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Otakon 2018: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Overall a pretty good year then again I don't usually feel the need to give feedback sooo

GOOD

> You guys are definitely getting the hang of the new digs. I feel like traffic really flowed this year. I was able to visit the alley and the dealers hall once each day on a pretty full schedule which has never happened before. Keeping the entrance to the dealers at the far end hours after that initial opening line actually kept that whole space pretty crowded though.

BAD

>weirdly aggressive center staff

While most things went pretty smooth both me and friends basically had staffers shout in our faces for minor slipups like sitting in an unmarked no sitting spot (there was a rope blocking off one side you wouldn't see if you weren't coming from one side) warrenting a hostile NO! NO! YOU CANT BE HERE! YOU NEED TO LEAVE! 

Or turning around at the top of an empty set of lobby stairs (our group split to smoke and I'm not a smoker) being told it wasn't an entrance in some sarcastic tone and having to actually leave and go back through bagcheck. I mean I get they had problems with crowds (and you dealt with that with the entrance only deal on saturday) and it's no doubt stressful to deal with all those people but why make it into an issue when it's not at all crowded? Made me miss the constantly chill BCC staff.

> Marriott bagcheck lines

I don't know if this was a one time crowded morning deal or not but having to wait in a long bagcheck line when I had no bag was kind of ridiculous. The tunnel's kind of narrow but as long as someone's waving the no bag people along I don't see how things could go wrong

UGLY.

>No Marriott Programming

A real downer as this was my first time in the Marriott. Heard rumors it was 'cause of the less than stellar turnout last year. Hope it's back next year.

>Guidebook Issues

The app's been a lifesaver and I don't know its limitations but having a dealers list like you did for the alley would be cool. (And maybe a pindrop thing like the schedule does for both if that's possible) My fault for not checking the site's list but I got overcharged because I didn't think one of my favorite vendors came back this year.

>Artist Alley

This is something I just came across on the twitter tag today and it looks like it's coming to a head. I always did find the fact that the alley always had wayy different hours than the dealers kind of odd. Especially with the typical explanation of "so the dealers can enjoy the con" for the infamous saturday early close. I've never participated so I can't really say but something is up when quite a few artists who paid so much for a booth are worried about leaving their booths and threatening to not return. At the very least there's a security issue that needs to be fixed.

So yeah a little troubled but for the 14th time I mainly had fun. That's a good record!

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Good

- The SAO Summer Festival was amazing with the VA's for Kirito and Asuna

- Artists Ally, that was a lot of variety!

- I did not get stuck in a monsoon this year! Otakon has no control over weather, but last year I got stuck in a summer storm from hell outside.

- Aniplex Industry Panel was good and is how an Industry Panel should be, quick and to the point

- Dealer's Room wasn't bad at all

- I shared an elevator with Johnny Yong Bosch and who I later found out was Bryce Papenbrook. That was... awesome.

 

Bad

- No line markers. Put in the line markers like year's prior

- Less space it seemed. The convention center is huge with a lot of space. USE IT. And utilize the Marquis as well.

- Not a lot of industry presence this year

 

Ugly

- I can't name anything I found horrible.

 

I stayed at the Renissance this year and that was a great hotel. I will grab a room there next year as well.

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I'm really struggling to come up with any legitimate issues I had

Maybe that there were simply too many things I wanted to see at the same time and now way to split myself into copies Naruto style and see them all

I actually once ended up with a four way conflict where I had four panels I wanted no to see all happening simultaneously 

But that's no ones fault, just unfortunate luck 

Thiugh speaking of luck, from what I've rad of other people's experiences, I was lucky in that I didn't experience any of those issues 

Didn't have any line or bag check issues and I don't eat in the convention center so no food issues either 

With the exception of the aforementioned scheduling conflicts on my end, everything went smooth as usual for me

I did see a few people take a bit of issue with the massive presence of Funko pops, and while I personally am very much not a fan of them and admittedly wouldn't have minded seeing less of them, clearly a lot of people must really love them

One thing I felt was was missing from the dealers room was a booth from Good Smile Company

Now obviously that's not on Otakon in the least and entirely on GSC themselves, but this was the second year in a row they were a no show and I'm beginning to wonder if they just gave on coming out east at all

Overall, it was a great second year in the new location and I have no doubt the WWCC is the perfect spot for us and I look forward to even more growth and good things in the coming years 

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All in all, I had a really good time this year! There were some issues, though.
 
The Good
  • Distant Worlds. I know there have been some complaints about having two FF concerts, but for me, this was a major highlight (if not the highlight). This music has been a part of my life for probably 25 years, and to see it performed live (with Uematsu in the audience! singing along to One-Winged Angel! Ahhh!) was a really emotional experience. I loved it, the people around me loved it, and it was 100% worth the uhhhhh 3 hours I waited (yikes). The acoustics were surprisingly good too, at least from my seat.
  • Great panels, in general! Especially enjoyed Bootleg Anime from South Korea, Anime's Craziest Deaths (which I finally caught after 4 years), and the History and Horrors of 4Kids Entertainment. Also the Uematsu Q&A was well done, imo.
  • Video descriptions are slowly but surely improving... I appreciated the genre listings you had this time. Any chance of adding years, too?
  • I had no problems with bag check. I didn't use the Marriott entrance, but there was never a wait for me.
  • Congoers as a whole were lovely people. Great cosplay too, of course!
  • I'm not a DBZ fan, but that booth in the dealer's room was freaking awesome.
  • In general, I've been happy with the move to the WEWCC. It's a great space.
The Bad/Eh
  • The lack of certain industry names like Crunchyroll, Viz, etc. was a little concerning. Dealer's room felt empty without them.
  • Some of the panel rooms this year were way way way too small. Last year I don't think I was turned away from a single panel, but that definitely was not the case this year. Probably inevitable with the increase in attendance and the fact that we didn't have the Marriott, but it still felt like the space could have been utilized better.
  • Line control was generally OK, but Saturday night around panels 3, 4, and 5 was nuts. It was almost impossible to distinguish between the three lines.
  • I think this was the first year I didn't buy anything in the Dealer's Room or AA, but that's not the fault of the vendors or artists (or Otakon, obvs).
The Ugly
  • Communication seemed really, really bad this year. It was honestly kind of ridiculous how many popular panels were cancelled last minute with little/no explanation. I can't imagine being a DBZ fan, waiting on line for (I assume) ages, and sitting in a room for half an hour, only to hear that the panel has been cancelled! What a mess.
  • I've heard a lot of complaints from artists tabling in Artist Alley this year, both regarding (lack of) communication and the overly long hours on Saturday. As an attendee, it's nice to have the option to check out AA at virtually any time on Saturday, but 13 hours has got to be rough on the people tabling. I can't claim to know exactly what went down, not being an artist, but what I've read leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • For the love of god, PLEASE add guest descriptions in Guidebook—especially for your Japanese guests! For instance: I didn't know Hirokatsu Kihara by name. Seeing his name with zero description? I skipped right past. With even a short bio in Guidebook, I probably would have tried to attend his panel! (Not to mention how charming he was at closing ceremonies.) Same goes for a bunch of the other guests, whom I didn't know by name despite being a fan of their work. I'd love to show these guys some love, but it's hard when all Guidebook tells me is "No details provided." I know, I know, I could always check the physical Otakon program guide. But I—and probably a lot of people—rely on Guidebook 99% of the time. And if you have panel and video descriptions, why not do the same for guests?

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2 hours ago, texside said:

 

  • The Artist's Alley was cool. I found some rare, amazing Xenogears merch.

Can I ask what Xenogears merch you picked up??? It's one of my absolute faves, but it's so old now it's rare to see anything. 

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53 minutes ago, mellow-osity said:

Can I ask what Xenogears merch you picked up??? It's one of my absolute faves, but it's so old now it's rare to see anything. 

I'm very curious about this as well, I love Xenogears.

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The Good/Descent:

- The Distant Worlds concert.  Most of the concerts that Otakon had in the past were mainly pop, rock, or other type of pop culture music.  So it was a nice change of pace to see a full symphony orchestra on stage performing music from video games to footage from said games.  Congrats to the team involved.  Hope that Otakon will eventually have acts like Yuki Kajiura and her orchestra, or the Legend of Zelda:  Symphony of the Goddess orchestra perform someday.

- The SAO Summer Festival.

- Having more food booths in the Dealer's Room.  I've read that some people got food poisoning from the food there.  Don't really know how that could've happened.  Then again, I only had the takoyaki and felt fine.  But, anyway, I liked how there are two areas in the Dealer's Room for people to eat and sit down.

- Some of the guests, including legends like Shoji Kawamori and Hirokatsu Kihara.  Plus, the idea of having guests from Asian countries besides Japan.  Makes sense since Otakon is about promoting Asian culture.  Not just Japanese culture.

