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

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The Good:

- I got to see everything I wanted to see. The air conditioning was set at a comfortable level, the free WiFi connection was relatively reliable, and the lanes between the rows of dealers' booths weren't too narrow. The "You Are Here" stickers on the maps were helpful. Thanks for changing the entry location for dealers.

Most things I experienced were good. I'll go into detail on the bad, but I don't want that to outweigh the fact that Otakon did many things right and that my experience was positive as a whole.

The Bad:

- Guest panel titles. On Friday, Nobutoshi Canna's panel was so poorly attended. Masaya Matsukaze's was even worse (there must have been no more than 20 people there). The schedule only listed the guests' names as their panels' titles, so only attendees who knew these names would know to attend. Please add more info into the titles. LordGeo had some good ideas.

- Autographs. Things were much improved thanks to being in the larger dealers room space. I hope you continue putting autographs there. But by continuing to limit the line-ups to one hour prior to each signing, you are causing crowd congestion and not utilizing this space as well as you could. I put a suggestion in the autographs thread.

- No photos. In Panel 2 on Saturday, someone put up the "No Photos" sign for an industry panel, then left it up there for most of the rest of the day. It even stayed up during panels where the guests were okay with photos. Please be mindful of this. Also, please make a distinction between "No Photos" and "No Videos". Some guests are okay with photos but not video. Some are okay with both.

- Rainbow Tube. Please open the Rainbow Tube. Or at the very least, allow one-way traffic (up only or down only). It's puzzling to me why you block off an easy way to get between floor 1 and 2.

- Dealers room check-out. Checking out requires walking back and forth between the dealer's own booth, Exhibitor Services, and the Otakon table too much. Here's how it could be streamlined: After a dealer finishes loading their stuff onto their pallets, the dealer goes to the Otakon table to get a gofer. The gofer and dealer walk to the dealer's booth together. The gofer looks over the booth, and if it looks okay, gives the dealer the MHA form. The dealer fills it out, gives it to the gofer, and the gofer gives the dealer the entry ticket and brings the form to the Exhibitor Services to deal with the rest. This way, the dealer only needs to walk over to the Otakon table/Exhibitor Services once.

The Ugly:

- Exit only. If something is going to be consistently used an exit only, please put up a sign. I'm talking about the dealers room's entryways, but this might have happened elsewhere.

- Missing industry presence. This is not something that Otakon can control so I don't blame them. But I was still sad to see so many companies missing. Having no booth is understandable, but not even sending one rep to do a panel is very unfortunate.

 

On 8/13/2018 at 1:35 AM, ueda said:

- I really just get the feeling Otakon is not making much profit any more and they can't afford to get good guests; plus it feels like they are more interested in Youtubers who don't even relate to Otakon's core mission and don't even seem to care about getting Japanese guests

Otakon is in a new area where many people are completely unfamiliar with it. As such, they need names that people recognize and get excited about. YouTubers and local D.C. acts are part of how they are reaching out to the community to bring in new blood. Getting Japanese guests is important too, but you have to remember that significantly more people recognize, and are interested in, American talent.

If you want to learn more about this, go to the "Otakorp: Demographics & Financials" panel held on Sundays. This year's talked about this exact topic.

And yes, it's true that Otakon hasn't been profitable recently. The past two years, expenses have been higher than income. If this continues, there will be no more Otakon. So Otakon has to be mindful of which guests to bring to increase attendance.

 

On 8/14/2018 at 1:24 AM, The Otakutopian said:

- 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. 

This was discussed during the "Otakorp: Demographics & Financials" panel. It's because Otakon still had space in the WEWCC that it wasn't using to its fullest. So why bother buying space in the Marriott Marquis before using all of what's already available to them at the WEWCC?

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On 8/13/2018 at 12:42 PM, F00LY said:

The Good

- Great time as usual. Wasn't too crowded, temperature was great most of the time, everything was "smooth" in terms of building stuff again.

- Featured presenters were great as usual.

- Artists Alley and Dealer's Room were enjoyable as ever.  It seemed to me that AA really outshined dealer's room this year, but that could just be personal preference on what was available.

- The con-goers. The people I interacted with this year were some of the most friendly people I've met yet.  

The Bad / Ugly

- Cancelled panels with 0 explanation, justification, or reason.  We get it. Things happen.  However, non-transparency is never okay.  You cancelled "Voice Actors After Dark", a HUGE draw every year, 1 day before the con, with 0 explanation, and offered up some children's programming as if that is a replacement.  You cancelled the DBZ panel after holding people for 30 minutes with 0 explanation.  

