Otakon 2013
Opening Ceremonies

by Crystalyn Hodgkins,

The opening ceremonies kicked off to a packed room with several dance performances by the members of the Chin Hamaya Culture Center. Con Chair Terry Chu then came on stage to talk about this being the 20th anniversary of Otakon as an event. Chu thanked the audience, since, as he noted, the convention is for the fans. The staff then played a guest reel video to announce all the guests attending this year's convention, including: Shingo Adachi, Peter S. Beagle, Maile Flanagan, Crispin Freeman, Tsukasa Fushimi, Todd Haberkorn, Kyle Hebert, Hiroyuki Kanbe, Tetsuya Kawakami, Roland Kelts, Kaoru Kurosaki, Masao Maruyama, Mike McFarland, Vic Mignogna, Kazuma Miki, Masayuki Ozaki, TAKAMASA Sakurai, Jad Saxton, Tomokazu Seki, Micah Solusod, Michihiko Suwa, Yuzuru Tachikawa, Cristina Vee, and Shinichiro Watanabe, as well as special guests Ken Iyadomi, Shin Kurokawa, Trish Ledoux, Kevin McKeever, Robert Napton, David Williams, and Toshifumi Yoshida, and musical guests Home Made Kazoku, T.M. Revolution, Chiaki Ishikawa, and Yoko Kanno.

Next, some of the guests came on stage to greet the audience, and Guest/Industry Relations Director Jim Vowles introduced each one. First up was voice actors and voice actresses Maile Flanagan, Vic Mignogna, Crispin, Jad Saxton, Micah Solusod, Kyle Hebert, Cristina Vee, as well as writer Roland Kelts. Next was Shingo Adachi, Tetsuya Kawakami, Hiroyuki Kanbe, Tsukasa Fushimi, Michihiko Suwa, Yuzuru Tachikawa, Todd Haberkorn (who came on stage dressed as Superman), and Chiaki Ishikawa.

After coming up on stage, each person then introduced themselves. Ishikawa congratulated Otakon on its 20th anniversary, and asked that everyone come to her concert on Sunday. Fushimi (the original light novel author for Oreimo), said he had heard there was a great “otaku festival” in Maryland and said he really wanted to come, and he hopes everyone enjoys the festival. Kanbe, the director of the Oreimo anime, reminded the audience that the convention is streaming the final episodes of the series before the episodes air in Japan, so he hopes that everyone is able to come. Adachi (the character designer for Sword Art Online) said he was looking forward to watching the English dub of Sword Art Online, which is screening at the convention. Adachi said that he heard that there were a lot of Sword Art Online fans in the United States, so he decided to tear himself away from his work and come to the convention. Kawakami, chief animation director for Sword Art Online, said he was very impressed with the quality of the cosplay here in the U.S. Solusod reminded the audience that Otakon will screen the English dub premiere of Wolf Children.

Vowles then showed a video of Rurouni Kenshin author Nobuhiro Watsuki, who said he was asked to come to the convention, but unfortunately couldn't due to his work schedule. His face wasn't shown in the video, but he was shown holding a ginger cat, which his wife later noted made him look like Dr. Evil. Watsuki said he donated a colored art piece to the con's charity auction. Watsuki's wife Kaoru Kurosaki then came on stage. Kurosaki, who is an author as well and has helped her husband in his work, said that Otakon is hosting a collection of 130 original manuscript pages of Watsuki's works. Kurosaki will also be in attendance at the live-action Rurouni Kenshin film screening at Otakon.

Vowels then thanked all the Otakon guests for coming, and Chu came back on stage and asked anyone who had been to every single Otakon since the beginning to stand (there were a handful in the audience). Chu then invited some of the previous con chairs and presidents on stage and introduced each one. Chu then invited the current president, Andrew Earnhardt, on stage, who then gave a speech to end the opening ceremonies.

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