- Got to participate in one of Captial Area Budokai's workshops.  I'll admit that I was a little tense and nervous.  Especially with the experts' exhibitions leaving me scared, as well as amazed.  But it was still an interesting experience.

- Saw "Haikara-san:  Here Comes Miss Modern" (Part 1) on Sunday.  Although I was surprised that they showed the subbed version instead of the dub (as stated on the schedule), I thought the film was pretty cute and funny.  Interested in seeing Part 2.

- Though I'm not a big "Dragonball" fan, I have to say that the display for the franchise looked absolutely amazing!  Here's hoping that Otakon will have more displays like that in the future!

- Game Room had a good variety of nice games.  Console and arcade.  Domestic and import.  Only tried out a few.  But it was still a fairly good selection.

- Pre-con events at the Library of Congress on Thursday.  Though not too many, it was still nice of the Library to allow some of the events to take place.

- All of the events packed closer together in the convention center so I wouldn't have to travel as far.  Although it still would've been nice to have some bigger event rooms at the Marriott Marquis used as well.  (More on that later.)

 

The Bad/Disappointing:

- Being told via Twitter that the badge line would be at the underground tunnel in the Marriot Marquis only to be told on Friday to wait in line at the main entrance outside.  Was farther back in line.  But at least I got in after that.

- Speaking of the Marquis, not having any of the con's events happening there like last year.  Granted, last year only had the four basements featuring events.  And that one of those basements only had two rooms with con-related stuff.  While another only had one.  But I thought that they would've tried to expand even further.  But I guess it's like what someone else said and that they were making up for last year having a smaller turnout.  But again, I didn't think it was all bad.

- No booths for Viz, Crunchyroll, or some others.  Definitely wasn't the same not having Viz giving some "Sailor Moon"-related event after the past few years.

- It was kinda disappointing that they didn't mention that it was the con's 25th year until the very end.  But then again, the addition of guests like Distant Worlds and Kihara-san might've made it feel like a big year.

 

The Ugly/(Can't really think of a lesser word):

- The lines to some major events.  Like Distant Worlds had a line that stretched for practically a mile and lasted for hours.  Fortunately, I was able to arrive early enough to get into the concert.  But it was still a pain to wait in line for a while.

- (Debatable)  The Autograph line.  Granted, I only did one person per day.  But I can understand that the line was pretty messed up.  At least for the first day since the second and third days had more areas to line up to help keep things orderly.  Didn't really mind that it was at the Dealer's Room though since I was planning to go to the DR first anyway.  But I can understand why some people wouldn't like it.

 

The Verdict:

Although not without some problems, I still enjoyed myself at Otakon this year.  Here's hoping that next year will be better.

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The Good

Still loving that free figure box background for photoshoots set up in the registration area (even if I didn't use it this year). As has been previously mentioned, the Dragon Ball Tour exhibit in the Dealer's Hall was great, but so were the other exhibits (the anime painted cars, the Fallout(?) van etc)

Gofers were particulary good at filling up every single seat at capacity panels (and then sending in standby people when other's left the panels early).

Friday & Sunday bag check lines I went through were pretty good. Saturday, not so much.

The accessibility seating in some panel rooms were great. I was surprised that my favorite spot (aisle seat all the way in the back nearest to the door) was chosen as a reserved spot since I partly pick that spot due to it being an open/unpopular place to sit, but it is pretty accessible. Once a panel hits its capacity & has started, I think the accessible seats can be open to normal members though. And a lot of people kept sitting in the reserved spots (and getting moved by gofers) since the red ribbons + small "reserved" placards weren't really too eyecatching.

The Bad

There were a lot of over capacity panels due to many panels (whose popularity can be easily predicted such as the bad dubs, Studio Trigger etc) being put in the smaller panel rooms.

When I went through the Saturday bag-check line for the Marriott Tunnel entrance, there was only one bag checker there which was causing quite a back-up.

Many updates were apparently pushed through Facebook only instead of through Twitter & (most importantly) Guidebook. This was particularly bad with last minute location switches, which ended up with half the people at the wrong location.

The official photoshoot locations are quite frankly horrible. The only good location was Photoshoot #1 last year (the huge staircase by registration/the front office) which was large enough to hold the larger groups (and which wasn't used this year). Every other official photoshoot location I've seen has been way too small for even middle-sized cosplay groups and many of them are literally just small niches off the main hallways which inevitably end up clogging up the whole passageway as there was no way that a good sized photoshoot group + the photographers + normal people walking in the hallway could all fit at once. The lighting & background for the official photoshoot locations are also pretty terrible (especially in comparison to Baltimore's official photoshoot spots), but that's secondary to the size issue. The unofficial photoshoot location spots (where the Cosplay.com groups meet-up) such as the Marriott Lobby (2nd Floor Near Sculpture) are far superior to any of the official locations.

The Ugly

Holy disorganization, Batman. I had not 1, not 2, not 3, but 6 different panels canceled. At least Voice Actors after Dark and Lip Sync Battle were canceled ahead of time and the Yuri on Ice one was a fan panel where the panelist never showed. But the Erica Mendez/Lucien Dodge voice acting panel became an impromptu question & answer session because Otakon neglected to provide them the voice acting scripts, Bryce Papenbrook never showed up for his Friday voice acting panel because no one actually told him he had one scheduled (or rather, there wasn't supposed to be one on Friday in the first place?), and the much ballyhoo-ed Dragon Ball Tour panel has been brought up multiple times at this point. I also ended up missing Max Mittelman's non-18+ LAVA Panel because it didn't show up search under his name.

 

 

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GOOD:  Fantastic time overall, as always.  LOVED DBZ's booth and giveaways, even though I'm not really a DBZ fan, it was still lots of fun.  Spent most of the time in the Dealers' Room.  Found a manga for $5.00 when another vendor half-way across the DR was selling it for $11.00.

 

Videos I saw were wonderful and the subtitles were easy to see (except when the fella in front of me kept leaning his head to the side, blocking the subtitles -- but that's beside the point  :blink:).

 

Awesome Page of Awesomeness (is that the title?) -- I don't have a smartphone so I REALLY like having this!  Even with last minute changes to the schedule, it still helps a lot!

 

Thanks for the pic of DBZ's dragon on Otakon's homepage!  I couldn't get a good pic of it at their booth -- kept getting huge glares from the ceiling lights.

 

JUST A NOTE:  Darkluna mentioned the "reserve" signs on chairs were for accessibility seating.  I thought those chairs were reserved for other people so I didn't use them.  Thanks Darkluna, for the info!  I'll have to remember this for next year.  Or perhaps could "Reserve for Accessibility" be put on the signs?  I don't know if this is really necessary, since I'm probably the only one who didn't know about the signs.

 

UGLY:  $7.00 for a plain, regular size hot dog in the Dealers' Room?  :blink:  DId I pay it?  Of course.  Hunger struck, and I didn't want to take the time to go outside the WEWCC.

 

In another post I mentioned an Otakon staff member placing me in the line outside on Friday, even when I have a disability.  But also on Sunday, I was trying to use the elevator at the Hall B Exit (opposite the escalators), to go down to Hall B, since I have a disability ribbon on the badge.  Usually the staff people working the Hall B Exit lets me through to use the elevator.  But one time on Sunday, the staff person didn't know about disability ribbons and wouldn't let me through.  I kept pressing the point, showing her the badge and saying it's a disability ribbon.  She finally let me through.  She was nice about it.  But it's a bit anxiety-producing to go through this -- you know, looking like I was trying to break the rules and having to explain it in different ways, having to keep pressing the point, etc.  She had on a red jacket, which I think means she's on WEWCC's staff.

(The same thing happened last year.  I used the Hall B elevator a lot, but only once a WEWCC staff person didn't know about the disability rules and it took getting a supervisor to come by and say it was ok to let me use the elevator.  The WEWCC staff person was very nice through the whole thing, in fact the next two times I saw him, he bowed to me each time.)

 

REQUEST:  Would it be possible next year, to inform all of Otakon's and WEWCC's staff about the disability ribbons and the rules that go along with it?  Sounds like a huge request, but I'd REALLY appreciate it!

 

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7 hours ago, Dostovei Illuminas said:

I'm very curious about this as well, I love Xenogears.

Keychains! The table had reversible ones with Fei and Id, Elly and Emeralda, and Citan and.. I forget. I’ll shrink my photos of the Fei one to a size I can upload when I get home. 

If memory serves, the booth was DD8. They had similar designs for FF4, FF6, Chrono Trigger, and more. 

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Hey all, I'll try to comment on some of the more common threads I've been seeing.