- Moving things without notice.  Photoshoots and panels got bopped around as close to as an hour or so before hand without a notification.  The My Hero Academy Shoot on Saturday was moved last minute and the group was in 2 different spots because of it. Luckily, most people seemed to figure it out and relocate together.

- Photoshoot locations are literal garbage.  You take shoots that you should know will be massive (MHA is just one example) and shove them in tiny places.  Then staff proceeds to have to spend the next 30 minutes yelling at everyone to not block the hall, when you scheduled the photoshoot in a small enclosure in the middle of a hallway.  Dedicate a room to photoshoots. At least the one's believed to be big ones.

- Schedule design is the same as its been for the last 8 years - workable at best, terrible at worst.  Featured presenters not being recognized / lack of clarity.  You put on the schedule [F+] meaning its a featured presenter. That means literally nothing. You have a dozen featured presenters. Who is presenting it?  Why should I care? Half the panels don't have descriptions, or have 3-5 words that tell you nothing about it for non-featured.  I want "+2Comedy Presents" or "by Shoestring Scientists" or SOMETHING indicating to me that the people I've grown to love over the last decade is the one running it.

- Bag check line had some unbearable moments.

- Room sizes.  I still don't get why panels that fill the biggest spaces available every year for the last decade (+2 Comedy, etc) do not get put into the largest rooms.  It's not new. It's not a surprise. It's not unexpected.  At this point, it's negligence.  

 

We regret any inconvenience but the decision to move all location #3 Saturday photoshoots was made Friday night to ensure that popular shoots had a much larger location. By 8am Saturday signs had been placed at the original photoshoot #3 location with a map to the new location, a gofer was stationed there to direct people to the new location, guidebook and info desk were updated and social media posts were made. I had staff check the original area several times during the day as well. We try really hard to find good locations for photoshoots but are limited to space available in the convention center that allows for large gatherings but does not block access to other areas. We are monitoring this thread for feedback and taking everyone's suggestions to heart. A dedicated area would be fantastic but we aren't sure at this time if that type of space will be available for next year. We appreciate the cosplay community's input and will try to improve both locations and communication moving forward.

Edited by DDRmom

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On 8/13/2018 at 4:18 PM, LittleHobbit13 said:

 

  • To the girl at Con Feedback who leapt right to the head of the line and then proceeded to list off at least a dozen issues she had with the convention without even giving them a chance to response to anything...you were awful for doing that. A) You had literally not one pleasant thing to say, b) some of those things were just inconveniences, and c) most importantly, everybody gets 1-2 comments at Con Feedback so that everyone gets a chance to share and what you did was selfish. 

Ooh, ooh, that was me! I’ll cop to sitting by the mic to make sure I got to speak (I got caught in the Friday Kawamori autograph debacle, after all...) but the rest of this is pure exaggeration. I opened by praising the guest selection (and maybe the venue? Can’t remember that part with absolute certainty, know I praised guests).  I had nine short points, all of which were significant problems for myself or for friends who couldn’t make the panel and asked me to convey them — and most if not all of which have been reiterated as major problems here.  Additionally, I apologize if multiple points is outside the norm, but I had never attended a feedback session before, and that norm that wasn’t communicated at the beginning of the panel (another piece of the recurring suggestion that “Otakon communication could improve”...?).  I also expect, though I could be wrong, that I took less time than several people who raised a single issue but got into debates with the staff. 

Finally, I’m sad that you posted about this in a feedback thread instead of  chatting with me after the panel. I was around outside the panel room for several minutes talking to people, and my cosplay was quite conspicuous. Let’s chat next Otakon!

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15 hours 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.

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.)

This is my fault then, just wasn't used to the new area and from just staying at the Marriott Marquis and the con center, it certainly didn't look like there was much around. I think myself and my group would have probably felt more keen to explore the wider area and find all this stuff if not for the fear of the white supremacists hanging over everyone's heads, but that's certainly not Otakon's fault either.

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Here's my Good, Bad, and Ugly 2018.  I really hope Otakon can bring in more profits and continue to grow in it's new location because I feel like things have been going really well despite the financial and logistical problems they have been facing.  

The Good:

- Spacious convention space.  Even with events being consolidated to just the convention center, I was still able to navigate traffic easily and make it into the panels I wanted.

- Two Final Fantasy Concerts.  I LOVE Final Fantasy and personally thought it was amazing that Otakon was able to get Distant Worlds to perform.  

