We stayed at the Hilton again this year (can’t beat the convenience, even with a broken ice machine on our floor) and checked in once we arrived in Baltimore. We decided to eat dinner before getting in line to pick up our badges and headed over to the Inner Harbor to eat at Pizza Uno. Our waitress was super nice and commented on how she liked Sebby and wanted to get a ball jointed doll. Sebby was dressed in his new cosplay, as a Nopera/Pictoponian from Hetalia. An America cosplayer we passed in the hall even recognized him, and I thought that was fun. After dinner we headed back to the convention center and got in line. Unfortunately, it was a lot longer than the one we had passed by on our way to eat, but we lined up anyway. It was unbelievably hot out, but we eventually got inside and got our badges. And after seeing the line the next day for badge pickup, we really have no room at all to complain. We thought the badge selection was a little disappointing again, but we do enjoy being able to choose one. We picked Eureka Seven and Dragon Age for our badges.
Day 1 - Friday (7/27)
We ate breakfast in the restaurant at the hotel, and our waitress there also commented on how cute she thought Sebby was (although she thought he was a girl, and dressed up as a Teletubby). After getting into the convention, we walked around for awhile and took photos of all the cosplayers that we recognized. There were some amazing cosplays this year; someone even brought a nearly life sized Tardis (from Doctor Who) in with them! We were very excited when we saw two guys dressed up as Tulio and Miguel from The Road to El Dorado, and judging by the reactions of the other people there, we weren’t the only ones!
The first thing other than take photos that we did was go to Ota-chan, where we made origami flowers. We both had trouble following the directions in the books, so we ended up making flowers that Jen already knew how to make. Afterwards, we went to the Ota-café and spent some time there while they were still setting up.
We headed up to the fourth floor to spend some time at the doll meet, organized by members of the Den of Angels Ball Jointed Doll forum. We took some pictures of Sebby and also of the other dolls that were there. I always enjoy meeting other doll owners and seeing their dolls in person. Everyone was really nice and there was a nice variety of dolls in attendance. This was the only meetup that we were able to make during the con, and we were happy that there was a pretty good sized turnout. After the doll meet we went and caught the second half of the Hidetaka Tenjin panel. We were not familiar with his work (other than the Gundam references in Sgt. Frog), but we always like to see as many different panels as we can. He is an illustrator in Japan and has done work on Macross, Gundam, and many other series. The audience had a lot of good questions for him and the panel was very interesting. The funniest part was when someone came in dressed in an elaborate cosplay, and he was like ‘what just walked into the room!?’. We always enjoy the translator that was in this panel and thought he did a great job, as usual.
The Artist's Alley and Dealer's Room were great fun, as always. We bought some amazing Hetalia (USxUK) prints from one of my favorite fan artists, Haku. Her work is absolutely gorgeous (we already had two of her prints hanging on our wall), and the new prints are now hanging up alongside them. We also met amubleu again and bought a sweater for Sebby. Her sweaters are so adorable and I love the quality of her work. In the Dealer's Room, we spent a lot of time walking around and bought a lot of stuff. Our favorite purchase is probably the Grell figure that we’ve been wanting for over a year now. He is perfect and we are happy to finally have him! We were also excited to find two keychains from Chocobo Racing/Chocobo’s Dungeon: Golem and Chubby Chocobo. I was also really happy to find two Nabari No Ou prints and notepads. That series is harder to find merchandise for then I had thought it would be, so anything I can find for it is always good.
After the Artist's Alley, we went to line up for Jason David Frank’s panel. Once we finally got inside, a great time was had by all. He seemed very genuine and sincere in his appreciation for the fans, and told lots of stories about Power Rangers and his career. It was very funny to see him prank call a cab company on someone’s phone as the Green Ranger whose Zord had broken down. I don’t think the cab company thought it was very funny, but everyone in the audience sure did! His panel was very entertaining and we were very glad to get the chance to see it.