The Saturday line outside: That was seriously just because there were so many people. We were moving as fast as we could and we were at full capacity for bag checks. We're sorry that it was super long and for the weather, but it was simply due to the volume of people we had trying to enter (our attendance increased by 4k this year, so we were a bit overwhelmed)

The Saturday Marriott Line: Once again, this was just volume. We had to close the line due to it being a safety hazard. Once everyone was cleared we opened it up again, we just had way too many people. We will try to communicate better about it in the future. For those who have been to Otakon back when we were in Baltimore, you may have had flashbacks to the Hilton Skybridge.

The random front door changes: The change of the front door becoming entry only was done by the convention center due to concerns about traffic flow. It was not pre-planned and we found out about the same time you did. In the future we will try to get word out on guidebook and social media as soon as we find out, and we'll try to grab some extra "exit/entry only" signs for next year, just in case.

The prop check: Prop check is done by our Access Control staff, and we simply did not have more staff on our team available to do prop checks. We were swamped trying to deal with the other areas of con, as we had a large increase in the number of people who attended this year. We couldn't just add more since, well, there wasn't more to add. Additionally, the WEWCC requires that we have MPD there when we do prop checks inside the convention center, hence why there was only one. Last year we were able to do prop checks at the Marriott (where we do not have that restriction), but that wasn't an option this year.

Communication: This is a failure on our part and we apologize. We take your feedback seriously and will look into what we can do in the future to make it better.

Bullhorns: We have them and we will try to make more liberal use of them next year. Last year there were fewer large crowds, so we didn't need them as much. We now know better.

Otakon 25 promotion: We didn't promote the 25th Otakon as much this year because we were waiting for our 25th Anniversary, which is next year. That's why the theme is Festival! We also mentioned that it was Otakon 25 at Opening Ceremonies.

Industry Booths: We unfortunately don't have much control over that. Many of normal industry dealers such as Viz, Crunchyroll, etc. were not available to join us this year, but we hope for their return next year!

Artist Alley Alley Hours Like our Dealers Room hours, this has not changed in years; these hours are nothing new. However, that doesn't mean we can't re-evaluate. Our Artist Alley Head will review the feedback she receives from artists, and based on that we will see what works best for them.

Convention Center Food Prices: Yeah, I got nothing. It sucks, but we can't control what Centerplate (the food service for the WEWCC) decides to charge, and we're stuck in the same boat when it comes to food and catering. We know it is super expensive, but unfortunately Otakon can't really do anything about that (trust me, we've tried). On the bright side, the food is WAY better than what we got in Baltimore!

 I think those are most of the major things I have seen. I will continue to keep an eye on this thread. Thank you everyone for your feedback!

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20 minutes ago, kimmibeans said:

Artist Alley Alley Hours Like our Dealers Room hours, this has not changed in years; these hours are nothing new. However, that doesn't mean we can't re-evaluate.

Just to provide the precise info for this, in 5 of the past 7 Otakons, the hours for Artist Alley on Saturday were 10AM to 11PM ('12, '13, '16, '17, & '18). The other 2 years, it was 10AM to 10PM ('14 & '15).

(source: Guidebook)

25 minutes ago, kimmibeans said:

Otakon 25 promotion: We didn't promote the 25th Otakon as much this year because we were waiting for our 25th Anniversary, which is next year. That's why the theme is Festival! We also mentioned that it was Otakon 25 at Opening Ceremonies. 

I find it a bit odd that we had a big celebration for Otakon 20 (special logo and all) in 2013, but then are deciding to celebrate the Otakon 25th Anniversary. I'm sure it will be splendid, but the inconsistency just rubs me the wrong way.

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A contrasting, maybe controversial? Opinion on Marquis programming:

Good riddance. Having the convention constrained to the convention center was a vast improvement. Face it, going back and forth from the 140s-150s panel rooms to the Marquis ballrooms and back for consecutive panels was a schlep, and frankly, really shitty. If you don't think it was shitty, then you have either forgotten or enjoy marathon running. It was so nice having all events being compact with the biggest distance spread being Panel 1/2 to the 3-7 area. Open the rainbow tube to make this even easier!

One issue that could be improved on with better scheduling and understanding of the events is open floorspace rooms. We lost the multicultural room/stage with the migration from the Marquis, so Taiko Drums got the screwjob with a panel room with no floorspace or stage. They made it work and it was kind of neat being completely surrounded by them standing in the aisles, but they really benefit from having room to make their movements.

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What. The actual heck. Are you doing. With the Artist Alley.

Friday night I noticed that the Saturday hours were listed in the guidebook as 10am. The signs listed 10am. But the website said 11am. Staff didn't even know what time it opened. Somebody tweeted at the official Otakon twitter; they responded that the opening hour was 11am. They would later delete that and at 10:31pm on Friday issued a reply that the hours were being corrected on the website and the correct time was truly 10am.

You knew. There was an issue. Friday night. Yet the only information provided at that point was in a reply that nobody would have seen had they not been following the people asking and the official twitter.

Saturday morning rolls around and only at 8:30am do you post something to the main account about the times. Of course there's confusion from artists now about what time things open (because you didn't actually tweet about it until the morning of, despite knowing it was an issue at 10pm the previous day) and half of them aren't there so the convention decided to punish those attendees and artists who were there early by delaying the AA opening.

Rinse and repeat this situation for Sunday, except this time you decided to "split the difference" by closing the AA at 2pm but not really closing it until 3. So artists had to stay there until 3, but nobody new was coming in, so they were forced to watch their things while a few dozen of the last remaining folks wandered around. They essentially worked an hour extra on Sunday without full access to customers just because of this weird "soft closing".

There was no signage for tables, and I had to repeatedly ask people what their table number was so that I could locate an artist I wanted to see. There was one artist completely isolated, facing an empty wall, and she had an expensive booth with curtains too. The room was so spread out that even on Sunday I felt like I was finding tables for the first time. Back in Baltimore this was identified as an issue and "street signs" were added to the floor to accommodate. Now it seems like we're back to square zero.

Add to that that searching for Otakon on social media brings up numerous accounts of disorganization, miscommunication, and mistreatment. Artists saying they are never coming back. You'll also see many congoers comment that the AA is better then ever; I see more people walking around with copies of their favorite fanart, handmade fan goods, and fan merch then I do anything else. Seems the attendee with a print of their favorite character in hand is ubiquitous. 

Gone are the days of the small hometown Otakon where artists are here as a hobby and where there's <10,000 people to worry about selling to and protecting your things from. Many, MANY artists - not just the "pro row" folks - make a living on their art, fanart, and handmade items. For the love of god start treating them as such. The AA is a huge part of the convention and even many of the replies in this thread praise it for providing the variety the dealers room lacks. There needs to be a wholesale re-do of the AA system - an absolutely massive part of convention community - so that Otakon can continue to be a place people want to come to. 

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3 hours ago, EdKitten said:

GOOD:  Fantastic time overall, as always.  LOVED DBZ's booth and giveaways, even though I'm not really a DBZ fan, it was still lots of fun.  Spent most of the time in the Dealers' Room.  Found a manga for $5.00 when another vendor half-way across the DR was selling it for $11.00.

 

Videos I saw were wonderful and the subtitles were easy to see (except when the fella in front of me kept leaning his head to the side, blocking the subtitles -- but that's beside the point  :blink:).

 

Awesome Page of Awesomeness (is that the title?) -- I don't have a smartphone so I REALLY like having this!  Even with last minute changes to the schedule, it still helps a lot!

 

Thanks for the pic of DBZ's dragon on Otakon's homepage!  I couldn't get a good pic of it at their booth -- kept getting huge glares from the ceiling lights.

 

JUST A NOTE:  Darkluna mentioned the "reserve" signs on chairs were for accessibility seating.  I thought those chairs were reserved for other people so I didn't use them.  Thanks Darkluna, for the info!  I'll have to remember this for next year.  Or perhaps could "Reserve for Accessibility" be put on the signs?  I don't know if this is really necessary, since I'm probably the only one who didn't know about the signs.

 

UGLY:  $7.00 for a plain, regular size hot dog in the Dealers' Room?  :blink:  DId I pay it?  Of course.  Hunger struck, and I didn't want to take the time to go outside the WEWCC.

 

In another post I mentioned an Otakon staff member placing me in the line outside on Friday, even when I have a disability.  But also on Sunday, I was trying to use the elevator at the Hall B Exit (opposite the escalators), to go down to Hall B, since I have a disability ribbon on the badge.  Usually the staff people working the Hall B Exit lets me through to use the elevator.  But one time on Sunday, the staff person didn't know about disability ribbons and wouldn't let me through.  I kept pressing the point, showing her the badge and saying it's a disability ribbon.  She finally let me through.  She was nice about it.  But it's a bit anxiety-producing to go through this -- you know, looking like I was trying to break the rules and having to explain it in different ways, having to keep pressing the point, etc.  She had on a red jacket, which I think means she's on WEWCC's staff.