- Day Badges.  It was really smart to include semi-passes for people who didn't/ weren't able to commit to a full weekend cost of con.  Hopefully this leads to individual passes as I know many were asking for "friday only" or "saturday only" passes.  

- Staff.  The staff were so helpful and accommodating.  Past Otakons had rude or confused staff or irritable staff that didn't want to be bothered but this year they were all very welcoming and communication was well done to solve con-goer's needs and concerns.  Anything I heard/ saw that went wrong with programming had nothing to do with staffers/ gofers at the scene and I commend them for being professional the whole weekend.

 

The Bad:

- The Bag/ Weapon Check.  It was a lot more clustered having only one prop check for the weekend and not extending checks to at least the tunnel from the Marriott.  There was also the slow down in lines entering on saturday but still not terrible.  

- The lack of vendors.  There were some major industry booths missing and it could be felt in the dealer's room.  The spaces felt a little more empty than last year.

 

The Ugly:

- Cancelled Panels.  There are always cancelled panels at conventions, but this year it felt like a lot more major panels were cancelled.  The Voice Actors After Dark was a major pull for 18+ crowds and the DBZ Tour Panel was a very prominent factor at the convention so it was confusing that there wasn't better management/ communication in regards to it.  

- Photoshoots.  The photoshoot spaces need better crowd control.  More often than not, staffers and photoshoot admins had to repeatedly clear pathways and yell at con-goers for crowding due to the small space allotted for big groups.  I recommend stanchions to section off areas to stand in so people that wander in aren't repeatedly yelled at for things they didn't know.  

 

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8 hours ago, otoxo said:

This was discussed during the "Otakorp: Demographics & Financials" panel. It's because Otakon still had space in the WEWCC that it wasn't using to its fullest. So why bother buying space in the Marriott Marquis before using all of what's already available to them at the WEWCC?

The only time I felt the loss of the Marquis was the Distant World Concert and how 1.) quickly the line was cut off and 2.) that last year’s main events space was reduced by 25-33% ish with the smaller slice going to Featured Events.

Obviously I’m not a logistics expert and I’m not going to accuse Otakon of having “no good reason” for doing anything that didn’t work in my favor.  Looking over the maps, it appeared this was done to make up for the loss of the large Marquis ballroom.  While I’m now in a place of “it is what it is”, Friday night I was pretty frustrated “WHY is main events SMALLER?!”.  I had more friends who didn’t make it than those who actually did.  We’re all ota-veterans.  It’s not like nobody didn’t know to show up well before seating time. (I don’t know why this line is formatting differently on my screen.  I don’t intend for it to have greater emphasis).

I aaaaalmost wish it were a ticketed event so that I would have had my expectations in place before setting foot in DC.  Almost.

Edited by Cyanna

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16 hours 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.

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.)

Yes, they did miss that map in the program guide -- I was very frustrated about that when trying to find places to eat.

20 hours ago, Revan said:

- 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.

Last year's intro was definitely not the same.  I was the one who yelled "WE LOVE YOU VIC!" at Friday's contest showing right after the intro played, as Vic was the one who put in so much time and effort to recreate the "Twilight" intro that was so sorely missed in 2017.

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Good:

The Discotek panel once again was amazing.

Media blasters may have been the only company this year to sell something before it's street date this year, it was a adult anime release so I dunno if I should name it here.

The people from mangagamer we're delightful to talk to at their booth once again and the panel they had revealed some very interesting information about credit card processing company that was pretty bad to hear, also they announced some awesome games.

Beyond the tentacle was perhaps the funniest panel this year I attended and covered some topics I didn't know existed.

Manlybattleships panel your wrong and you should feel bad, was hands down the most enjoyable panel this year for me just because they tore star wars a new one.

Fridays concert was amazing.

Bad:

Dealers room needs 2 entrances walking the entire corridor is annoying when the second escalator well could be used for both entrance and exit.

The loss of 2 video panels was weird, went from 5 to 3.

The lack of Viz in the dealers room sucked, as I waited for the con to purchase JoJo and Hunter x Hunter for the extras they usually throw into the items they sell at the booth.

The lack of a photoshoot area, the location outside the gaming hall gets far too crowded at times due to many photoshoots happening at once (official and unofficial) comiket in Japan handles this by setting designated areas outside just for cosplayers to show off and have photos taken, obviously you can't do it outside but a large room or two could suffice.

