Otakon 2010 was a whole lot of fun! It was the first year we stayed in a hotel for the convention, so there was a lot less back and forth traveling each day than there usually was for us. We saw a lot of our favorite voice actors, bought a lot of neat stuff, and just had a good time.
For this year's Otakon, we decided to stay in a hotel for the convenience of being so close to the convention center. Every other year it just felt like we were spending so much time going back and forth, so we decided to try it out. We were very glad we did, because it was so nice to be right there! On Thursday afternoon we packed up all our stuff and headed into Baltimore. We stayed at the Hilton because we knew it was connected to the convention center. Check-in was super easy and fast and we had plenty of time to get dinner before heading over to badge pick-up. We had a nice time walking around the Inner Harbor, and had fun watching a pirate ship tour sail by with it's pirate music and water spraying out of the cannons. When we finished dinner and went to pick up our badges, we were very surprised to see that there was literally no line this year for pre-registration badge pick-up! We really just walked in, picked up our badges, and then headed back to the hotel. Not sure what they did differently this year, but whatever it was, it worked! We had not seen Hetalia at the time we picked our badges, but we had heard of it and knew it was a popular series. Since there were two badges for Hetalia we each picked a different one.
Day 1 - Friday (7/30)
Since we were staying right in Baltimore, we ate breakfast in our hotel before heading outside to get in line. Although the line the previous night for pre-reg pick-up was really fast, the line to get in this morning was the exact opposite. The line was so long, but it was fun to stand in it and see everyone in their costumes. Friday morning of the convention is always one of the most fun times of the weekend for me, because everyone is always so excited and getting into the swing of it. After we finally made our way inside, we walked around for a bit and took photos of the different cosplayers, as we usually do. We saw a lot of really good ones this year, although it was too bad we hadn't seen Hetalia yet at this point because we weren't able to fully appreciate all the great Hetalia costumes!
The first panel that we saw was for Patrick Seitz. We came in about halfway through and found him to be a really entertaining guy! We knew him from his role of Nekozawa in Ouran High School Host Club, and we now also know him from Hetalia as Germany, among other roles. He told a story about why he shaved his 'epic 'stach' (his mustache), and was really good at answering the questions from the audience. One person asked him to proclaim his love for Italy as Germany and he said (in a German accent) "I want to invade your borders" and it was really cute and funny.
After Patrick Seitz's panel we stayed in the room and saw Todd Haberkorn's panel. We loved him as Hikaru in Ouran, and of course we now also love him as Italy in Hetalia (we really love that show!!). He also put on a great panel and was really funny to watch. He included a video presentation in the beginning that introduced his work in various roles so everyone could get a sense of what he does and what he's been in. He also liked to spontaneously burst out into singing Lady Gaga songs, which was pretty funny. Far too many people in the audience asked obnoxious questions and requests (it's really getting old hearing everyone ask the guests to sing happy birthday to them or to say hi to their friend who couldn't make it to the con), but he handled them well. Todd Haberkorn got quite a few requests for lines to say as Hikaru to Kaoru, and that was pretty funny to watch. It was also fun to see Todd Haberkorn call Vic on his phone to tell him that we were all there watching his anime.
After Todd Haberkorn's panel, we rushed over to the panel room a little bit down the hall to see J. Michael Tatum's panel. He is one of our absolute favorite voice actors and it was really exiting to see him in person! We especially love his work in Ouran as Kyoya, and since then we've really liked seeing him in Hetalia (as France) and Nabari No Ou (as Raikou), among others. His panel was really funny because for some reason he started saying 'Daddy' after each person's question was answered and it became a running joke throughout the panel. He had some really interesting stories to tell about when he worked on some scripts, and we enjoyed his panel quite a bit.
The rest of the day was spent walking around the Convention Center and shopping in the Dealer's Room and the Artist's Alley. We bought a lot of really cool stuff and had a great time. The Artist's Alley has really become one of our favorite places to look around because they have a lot of unique stuff and most of the artists are really talented. We bought quite a few things on the first day (Captain Hammer and Dr. Horrible standees, a doll sweater, yaoi fan badges, Get Backers merchandise, and Final Fantasy VII action figure weapons, among other things).
Day 2 - Saturday (7/31)
Day 2 started out with a buffet breakfast in the hotel again, and we took some pictures of Sebby in there on this day. Sebby is one of my ball-jointed dolls, and I brought him along this year because he was much smaller and more lightweight than bringing Shuichi, who I brought the past two years. After walking around the Con and taking pictures of more cosplayers, we spent some time in Ota-chan, which we have always wanted to do but have never had much time for. They had a lot of different activities around the tables that you could do, but we decided to just color some anime prints that they had. The room was pretty empty, but another group of people in there were making kazoos, and some people joined us at our table when we were just finishing up.
