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Otakon2010: A Decade Under the Influence

by on August 7, 2010

The sun is shining, the air smells like warm root beer and the fire
alarms are blaring. Otakon 2010 is in the books, another one has come and
gone. Ten times I have gone to the Baltimore Convention Center, and now
the Baltimore Hilton Convention Center. Ten times. At this point almost
everyone else who has been to Otakon as many times as I have are
working the convention in some way, shape or form. Staff, press like
myself, dealer, artist, etc. etc. etc., us long timers are almost all a
bit deeper into the life of Otakon than the general, and far younger,
Otakoner. While you will find Otakoners ranging from in the womb to well into their senior
years, the vast majority are somewhere between 16 and 25. It’s still a
young crowd even as the first and second big waves of anime fans get
older and older.

If any of you do not remember my opening remarks for this year I
mentioned how huge the Convention site itself has gotten, and boy did my
feet let me know it by last Sunday afternoon. It’s over 1/3 of a mile from
one end of the convention complex to the other and a few times I found
myself going from one end of the building to the other for something, a
task not helped much by the set of doors that gave direct street level
access to the dealers room and artist alley being locked. It’s time to
face facts, Otakon is huge. This year the total attendance topped
29,000 including attendees and staff, and the BCC/Hitlon complex is not exactly designed to
comfortably hold that many, though it does work.

Thankfully, the weather was again gorgeous this year. The last three
years, the weather for Otakon has been good to superb. It’s weird. I am
so used to the weather being somewhere between “hideous” and “melt into
the sidewalk”; it’s hard to beat sunny in the mid-80’s this time of year.
It’s also hard being able to hear the person you’re walking with in the
hallway since they implemented a ban on people yelling in the hallway
this year, along with a vuvuzela ban. Apparently some of the 4Chan
folks were planning to make life really unpleasant in the halls by
bringing them in. There still were a few “buttscratcher!” and “Marco!
Polo!” game in the hallways, but it was mercifully a lot less than years

Unfortunately there were a few scheduling issues again this year, mostly
involving really popular panels being put into space that were too
small for them. This mostly involved panel room 5 as it only holds 375 folks
and upwards of 700, from my visual estimate, showed up for some of the
panels in that room. So that wasn’t so great, and due to the fire alarm
it took longer than expected to get into the Saturday AMV contest
screening. But otherwise, lines formed and moved fairly well given the
29,000+ people in the building.

Obviously the industry slate was a bit smaller this year, though
FUNimation certainly brought the thunder with their announcements, and I
suppose that’s just the way it’s going to be from now on given the very
anemic state of the anime industry and the pullback in marketing by
most of the ones who are left. Such is the way of things unfortunately,
and baring a massive uptick in sales it’s not likely to change anytime
soon. A little ironic that the more fans who show up and spend money at
the cons the less we actually spend buying DVDs and such.

So, overall, I’d say Otakon 2010 was a raging success. Looking forward
to next time. I just hope it doesn’t sneak up on me again.

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