LAVA super kawaii panel was cringeworthy bad improv comedy, didn't really see a panel feedback thread so I thought I'd include this here, half the panel was them doing a madlibs esque improv bit that was just them taking adjectives from the audience and fitting them into a madlibs script they made without trying to augment the script to fit, while shouting silly character names and attack names is funny to some I didn't get it. The 3 headed man bit was funny but that was the first bit and for me at least it went downhill from there.

Ugly:

Dragonball world tour panel, people have already talked at length so I won't bother.

Voice actors after dark getting canceled a day before the con, and the general lack of 18+ panels this year.

The final fantasy merch table, on Friday after the concert i wasn't allowed to go to it when leaving the room instead told to go down the stairs to the opposite side of the con, had the mangagamer panel to get to so I said I'll go on Sunday before the concert to buy stuff since I didn't feel like seeing both concerts. Well I get there at around 12.45 and am told at the escalatior no one is allowed up to line up for the concert, I say I just wanna go buy some merch at the merch table and they say I'm still not allowed up. So I didn't get to buy any of the CDs.

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2 minutes ago, gamegodtre said:

The lack of a photoshoot area, the location outside the gaming hall gets far too crowded at times due to many photoshoots happening at once (official and unofficial) comiket in Japan handles this by setting designated areas outside just for cosplayers to show off and have photos taken, obviously you can't do it outside but a large room or two could suffice.

I just want to point out that official photoshoots do have four reserved spaces. Last year, Photoshoot #2 was located in the sky bridge but it was moved this year probably for this same reason. No official photoshoot was located outside the gaming hall this year.

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11 minutes ago, ShiroNiKuma said:

I just want to point out that official photoshoots do have four reserved spaces. Last year, Photoshoot #2 was located in the sky bridge but it was moved this year probably for this same reason. No official photoshoot was located outside the gaming hall this year.

I figured the spots were the same as last year my bad but still the amount of people who cosplay there is troublesome as at least twice this year when I used the bridge there was a traffic jam not as bad as the Baltimore skybridge but it was noticable and it may get worse with more people.

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21 hours ago, alabaster said:

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. 

This should have been presented as the alternate option when the announcement went out then.  Instead, we got told our favourite "After Dark" panel was cancelled and replaced with an "All-Ages" (which reads "Child Friendly" in my mind) panel.

Why LAVA was not presented as the alternative is mind boggling.

EDIT : Also, panel descriptions were horrendous as always.  I didn't know, and still don't know, what the hell "LAVA" means or is, and your panel description offered nothing to indicate.  

Edited by F00LY

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On Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 10:58 AM, DeskLaser said:

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.

 

Sheesh, that's awful what you went through, especially with the disappearing proxy person!  When they said you should have been given a red lanyard when first receiving the badge ribbon, and you have to find a proxy person on your own -- that might have been the wrong info?  Because when I got the badge ribbon the fella took a lot of time explaining this year's proxy system, that the person controlling the line would provide the red lanyards and proxy person to take our place in line.  Personally, I figured it'd be a miracle to find a chair and/or I'd lose the proxy person somewhere in the massive lines, so I didn't even try using the proxy system.  Other shows just have disability people in their own line, with chairs if they need them, near the front of the main line, but have heard/read that Otakon doesn't want anyone having VIP-type access, which is understandable.  Though I don't know what else to suggest.

 

On Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 2:26 PM, 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's great!  For Closing Ceremonies and Con Feedback, I only saw some of the chairs near the back of the room -- those had small-ish pieces of cardboard with "Reserved" on it and were attached to the chairs with thin string (actual materials used might have been different, but they looked like cardboard and string).

 

On Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 2:55 PM, 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!

 

Thank you for going through so much to make handicapped seat sleeves!  That's really going above and beyond the call of duty -- I'm sure they looked awesome!

 

Forgot to thank Otakon for all the tables/chairs at both ends of the Dealers' Room -- they were SOOOOOO helpful!

 

Also, just a reminder for people with swords/other large props -- please watch for other people nearby you when walking around.  A lady walked in front of me last Friday with a sword horizontally slung over her shoulder -- she suddenly turned and the sword's point missed my face by a few inches.  :blink:

 

The weekend went by WAY too fast -- can't wait for next year's Otakon!