(The same thing happened last year.  I used the Hall B elevator a lot, but only once a WEWCC staff person didn't know about the disability rules and it took getting a supervisor to come by and say it was ok to let me use the elevator.  The WEWCC staff person was very nice through the whole thing, in fact the next two times I saw him, he bowed to me each time.)

 

REQUEST:  Would it be possible next year, to inform all of Otakon's and WEWCC's staff about the disability ribbons and the rules that go along with it?  Sounds like a huge request, but I'd REALLY appreciate it!

 

I second this statement, there definitely needs to be more awareness on the accessibility guidelines.

I also did not know the reserved signs were for accessibility. I had figured they were for guests.

Secondly, the line proxy system needs addressed. For the Friday Distant Worlds concert, the woman running that line knew her stuff and had everything organized and it was great. However, that was the only time this worked out. I had showed up to the Friday autograph line for Cherami Leigh an hour ahead of time and got my proxy person and everything seemed great. However, when the line started to move, I could no longer find my proxy person among that sea of bodes and there was then different staff around who had no idea what to do and tried to put me back at the end of the line again. Finally, for one of the later Saturday night panels, there were no staff around holding the bunch of red proxy lanyards as I had seen before. I was then told by a nearby staff member, who had to call on the radio to get her information, that I would have needed to go back to the Accessibility table, get a red proxy lanyard of my own, and then come back and find some other random person to give it to, on my own. I was by myself the whole time so I have no person with me to act as the line proxy. I was then told that was the policy the entire weekend and I should have been given a red lanyard when I originally had received the badge ribbon. I understand that you do not want it to be a "VIP special access" type situation, and I am not asking for that, but there has to be a better system than this proxy system. I just need a chair to sit in because I can't stand in place for an extended period of time and I can't really get up from off the floor either. Sitting with my legs out flat on the floor or ground for an extended period of time can actually make my situation worse.

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First & foremost, I had a great time at Otakon 25. A lot of the complaints people have brought up are valid, but I personally had a great time. Still, time to cover some stuff:

-The Good-

  • Outstanding panel content: Some people have complained about panels not sounding too enticing, but I think this year's roster was excellent. There was literally only one panel that I was disappointed in, and even then it was more because the information being given in it was full of fallacies & inaccuracies; the panelists themselves were full of energy & were passionate, so I can't fault them on being boring.

-The Bad-

  • Not properly labeling guest panels: Seriously, this has been a problem with Otakon for years, especially since other cons have managed to solve the issue rather easily, but this year it truly got ridiculous. Friday & Saturday both had Shoji Kawamori panels listed, and both were simply titled the man's name. You want to know what these panels were? Friday was about "Originality & Mech Design", while Saturday was about the "History of Macross". Do you know how much more filled Kawamori's panels would have been if the schedule & Guidebook actually listed those panels as "Shoji Kawamori: Originality & Mech Design" & "The History of Macross with Shoji Kawamori"? What, did Kawamori not tell Otakon ahead of time what he was planning to talk about, because he was more than happy to tell everyone on Friday what the Saturday panel was going to be. Otakon, this is not hard to fix; hell, there are literally fans telling you that they will do this for free! Even if you aren't exactly sure what a guest will be doing, stop simply putting the guest's name as the panel title, because it's not enough to attract most con goers. This year, for example, you could have used direct panel titles like "Shoji Kawamori, the Creator of Macross", or even fun/silly titles like "Listen to my Panel! with Lancer's Nobutoshi Canna". This isn't rocket science, and other cons have shown that more people will attend, & even fill to capacity, guest panels that are labeled as more than just the person's name, especially if the guests winds up doing more than just a simple Q&A session.

-The Ugly-

  • Autographs: I will simply echo the complaints from everyone else, because Friday was just an absurd mess. 50 people got to go to Kawamori's table, and not a single other person who lined up was allowed to move into the autograph section. Meanwhile, people who went to get other people's autographs simply stayed in the autograph section & lined up for Kawamori, effectively gaming the system & screwing over those who were waiting patiently. Also, it was absurd to combine the autograph line with the Dealers Room line on Friday, especially when there was an unused staircase right next to the autograph section at the far end of the giant room! Couldn't Otakon have has the autograph line form at that unused staircase, lead the con-goers down those steps so that they didn't have to traverse the entire span of the dealers room to get to the autograph section, and just have a couple of staffers at the bottom of those steps to keep people from using those stairs as an exit, followed by closing off the stairs after everyone had come down them? Regardless, I heard that autographs will be moved over to the Marriott next year, so hopefully things will improve next year, even if only slightly.

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2 hours ago, kimmibeans said:

Artist Alley Alley Hours Like our Dealers Room hours, this has not changed in years; these hours are nothing new. However, that doesn't mean we can't re-evaluate. Our Artist Alley Head will review the feedback she receives from artists, and based on that we will see what works best for them

Oh yeah, I’m aware of that. It just sounds like the long hours on Saturday were the cherry on top of a pretty terrible experience for a lot of artists. I’m sad to read that many of my favorite artists won’t be returning next year due to how things went down. I hope you listen to their feedback.

Regarding the AA closing time on Sunday, both my friend and I could have sworn we saw either signage around the con, in the physical schedule, or on the website that said 3pm, not the 2pm close that actually happened. (Same deal with the 10am opening on Saturday.) Consistency across all platforms makes things easier for everyone, attendees, artists, and staff alike.

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48 minutes ago, robotzor said:

A contrasting, maybe controversial? Opinion on Marquis programming:

Good riddance. Having the convention constrained to the convention center was a vast improvement. Face it, going back and forth from the 140s-150s panel rooms to the Marquis ballrooms and back for consecutive panels was a schlep, and frankly, really shitty. If you don't think it was shitty, then you have either forgotten or enjoy marathon running. 

Yea I thought it was good change that they didn't use the marquis, way easier to navigate and give directions to people 

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1 hour ago, robotzor said:

A contrasting, maybe controversial? Opinion on Marquis programming:

Good riddance. Having the convention constrained to the convention center was a vast improvement. Face it, going back and forth from the 140s-150s panel rooms to the Marquis ballrooms and back for consecutive panels was a schlep, and frankly, really shitty. If you don't think it was shitty, then you have either forgotten or enjoy marathon running. It was so nice having all events being compact with the biggest distance spread being Panel 1/2 to the 3-7 area. Open the rainbow tube to make this even easier!

True this makes things closer together which is convenient. Problem is- people are already complaining about the convention center rooms being too small. And we've pretty much used up all the panel space, afaik. So if they're going to fix that, something is going to have to move to the Marquis. Maybe not panels or showings, but something. I also don't feel like the distance between the two areas took longer than 15 minutes to cross. Sure, at times the bag check was problematic but that tended to be at the start of the day, I noticed.

It's definitely a balancing act.

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Good:

The Con Center (mostly): This was my first Otakon at the new con center, as I missed last year's due to a trip to Japan. Overall I would say I was mostly pleased with the new location, as there seemed to be far less bottlenecks than in Baltimore and the convention center itself seemed far nicer as well. The tunnel from the Marriott Marquis was super convenient for us staying there.

Many fan panels: Went to a ton of panels this year, my feedback on all of which can be found in the panelist feedback thread. I thought the majority of them were quite good.

Dealer's room: Contrary to some of the feedback I've read here, I thought the dealer's room had a pretty good mix of different merch. But my taste is more toward knick knack/buy this random Japanese packet and see what's inside type stuff and there was a ton of both. Definitely don't agree that it was all the same at every booth, either way.

Hi Score Girl US Premiere: Great stuff here, from the taped intro with the voice actors to the pre-show interviews with the creative staff. It helped that the episode we saw was fantastic as well. Gonna be hard to wait till December for it to show up on Netflix.

Game Room: Didn't spend very much time in here at all but from a quick walkthrough it definitely seemed like there was a good variety of stuff. Especially loved the arcade machines, and I was able to play my favorite (Sound Voltex) without much of a wait, so good job there.

AMV Theater: Spent a lot of time in here and found virtually every block or panel I went to well worth my time. If you like AMVs or just music and/or video-related content in general, you should be spending a lot of time here as well!

Bad:

AMV Contest: Usually one of my highlights every year, I thought this year's contest was pretty disappointing for a number of reasons. The biggest issue I had were a number of videos that felt like they were in the wrong category: a comedy video that should have been in romance and an action video that felt like it had almost no action at all stood out the most, but pretty sure there were others as well. The overall quality just didn't feel as high either.

