Otakon 2014 was a roller coaster in 2014. Many attendees are regulars who know the routine of attending Otakon. Reserve your hotel a year in advance and take three days off from your job so you can go down to Baltimore on Thursday morning to pick up your tickets. As planned, my friends and I arrived in Baltimore, Maryland before 12pm on August 7th. We checked into our hotels and then grabbed some food from nearby. We then scouted the Baltimore Convention Center to see if the line for badge pickup was forming yet. We were advised to come back at 4pm. So we enjoyed a little bit of Otakon’s Thursday Matsuri festivities and then headed to the hotel pool to cool off. After wandering Charm City for a little bit we made our way to BBC for the biggest surprise ever: Line Con. By now, everyone reading this should have heard about the intense lines wrapping abound BCC. My friends who didn’t stick with my group had already been on the line for four hours by the time I went to get my badge. After about two hours of my standing in line Otakon staff told us that the line was closing at 10:30. At 12pm my friends sent me text messages saying they saw no end in sight – that there were lines of people ahead of them filling up rooms inside the convention center. I was halfway down the outside line at this point when tired and frustrated Otakon staff told us we should go home. Unfortunately, I was part of the group of people waiting on line who did not get line skip passes for Friday morning. When I found out a good chunk of pre-registration folks received line skip passes, I was just about ready to pack up and head back to New York. Around 1am my friends who were already inside the BCC sent text messages saying they got free t-shirts for waiting and their badges. Meanwhile, us outside folks simply lost a day’s pay if you took off to come down on Thursday and five hours of waiting outside in the crazy Baltimore heat. I thought to myself that if I got up early Friday morning I could hope to get my pass before 11am. Unfortunately, going on line at 7am didn’t do a thing to achieve my goal since the line was still insanely slow and wrapped around the center three times. I believe I finally got my badge at around 11:30. So I missed the panels I was interested in because I then had to go back to my room to get into my cosplay. Aside from Line Con, I really don’t have much memory of Friday since I can’t recall any panels that interested me in the afternoon. I mostly walked around the sales floor and Artist Alley.
Saturday was dubbed Sailor Moon Day by Otakon and Viz Media. In the morning they had a Sailor Moon photoshoot which I deemed far too early for me to attend (really? 10am? C’mon!). The Sailor Moon panel at 12pm lasted three hours. It was packed and filled with energy. Everyone who attended the panel received a beautiful poster printed on a heavy weight, stiff paper.
Viz screened three episodes of the new dub and discussed the new dvd set and the various events going on for Sailor Moon Day. For the entire weekend of Otakon Viz was hosting a scavenger hunt. To get the coveted rose gold coin Viz has been flaunting since San Diego Comic Con, attendees had to search the sales floor and Artist Alley for Sailor Mars, Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus, Sailor Mercury, and Sailor Jupiter. Very few coins were given out over the first two days because Sailor Mars was trolling – everyone thought she was in the dealer’s room but she was actually in Artist Alley for some of Saturday. After about an hour of walking around and reading hints being posted to Twitter, I finally found all of the Senshi and returned to the Viz Media booth for my coin. While I found the scavenger hunt really clever, I also found it incredibly frustrating. Viz Media did so much more at San Diego Comic Con meanwhile Otakon is far more targeted to their niche market.
Saturday night is also the day Otakon hosts the very popular Masquerade. I cannot write about it from a viewer’s perspective since I was a Hall Costume Contest participant and Otakon staff did not plan ahead for us. The experience makes me wonder if I want to walk in the Masquerade at all next year. The Arena had a viewing room set up for participants and we were promised that we would have the opportunity to view the skits. Unfortunately, we spent most of the first half of the masquerade lined up in a hot and stinky parking garage. After we did our HCC fashion show(basically that is what it was), we were then ushered back into the hallway below the Arena where we were first congregated. The walk on list consisted of about 60 or more participants from the Hall Costume Contest; however, Otakon staff only reserved 40 seats! We were basically told if we wanted to see the Masquerade we would need to wait until people started leaving so we could fill in their seats. Really? Because I want to sit in the nose bleeds after being in a stuffy parking garage, right? So I left.
There you have it. My Otakon Masquerade 2014 experience. Not much of one as you can see. I couldn’t even tell you what my favorite skit was because I didn’t get to see any of them!
Sunday I slept in and checked out of my hotel room before heading back to the convention. By this point I was relieved that Otakon was coming to a close because the disorganization of this year left me tired and cranky. Sunday is usually a good day to try to buy swag on the cheap because dealers don’t want to bulk a lot of heavy things home. While I cannot speak from experience, I did hear that the convention center had the escalators turned off after Otakon ended. I am sure the dealers and artists had a ton of fun carrying their tables, unsold merchandise, and other items up two flights of stairs.
This sounds like a pretty negative retrospective of Otakon, doesn’t it? That wasn’t my intention although it seems that I can’t think of too many positive things to write about.
I will say this much: I already have my room reserved for Otakon 2015. It’s an addiction that you just can’t stop.