Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Otakon 2011 Recap

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST IS ONLY TO BE READ BY PEOPLE 18 YEARS OLD OR OLDER. What with all the recent Facebook friends I made they are still in highschool, I feel like this disclaimer is necessary. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR CHILD READING THIS, THEY WERE WARNED.

So I'm going to do something I rarely do, which is blog about my actual life for once. 3 weekends ago I attended Otakon, the largest anime convention on the east coast (and like the second or third largest in the US) at the Baltimore Convention Center. I wanted to write this post sooner, but exhaustion from the con prevented me the week after, and then I went to volunteer as a counselor at summer camp for a week. So now that I've had 2 vacations in a row and 4 more days off from work, let's do this to distract from the fact I might not be able to pay my bills this month.

I started attending anime conventions in 11th grade of high school, and was able to get in 5 great cons before my college years started. As a little old high school, my first 4 cons consisted of being dropped off for Saturday only by my little mommy and daddy, run around like a wide-eyed puppy showing off my costume, watching AMVs, and waiting waaaaaay too long in line for the masquerade skit show at night. I dreamed of one day being old enough to:
a)spend all 3 days at a con
b)sleep in the same hotel the con took place in so I could just walk upstairs for changing, food, relaxing, whatever
c)be with friends (I hung out with very little otaku in high school)
d)make and wear an awesome, complicated costume that got tons of respect and not just another human character made out of Goodwill and Walmart purchases.
e)drink and be merry (OK, that's a lie, I wasn't excited about drinking in high school, because despite my asshole-ness I'm pretty Lawful Neutral)
f)...... stay up all night going to 18+ panels.... I might not have admitted that hentai is great until my fellow otaku in college gave me the courage too, but yeah, who doesn't want to watch porn all night at a con?

Now I did some of these things at various cons. My fifth con, my first Otakon, was a 3 day affair with my family. I did my first group cosplay (Inuyasha) at my 4th con, and have been sharing hotel rooms with friends since my second Otakon. My Missing No. cosplay was made out of cardboard, but still really fun, weird, and got a lot of glomps. And just ask my March 20th, 2011 self how his two-days-of-drinking hangover felt, and he might throw up on you a little. But I've never slept in the same hotel as the con, and I've never done all these things at the same time. This Otakon was the first time I combined all these high school desires (and it was at Otakon, the best con EVAR, so that made it extra special). Yet, I couldn't get super excited before the con. I spent the whole summer worrying about money and if I could make it to the con without starving my wife at the same time. So it put a damper on the experience from the start.

Driving down on Thursday, I hung out with some local friends until my college buddies whom I was rooming with showed up. We had our traditional Thursday night dinner at a secret Thai place that isn't on the Otakon dining guide so we can also get a seat. I had a great time catching up with my friends. Someone touched a dead bird found on the street. Good times were had by all.

Friday started awesome. I decided to fuck it and not join the hallway costume contest (which would have been my first time), which means I'll probably never do it. It just seems like a waste of time at such a large and fun filled con. Watched some of a Case Closed movie, and caught the rest of a Pokemon panel teaching what it takes to be a professional trainer. It involves timing, patience, random number generators, and a little bit of cheating. Don't think I'll ever get into it. Next I got into my new costume, Excalibur from Soul Eater. Here's a picture of the character, and of me in costume:

It was definitely my best costumes yet, and probably my favorite to wear as well. It was hot as shit, and couldn't wear the headpiece for longer then 30 minutes, but oh well. Cosplay=love, cosplay=pain. The rest of the night was filled with food, a little drinking, Friday Night Fan Parodies, and a hilarious hentai panel. More on that later.

Saturday was also fun filled, with more costume wearing, trips to the dealer's room, and getting to watch the premiere of the English dub of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya movie, the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Some people don't like watching movies in large groups, what with assholes making lame jokes at the screen and such. But I love it, and I think it's one of my favorite parts of conventions. If the movie is bad or a little cheesy, it becomes live-action Mystery Science Theater 3000. If the movie's good, like the Haruhi movie is, you get to witness all the people watching the movie for the first time gasp and give standing ovations at every major plot twist. It feels cathartic sharing my love with total strangers. It's what cons are all about, and it's why I always try to make midnight showings of comic book movies, same experience there.

