Just got back from Otakon 2001. I’m happy to report that the con itself was pretty good and I had a fun time. But I think the biblical plagues are being unleashed on Baltimore right now… read and enjoy/cringe.
Check-in time is apparently 3PM minimum, which sucks since we can’t park at the hotel until then. Jen drops me and O-kun off at the con and we party, THEN find out that she spent her entire damn friday finding a parking space and being stuck in the sinister Baltimore traffic since several streets were blocked off due to the July 18th train fire underground. We finally manage to check in and then we get rained on. Andrew arrives just in time for us to check in and settle into the hotel after parking, which is weird since it was by then 6pm. We FINALLY get to do some con stuff after that. I really feel awful about the mess on Friday; obviously it’s not my fault, but next year we are getting a hotel room for Thursday night so we don’t have to deal with this crap…
I did manage a sweep through the dealer’s room before it opened, since I can’t get through the crowds on Friday with my scooter. Aside from a few morons who lost sales because they refused to sell to me before three — their loss, hey — I got most of my loot then.
Anime selection for the video rooms was very old school this year. Orlando suspected (and was probably right) that since anime companies are snatching up titles for domestic release faster and faster, there’s not enough of a window for fansubbers to release things. All that was available for the con was older stuff that’s never getting released here. The anime companies were helpful in providing preview tapes of those newer titles, but more would be very helpful.
Mystery Anime Theatre 3000 rocked. Great, great stuff. And the music videos? BEST music video show I ever saw! They moved most of the lame-ass videos to an overflow tape so we only got the good-good. Maybe 80% of it was sweet with only a few stinkers. If anybody has URLs to MPGs of some of the videos (notably the DBZ/Fight Club and Cowboy Bebop/Stress videos) let me know.
Improgathering time! And boy, what a mess. The skywalk is closed due to a gas explosion (see a theme?) and we have to take a ridiculously roundabout way to get to the food court that involves walking all the way AROUND the court due to crappy placement of handicap accessable entrances. We finally get in and A) there are no tables B) there are no chairs C) you can’t hear a damn thing the person sitting Right Next To You is saying because it’s so loud. We got a group photo out of it (yay!) but ugh, next time, I think we’d be better off not trying to get food AND meet at the same time.
Saw a few episodes of Angel Links, and confirmed my impression from a review of it — it’s anime. It’s completely and painfully and blatantly anime. Get this: sixteen year old cute starship captain with incredible bust and small animal mascot that turns into her sword and she can dogfight and command a ship and always come out on top with incredible skill and cunning. It’s like every stereotypical anime role packed into one body. I really wanted to see someone put a bullet between her eyes. Preferably before the repeat-animation ship launch sequence so we wouldn’t have to see it. I was only in there so I could see Spring and Chaos afterwards, but S&C wasn’t really gripping, so I split.
A little more dealer’s room sweeping, a visit to the hotel to use the facilities (disability issues again; it sucks to plan your day around when you’re most likely to do a bowel movement) and then back to the con to hit the gaming room. Saw one guy in white rain gear (Brian?) who was a SWEET freestyle player. I was a judge for an impromptu freestyle tournament, but over half of them didn’t quite get the idea that in freestyle, we’re rating how ENTERTAINING you are on the DDR pad, not how ACCURATE you are, and most just hopped in place with their arms at their sides like Riverdance weenies. Oh well.
10PM rolls around and I wanted to go see Battle Royale, which someone in #improfanfic mentioned. Before it was some strange Korean black comedy called Attack the Gas Station which I figured I’d give a try… I LOVED Attack the Gas Station. It was like a bizarre conglomeration of every screwball comedy of errors crime movie ever made with a zesty dash of Fight Club in it. Hillarious, bizarre, full of fun justice/revenge and flat out AWESOME. I’d LOVE to have a copy of this thing; I don’t know if it’s a domestic release or a region zero one, though.
But… Battle Royale kind of made me queasy. It’s such a depressing move, and kind of sickening to watch kids — real kids, 14-16 year olds, not 20 year olds playing teenagers like in Hollywood — executing each other left and right. The atmosphere of the movie was one of absolute doom and despair. I still don’t understand what the point of the movie was, what the theme it was trying to hammer home was other than maybe everybody is stupid and death sucks. I walked home from it feeling a bit like I did at Katsucon after End of Evangelion; dazed, depressed and wondering why the hell I went to see it. Someone pulled a fire alarm before the last two minutes of the film, but it was already after the film’s climax.
On the way home I had to reroute around the streets because — yep! — all the fire hydrants were busted open and various streets were closed. By this point, I was wondering if we’d get a Rain of Keroppi plague or some boils and sores as Baltimore sunk into a sea of blood or something.
By this point, we were all kind of tired, so we opted to do one last sweep of the dealer’s room before going home. No con events. The fanfic panel was at 2pm and no way would we be staying that late. (Normally I would, so I can bid on my pieces I put money on in the art show, but despite a huge art show catalog nothing caught my eye.) Did an hour sweep, found a few nice things, and we took off.
All told, I think I spent about $1000 on hotel, parking, food, odds and ends and dealer’s room goodies. But this is the only con I go to each year, and it’s sort of my Big Annual Vacation, so it was worth it. Despite everything in Baltimore going screwy at the same time, I had a pretty good time of it. Looking forward to next year. Gonna plan way the hell ahead next year to avoid the problems of the crowds and the traffic.
My final list of loot purchased is:
PLUSHIES: Roberia(Sakura Taisen 3), Jigen, Belldandy, Vivi, Garnet, Some monk from Inu Yasha, White Spy, Black Spy, Giant-sized Kobun(Tron Bonne)
DVDs: Street Fighter Alpha, Eat Man 98, Reboot (last volume)
TAPES: Last three volumes of Slayers Try (all three for $20!)
FIGURES: Vash the Stampede, Spike Spiegel, SD-Washuu, SD-Kagato, SD-Aeka
Love Hina Desktop Clock
Sakura Taisen 3 trading cards
Gundam Deathscythe Custom Model Kit (from Endless Waltz)
And a few more notes I couldn’t fit above:
- Anime Asylum rocks. Their stand in the dealer’s room had the most varied merchandise and had a lot of rare plushies and figures I didn’t see anywhere else. Look ’em up online, maybe they have a good cataloge here too.
- The Otakon guys dropped the ball this year in terms of disability support. They had great support last year, and good support this year, but half the video rooms were in obscure parts of the building only accessable by unmarked elevators that go down to odd hallways that eventually connect to the rooms. A few signs or an extra page in the booklet is all they needed to help us find our way (although not having to go 75% around the building just to get to video seven would also be nice)…
- The cafe on the third floor was actually open this year, and a positive boon for buying overpriced food that you don’t need to scramble across closed streets and closed skywalks in a thunderstorm to access.
- We need more Love Hina swag in the dealer’s room, dammit!
- Blood: The Last Vampire DVD and FINALLY we get X/1999 on DVD with subtitle option next month. FLCL is coming stateside soon as well.