Con Center Issues: The lack of being able to go through those exit doors on one side and enter the first floor on the other was a real annoyance, because it meant every time you wanted to go to the ton of content on the south building you had a pretty annoying route from the Marriott: go upstairs to the first floor, go upstairs again to the second floor, go across the sky bridge, go down the escalator back to the first floor (and that escalator area was a huge bottleneck since the game room was right nearby as well and people loved stopping there to take pics and all sorts of other things), and then go around the corner to the panel rooms or AMV Theater. If we were able to cross that street on the first floor it would have been much simpler; I don't understand why, if you're going to have staff there anyway keeping people from entering, they can't just wave people across the street from one set of doors to the other. Hell, do a mini bag check when they re-enter if you want. It'd still probably be faster than the long way around! Also, speaking as a smoker (I know that's gonna make me real popular judging by the other posts here...), the con should include some way to go outside and smoke without having to exit and go all the way around the block and enter again (going through bag check and the like). I was just at Anime Expo last month and they had outdoor smoking areas that didn't require a full exit and re-entry. No idea why Otakon can't do the same.

Two Final Fantasy Concerts: Yeah, I'm definitely with the people saying two Final Fantasy concerts is at least one too many. Neither Distant Worlds or A New World is difficult to attend on their own in the US, since they both do frequent touring here (in fact, A New World is coming to a lot of east coast stops this fall). It just felt like a real letdown as the Otakon concert for me, as I'm someone who loves modern Japanese music of all kinds, whether it's anisongs or J-pop or idols or electronic or J-rock or indie, and I've seen a lot of great concerts at Otakon over the years. To have both concerts be essentially a minor variation on the same thing, video game symphony music from one specific series, just wasn't up to the Otakon standard in my opinion. I go to Otakon expecting to see at least one Japanese band or singer that I can't typically see in the US, and Final Fantasy concerts are not particularly rare here. I would have done one FF concert and done something separate for the other concert. I know some people didn't like having to pay extra for the Anisong World Matsuri last year, but speaking personally I would much rather pay extra for high quality Japanese musical acts in the future.

Some Fan Panels: Again, detailed in the panelist feedback thread, but there were a few fan panels this year that I felt weren't up to the usual standard I expect from Otakon.

Saturday Night Fan Panel Lines: This was mentioned by a few other posters already but yeah, the lines for panel rooms 3/4/5/6/7 on Saturday night were a complete mess. I saw many attendees basically cutting into the back of supposedly shut down lines, when they were supposed to be going to an overflow line nearby, which makes me think that very few of the people who went to the overflow lines as they were instructed to by staff actually got into the rooms. Other than this mess though line control at the con seemed fine, but yeah not sure what happened on Saturday night.

Lack of big name companies: As mentioned earlier, it did kind of suck not to have Crunchyroll, Viz, GSC, etc. at the con. Hopefully they'll be back next year.

Ugly:

Area around the con center: While I liked the con center itself and the hotel, I found the area around the con center extremely lacking, especially compared to Baltimore. Definitely missed the Inner Harbor area, as there seemed to be very little within walking distance as far as food or drinking options went.

Stupid white nationalist rally hanging over the con: Not anyone at Otakon's fault of course, but could definitely tell that people were on edge about this all weekend, even though it turned out to be pretty much a dud. However, what WAS Otakon's fault was....

Playing an AMV featuring Hitler during AMV Comedy, given the above: Yeah, I don't know how this one snuck through. At one point during the AMV Comedy block (which was otherwise absolutely excellent), they played a somewhat famous comedy video that features misheard DDR lyrics and a lot of random images, including a saluting Hitler. The first time it appeared on screen a lot of people gasped, and you could tell most of the room was uncomfortable with it. While playing that video nowadays in general might be iffy already (given the very real rise of neo-Nazis in the US and white supremacy occupying the White House, it's just not as funny as it was when this video came out many years ago now), I'm really surprised anyone thought it was a good idea given con attendees were already on edge about the rally taking place that weekend. I'm sure it was something that just slipped through the cracks without anyone thinking about it, but people in the room were not happy and I totally understand why.

Nobody knows how to walk: Please stop stopping when there are people directly behind you! Have you never walked in a large group before?! If you're walking along in a line and there are lots of people behind you, you can't just stop moving, you have to move off to the side first! Almost crashed into someone numerous times because they thought just stopping dead with a line of people behind them because they saw some cosplay they liked or even for seemingly no reason at all was a good idea. It's not! Keep moving or get to the side!

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1 hour ago, robotzor said:

Open the rainbow tube to make this even easier!

I'm not convinced the WEWCC ever uses that staircase. I've walked by on other days and they've had it blocked off then too. 

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So with 2018's Otakon in the books, and with many others giving their feedback, it's time I give my own feedback, too.

The Good

1. The line up of guests was a great improvement over last year's.  I got to see Bryce Papenbrook, Cherami Leigh, Todd Haberkorn, and Josh Grelle again.  And even meeting Max Mittelman and Johnny Yong Bosch for the first time.  And while I normally aim for the English dub actors, there was also some good choices in Japanese guests, too.

2. Some of the panels were great, like the Sword Art Online Summer Festival.

3. The Dragon Ball North American Tour.  Need I say more about it?  While I'm just a casual DBZ fan, it's still pretty cool.  The booth that was selling all the DBZ merch was probably the most top notch booth I've seen out of any dealers room booth.

 

The Bad

1. I think the staff got real sloppy and lazy about the guidebook app this year.  It seemed like they weren't utilizing it as properly as they normally would.

 

The Ugly

Hoo Boy, as much of a great time I had, there were a couple of things that stood out as being the ugly.

1. The Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy concert on Friday.  I originally planned on going to that, but was told it got filled up quickly.  My friend told me there was a whole ocean of people waiting to get in.  He wasn't able to, and to top it all off, only HALF of the large room was used, as opposed to the whole entire room like last year with the concerts for the Anisong World Matsuri.  Did someone forget that Final Fantasy has one of the biggest fanbases of any gaming franchise?  Why use only half of the room, and not the entire room?  That was a very stupid decision.

2.  Dragon Ball North American Tour being canceled last minute.  No explanation given, no nothing.  Even though I didn't plan on attending it, that was really not cool to have it planned and cancel last minute.

3. Just as many other have pointed out, some of the handling of autographs was a mess.  More so with the first autograph signings on Friday than anything else.  That problem wasn't too bad with me, as when the dealer's room first opened, I got in for Josh Grelle, and got in with no problem.  It was mainly with the people trying to get in for Kawamori, and what other Japanese guests were signing at the time.  But TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE- The staff recognized that it wasn't really working, and changed it up right away.

 

Other than some real hiccups, I had a great time with this year's Otakon.  Based on what they had for this year, and my own personal enjoyment, this is one of my favorite Otakons I've attended.

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5 minutes ago, Eimi said:

I'm not convinced the WEWCC ever uses that staircase. I've walked by on other days and they've had it blocked off then too. 

It was open on Friday and part of Saturday last year (2017). I went through it just for the experience. It was then closed off later Saturday. So it was at least in use for part of 2017.

 

9 minutes ago, WorldisYours said:

go upstairs to the first floor, go upstairs again to the second floor, go across the sky bridge, go down the escalator back to the first floor (and that escalator area was a huge bottleneck since the game room was right nearby as well and people loved stopping there to take pics and all sorts of other things), and then go around the corner to the panel rooms or AMV Theater

Oh no, you were going the long way to the panel/video/workshop rooms on Level 1 of the Middle Building from the Marriot tunnel. You could have entered from the Marriott tunnel, turned left and then went up either of the next 2 escalators to ascend into Level 1 where all the panel rooms were.

image.thumb.png.abd49aabfb8c0cc8eba60183c5620c92.png

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32 minutes ago, Eimi said:

I'm not convinced the WEWCC ever uses that staircase. I've walked by on other days and they've had it blocked off then too. 

Only time I remember using it was when the JoJo photoshoot last year got too crammed at the bottom of the tube, we all ascended what we called the Dio Tower (since it was endless) to reach L street bridge for relocation. Maybe that was the only exception? It was damn convenient though to reach the workshop area.

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This was actually my favorite con experience personally.

The Good: 

1. Voice Actors: Meeting JYB was the highlight of the con, though I wish he had more autograph sessions and stuff, but you can't win them all. I also ran into Lisa Ortiz, and Jennifer Tedmon who I had no idea were there, as they weren't guests. And I got to meet all the VAs I wanted except Todd Haberkorn.

2. People/friends: I was able to hang out with my friends, which is always fun. I also ran into a friend who I had not seen since middle school, Mr. AJ Cosplay, and many other people. This con more-so than others, the people who I talked to were really cool and chill.

3. Wonderful cosplay all throughout the con.

The Bad:

Autographs: While I personally met most of the people I wanted to, I will agree with everyone else that the autographs need improvement.

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7 hours ago, EdKitten said:

JUST A NOTE:  Darkluna mentioned the "reserve" signs on chairs were for accessibility seating.  I thought those chairs were reserved for other people so I didn't use them.  Thanks Darkluna, for the info!  I'll have to remember this for next year.  Or perhaps could "Reserve for Accessibility" be put on the signs?  I don't know if this is really necessary, since I'm probably the only one who didn't know about the signs.

