08/08/2006

“OMG! That’s CardCaptor Will!!!”: OTAKON 2006 (part 1)

by Matthew Hawkins

NOTE: I’ve decided to split my Otakon report into two parts. Why? Because: A) people keep asking for it yet I’m still not done, and B) there’s too many pictures for just one post, so I figured maybe if I split them up, it might help, at least for those on slow connections (and 56K is still out there). I also figured that a good way to save money on my webhost bill would be to post all the pictures at Flickr and link towards them, but I’ve since discovered that its not such the best option after-all (it’s already gone down for me since uploading stuff since yesterday, and I’m pretty anal about such things). If I have the time, I should have part 2 up by later tonight. Besides, I know that no really reads what I write and just like looking at the pictures anyway…

So Otakon… was totally nuts. There’s really no other way to put it. For years I’ve heard numerous tales (and warnings) of this most insane of all WACKY JAPPY freak-fests: the sight of the morbidly obese in ill-fitting costumes, the pungent aroma (“Dear God… the smell.”), the horny 14 year old girls stalking their prey, to name a few. It was getting to the point that I began to seriously wonder how anything could possible live up such hype, but it did. It really did. And I’ve never been so hot and cold about a single con: one minute I’m having an absolute blast, relishing the spectacle of it all and the very next I’m so pissed and annoyed that I have to suppress the urge to punch someone. In the end, it truly encapsulated all that’s awesome and all that’s totally repugnant about anime, manga, and its fans. I don’t even know where to start, so I guess the best place might be the beginning….

Things started off after work on Thursday. Met up with Jeremiah in the city, took the PATH train to Hoboken, then hopped on a NJ Transit train to MK‘s town. While on-route, we discussed what we hoped to expect from the show, mostly by recounting war stories each of us had heard. Jeremiah also mentioned the one thing he was most looking forward at the show, aside from the chance to gawk at the promised army of bat-shit insane anime dorks, of course, and that was the 4chan panel. And what is 4chan? Well, its a website on the internet. But its a whole lot more; 4chan is a message board where people primarily post images, with an emphasis on anime and manga, though plenty of other stuff related to nerd and internet culture as a whole gets tossed about, and done so anonymously. It’s the English equivalent of 2chan, which is basically the most popular message board in the world, with around 10 million posts a day, and the HQ for all diehard Otakus in Japan (its such a big deal that stuff that happens there has become the basis of television shows in Japan, among other things). So with 4chan being the home for such folks here in America, its attracted the hardest of the hardcore online dorks, anime or otherwise. And because of the anonymity factor, the most truly insane shit imaginable gets posted on a regular basis (though its mostly super crazy hentai, like girls getting assaulted by 20 tentacles at a time, laying eggs, and getting their heads chopped off). Its also the birthing place for all the numerous internet jokes, or memes as the kids call them, running around today. So as Jeremiah explained some of these memes, which again I’ve seen bits and pieces elsewhere, so it was nice for the chance to finally connect some dots, as well as hear why 4chan is so amazing in general, my curiosity was piqued, given that I’m always fascinated by internet driven socialization in general (that and I too am a message board nerd).

Anyway, once we arrived in Allendale, MK picked us up, and soon Jeremiah got to witness the pre-show ritual for almost all indie comics folks: the mad multi-copy machine dance before Staples closes in 30 minutes. Afterwards we had pizza and a drive down to MK’s mom’s beach house where we would spend the night. As MK and her mother spoke, I finally got the chance to play some bitGeneration games which Jeremiah brought along (Dotstream was indeed very nice, as everyone had said, I liked Orbital even though I couldn’t really understand what I was doing, and I totally ate up Coloris, but since I’m a sucker for block puzzlers, that’s hardly a surprise). The next morning, before hitting the road, MK & I got to share yet another pre-show ritual/love affair of ours with Jeremiah: a trip to the Wawa. Him and his chiptunes buddies have their Taco Bell/KFC on 4th St and 6th Ave and we have our chicken sandwiches.

