Otakon 2009 Opening Ceremonies
by Mikhail Koulikov,
At most other anime conventions, the Opening Ceremonies is, logically enough, one of the first events on the schedule. In Otakon's case, on the other hand, the same event is usually held back until somewhat later in the day. This year, the doors of the Baltimore Convention Center room it was held in did not open until 3 p.m. - at least by which time, most of the line of attendees waiting to pick up their badges, which at one point almost completely wrapped around the BCC - had largely dissipated. In fact, one of the first things mentioned at the ceremony was that over 10,000 people had picked up their badges on Thursday night alone, and the total number of pre-registered attendees stood at just under 18,000.
Otakon has always promoted itself as being an event "by and for fans." And one of the distinct ways in which this motto gets expressed is through the creation of what are essentially Otakon-branded fan videos. The first of these, shown at the opening ceremonies, is a "guest video reel", highlighting the accomplishments of each of the convention's Japanese and American guests of honor. And this was followed by a truly unique piece of animation - a five-minute short created specifically for Otakon by the anime studio Madhouse, using characters based on several long-time Otakon staff and sequences inspired by the classic Daicon IV animated short. (A third custom animated clip ran at the beginning of the convention's anime music video contest, and this one largely replicated both the Daicon IV short and the animated opening to the live-action Densha Otoko television series - which is itself a Daicon tribute). Unfortunately, the short's director, Takuji Endo, passed away earlier this month, and so, it can serve as a tribute to him as much as it does as an introduction to the Convention of the Otaku Generation.