We then attended J Michael Tatum’s panel, which we were happy to get to see, because we only caught a few minutes of his panel at last year’s Otakon. We did see him at Anime USA last year, and we must say we enjoyed the crowd at Anime USA much more. Why did someone in the audience have to ask him to wear cat ears and say ‘meow meow’ after every question? I like that the guests are willing to have fun with the audience, but why would someone even think to ask that of a guest? He did, of course, and then we had to spend the entire panel with the audience saying ‘meow meow’ after almost every question when he forgot. However, he is always an entertaining panelist, and we enjoyed seeing him wear the cowboy hat (to block the bright lights) and walk the runway.
Day 2 - Saturday (7/28)
Day 2 started much the same way Day 1 did, in that the first real thing we did was stop by Ota-chan. We colored in some anime pictures before heading down to the Artist's Alley to shop. We found an amazing booth this year that had multiple binders literally filled with artwork to browse through. We bought four of their large prints from Doctor Who, Firefly, Hetalia, and Gravitation. Too bad we don’t have unlimited wall space at home, there are too many beautiful pictures! We also bought a USxUK art/sketchbook from a talented artist, who also drew a custom sketch and signed it.
We then went to see the panel for Aya Hirano, which was a lot of fun. She was adorable and the translator did a great job, especially when he had to handle someone asking an incredibly insensitive question. She was a very entertaining guest and we were glad that we got a chance to see her panel. One thing we really enjoyed about the panels this year was how, at least at the panels we saw, they had a big camera setup in the middle and would show the people asking questions on the screens. It made for some very funny moments when people in the audience would hide or make motions at the screens behind the panelists. It was also really helpful when you were sitting further back and would be able to see the panelist up close on the screen. Great addition for this year!
Day 2 was our big shopping day, so afterwards we headed down to the Dealer's Room where we picked up the Hetalia manga volume 3, a Hetalia artbook, a Kyo Kara Maoh artbook, and some other things. We also finally got the America and Austria trading figures we’ve been looking for. Now we just need Britain and our original set of Hetalia figures will be complete! We went out to the Inner Harbor to eat and walk around for a bit before heading in for the night.
Day 3 - Sunday (7/29)
The last day of Otakon was just as filled for us as the first two, because we had two voice actor panels that we wanted to see. We stopped by Ota-chan and the Ota-cafe again to kill time, and then headed over to the Ball Jointed Doll panel. It was fun to see all the different types of dolls, since the guests in attendance had all sat them on the table in front of the panelist. The panel was fun and served as a good introduction to newcomers to the hobby.
We then tried to line up for the Dealer's Room, but the line was so incredibly long that we just went to the Artist's Alley for a bit. We bought the "Rockets artbook/doujinshi from Haku and stopped by to show amubleu Sebby in his new sweater. Jen also bought a Germany keychain to go with her Italy one that she bought last year. We decided to forgo the Dealer's Room for this day after seeing the line extend all the way to the main lobby, and just headed upstairs to wait for the Mike Sinterniklaas panel. We got to see a group of guests LARPing in the hallway, which we thought was interesting since we had never really seen anyone doing it before.
Mike Sinterniklaas’ panel was very fun, as usual. He is a great panelist because he has such an easygoing manner and bounces around from topic to topic so easily. We haven’t seen him in too many things, but we always enjoy attending his panels. It was funny when someone asked him what brand his jeans were because they liked him, and he was like, ‘well, the only way I can tell you is to show you my butt’, and then he turned around so the guy could look at the label. He is just a really entertaining person to see and we hope he comes back again in the future.
We then got to see Brina Palencia’s panel, although we arrived a little bit late. She was really fun to see, especially because we got to see how easily she is able to do her character voices. It was amazing to see her just start talking in Chibitalia’s, Tamama’s, or Ciel’s voice. She is such an amazingly talented voice actress and has done work in most of our favorite anime. The panel was a lot fun and the audience was very respectful, even to the point where she was saying how everyone was being way too nice. It was a great way to end the con, and we were very glad to see her panel in person.
And so another year’s convention had ended, and it was a great time. Until the next one!
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