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Con Sketching: Otakon 2008, Day 1
by Evan Miller on Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:40 am
Year 15: After an off year when the convention was sandwiched between Anime Expo and San Diego Comic Con, Otakon is back in its usual August time slot. Perhaps the most striking aspect of this con that one notices when arriving is the fact that other local businesses actually seem excited to have the convention here. Every single bar and shop on the main drag of Pratt Street has a "Welcome Otakon" or "Welcome Otaku!" sign out - even the bars, which probably can't even serve half the convention attendance legally. By the same token, when the streets were a bit crowded during rush hour this morning, Otakon volunteers were out on the streets to stop con attendees from jaywalking into someone's windshield. Seeing all that, I can't help but think how much nicer the world would be if every anime con had the kind of relationship with their host city that Otakon has with Baltimore.

Complaints: I have heard a few, and most of them are what you'd expect: the layout is confusing, certain places are hard to find, and it would be helpful if there were more signs to direct people. I've also heard the usual complaints about long registration lines, which (as usual) snaked around the entire south and east skywalks.

Hospitable: "American fans are always very polite. So many people try to speak Japanese with us, and if they want an autograph, they wait in line politely. In Japan, it's totally different."
- Animation Director Hiromi Matsushita, Otakon GOH

Just in case you're curious...: Here's a look at some of the hard-working ANN staff here to cover Otakon. From the top:

Mikhail, Events Correspondent and author of many panel reports and other con-related pieces. This man is a Karaoke wizard.

Jon Carrera, our Video Director (and appreciator of all things humorous).

Me, working on interview questions and chugging coffee. The expression conveys the sleep deprivation nicely.

Tom Carrera, brother of Jon, is once again on board to help with convention coverage this year. He hasn't been kissed by any cosplayers yet this year, but you never know... the con just started, right? And to his right, we have...

Christopher Macdonald! Chris is the head honcho of ANN. He doesn't show his enthusiasm like Tom, but don't worry - he's thrilled to be here!

Justin Sevakis is here too, but he was not there when the pictures were taken. Rest assured, I'll find some mildly hilarious picture of him to post later (as long as he doesn't threaten to kill me in the process...)
Re: Con Sketching: Otakon 2008, Day 1
by Kiriska on Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:29 pm
Considering last year's $23 million boost to Baltimore's economy and almost-a-recession we're in now, it's no surprise that the city is so welcoming to its thousands upon thousands of visiting otaku. But yeah, I really do wish more host cities had such a great relationship with their con. :3

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