This year's Otakon was a lot of fun. The weather was beautiful apart from the rain during Thursday night badge pick-up, we got a lot of great stuff, and met a lot of interesting people. This year we also brought along my Asian Ball-Jointed Doll, Shuichi (based on the character from Gravitation).
We decided to pick up our badges on Thursday evening again this year because we had gotten in and out so quickly last year, and we figured it would be the same this time. Imagine our surprise when the light rail pulled up to the Convention Center and we saw a huge line wrapping around the building! We joined the long line (it took us forever to find the end of it) and since it was moving it wasn't too bad - until it started pouring rain and the line stopped moving! It just started out of nowhere and drenched all of us, although it did seem to stop once we got under the covering of the Convention Center. It was funny when we got into the building and you could tell when the rain had started in the line because the people in the front were completely dry. Once we got up to the pre-reg desk, we were disappointed in the badge selections that were available and ended up getting the same one as each other once again (this year it was Fullmetal Alchemist). After we got our stuff, we headed back to the light rail to go home and get ready for the big weekend ahead!
Day 1 - Friday (8/8)
The first day of the convention is always the best because you can just feel the energy in the Convention Center. Everyone is so excited and having so much fun, and it is really a lot of fun to be a part of it. The first thing we did was walk around and look at all of the cosplayers - and there were a lot of good ones this year. There was even someone dressed up as Tommy, the Green Power Ranger, and his costume was great - it looked just like the one in the show! It was also fun to get Shuichi's picture with a Shuichi cosplayer! The only guest that we really wanted to see this year was Yuri Lowenthal, who we were really excited was going to be there. We love him from Kyo Kara Maoh, and lined up early to be sure we got a good seat for his panel. We met some really nice people while waiting in line, although we also learned the dangers of sitting on the ground when people aren't paying attention to where they are stepping! Some fellow attendees broke out into a mock fight right beside the line and one of them jumped backwards and planted his boot right on me. However, we did get really good seats once we were in the panel room. Yuri Lowenthal's panel was great - he seems like such a nice and funny person and we had a lot of fun at it.
After Yuri Lowenthal's panel, we hurried down to the autograph line so that we could try and get his autograph. The autograph line ended up being very disappointing, however, because the session ended before it got to be our turn. Now I completely understand that when standing in line you are not guaranteed an autograph. This time it was just very frustrating because the line barely moved at all the entire hour we were in it (I'm still not even sure who got an autograph), and then they dissolved the line early without even telling the people waiting what was going on. A gofer finally told us that the session was over and that those of us that were waiting in line could go down to the Dealer's Room to get an autograph token for the next session. However, when those of us in line went down there they had already run out of tokens. I really loathe the autograph token system because it is so inconsistent and not one person that you ask gives out the same information. I think that the autograph lines should be first come, first serve, and I don't understand why they feel the need to give them out to either the first people in line for the panel, or to a few people who ask questions. It's just so confusing.
After the autograph session we were pretty annoyed (mostly at the non-communication that was going on), so we decided to just eat lunch to try and get back in the spirit of the convention. Afterwards, we went to the Otaku Cafe and had fun listening to the karaoke. We then decided to go to the doll meet that was organized by members of Den of Angels, a message board about Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls. That was fun to meet other people who had them and to see many different kinds of dolls in person. Shuichi was the first and only ball-jointed doll I had seen in person before the doll meet, so it was nice to see other people's dolls. He even got his picture taken with another person's Yuki doll, and with a little Ryuichi! After the doll meet, we headed back down to the Dealer's Room to shop. I love the Dealer's Room - it is amazing to see all the different booths with such a variety of anime merchandise! We picked up a few manga (I was so excited to get the third special edition Kizuna!), doujinshi, and figures. It was especially fun to get the Red XIII figure, which we did not even know existed, and to get the Last Exile Alex trading figure. Since they come in a closed box it is neat when you are able to correctly guess which one you don't have yet. We also picked up the Adventures in Voice Acting DVD, which we had been waiting to get for a long time. After the Dealer's Room, we headed back home with all our stuff to get ready for Day 2.
Day 2 - Saturday (8/9)
We didn't really have anything that we definitely had to do for Day 2 since we had already seen the Yuri Lowenthal panel the day before, and that was the only panel was must see for us. So we started this day with the Otaku Cafe while we waited for the line to the Dealer's Room to start moving. After listening to some more karaoke, we went through the Dealer's Room and the Artist's Alley, and got quite a few things in the Dealer's Room. We were really excited to find some Kyo Kara Maoh merchandise, which was mixed in a display case with a whole bunch of stuff from some other anime. We found that when you're looking for stuff from the less mainstream titles, you really have to search, but there is stuff for it somewhere. We even found little Ban and Ginji (Get Backers) pins and notepads! After we finished shopping, we went and had lunch and then watched some more karaoke in the Otaku Cafe for awhile. We then headed to an Asian Ball-Jointed Doll workshop, where they explained basic care info and then taught us how to make fur wigs. Our wigs turned out a little too big for Shuichi, but it was enjoyable to learn how to make them. Afterwards, we decided to kill some time in the Dealer's Room before getting dinner and bought quite a few manga (including the Japanese double editions of Yellow!).
Our dad came to meet us for dinner and so we all went to the Inner Harbor to eat at Pizza Uno. On the way there we took lots of photos of cosplayers and of Shuichi. And it is still a lot of fun to eat in a restaurant and see not only a bunch of cosplayers eating in the same place, but also the tourists who had no idea what was going on looking at everyone.
Day 3 - Sunday (8/10)
There wasn't really a whole lot going on on Day 3 that we wanted to do, so we spent some time in our new favorite place, the Otaku Cafe, after arriving. We stayed there until we got bored and then we went to watch some anime in the Video Rooms. We saw the end of an episode of "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya", which we ended up buying a few weeks later and really enjoyed. We are big fans of Crispin Freeman and Johnny Yong Bosch, and they both played main characters in the series. We then saw a bit of a very strange anime that started after it, but the plot was too confusing so we left and decided to shop in the Dealer's Room again for awhile. We finally bought the Vincent Valentine figure on this day, after figuring out which booth had it for the best price over the course of the weekend. We left the convention earlier than we had planned, but there never seems to be a whole lot going on on the last day of Otakon, and it closes earlier than the other days anyway.
So anyway, we had a great time at Otakon 2008, apart from a few annoyances, and can't wait to go back next year. Since last year was our first convention, it was nice to have already done it once so we knew what to expect this year. In some ways it was not as fun as last year, but in other ways it was more fun. It would have been nice if there had been a few more guests that we were familiar with, but they did have a good amount of guests to see. We really loved seeing Yuri Lowenthal! Otakon 2008 was a great one, and we can't wait to go back next year!