DAY 1

After some annoying traffic, we finally made it to the Baltimore convention center in the early afternoon (to beat the long line of nerds boiling in their costumes in the morning), and it took less than five minutes to discover the general ineptness of the folks who ran the show as well as the overly confusing layout of the place. Absolutely no one knew how to get us to the artists’ alley, and about five or so folks sent us on a wild goose chase (yes, there were maps, but when you’re tired, hungry, and carrying around boxes and suitcases full of boxes, its a tad bit hard to focus, plus there was very little signage anywhere). Anime dorks when volunteering at a show will often have this overly goofy and sheepish demeanor when admitting that they don’t know shit, and I think its suppose to make you sympathetic, but its sure as hell didn’t work on me. But eventually we did find one dude who knew where stuff was, and soon we were all set up. So while MK manned the table, Jeremiah ran off to take a closer look at army of cosplayers that were crawling all over the place. I was asked by numerous folks to take pictures, and that’s what I mostly did. The best part of the show was just walking around, to see who or what one might come across, and taking snapshots. We both wanted to concentrate on both total trainwrecks and cute girls, though I naturally was very interested in video game characters as well.

As much shit I give anime/manga dorks, cosplaying is something that I have no beef about and actually enjoy. Hell, everyone loves to play dress-up, and we all still have fond memories of Halloween. I personally see very little difference in someone trying to look like a Final Fantasy character at some convention and some dude on the street that’s dressed like a Yankees player. Though I’d be lying if I also didn’t admit that its funny to see costumes by folks totally ignorant to the truths regarding their body shape. I’m not saying that really fat people (and on that note, super skinny folks) shouldn’t cosplay, but just be smart about it. But in the end, there are worse things in life to do.

Still, if there’s one thing which I still can’t fucking stand is how some cosplayers, and nerds in general, have to regards about personal hygiene. I know that their get-ups can be pretty complicated, so maybe putting on deodorant or employing other tactics to make sure it doesn’t stink up too much is tricky, but whatever. It wasn’t even 2:00 and already certain spots were pungent.

But yeah, I took a shitload of pics. Again, the emphasis was on game characters and cute girls, so when the two combined, naturally photographic evidence had to be taken (so long as it wasn’t too cliched… I liked Katamari and all, but ask any longtime fan who’s been with the game since the very beginning and they’ll also tell you that its way too played out by this point). Jeremiah and I also did our best to avoid Naruto, or Naru-tards as they are called, but if some accidently seeped in, I apologize. Also, please excuse the blurriness of some pictures; my camera is crap.

Anyway, Final Fantasy characters were all the rage, naturally. Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2 was pretty popular (though not X, funny enough), and this one was perhaps the best….

And for guys, you had plenty of Bridgets, everyone’s cross-dresser from Guilty Gear…

Here’s Daisy, the “other” princess from Super Mario Bros, as she surveys her kingdo, (the game room). Everyone knows that Daisy kick’s Peach’s ass so much its not even funny….

It’s Sie and Ryo from KOF. Ryo’s jacket was very impressive…

Check out this guy’s Devil Jin get-up, from Tekken 5…

Here’s another Tekken character, Bryan. This dude was fucking dead-on, and might be fave cosplayer from the entire weekend…

Shinobi, from the PS2 game. Loved the costume, as well as the character design, but I really disliked the game….

All the Capcom characters got together for a group shot. The guy playing E. Honda was one of the clear winners of the whole show…

And here’s all the SNK characters…

Here I am with a girl as Kula Diamond, a fave character of mine from KOF. And yes, I know she’s really young…

The Toxic Avenger, Superman, and Godzilla, together at last. Note the Snakes on a Plan shirt being worn by Godzilla…

There weren’t too many American comic book characters running around, though that was to be expected. But here’s the always awesome symbiote suit Spider Man…

I didn’t forget the name, but here’s the girl with the big gun from Devil May Cry 3…

