Otakon was, as usual, a really fun convention. This year was the year of Johnny Yong Bosch for us, because we ended up seeing a panel or show of his each of the days of the con. “Trigun” was the very first anime that we watched, so we have been long time fans of Johnny and were really excited when we found out he was going to be a guest. We brought my ball-jointed doll Sebby with us again, and this year he cosplayed as Chibitalia from “Hetalia”!
Usually Thursday for us just consists of badge pick-up and check-in at the hotel, but this year Otakon sponsored a Matsuri Festival during the afternoon and early evening. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we were looking forward to seeing Eyeshine perform. We first checked into the hotel and then went to eat in the Inner Harbor before returning to the Convention Center. The festival turned out to be very small, with just a few booths and a stand selling food, but there were bands performing throughout. There were not a lot of people hanging around, so we got right up next to the stage to see Johnny and Eyeshine! We have always bought their albums, but seeing them in person really gave us a new appreciation for them. They sounded really good and Johnny was very funny talking to the crowd. After a few songs we left to go pick up our badges (it was really hot out!), and were happy to once again find practically no line. The choice of badges was kind of disappointing this year, but we can’t really complain because at least you do get a choice. We headed back out to the Matsuri afterwards to see the end of the concert, but it turned out that it had just ended when we arrived. People were lining up beside the stage to meet Eyeshine and get merchandise, so we decided to give it a shot. We stood in line for over an hour, but we finally got to meet them! We purchased their album “Tone of Echoes”, and they signed the album and our Otakon program. We asked if we could get a picture with them because we had seen other people in front of us get one, but Johnny asked that we return the next day to do that since it was getting late. He let us get a picture of him, however. They were troopers because they stayed until everyone in line met them and it was really hot out, especially for them after having just performed. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for the night. Hopefully having the Matsuri Festival on the Thursday will become an annual tradition, because it was great to have more things to do before the con even starts. Before Day 1 we had already seen Eyeshine perform and gotten their autographs!
Day 1 - Friday (7/29)
We attended the Hetalia Model UN Conference panel because we had seen a really good Hetalia fan panel last year, and because we wanted to get good seats for Johnny Yong Bosch’s panel. The panel turned out to be not so great, and if Johnny’s panel hadn’t followed it I don’t think we would have stuck around. They had a really good premise, but the whole execution of the panel just did not work for us. It was not fun to watch people tally up votes from the audience in response to questions, and it didn’t make any sense why they had duplicates of some characters. Why they had three Hungary's sitting at the main table, but no Germany or Italy, was beyond us. The guy who played Prussia did an excellent job, however, and we were very impressed by his performance. Aside from him, the panel was a disappointment to us, and just did not capture the essence of “Hetalia”.
Johnny’s panel, which followed, was excellent and definitely worth waiting for. He is such a good storyteller and was really good with the audience. We found it really refreshing how much he embraces his Power Ranger past, and always welcomes questions and comments from the fans about it. A lot of people really enjoyed that show and his character, so it was nice to see that he did not look down on or try to get away from it. During his panel he got out his guitar and began singing his answers to questions, which everyone seemed to really enjoy. The hour seemed to fly by and we left it very happy to have seen it! Afterwards we hurried over to J Michael Tatum’s panel, where we caught the last two minutes. We had wanted to see both Johnny and J Michael Tatum, but decided to see Johnny’s because we saw J Michael Tatum last year. However, the last two minutes were fun (he was talking about Black Butler), so it was too bad they were scheduled at the same time!
After the panels we shopped around in the Dealer's Room for awhile and got a lot of merchandise from Black Butler, Hetalia, and a few other shows. We then went to the Voice Actor Story time panel, where we got to see J Michael Tatum and Scott Freeman, along with a few other voice actors that we were not familiar with. This panel sounded interesting because it was going to be the voice actors reading scenes, so we wanted to see it. It was fun, but some of the stories that they were telling went on too long and some of the voice actors did not get to read very much. We also thought it would have been better if they read scenes from more comedic stories, because it would have been a bit easier to follow. We left near the end after J Michael Tatum had finished. Afterwards, we headed to the Inner Harbor for dinner and then shopped in the Artist's Alley. There we bought some more Hetalia merchandise, along with a bunch of art prints, pins, and doll clothes. We were very excited to pick up some art from Big Wind Up!
Day 2 - Saturday (7/30)
Day 2 started with the Hetalia: Ask a Nation fan panel, because we wanted to give another Hetalia panel a shot. However, this one involved a lot of screaming fangirls and silly questions, so we left early and went to see Uncle Yo's Con Survival panel. His panel explained different ways to get to a con, what to bring, and other things to make sure that you think about. He was pretty funny and the panel was enjoyable. We then went and spent some time in Otachan, where we colored some pictures until we got in line for the Durarara panel. Although we have never seen Durarara, we wanted to go to this panel because Johnny Yong Bosch was a participant. Patrick Seitz was also one of the guests, and he drew a picture of Crispin Freeman that they kept talking about during the panel. It was a fun panel and they talked a lot about the show and showed some bloopers and favorite fan scenes.
We then went to the Artist's Alley where we bought some gorgeous Hetalia posters, as well as some more keychains, prints, and other merchandise. It was very exciting to even find a postcard with art from Day of the Tentacle on it! We also went to the Dealer's Room, where a kind vendor let us trade our two duplicate Japan Hetalia trading figures we had gotten the day before for some Haruhi Suzumiya keychains. We ended up buying more Hetalia and Black Butler stuff while we were there.
After shopping, we went to see Patrick Seitz's panel. We had already seen him earlier in the day, but last year we only caught the end of his solo panel, so it was fun to see the whole thing this year. It was also fun because now we've seen him as Germany in Hetalia and Agni in Black Butler. He had a really fun panel, and we were glad that we got to see it. Afterwards, we went to eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (way too much food!), and then headed back to the con to see the Eyeshine acoustic concert.
The Eyeshine concert was really fun, and it was neat to see the contrast between the acoustic set that was this night with the concert on Thursday evening. This concert was really entertaining, the band sounded good, and the fans all seemed to really enjoy it. The band told a lot of amusing stories and even made up some songs on the spot based on audience suggestions.
Day 3 - Sunday (7/31)
Day 3 started out with making crafts in Otachan. We made a frog and a bunny out of the foam and paper kits that they had. My frog's eyes wouldn't stay on with the glue that they had, but it was fun to make them anyway. Afterwards we went to a panel with three Japanese directors as guests, which was a really good panel. We hadn't seen any of their work before, but they had a lot of interesting stories and the translators were fun, as always.
And what would the last day of this con be without seeing Johnny Yong Bosch? We stayed in the panel room to see the Eyeshine Q&A, which was really fun. We were surprised that there weren't very many people in the room, but the last day of the con always seems to have less people in all of the panels. The band did one of their songs acoustically, and even made up a song about one of the people that they met the night before that they didn't like after he stood in line to insult them. The panel was very enjoyable and you could see how much they really want to make it with their music.
Before leaving the con we went shopping again in the Dealer's Room, where we got a Nabari No Ou artbook, Gravitation and Nabari postcards, and Hetalia trading cards. We then headed home, after having another great year at Otakon. Until next year!!
To see the full size autographs and details, click on the images below to visit our autograph section.