In the Main Events hall (Ballrooms A & B ) the chairs in the area reserved for those with accessibility issues had blue sleeves on the chair back with the universal wheelchair symbol printed in white. Well, at least they were there for the Masquerade.

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27 minutes ago, Fadamor said:

In the Main Events hall (Ballrooms A & B ) the chairs in the area reserved for those with accessibility issues had blue sleeves on the chair back with the universal wheelchair symbol printed in white. Well, at least they were there for the Masquerade.

That was just the Main Events and Featured Programming.  I made them myself :-)  I have already had a few departments speak with me about having their own seat sleeves so maybe it will expand!

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15 minutes ago, KellyMae said:

That was just the Main Events and Featured Programming.  I made them myself :-)  I have already had a few departments speak with me about having their own seat sleeves so maybe it will expand!

Hand made?! Very professionally done! Omedetou gozaimasu! :)

It occurs to me that you could have a side business supplying the WEWCC with those year-round.

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Hand made?! Very professionally done! Omedetou gozaimasu!



Wellllll let me delve into it. I bought the sleeves, I did a cost analysis on whether I should make them with discounted fabric (I always shop sales!!!) and actually found bulk pre made from overseas more cost effective. So I got 200 wedding sashes in Otakon Blue.

From there I purchased iron on vinyl, cut out the designs (accessibility, press, reserved, ASL) and ironed them all on. ^_^


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It worked well. Were there any issues with the iron-ons starting to peel?

 

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This includes things that are personal and biased towards favoring me. I'm very egotistical that way.
The Good:
- So far I haven't been hit with the Con Plague. (Knock on wood.) This was despite several people coughing their heads off near me in various panels.
- I was able to get an 18+ badge in about 5 minutes Friday morning. (The line later was pretty impressive.)
- I didn't have any major issues with the bag check, but this was because I used a canvas shopping bag instead of a backpack. (It's sooooo much easier to just open a bag than to unzip a dozen pockets on my backpack.)
- Overall I liked the panels I attended, though see below.
The Bad:
- Several panels I wanted to see were filled up by the time I got there. (I noted that the line of people waiting for others to leave 'New Anime for Older Fans' had a significant percentage of non-older fans.)duckduckgo.com
- There were times when I wanted to take pictures of cosplayers, but they were either talking to people or on the phone or otherwise occupied. (I'm of the opinion that they're doing me a favor by posing so I didn't want to bother them.) It didn't help that the batteries that I charged 2 days before the con lasted about as long as Ultraman's Warning Light before the camera started blinking about low battery power.
- The Comedy category in the AMV Contest was rather...lackluster. Usually there are several that will have me laughing uproariously, this year I voted for the one that made me chuckle a little.
The Ugly:
- There was a panel where the presenter would give a loud "UM!" every few sentences, whether to gather his thoughts or just as an idiosyncrasy. (I feel a similar irritation when I hear someone on the radio use 'You know' 20 times in one response.) I'm not saying that I would do better with public presentation, but it was distracting to an otherwise informative panel.
Various and Sundry:
- Is it me, or was the Art Show itself rather sparse? I would swear that there seemed to be fewer pieces up there than previous years, but it may just be a similar number of pieces in a larger space. I was curious about why some pieces had red marker on the tag - was that to signify that someone bid on it?
- Speaking of the AMV contest, was that the same opening as last year? I don't remember Twilight with the update of the WEWCC over the BCC, but that may just be faulty memory.
- I noted the Otakon advertisements in Mt. Vernon Square Station of the Metro (see below). It surprised me to see it there. I didn't see any at Chinatown, L'Enfant Plaza, or Union Station - were they anywhere besides MV?

otk.JPG

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4 minutes ago, Revan said:

I noted the Otakon advertisements in Mt. Vernon Square Station of the Metro (see below). It surprised me to see it there. I didn't see any at Chinatown, L'Enfant Plaza, or Union Station - were they anywhere besides MV? 

I saw an Otakon advertisement on the side of a bus going by. I was surprised by that as well.

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6 hours ago, kimmibeans said:

<snip, snip>

The random front door changes: The change of the front door becoming entry only was done by the convention center due to concerns about traffic flow. It was not pre-planned and we found out about the same time you did. In the future we will try to get word out on guidebook and social media as soon as we find out, and we'll try to grab some extra "exit/entry only" signs for next year, just in case.

Bullhorns: We have them and we will try to make more liberal use of them next year. Last year there were fewer large crowds, so we didn't need them as much. We now know better.

<snip, snip>

If possible, it would be nice to have the exit locations for convention proper, Artist Alley, Dealer's Hall, etc. specified on the convention map. A quick look at the map to figure out which way you should be heading.

Absolutely, more bullhorns. It was very difficult to hear people, and they were straining their voices trying to shout. Same with the people running the bag check line. Although a sign noting to have your bag open on the mid point of the ramp may have saved some shouting.

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14 minutes ago, Fadamor said:

It worked well. Were there any issues with the iron-ons starting to peel?

 

Only two. I just think I didn't iron them on long enough.  I had to balance between a nice stick and burning the fabric.  That one was a bit more sensitive than normal cotton.

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2 minutes ago, KellyMae said:

Only two. I just think I didn't iron them on long enough.  I had to balance between a nice stick and burning the fabric.  That one was a bit more sensitive than normal cotton.

I picked up a magazine in Union Station to read on the train ride home. I think it was called "Cosplay Culture", but I will have to check when I get home. One of the articles said to use Contact Cement instead of Crazy Glue to attach seams. That may work better than ironing on the decals. Easy enough to experiment with it on a spare. ;)

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I picked up a magazine in Union Station to read on the train ride home. I think it was called "Cosplay Culture", but I will have to check when I get home. One of the articles said to use Contact Cement instead of Crazy Glue to attach seams. That may work better than ironing on the decals. Easy enough to experiment with it on a spare.


I'll have to experiment for next year! Definitely want to make more, so it's an option!!! I think my cutter will cut fabric ok :)


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9 minutes ago, Clutch said:

If possible, it would be nice to have the exit locations for convention proper, Artist Alley, Dealer's Hall, etc. specified on the convention map. A quick look at the map to figure out which way you should be heading.

The exits for the Dealers Room, Artist Alley, and the convention center itself was clearly marked on the maps. The exits to the convention center were even marked in red.

The problem is that the Main Entrance, which doubled as an exit earlier in the convention, was changed into entrance only part way through the convention without notice. The only way to know you couldn't exit there Saturday afternoon was to go the Grand Lobby and be shouted at by a man with a megaphone.

 

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I think the main issue everybody had with trying to go into the exit of the Dealer's Room is that the sign for the Dealer's Room was right there at the exit. It might have been better to move the sign further down the hall to where the actual entrance was.

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1 minute ago, DeskLaser said:

I think the main issue everybody had with trying to go into the exit of the Dealer's Room is that the sign for the Dealer's Room was right there at the exit. It might have been better to move the sign further down the hall to where the actual entrance was.

This is very true. They needed those large blue banner signs like they have at each room set up at the alcove to Hall B saying EXIT ONLY. It looked a little sad when there was a staffer standing there holding a piece of cardboard with the words EXIT ONLY written on it in pen.

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The good:

- 2 Final Fantasy concerts: Apparently an unpopular opinion, but I'm glad that there were two concerts, this year. I'm normally doing other things on Friday night at the con, so being able to go to the concert on Sunday, when there is basically literally nothing else going on, was great for me. It didn't look like there was that many people that went to both concerts and both concerts were completely full, so it seems like it was a really good decision to me. I hope they do the two concert thing in the future.

- Staff were generally on the ball this year. Don't think I had a single issue with knowing where to go, being in a correct line, or anything else really, this year. Lines that were getting long were gotten under control pretty quickly.

- Very easy to get in and out of the con. I literally never waited more than 15 seconds to get in from either entrance, this year.

- Got to meet a ton of new people. I feel like I spent half my con shooting the ---- with people I've talked to online for years, but finally met in person.

 

The bad:

- Felt like that there were a lack of 18+ panels compared to years past. On Saturday, I think literally all the 9pm 18+ panels completely filled.

 

The ugly:

Nothing really

 

Had a great time and am looking forward to next year!

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Here are my Good, Bad, and Ugly for 2018:


THE GOOD:

  • MORE Otakon goers makes me feel more confident in the con's future.
  • Meeting Josh Grelle.
  • Getting around wasn't as bad as I thought going into the weekend.
  • The addition of the Funimation Lounge, but it wasn't easy to find.
  • The Dragonball N.A. Tour booth was awesome.
  • The Lolita Garden's bigger room.
  • The Lolita Fashion Show was magnifique!  It was well done, and well attended.
  • Not going OVER budget in the artist alley & dealers room.
  • The Discotek Panel Sunday continues to be among the best overall panels at the Otakon.
  • One more GOOD, meeting a LOT of my fellow hons, fellow lolitas, brolitas, and oujis, and especially some of you folk from this BBS and the unofficial Otakon Discord chat.