Hey look, more Final Fantasy characters! Naturally, Advent Children was pretty big…

Again, I don’t know where they’re from, but I thought the person (can’t tell if it was a guy or girl) in the center look pretty cool. EDIT:I now remember Jeremiah saying that its from manga called Death Note…

I didn’t know who this was either, till a few folks pointed out that its Kaori from Azumanga Daioh. Anyway, I thought she was cute, hence the pic…

Over the course of the day, I just kept seeing tons of girls with pink hair, just lounging around…

Speaking of lounging, one thing that Jeremiah kept an eye out for were opportunity to snap pictures of cosplayers where they were relaxing, or just doing stuff out of character. I know he was pissed when he just missed a Solid Snake at the ATM (EDIT: I was wrong, he did in fact that the picture; simply check out the comments below). I took one of a pair of Final Fantasy girls, and I had to pivot the camera up to just miss the cheeseburgers they were holding, and he was all “Dude, that’s the best part!” Anyway, here’s Sonic taking a nap….

Eventually I made my way to the dealers’ room, where they had plenty of stuff like this…

But there were some legitimately cool stuff as well, like one table seeing various doujin-softs. Here’s one with packaging that resembles Sega 3D Ages line for the PS2 in Japan…

There were some folks with games. One guy had a good selection of used import PS2, PSone, Saturn, Dreamcast, even old Super Famicom stuff. Prices were pretty high on some things, and dirt cheap with others. Jeremiah spoke to him first and ended up impressing the guy with his “hardcore” requests, such as Judegement Silversword and Recca. And later on, I ended up doing the same when I asked him about Radiant Silvergun, Rakugaki Showtime, Panorama Cotton, and assorted other stuff. The thing that really sucked for me was that I was dirt poor, otherwise, I might have picked up Radiant Silvergun, which he had, for $225. I also might have picked up KOF 2000 which some other guy had for only $30, but since I already have that for the PS2, it would have been a total waste of money/pointless act of Dreamcast fanboy-ism.

Anyway, here’s a really creepy dude with coke bottle-glasses running anime art booth that was mostly hentai stuff….

There were cosplayers everywhere. Here’s a one in the dealer’s room that’s supposed to be the male ninja from Tenchu. Very nice….

And check this mish-mash of characters: Squall from Final Fantasy 8, some dude whom I recognize, but I forget from where, and Kasumi from Dead or Alive. I’ll admit, I was pretty mesmerized by the girl playing Kasumi, but I felt too awkward for a stand-alone shot…

Sharing the space with dealers were assorted companies that distribute anime and manga. Here’s Media Blaster’s set-up for Voltron…

Over at the Tokyopop booth was this cover for Star Trek: the Manga. Nuff said…

Meanwhile, back at the artists’ alley, here’s MK along with the display for Copykat. The paper dolls were a HUGE hit…

You had cosplayers in artists’ alley as well, of course. Here’s me with a Pikmin. Too bad her flower is out of the shot…

There was plenty of other stuff to do aside from walking around and taking pictures, like film and show screenings, but I wasn’t terribly interested in the offerings. Though there was also a few panels on assorted topics that I did checked out, or at least tried to…. At 6 on Friday was the Mecha Trivia Game Show, but I got caught up in things, so I missed it (I’m assuming it was all “guess which robot this leg is is from!”). Later that night at 9 was a Studio 4C panel which was interesting since numerous music videos by the company was shown, though it was pretty light on info regarding Mindgames. And I gotta say, one of the numerous things about anime dorks that gets on my nerves is how anything that anyone who does anything that’s off the beaten track and totally off the wall has to naturally be someone that does lots of drugs. Can’t someone be naturally creative? Though Studio 4C might be a poor example since its actually documented that one of its main guys does indeed smoke a lot of pot. But still…. its something that came up time and time again.

