Orobouros.net @ Otakon X


Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Venue: Baltimore Convention Center
Dates: August 8th - 10th, 2003
Attendance: ~ 17 400 people
Song: T.M. Revolution - Meteor
Pictures: ~ 570

Otakon X promised to be an amazing convention, and from what I can tell, it most certainly was. TM Revolution was a huge draw to many fans, I'm sure, and for myself, also an oppertunity to enjoy a con for the all con events.

The big draw was -- of course -- TM Revolution. The main event, the concert, was probably the best part of the whole con. Christine Sa opened up with some great songs. She's a talented singer, and I hope the audience could appreciate her appearance. [Pictures] I have to admit though, as great as her performance was, I -- too -- was eagerly awaiting TM Revolution. He did not disappoint. TM Revolution is known for some flashy, unique wardrobe. Described as a fashionable mix between current styles and traditional wardrobe, he wore a black wrap much like a kimono with a red sash. [Pictures] Underneath was another green kimono; I believe quite a few of the ladies in the audience were happy when he started taking off the black outer layer to show the inside green layer.
Much more impressive than the visual aspect of the whole performance (very good job with lighting and the like) were the songs. I was quite happy to hear Meteor and Invoke from Gundam Seed, some of my favorite TM revolution songs. Of course, I doubt he could have left the stage without singing the song most American fans know of his, Heart of Sword from Rurouni Kenshin. Though I would have loved to have a recording from the live concert for the memory, I was able to pick up the new album for sale at the con with the songs on it. Got it signed, too, which I'm quite proud of, even if it's like all the other autographed things he signed that weekend. Everybody who got a signed album that weekend probably really appreciated his hours-long signing sessions. Even though I didn't get my album signed until close to the end of the session, he was still friendly and interested in doing favors for the fans. I hear that at one point, he gave a girl a hug, which sent half the room into squeals. Of course, I hope that was at the end of the session -- after that, I bet a lot of girls were anticipating something similar.

Otakon managed to beat out Anime Expo for attendance this year at more than 17,000 after several years of coming close. It certainly felt bigger than Anime Expo that year. Cosplayers were everywhere. Panels were huge. There was always stuff going on. Even before the con really began, tons of people were lined up for registration. Already people were dressed up in the line that went all the way around the Baltimore Convention Center. To get an idea of how big that is, the convention center itself is more than four city blocks long. Even though the line went along an underpass underneath the BCC, it was probably five blocks long at it's peak. My guess is that there were probably at least 2000 people in line at that time, if not more. Though the sights inside the BCC were even more amazing, the massive line of people -- many of them dressed beyond what locals would consider exotic -- must have been the sight of the year in Baltimore. Luckily, I don't think anybody had any problems with the panhandlers that frequent the inner harbour in hopes of handouts. (I hear next year Baltimore County Police will be even more present to stop problems before they start.)

To get the feel of the con, I'll generally take pictures of about everything that's interesting. But without a doubt, the most interesting thing to see at cons is cosplay. The BCC is a nice setting for taking pictures, though inside sometimes shadows make things hard to capture the right way. The downtown setting of the Inner Harbor is great for outdoor pictures, too, especially the walkways between hotels. Of course, even outside, none of the cosplayers feels or looks out of place. I've seen swarms of sailor fuku and armies of ninjas wander about the streets. But it's still always amusing when I step back and look at all the fans getting into costuming and turning the otherwise drab Baltimore streets into something more like Saturday morning television. And even with some of the drama and strife some people associate with cosplay, there are still huge majorities that are still doing it for nothing but fun.
The masquerade competition was pretty nice. I had one of the best seats in the house: I got to judge! As such, I don't want to say much about any individual costumes, but I will say something about the judging process. I've heard a lot of complaints about awards and competition, some of them justified, many of them less so. Many of the problems that did occur as cosplay got bigger have been solved. The coordinators and organizers have learned from past mistakes and worked out systems that work. Determining the awards is difficult because as a judge, you can tell easily which costumes and skits deserve an award; but there are only so many awards to go around. In the end though, there is enough flexibility that there is little doubt awards are fair and appropriate. Having competed myself quite a number of times, I know how exciting and exhausting cosplay can be. But, I've always been doing it for fun, and think everybody else should too; winning is a great bonus, but not the ends of cosplay. It's fun.

Otakon was definitely fun in 2003, and promises to be again in 2004. It's great because it's so big. (Otakon commands more than $8,000,000 a year in consumer revenue brought into Baltimore City -- a city that is highly dependent on its income from tourism.) With a huge facility and good industry relations, Otakon can put on a lot of good programming. It even has a track designed for the really young fans. Getting stars like TM Revolution makes it a unique experience. Getting so many fans together makes it a unique experience. It comes at a bit of a cost, though.
With many, many thousands of fans spread over more than 10 city blocks, it's not very personal. It's not easy to just wander around, and it can be hard to meet up with people. (Bring your cellphone!) You may not even be able to go to everything you want to. But, conventions are about making the best of the experience. Though all the people may make it harder to find your friends, that means there are that many more opportunities to meet people. All the programming means you'll never be bored. I came prepared, and Otakon was definitely a memorable event.

This page created on a Macintosh with help of PhotoPage by John A. Vink. These images, HTML code, css stylesheets, and text is © 2003 Oliver T Oberg. You are granted permission to use these images for your own personal use (such as cosplay sites, personal web pages, etc) provided they are not altered except for rotation, cropping, resizing, resolution, and mirroring. Any other altering of these images requires my permission. I reserve the right to revoke use of these images at any time for any reason. This is done for the protection of the subjects of these pictures. If you are the subject of any of these pictures, and wish your likeness to be removed from this web page, please contact me with the file name and the page it appears on. Unless there is considerable doubt that you are not the subject of the picture, your request will be granted in a timely manner.