a lot to do and take in and being in costume will mean stopping every minute to let people take pictures of you. I saw people holding the same pose for ten minutes or more because as soon as one photographer was done, another was already in place shooting the next picture.
There are also a lot of rules to follow at Otakon and you will want to make sure to read up on them before cosplaying.
2. Look at the schedule
The schedule is VERY confusing. You have to look from a spreadsheet of times, title and room number (the awesome sheet of awesome) to a brochure IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER to figure out what any given room is holding. This can be very frustrating, as it will require a lot of back-and-forth as well as making sure you find some method of keeping the lines straight on the spreadsheet (I used the brochure as a ruler) otherwise you may end up in the wrong room.
I recommend looking at the schedule as soon as you walk in to make sure you don’t miss anything you really want to see.
One of the dealer's booths
3. Be prepared to spend money
Food is expensive both in and around the convention area. There are also great vendors booths including everything from t-shirts to custom posters to glowing dreadlocks so come with a set amount of money you are prepared to spend. I found I did just fine with $50 for the whole weekend, not counting the cost of the hotel room and gas money.
4. Book a hotel room far in advance
As soon as you figure out the logistics of your trip to Otakon, get a hotel room. Closer to the event rooms will be more expensive and further away. Why do you want a close hotel? Because parking can run you up to $22!!!
5. Take your friends into consideration
Are you friends the type who like everything you do? Are they comfortable (and are you comfortable) with splitting up to go do different things? Will you be staying late? Arriving late?
Going with a large group of people can be fun, or, as was the case with my group: really, really annoying. My group just couldn’t stay awake for it all and I had to leave early and felt that I did not get my money’s worth of Otakon.
Talk with your buddies before heading out to make a plan or figure out what you will do in different scenarios. This is another reason a close hotel is a good thing: you could always have multiple room keys and come and go as you please.
Here are some pictures of the lovely cosplayers! If you don’t see your picture here, check out my personal blog for another article about Otakon!