Speaking of, the panel right afterwards was called I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen This! It was basically garbage. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything since I’ve been to plenty of other conventions, so I should know what to expect, but I love how a panel, which is supposed to be a gather to hearing and discuss a general topic in hopes of maybe learning something, almost always turns out to be a poorly organized and awkwardly executed dialogue (sometimes a shouting match) that goes absolutely no where. Anyway, I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Seen This! was a collection of clips from assorted anime which the presenters felt has been overlooked and worth checking out? Sounds promising, right? Like every single other panel at Otakon, the topic had potential, but turned into a huge clusterfuck in record time. Another source of major annoyance for me regarding most diehard anime/manga nerds is that almost none of them watch or read or listen to anything else. So they either have poor taste or they seem to think anime and manga is the end all when it comes to originality and the such (which anyone with half a brains knows is SO not the truth). These are the same people who try to equate Dragon Ball and Naruto as something on the scale of War and Peace (seriously) or that the reason why Evangelion is such a brilliant re-envisioning of the giant robot genre is because its about a son who hates his dad, which last I checked is a concept that’s been around for fucking ages. Yet another basic truth regarding anime/manga dorks is that a lot of them simply are not funny. They may think they are, but they are most certainly not. But back to the panel: so you had these dorks on stage presenting all these clips, and some were admittedly humorous, but people were laughing way too hard (again, the WACKY JAPPY mindset). It didn’t also help when the presenters gave away the surprises for each one, though it paled in comparison to when the audience decided to go all Mystery Science Theater 3000. It all started when one guy did some Austin Powers joke (yes, a fucking Austin Powers reference in 2006), and that opened the flood gates with every shitty attempt at a joke or “witty observation” imaginable. Did someone make a Geico joke when a clip featured something related to cars? Gee, I wonder…

But back to said nerds not having any taste; the best part was when after seeing assorted clips of clich?d shit, like some hard boiled space detective or chibi robots shooting at each other, one of the presenters described the movie from which the following clip originated: the story is of some kid who has a female pen pal, and how they went back and forth over the course of the summer, with things becoming a tiny bit more intense as things went on, till the kid was madly in love with her but unable to articulate himself, until his birthday arrived and in which he finally decided to cast his shyness aside and risk it all for the chance of something happening… which sounded a hundred times more interesting than most other stuff they were showing but which the presenter had to add with “Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound very interesting, but…” Though what’s even dumber is how in the previous panel, one of its speakers said the same damn thing about MindGame. Anyway, the clip was pretty neat, both visually and storywise, and it was naturally a real borefest with the crowd (again, more Geiko jokes), then it was a clip from some show featuring a boxing match with all the ultra tired anime standards, like the tear drop and all the regular looking characters becoming all chibi, and the whole room was hooting and hollering for that one, hence why I finally made my exit.

Later on was the Anonymous BBS panel which Jeremiah and I attended, and I even convinced MK to come, despite the fact that I knew she’d be bored to tears about a discussion regarding message board posting and how internet identity plays a part. It was presented by a bunch of 4chan-ers, and one of the them was this really annoying mister cool personality (just think Kevin Piera from G4′s type of douchebagedness). Though once again, I did find out the story behind several Flash vids from years back that I never knew originated from 2h. I wanted to check out Alternative Hentai, but that panel was at 1:30 in the morning and MK was tired (I would later find out from Jeremiah that it was indeed awesome; he mentioned how they started with dickgirls, and it was all downhill from there).

Anyway, MK & I went off to hit the road and find our Motel 6. I’ve never been to one, and… I found out first hand why they’re cheap. It’s basically a dump. Among other things, the bed ended up giving MK a rash in the morning….

TO BE CONTINUED REAL SOON

EDIT: And here it is…

  • phooky

    MindGame had a guy grabbing a gun with his ass. I don’t think I can type that sentence enough.

    Thanks for the writeup. I’ve never been to any sort of geekvention, unless you count that renfest when I was ten or whatever, but I’ve always wanted to check one out.

    (Speaking of things you haven’t seen yet, I finally managed to find a copy of Abraxas and the Earthman. I’ll have to send it your way at some point.)