THE BAD:

  • The overhanging of the rallies, which fortunately weren't a big deal.
  • The crappy weather, particularily Saturday & Sunday afternoons.
  • As mentioned earlier, the line to get back in the WEWCC Saturday.  I was fortunate I didn't try to re-enter thru the Marquis.  However, the metered, dual-entry lines seemed to make the wait not as bad as it could be.  Still, it's something that ought to be addressed for the 25th Anniversary.
  • No Crunchyroll booth, no VIZ booth, no Japanime Games booth in the Dealers Room (though they did have an official retailer there).
  • Notably less variety in the fan panels this year.  That'll change in 2019.
  • WiFi was spotty in some spots, and I got disconnected on occasion when moving across certain areas.

THE UGLY:

  • Nothing ugly to report.
     

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1 minute ago, CocoFaerie said:

and I got disconnected on occasion when moving across certain areas.

I think this is intentional as part of a metered connection. Your session burns out, and if you aren't using wifi actively, it kicks you off so you aren't one of thousands idly sucking bandwidth.

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On 8/13/2018 at 10:50 AM, Dostovei Illuminas said:

-Autographs were even more of a CF this year than normal. Last year worked great, please just go back to doing it that way and stop trying to fix what wasn't broken.

-No charity auction. Otakon has handled this event more and more poorly every year, but I was honestly shocked that they didn't even try to do one this year. I was prepared to shell out plenty of cash for an original sketch from Kawamori, but sadly it seems I am returning home with a wallet still mostly full.

-Two Final Fantasy comcerts. I like FF as much as the next person, but having that be your only musical offering is just a waste in my opinion. I saw a statement somewhere before the con that Otakon wouldn't be trying to get anyone from Anisong World Matsuri because it had already been done and the con wanted to do something different, or something to that effect, but how many cons do you think have had Distant Worlds? Maybe not every con has had Uematsu with it, but it's still not anything remotely new. Please get more variety of music in the future. There is nothing wrong with more J-Pop or J-Rock or even *gasp* bringing back a guest from several years ago. 

Autographs underwent several changes, but one of the big ones is preserving free autographs. Another was that we shifted to a different space, and had issues with hours and timing. The plan we had in mind a few years back for the move didn't happen for several reasons. Getting more tables going at the same time was a big goal, but there were some mistakes made that I know the team is aware of and will address next year.

Charity auction was a surprise, but it has lacked a dedicated staffer for a few years; maybe that will be my project for next year. Unfortunately, it coincided with a messy change in tracking. I'm sure it'll improve next year.

Repeat musical guests include: TMR, Yoko Kanno, Home Made Kazoku, Hiro Yura/Eminence, and Yoshiki/X-Japan. Speaking as the guy who brought all of those, I got grief for every choice from some folks -- "can't you bring anyone new?" and then immediately after it, "why can't you bring back ____".  We always aimed for variety and few repeats, and I'll stake our record favorably against most other cons in that regard. Plenty of firsts, plenty of variety.  Frankly, we'd never done something with a full orchestra before (just small groups), and it turned out quite well, but it was very costly. That left little budget for another big act.  I'm sure we'll go a different route next year, whoever runs it.

Anisong World Matsuri was always intended to be a roving concert series; I expect they're going to make stops at many of the larger cons. But if you've read my comments in the past about what it takes to get musical acts from Japan, even with great connections and solid budget, the timing is often a huge problem, and on top of that, the difficult of getting performing visas in the currently political climate is a factor.

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20 hours ago, bubblesneverpop said:

-No Voice Actors after dark. Extra disappointed because my favorite one yet had Todd a few years ago and I was hoping he'd do it again.

 

Side note: Was the chalk artist in the artist alley this year? I don't remember seeing him but I could've missed it.

 

There were other similar "after dark" style panels on offer this year, one of them from the LAVA crew (three guests who do this at other cons), and I guess panels decided that filled the need adequately. 

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6 hours ago, WorldisYours said:

Ugly:

Area around the con center: While I liked the con center itself and the hotel, I found the area around the con center extremely lacking, especially compared to Baltimore. Definitely missed the Inner Harbor area, as there seemed to be very little within walking distance as far as food or drinking options went. 

 

You're kidding, right? 

Just on the other side of the Renaissance, there are something like 35-40 restaurants with immense variety, including some of the best restaurants in DC and many of the best values in town.

Yelp or google maps would have shown you dozens of options, and that's above and beyond the options listed in the program guide and elsewhere. (Unless they somehow missed that map in the guide this year -- I never did grab a copy.)

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53 minutes ago, alabaster said:

Autographs underwent several changes, but one of the big ones is preserving free autographs. Another was that we shifted to a different space, and had issues with hours and timing. The plan we had in mind a few years back for the move didn't happen for several reasons. Getting more tables going at the same time was a big goal, but there were some mistakes made that I know the team is aware of and will address next year.

Charity auction was a surprise, but it has lacked a dedicated staffer for a few years; maybe that will be my project for next year. Unfortunately, it coincided with a messy change in tracking. I'm sure it'll improve next year.

Repeat musical guests include: TMR, Yoko Kanno, Home Made Kazoku, Hiro Yura/Eminence, and Yoshiki/X-Japan. Speaking as the guy who brought all of those, I got grief for every choice from some folks -- "can't you bring anyone new?" and then immediately after it, "why can't you bring back ____".  We always aimed for variety and few repeats, and I'll stake our record favorably against most other cons in that regard. Plenty of firsts, plenty of variety.  Frankly, we'd never done something with a full orchestra before (just small groups), and it turned out quite well, but it was very costly. That left little budget for another big act.  I'm sure we'll go a different route next year, whoever runs it.

Anisong World Matsuri was always intended to be a roving concert series; I expect they're going to make stops at many of the larger cons. But if you've read my comments in the past about what it takes to get musical acts from Japan, even with great connections and solid budget, the timing is often a huge problem, and on top of that, the difficult of getting performing visas in the currently political climate is a factor.

God yes, please do something about the charity auction. I've complained about it for years on end and it feels like yelling at a brick wall. I really feel like this year was a huge dropped ball in that regard especially, since I know for a fact that if you'd gotten Kawamori to do a sketch for the auction then there would have been a huge fight over it. I was prepared to go into the $2k-$3k range myself. Probably could have gone higher. I know at least one other collector drove down to the con specifically for the auction, and was very disappointed that he had done so after I informed him it was cancelled.

I have nothing against inviting someone new or trying out different genres for musical acts, it mainly just felt like this year was a case of doubling down on the one thing and then having nothing to compliment it. Not every year has to be a rock/pop extravaganza or have AWM or whoever show up. I guess it's just a fine balancing act that's hard to get right. I do appreciate all the hard work that goes into it so I hope all the complaints aren't too discouraging. Can't please everyone all the time I guess.

As far as visas go, I don't know what particular difficulties you've had, but I actually know someone in CBP who was responsible for a handful of guest cancellations at other cons because of visa issues. From what I've been told, every single time was either 1) not filing the paperwork at all or 2) not filing it early enough. I've never actually tried to file any of that paperwork myself, but I'm told it's not particularly difficult. We're both government workers though so maybe that skews the perspective a bit. Best advice I can offer is to just file the paperwork as early as possible. My friend did remark that all of Otakon's visa paperwork was in good order before the con and that it was markedly better than the status of many other cons, so hopefully there's some consolation in that.

As far as autographs go, honestly the setup in the Artist Alley last year was immensely better in my opinion. It was much better organized and I had virtually no problems whatsoever. I understand trying to refine the formula and all, but I felt like the setup in the dealer room this year was a major step backwards. And the one hour rule is still responsible for 90% of the crowd control problems at least. I don't know how feasible it would be to have the same number of simultaneous signings in the Artist Alley but with the longer hours I feel like you could space the signings out more and help alleviate the crowding issues at the same time. Or maybe put some of them in the Marquis like someone else mentioned. I think having that many all together in one location with the restrictive lining policy just makes things way too hectic and unorganized.

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1 hour ago, alabaster said:

You're kidding, right? 

Just on the other side of the Renaissance, there are something like 35-40 restaurants with immense variety, including some of the best restaurants in DC and many of the best values in town

I was thinking the same thing 

There is a crazy amount of restaurants and food places practically right around the corner from the convention center

Just Chinatown alone has so much and that's barely two blocks from the WWCC

I'd even go as far as to say there's more varied food and drink options close to the con than Baltimore ever had 

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7 hours ago, Revan said:

The Bad:
- The Comedy category in the AMV Contest was rather...lackluster. Usually there are several that will have me laughing uproariously, this year I voted for the one that made me chuckle a little.