Hentai panels are usually hit or miss. For example, at the last con I went to in March the Friday night panel I went to was called "Yuri Doing it Wrong", a panel promising to point out how lame most Yuri (lesbian action) panels are, but it just devolved into creepers talking about their favorite pr0ns. We heckled it and left. The next night was "Hentai 101" and it was funny, informative, and I won a bottle of Tentacle Grape which I brought with me this time to invent a drink called "Tentacle Rape"

1 shot crappy tequila
pour over ice in a highball (err...hotel room) glass
fill the rest with Tentacle Grape
garnish with Twizzlers
(I'll upload a photo once I find it)

This con, I was lucky enough to go to two great hentai panels (the trick is making them funny, not sexy, panelists. We don't actually want to masturbate in public). Friday night was "Beyond the Tentacle: Exploring Japanese Fetishes". It was run by some stand-up comedians, +2 Comedy, so it was hilarious!!! Most of the fetishes I already knew about, like foot fetishes, Rule 34, vore, guro, etc. But there was a brand new fetish they told us about, and I couldn't stop laughing every time they said the name "Karate Girls vs. Rape Team". Two female blackbelts are stuck in a room and must defend themselves for 5 minutes against 10 men trying to rip their clothes off. Every minute they last, the girls get another $1000 or something. If their clothes get ripped off though, 10 MORE MEN enter the room and they gangbang the two girls. Oh Japan, you so crazy. The panelists couldn't find any videos or pictures to show us, as they showed that when you Google Image Search "Karate Girls vs. Rape Team", you inexplicably get pictures of random cosplayers, Smurfs, and Morgan Freeman. "I am Morgan Freeman, and I enjoy Karate Girls vs. Rape Team". Disclaimer: half of the people I tell this story to don't seem to realize it's probably not real rape. It's not like Japanese porn producers drive to dojos to kidnap blackbelts. Some porn stars enjoy gang bang. It's a thing. They ended the panel with a DISGUSTING video of a wasp monster impregnating an animated girl with tentacles, and then a girl offering herself to a bizarre parrot monster with a penis drill on the end of it's tail. The +2 Comedy guys said "And that folks, is what you show your kids when they ask you about the Birds and the Bees" *rimshot*! On Saturday I was dragged to a panel with the girls of my group to "A Ladies Guide to Hentai". It was a girl power tribute to hentai made for women, with tender sex scenes and... shudder... some Yaoi scenes. Thanks girls, for making me sit through male creampie. You're lucky years of Rocky Horror Picture show mostly desensitized me to that stuff.

Sunday was great, out of shear luck and mistakes in the Otakon scheduling, I was able to sit with my friend in the front row for both a panel on the beginning of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers with it's main producer/writer Tony Oliver. He showed us awesome shit like the embarrassingly awkward audition tapes for the original casts. Luckily someone else asked the question I thought too rude to ask "Did you realize you cast a black man as the Black Ranger and an asian woman as the Yellow Ranger?" Oliver shook his head and groaned. "Saban Entertainment was actually a very multicultural company, with people frequently going over episodes in different languages. Suddenly, after episode 50, we were sitting in a writer's meeting and suddenly all went 'OH SHIT WHAT HAVE WE DONE!!!!' Lucky TV Guide didn't notice for another year and a half" I asked him what the Japanese original creator of the show thought about how successful it was in America, and he said "At first, he was really upset with what we were doing with his show. Then we cut him his $300,000 check. He liked us after that". It was a great panel, showed us the inside scoop on our childhood, and made me feel especially great when he said he gave up and left the show at the same time (and for the same reasons) I gave up and stopped watching the show.
Next was the Brentalfloss panel. Brentalfloss is a guy who makes an awesome video series called "What if _____ Had Lyrics?", writing lyrics for classic video game songs and performing them himself (he plays the music on his piano too). He's a bit of a celebrity in the video game community so it was awesome being that close to him. He admitted he was tired and in a grumpy mood, thus he shared with us a lot of his personal feelings, his fears, and his hopes of Broadway for the future. We got to see the man behind the mask, and it was moving. He showed us the work-in-progress for one of his October releases, "What if Ghosts 'N'Goblins Had Lyrics?". Then a fan asked him "I hate to be THAT guy, but could you please make an Earthbound or Pokemon song sometime". Silent, Brentalfloss hit a button on his computer and grabbed a mic. WE CHEERED. He then belted out an unreleased song to the tune of the Pokemon anime theme, called "STDs: Gotta Catch 'em All!" IT WAS HILARIOUS! I embarrassed myself trying to talk to him afterwards, like I always do with famous people I meet, but oh well.

So was this con everything I dreamed? Did I finally fill fulfilled? Strangely enough, it was really fun but it didn't feel extra special. My con-going skills are experienced now, I went to 9 different events as opposed to just buying things and people watching like many newbies do, and I never wasted time waiting in any line for longer then 20 minutes. I should feel ecstatic, but it just felt.... normal.

I think that's an indicator that I actually have arrived at where I wanted to be as a new con-goer back in high school. The fact that I spent a great weekend at one of the most magical and amazing events in fandom felt like a regular occurrence to me means that I'm no longer a journeyman. I'm an experienced, well-seasoned con-goer now. Whether that means cons will start to feel old and boring or if I'll just love them more is too soon to tell. For now, I'll just be happy with where I'm at and how far I've come. Til next Otakon.

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