  • http://www.nullsleep.com Nullsleep

    I actually *did* get that pic of Solid Snake at the ATM:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nullsleep/209404794/in/set-72157594228152742/

  • J

    I waited all that time for this?

    *Pffffft*

    underwhelmaton………..

  • J

    ………..not really.

  • J

    must. have. more.

  • J

    Nullsleep… that’s single the greatest photgraph I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

    ……but just outta curiosity…..

    was this guy there too?

    http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.joystiq.com/media/2006/08/scarydude.jpg

  • http://www.small-scale.net click

    Ahh, memories…

  • Carolina

    Eu amei eu n?o vejo a hora de eu me vesti que nei a Saskura do Naruto ou a Sakura eu amo eles e voc?s tambem… :)

  • joey

    the girl with the pink hair wearing the red dress is from a cartoon called naruto oh and so is the blonde one holding the fan near her the caractors names are sakura and tsunade.

  • http://runeclanscape.smfforfree2.com At3K

    the yuna was pretty cool..to bad we didnt see snake at the atm…sonic sleeping lol

  • http://www.sporks.net Daniel Levin

    I was that “annoying mister cool personality” Thanks for the glowing praise (I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be just like kevin pierra!) We’re giving the panel again this year. if you let me know we’ll get you guys good seats! just email me

  • Seb

    j’ai ador? ce journal,trop marant,la photo de Yuna est superbe,magnifque,enfin je doit dire que c’est la meilleure(le d?guisment est trop bien fait si m’a copine pourait lui ressembler sa serait g?nial et surtout parfaitl,je vous en f?licite,bravo)c’est la photo qui m’a la plus marqu? car j’adore Final!!!

    Sinon j’ai bien aim? la photo avec Aieris et Cloud,trop excelent,mais je pr?f?re quand m?me celle de Yuna!!

    En tous cas merci beaucoup car se site m’a ?norm?ment fait plaisir………

  • http://:S niko

    hi this page is amazing good luck bye

  • joselio

    mandemi fotos

  • jadooba

    UR ALL SAD.
    every one of u spending ur time wearing costumes from games and all that crappy sht are sad fraks-guys, get a life, move out of ur mums house and please…dump ur bf and get a girl.girl,do the same please.though ur actually all v ugly but do the same,get out and get a life.
    this is a sad sad sad waste of time and u twatz better post this so you ALL know ur sad freaks.
    p.s. NO COSTUME WAS SLIGHTL GUD HERE!d devil jin 1 was close but the ings were bent and the guy was butt ugly.otherwise,ur all a waste of time and space.

  • DeCo

    hiiiiiiiiiiiiii!
    I’m from brazil ^^
    I was looking for some pics and just found your web site! =DDD
    I really loved it!
    here in brazil mangas meeting are not very common… “/
    cool cosplays there!

    *sooooorry my poor english! xD

    bye!

  • tamara

    esta muy groso el king of fighter

  • ItAteMyKidneys

    Jadooba has no idea what he’s talking about. Sure, the guys dressed as anime girls should be banned from an Otakon or Anime Expo, but a person’s hobby doesn’t mean that said person has no life. That’s why those people get out there to an expo! Because they have a hobby, a life, and they wanna share that hobby with others!

    I hardly doubt that someone who took the time to go to a convention spends all their time in the basement. That time at the con is spent outta the basement, in physical terms. Unless, of course, they brought it with them.

    Lmao, though. The sleeping Sonic brought a smile to my face, and the cross-dressing otaku a chill to my spine.

    PS: I had a childhood friend named Matt Hawkins. Coinky-dink.