Afterwards, we headed to the panel room where we were planning on staying for quite a few panels. We didn't catch all of Mike Sinterniklaas' panel, but what we saw was very entertaining. He was a very interesting guy and had some really involved stories, one including some fishermen who all caught crabs on the ship (and not the kind that comes from the ocean, either!). I don't remember the context of the story, but I do remember the story very well! I liked how he presented his panel, how he was just sitting cross legged on the table, because it made his panel seem much more intimate and less formal.
Stephanie Sheh's panel was next, and she also had a lot of interesting stories to tell. It was kind of annoying how tons of people in the panel room were talking and not paying attention because they were there to see Vic's panel, which followed hers. The person next to us, for example, kept talking to us about Vic while we were trying to listen to Stephanie Sheh. Anyway, she had a lot of entertaining things to tell, such as when she was writing scripts and sleeping on her bathroom floor to stay awake to write. This panel was also interesting for another reason, when someone asked if she would sign something for them now because the Dealer's Room was on fire. Her reaction was so funny and she texted someone on her phone asking, "Is the Dealer's Room on fire?". We were all very curious to know what had occurred, but we were thankful we weren't evacuated like the rest of the convention, because these panel rooms were in the Hilton. We found out later that the fire alarm had been pulled, and apparently a lot happened outside when the thousands of con-goers were evacuated into the streets of Baltimore.
After Stephanie's panel, we saw Vic Mignogna's panel. This was our second year seeing Vic (third panel, however), and he was good to see, as always. He showed a fun video that he made of his Edward Elric and Roy Mustang action figures, that started out as Vic dressed as Napoleon Dynamite. The video was kind of like those old Mr. Bill shorts, with Mustang always ending up in bad situations, although this was always because of Ed. It was fun that Travis Wilingham and Vic both did their characters voices.
After shopping some more in the Dealer's Room and buying lots more stuff (including a baseball Haruhi action figure and Ouran and Junjo manga), we went out for dinner in the Inner Harbor. Afterwards, we got some ice cream from an ice cream truck outside the Convention Center. Since the Artist's Alley was still open when we got back, we went down for a bit and bought a few more prints and a cute cactaur magnet.
Day 3 - Sunday (8/1)
No matter how much fun you have at the convention, it is inevitable that Sunday will arrive, and much sooner than you want it to. After we ate breakfast, we saw part of a fan panel before checking out of our hotel room. It was a Hetalia World Conference panel, and although we still hadn't seen Hetalia yet, it was really enjoyable! The fans involved did a great job and we hope that they return again next year. When it was finally time to check out, we rode up the elevator and it was funny because there was someone dressed up as Chewbacca inside. And when the elevator stopped at one of the other floors, two ladies got on and were like 'Chewbacca again?'. It was really funny because only at a convention can something as bizarre as Chewbacca in the elevator be met with something like that.
Since we had heard so much about Hetalia this weekend (and even bought some little figures for it), we decided to see the premiere of the english dub that was playing in one of the video rooms. We sat through a bit of a strange anime before it, and then when Hetalia came on we really weren't sure what to think. The show was so fast paced and the episodes were really short, and it was just so all over the place. Everyone in the room was laughing throughout, but we were having a hard time keeping up with it and catching all the jokes with the accents that the characters had. However, even though our first impression of it was a little weird, we knew that we would like it once it came out on DVD and we could see it at home without any distractions. And sure enough, that was the case. Hetalia is now one of our most favorite anime, and we hope they play it again at a future con so we can appreciate it like everyone else did.
When we were in the Dealer's Room finishing up our shopping (and trying to find a Mikuru figure from the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), we were very lucky to run into someone. After finally spotting Mikuru at one of the stands, the vendor gave us a Hetalia card and explained how another booth in the Dealer's Room had the rest of the set. We headed to the Funimation booth to get the rest, and as we were heading for the exit, we saw J. Michael Tatum walking around. We were very excited to see him and asked if we could take our picture with him. He was very sweet and let us each take a photo and we told him how much we loved his work in Ouran. He was so nice to us and we were so excited when we left that we had met one of our favorite voice actors! It was just such a coincidence too, because we spent all weekend looking for that figure, and if we had found it at any other point, we wouldn't have been heading out of the Dealer's Room at that exact time.
Although the convention came to an end, we had had a great time and did a lot of fun things. Each year we seem to find more and more things to enjoy about it, and we hope that it continues to be as much fun for many years to come.
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