Otakon2010: Days 2 and 3
Otakon Day 2
Day two started out rather calm for me, mainly because there wasn’t too much going on until a bit later in the day. As far as screenings go, I didn’t really get to check out any on Friday (I watched a small clip or two, but not an entire episode). So, in order to make something out of this slow morning I decided to go and watch…Strike Witches. Why? Because I have never really taken the time to watch an entire episode of a moe show and I feel as though it is something everyone should do at least once. You’re probably shaking your head at this point, but hey, like I said it was a light morning, something had to fill up the time! As it happens…I actually found Strike Witches pretty hilarious (and judging from the amount of laughter in the room…so did a good bit of the other audience members). Perverted and slightly creepy? Yes, but hilarious nonetheless. Will I go out of my way to watch another episode? Er, probably not, but that is more so because the plot is pretty, well, dumb, and not so much because of the moe aspect. Perhaps in the future I will try and find one with a decent plot…but that is probably asking for too much.
The big thing for me on Saturday was the US premiere of Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW from the same creative minds behind Read or Die; Koji Masunari, Tomonori Ochikoshi, and Masashi Ishihama. I was more or less completely blown away by the movie. It had what every really good movie has; a mix of drama, action, fun and excellent animation that doesn’t disappoint. The basic plot consists of five children who go on a summer adventure. Too basic? Okay, well, during their adventure the kids find themselves stuck in space and trying to get home. Mix that in with a mysterious (thought to be extinct) flower, aliens, dogs, a kidnapping and a beautifully crafted world, and you have Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW. On a side note, the guy sitting next to me kept texting and mumbling to himself during the movie which was fairly annoying. Really it is just common courtesy to leave your cell phone alone during a movie, especially one that is premiering for the first time in the United States! Anyways, it really was an honor to be one of the first to see this movie; it was just an added bonus that it turned out to be so damn good.
So. The movie ends and I am preparing to make my way over to the Q&A panel with the creators when a bunch of blinking lights and a siren suddenly go off. Fire alarm, hello! 29,000+ people being forced to evacuate the building? Not all that fun. Apparently this is the first time something like this has happened…lucky me? I will say though that the speculation on what actually happened was pretty hilarious though. Why? Because there were so many different rumors floating around, with each person saying “Well, I heard it from this staff member.” The best rumor I heard? “4chan set off a smoke bomb in the dealer’s room.” Quite honestly I am hesitant to believe this one since I feel as though it probably would have been really obvious. The one I am most compelled to believe? A small fire started at one of the concession stands. Things like that aren’t too uncommon and I just don’t think the other theories hold up as well. Though I used the extra time to get work done the incident did put a hamper on my plans to attend the Q&A for Rainbow and the Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW panel, so that was kind of a bummer.
After all of that chaos was said and done, I finally made my way into the dealer’s room, I didn’t get the chance to check it out on Friday. I can’t even imagine what it was like trying to get out of there during the fire alarm. Anyways, it was actually about the same as what I remembered, a lot of people spending a lot of money on various items. I personally didn’t buy too much, a couple of Lelouch items (such as a poster and sticker among other things) but not really anything else (since I mostly buy DVDs from RightStuf). The other items were certainly interesting, but not really for me. The only other thing I really wanted was a Lelouch/Zero action figure, but I sadly could not find one. Ah well, probably better to save the money anyways. Anyways, not a whole lot to really go into with the dealer’s room, but it is pretty awesome that so many merchants come out for Otakon year after year.
Wait, it is day three already? Where did the time fly this weekend!? Those were pretty much the first two thoughts that popped into my head as I woke up–aside from a small debate about whether to sleep an extra thirty minutes. While I did a great deal during this convention, it is so large that I still feel as though I missed so much. I wish I had gotten more time for fan panels and guest panels, but I am pretty happy with what I did get to see and do.
I originally had the intention of going to the The Last Unicorn Q&A, but one thing led to another and I ended up chatting with an Aniplex representative. This then led to me attending a press conference with the creators of Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW. It was about an hour long and incredibly informative. These guys really love what they do and put a lot of time, effort and heart into this project and it shows. There was also a bit of discussion during it about projects they would like to work on, favorite Gundam series and other things, but more on that another time. Look forward to it though; it really was amazing to be able to talk directly to the creators, an opportunity that come along that often.
Afterwards I went to a Gundam panel with Stephanie Sheh and Michael Sinterniklaas. Both not only voice act but also direct and have adapted scripts for a good number of projects, so they know the industry pretty well. As it happens, Gundam is actually one of the most accurate dubs. Pretty much every detail from the Japanese version is put into the dubbed version. So, yeah, Gundam dubs may reuse a lot of the same voices for each series, but at least know that your dub is pretty darn accurate! As it should be; Sheh mentioned that the people working on the Gundam Unicorn dub go through about 5 or 6 draft versions before actually arriving at the final translated script. I personally never would have imagined that so many versions need to be done just for a translation, so that was really quite interesting to me. Anyways, most of the questions were simple fan questions (such as who would win in a fight between Gundam Wing vs Burning Gundam, why the Federation is disliked, etc), so I made my way down to the artists gallery.
Like the dealers room, this is also pretty self explanatory, but I thought I should check it out before I go and maybe buy a thing or two (which ended up being another Lelouch poster). I have to say that I have always been rather envious of artists. The talents they have are pretty amazing and I really wish I had some of them, but, as it happens, I can barely draw a straight line. Putting that aside, it was really nice to see so many talented artists come together to sell their art to the fans. I saw majority of the booths and I can honestly say none of them let me down. It was actually pretty difficult to pick out one poster when there were so many options. After this I made my way back up to the panel room with Stephanie and Michael. As scheduled, there was now a panel going on that offered an actual chance for fans to dub pieces of Gundam Unicorn with Michael and Stephanie (using ProTools, the industry standard). For those of you who think it is easy, think again! A lot of the people who went up to have their voice dubbed had quite a bit of trouble matching their voice with the lips of the character. It gave me a bit of a new appreciation for the voice actors. Matching lip-flapping isn’t really a talent that can just come to someone overnight, these guys have more than likely had to work quite a bit in order to get their timing down. The lesson learned here? The best characters to voice are the ones wearing masks.
So finally I have reached the end of the day, the closing ceremonies. There were quite a few awards; some for the best cosplay, best craftsmanship, best group and so on, and all of these were shown on a big slide show with some nifty music. But the highlight of the closing ceremonies was definitely the AMV (Animated Music Video) contest winners; let me tell you that each video was awesome. Here are the winners for romance and comedy for now; more are supposed to be posted soon.
That was the end of my 2010 Otakon experience. I stayed around a bit afterwards to get some pictures of various cosplayers, but really there wasn’t anything left to do. As mentioned earlier, it is amazing how things go by so quickly. One day you are walking inside of a building filled with oddly dressed people and the next you are walking out of it, leaving all that behind. With the (unofficial) number being 28,044 people in attendance this year (and 29,274 total including staff, representatives, etc), I’d say it was pretty successful for Otakon. As fans the only thing we can hope for is the continual growth of the industry. Of course this is only possible if they get help, which is where we come in. I would recommend everyone attend at least one convention if they are into the Anime scene. It gives you a bit of an impression on the industry, the shows and the fans that you can never really get through a fan club or the internet alone, not to mention they are a lot of fun. Otakon 2011 will be July 29th-July 31st in Baltimore for an who are interested. Otakon 2010 may be over but Toonzone still has some more coverage to share with you guys, so make sure to keep an eye out for that.