  • zemki

    gggggggggoooooooooooooooooooooooooooddddddddddddd very good esta genial

  • http://mmmmmmmmmmmmm percy martin

    como seria parte de tekken diguanme porfavor

  • Mimi

    The girl in middle of Tsunade and Sakura is actually Rini a.k.a. Chibi-usa from Sailor Moon

  • http://www.fotolog.com/midolabastarda MIDORI

    JJAJAJA STANbien gracisos los de death note

    pero sta bien

  • http://001 Carlos

    hola manes me gusta tekken tag bueno en conclusion podrian darme las fotos de Devil Jin por fa lo nesecito o.k

  • Eliza Jones

    Dude!! That’s me in that Yuna costume!! I’m flattered you think it was done well! It’s weird that I happened to stumble across this.

  • Kyle

    WOW hey any one here know the names of those girls setting on the wall from naruto? like who they really are! cause they where pretty hot!! any one else agree lol!

  • http://www.xxxfizzypopxxx.piczo.com fizzie

    -xx- cool pic’s i think advent children’s the best -xx-

    -xx-love fizzie-xx-

  • http://www.applepotion.piczo.com meira

    i love final fanatsay did u meet kingdom hearts?

  • arno

    No, Bryan Fury is wearing glasses like me

  • http://www.tekkenpedia.com arno

    BRYAN FURY IS WEARING GLASSES LIKE ME

  • http://puppetmastersdomain.blogspot.com Puppet Master

    The Street Fighter group shot was cool. I certainly know that dressing up as one for Halloween is certain but I’m looming around Ryu or E. Honda. If I go as Ryu, I’m certainly gonna have to walk on the treadmill from now until Halloween and get the proper clothing. It was certainly cool to see this and I hope to see bigger cast of Street Fighters the next time you go to that certain convention. It’s a big decision because I’ve still got extra time until then. :)

  • samurai girl

    woooooooooow kawaii

    the pic is very amazing

    kwaii cosplay

  • StormShadowstalker

    the guy in between kasumi and squall was probably Lupin the 3rd

  • themajor39

    dude i am going to otakon for the first time this year and i was so happy so see your page!!! now i am even more excited to go than I was before. lol, some of the costumes were good, some were bad, and hey if you enjoy urself watever!!! and to the guy who said all that shit about how this is a waste of time, he needs to go out and get a life if all he has time to do is sit around and post nasty things about other people. enough said. ^_^ i am excited to hear the rest!!!!

  • John

    I love these pictures.

  • Ramon

    Really love the site….hope for more.

  • Wandererbluefox

    The guy in the red suit between squall and kasumi about halfway through was Nabeshin from excel saga.

  • http://N/A jessica wong

    FUCK YOU

  • http://www.kellen.com.br Kellen

    I love it!!

    yshiteru*

  • zodiark1

    Great picks! that girl playin kasumi is pretty brave walkin round in almost nuttin but a thong!

  • Shamaera

    thats realli nice. I luv this webite!! Devil Jin from Tekken i proly tha best 1 there…thx 4 making this XD

  • romi

    dinda e so pra ti

    te adoro muito

  • http://yahoo.com devon

    get a better camera some of the people eyes was red

  • iPsychopathic

    Wow, I like the Jin cosplay ♥ I also like Sonic taking a nap. Cute~♥

  • http://no anna

    davil Jin is grade

  • Lex

    I think you made a mistake. The ‘ryo” with “Sie Kensou” u mean is suppose to be Rock Howard?

  • http://www.jacksparrow2012.wordpress.com Jack Sparrow

    WHy Shingo Yabuki is not in the KOF picture?? I?m so disappointed.

  • Yuna lover

    i think the person in the yuna cotume was cute

  • http://carolinemartin.tumblr.com Caroline

    Ahahaha oh god, I noticed Otakon 06 was on your Hits List and was like, “oh man, that was the last year I was at Otakon! (after 6 years straight, i know, shut up).” So I read through, you know, good stuff, etc, and then got to the pictures. Started scrolling and then said, “wouldn’t it be funny if there’s photographic evidence of my path crossing with Matt’s four years before I actually met him.”

    AND OH LOOK THERE IS.

    So, yep. I’m laughing really really hard.

  • http://www.fort90.com fort90

    OMG, is that you as Kula Diamond?!?!

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