From what I heard, the contest only got four legit entries in Comedy this year (I have a feeling that the ones that won were legit entries in that category), and as such, some videos got moved to that category.

The one year I opted to do a Sentimental video instead of Comedy... :P

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Overall, my bf and I had a great Otakon! Feels like it went by way too fast, as always, and I am not ready to be back in the "real world" this week at all! :lol:

That being said, here are my thoughts on Good, Bad, and Ugly:

The Good

-Artist Alley: Definitely one of the top highlights of the con this year for us. We probably spent the most of our time here, as there was just so much high quality work to see and to choose from. Ended up spending most of our money here instead of the Dealer's Room (usually it is the other way around for us) and got some amazing pieces.

However, I am disappointed to be hearing that some of the artists had a bad experience and may not return. So please, do take their feedback seriously so they want to return, because Artist Alley's turnout was incredible this year!

-Staff: Last year, there were a ton of staff issues mentioned in feedback and on here. I myself had a run in with some incredibly rude staff last year that really spoiled my day. PROPS here to Otakon, because I can tell you listened to our feedback from last year. I didn't have any real issues with staff this year; on the contrary, everyone was polite even when their stress was understandably high. I have said this in another thread, but props especially to the crew who had to troubleshoot the DBZ panel and had the unfortunate role of messenger for its cancellation. The situation sucked, but it wasn't those staffers' faults. They were appropriately apologetic and navigated it with humilty, grace, and patience, and were willing to speak further with those of us who went up front to get more info and who were understandably upset.

Bottom line -- thank you for listening to the concerns of last year! Staff efforts to remain courteous were noticed and appreciated.

- Panels: I was happy with all the panels I went to: The Horrors of 4kids, Aniplex Industry Panel, LAVA, and especially Creating Voices w/ Josh Grelle. All great! No real issues with lines or getting in to a panel. That being said, I didn't attempt for too many panels either this year. Not due to disinterest, there were a lot more I was interested in going to, but ultimately we ended up spending more time in DR & AA instead.

- Dragonball Exhibit: As many others have already said, having a display like that in the Dealer's Room was fantastic! Would love to see that kind of thing more often.

-Improved Line-handling: Disclaimer that I did not attempt to attend any autograph sessions, concerts, or Saturday night's panels, which seem to be where most line issues occurred. So I didn't run into many line issues myself, and the few I did were handled pretty well. I do think that there has been overall improvement from last year, especially with entering the con itself (aside from Saturday around noon...) and for entering the Dealer's Room.

-Rally Information: I do appreciate the level to which Otakon took concerns about the rally seriously, and kept us all informed. There will be plenty of communication issues I will gripe about later, but this certainly wasn't one of them. You guys took the right approach, and maintained an often difficult balance between keeping us informed but remaining calm, which I appreciated.

-Good amount of Japanese guests: I saw someone mentioned there being a lack of Japanese guests. I disagree, I think we had a great range of guests from Japan and also from Korea.

- The Venue: I can tell you guys are still feeling stuff out with the new venue, and that is understandable, it is only year 2 there. I think there were some great improvements over space usage this year compared to last. I think last year we went too wide and roomy (things were more spaced out, space went unused, and getting around required a much bigger trek) and this year we maybe over adjusted from that to more squished since our attendance numbers spiked back up again (for Saturday at least) so probably settling somewhere in the middle is on the horizon. I would even suggest maybe expanding for Saturday, but keeping Friday and Sunday as it was this year. But good job so far!

-Day Badges: I think offering these were the right call, and that we are now in a place that can accommodate how they will effect our attendance numbers and space needs. I think the boost we saw in attendance this year was largely due to this. My guess would be that we mainly reached those numbers on Saturday, as it was significantly more crowded that day. But, more ppl in attendance means more incentive for our partners and more revenue for Otakon programming, so I think this was a win!!

The Bad

-Dealer's Room Monotony: I agree with those saying the DR felt a bit too "same-sy" this year. Not sure why that was, though it may in part have had to do with...

-Absence of Key Industry Partners: I was shocked once I realized Viz and Crunchyroll were nowhere to be found. No panel, no booth, no rep. Glad I wasn't the only one. I realize there were others missing, too, but those two are the ones whose absence struck me the most. It definitely made the DR feel more empty. And I definitely missed the Sailor Moon hype and presence that Viz has been bringing the past number of years. I am not saying this is necessarily in Otakon's control. But it still isn't a good sign that an Industry partner like Viz didn't see Otakon as a "can't miss" event this year (especially since they had a huge OPM announcement this Sunday via social media). Not sure if it was due to the lower turnout last year, or if they need some sort of further incentive -- but please appeal to them to come back!!

- Saturday's Line: You guys know this was a thing, so I don't need to say much more. The line to enter the con around noon (while the Marriot entrance was closed) was not ideal. That being said, I do still feel progress on this has been made over last year's lines.

-Lack of Year 25 Acknowledgement: Glad I wasn't alone in noticing this one. So, one of only two Otakons I missed in the last 11 years was Otakon 20, because of a trip overseas. So I was extra psyched for Otakon 25. I was expecting more announcements commemorating the landmark year, but none came. Yes, this felt underwhelming and made things feel lackluster.

I understand some have responded saying that the celebration will be next year, to celebrate the "25th anniversary year" instead of Otakon 25 this year. However, you celebrated Otakon 20 on the 20th year. So I don't get the inconsistency.

The Ugly

Most of these just blend together, but... 

- Canceled Panels: This one shouldn't be a surprise. Obviously this was a running theme this weekend. Panel cancellations, rescheduling, and location changes were rampant this year. I get that in some cases the panelists were no shows, and in some Otakon's lack of communication was to blame. Regardless, it is clear something internal is exacerbating this problem with the sheer volume of canceled panels, and whatever that something is needs to change. Someone earlier said they had 6 panels canceled on them... that is crazy! 

-Dragonball World Tour Panel/ Info/ Content: This one gets its own mention, since it was that huge of a deal. My issue with this is three-fold. A. The fact that this panel was unceremoniously canceled, when it was supposed to be one of the main events and biggest draws. Not even rescheduled? B. The panel itself wasn't initially set up as a highlight, either. O information was given on the panel itself (no description in guidebook), so we weren't really sure what it was supposed to be other than Dragonball related, and it was put in a small panel room when really it should have been in Main Events. C. There was also 0 information communicated about the tour leading up to Otakon. It had a banner and was being advertised right alongside Distant Worlds as a main event, yet we had tons of info on Distant Worlds relayed and very little about the tour. No one knew what it fully was going to consist of. And tbh, the exhibit booth was cool, but the rest seemed pretty tame to call itself a tour. Canceled panel aside, the first stop on the tour had special guests including Sean Schemmel and premieres of the new movie trailer. I was expecting something similarly big. Yet all we had was the CCG tournament, which I don't very much care about...

- Utilizing Guidebook: So, this one baffles me, because I have already seen Otakon do this RIGHT in years past! It seemed that whoever was in charge of this this year really dropped the ball. Information on canceled or reschedule panels, unscheduled room clears, and line updates were given on FB, but not through the guidebook app that has alert and inbox features!! I didn't even notice that updates were posted on FB instead until late Friday night. Furthermore, you have the ability to update panel information in real time. So there is no reason this could not have been done. Beyond that, there were a bunch of panels that had unhelpful or nonexistent descriptions. I expected those to be updated by the time of the con, but no luck. Also, the last couple of years it was set up so that when you clicked on a guest's name, at the bottom it would link to what panels/autographs they were involved in. This very handy feature was missing this year as well.

COMMUNICATION: Pretty much same as everyone has already been saying. Most of the issues this year boils down to poor communication between each other (Otakon Staff), with Industry partners and panelists, and with attendees. When Funimation Favorites was cancelled we were told it would be rescheduled for Sunday at 11. Never heard anything about it after that, and no one knew what I was talking about if I asked. No announcement anywhere to state that it was cancelled, nor to mention the reschedule, nor to state that the reschedule wasn't happening either. Still not sure what the entire story is for the DB panel. Things in general were just not communicated to us.

And someone made a good point earlier -- these issues started at the beginning, during the prep for Otakon. Back to the very beginning of prep this year with the lack of transparency regarding the wait for the hotel block. Social media flat out refused to answer or even acknowledge our questions or concerns. They were brushed off. It was really frustrating. Then finally, after months of strict silence and blatantly ignoring questions, there was a sudden apology that seemed a bit non-apologetic and only 2 days notice given about the block when we were promised a week's notice.

The bad news is that this has been an ongoing problem over the years that has yet to really be curbed. The good news is it is fully within your capabilities to do so! Please take this to heart moving forward. Even if issues are arising, we would rather be communicating with you honestly than met with silence!

 

 

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