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Otakon 98 Wrap-Up

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Otakon special report: A weekend of good times

Otakon, the anime convention that took place last weekend, had an extremely warm reception by fans.

While some complaints of long lines were made (that were quickly taken care of by convention staff), very few negative remarks were made, despite a few unforeseen problems. The planned theatrical showing of Macross Plus from 35mm prints was canceled as well as other things put into a panic due to alleged negligence on the part of Federal Express. The Macross Plus film, as well as planning materials, were lost and were not delivered on time as promised. (Otakon staff is looking into a possible lawsuit for theater fees, the cost of the lost materials, and damage to their reputation.)

Fans were especially impressed by the hotel's handling of the large crowd on elevators. "The hotel was one of the best I have had the enjoyment of staying in," one fan later mentioned on an anime-related mailing list.

Notable moments in the screening room included the showing of Evangelion: Death & Rebirth and End of Evangelion, subtitled by Black Box Productions off of Taiwanese VCD copies. While some fans objected to security measures taken to make sure piracy was kept in check, most everyone agreed that it was very well-done. The showing was popular enough that another one was added. In stark contrast, Mixx Entertainment's debut of their dub of Kenji's Spring, renamed "Spring & Chaos: The Story of Kenji Miyazawa" went over so poorly that an additional showing was canceled. "There was some amount of unrest," was how one convention-goer described its reception.

Despite this, Mixx's guest, director Shōji Kawamori, easily made for one of the convention's biggest moments. The director of such anime as Kenji's Spring, Macross Plus, and Vision of Escaflowne revealed that his first influential anime was the Lupin III series, followed by Space Cruiser Yamato (known as Star Blazers in the United States) and Gundam. Mecha designer for series like the original Macross, Kawamori mentioned that his goal was "to create mecha that were as close to reality as possible." Although he arrived late from Brazil (where he was researching Aztec ruins for a future project), Kawamori was so well-received that his Q & A session had to be moved to a larger room.

Among the announcements made by commercial companies was Viz's Toshifumi Yoshida's hint that the license for the long sought-after series Video Girl Ai was near completion. Unable to be licensed previously due to what has been described as Shueisha's intolerance for American companies, it is thought that the deal was made possible by Viz's handing over of their video division to Pioneer for distribution. The "Shueisha barrier," as it came to be known, was first broken by Pioneer for their release of Bastard!!.

Mixx Entertainment announced that the Sailor Moon would be leaving its main magazine for a spinoff magazine entitled "Smile", which will be aimed at shojo fans, while Bakuretsu Hunters and Gundam will join Mixxzine. Fandom mainstay Steve Pearl announced his entering the market with the company Fujikansei and their first release, Dragon League, a fantasy/sports hybrid. Right Stuf announced their impending release of the spooge-fest "Cool Devices", a title that Kitty Media front man John Sirabella decided was too risque for his line, which announced the titles Sexorcist and My Fair Masseuse. AD Vision announced the original Dirty Pair TV series and new Softcel titles, including new New Angel episodes and a new Angel of Darkness OAV entitled "Idol Singer of Darkness".

Doug Price mentioned that Thomas Cardwell's notorious Shampoo costume was stolen. Other memorable moments included a Mystery Science Theater'ed version of Battle Arena Toshinden, a fanfic panel discussing the trend of longer stories and the difficulties of writing believable sex scenes, and the English cast of Neon Genesis Evangelion admitting to not understanding the last two episodes at all.

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