 

 

Edited by EdKitten

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Good 

 

  • this was my first time really getting to speak with a lot of random people at this con and my experience was great 
  • shout out to the man at the otakon museum who held a great conversation with me about why otakon numbers may have dwindled despite the anime community getting bigger, among other things 
  • shout out to the staff that personally directed me when I was lost
  • Shout out to the people working tech at my panel who desperately tried to make technology work (it didn’t end up working, but they tried so hard) 
  • shout out for all the panelists who I got to talk with
  • There were some new artists at the artist alley that I haven’t seen/seen in a while that were great 
  • The water color artists and the traditional media artists brought much needed diversity 

 

 

Bad 

  • there was a low accessibility for water at the con, I personally didn’t have an issue, but I was worried for the well being of people in general 
  • The first two entrances to the dealers room are actually exits, the flow of traffic when exiting is hard, maybe they should get a rope like in Baltimore years to divide certain portions of the hallway in two 
  • Talked to cosplayers who had props checked, and no note added to badge, only to re-enter the convention later and have to have props checked again and then marked

 

Ugly 

  • long outdoor line for the bag check, 
  • staff directed me and my friends out of the line initially because “no props get to skip line” didn’t say no bags, lost our place in line
  • Hotel bag check was closed for part of Saturday morning 
  • Main entrance/exit no longer including exit 

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So Otakon 2018 was my first con ever, so of course take everything with a grain of salt. 

The Good:

Honestly all things considered line management didn't feel too bad. Yes, some entrances could have been marked better (DR for example) but I understand why it had to be at the far end of the hallway (Sunday's line was so long). My friends and I got used it the location quickly though.

The Friday Night concert was fun and was really the only thing I attended. The initial line up was bit of a mess and definitely saw some people cut in line, but it is what it is. 

Lines moved as quickly as you would expect with the number of people there. 

Arcade was pretty fun.

 

The Bad:

Dealers Room felt sparse in terms of what was available. 

Lines and prelines and unofficial lines made things confusing.

Didn't get any autographs but that's more of my fault for not planning well.

 

The Ugly:

Like 85% sure my friend had a gift stolen from my Hotel Room. Kinda put a damper on the con. 

Why no Hot Glue?!?! My friend and I waited in cosplay repair to fix her 02 horn. Instead of hotglue they used contact cement or something. Wasted a good 40 minutes waiting in line for a fix that broke 5 minutes after we left the cosplay repair room. Ran to CVS instead and got some gel superglue that worked 20X better. 

Lack of good photoshoot spaces. Just really difficult to find some shooting spaces around the con that wouldn't require us leaving the center. Not really much that can be done but in a lot of places lighting was not our friend. 

 

 

 

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I'm going to preface this by saying this was our second Otakon, the first being the one last year. My husband and I were the ones attending.

The Good:

  • Seemed a lot more organized, much quicker to get in the door on Friday morning than it was last year.
  • More of the space in the game room was utilized, with places to sit down quite abundant there as well as the dealers' room, which I appreciated.
  • The Kingdom Hearts panel was great.
  • I appreciate that there was a quick response and positive reaction to that whole "Unite the Right" rally going on nearby. Gives a good sense of the community.

The Bad:

  • Dealers' room was extremely lacking in variety. I saw most of the same vendors from last year, and half of the vendors were selling the exact same thing. Pokemon plushies, figurines, etc. I didn't end up buying anything because nothing stood out.
  • It felt a lot more cramped than last year. Pretty much anywhere we went was cramped, I had to hold my husband's hand so I wouldn't lose him!
  • No real interest in most of the panels. I liked how well the Sailor Moon panel went last year, there was nothing similar that jumped out at me this time.
  • Because the dealers' room was so crowded, it felt like when we were at Disney World when trying to navigate around there. People got in front of me constantly and nearly pushed us out of the way if they wanted to see something.

The Ugly:

  • DISTANT WORLDS. This was the only thing I was looking forward to at the con. We made sure to plan our time out accordingly, and got there about 15 minutes after they were supposed to have started seating at 4:30 PM. I realize that we probably should have gotten there a little bit sooner, but I assumed they would have made proper accommodations considering it was free to attend if you had already paid for Otakon membership. We were in a group of about 20 people at the end of the line that were told couldn't go in because the room was "at capacity." Is there no way the room could have been made bigger? This soured the rest of our con experience and we didn't come back for the next two days of the con. I had no idea VIP tickets were a thing, otherwise I would have bought them.
  • Cancelling panels. Overall lack of communication. Response to cancelling panels. I keep seeing someone comment on Facebook saying "Oh, but Otakon is 100% volunteers!" but someone has to be in charge of events and making sure guests are where they need to be, right? Thank goodness for the volunteers, but seriously, the people who organize events who know will have big turnouts need to organize better.
  • The opening ceremonies were absolutely horrendous. This is supposed to be an event that gets people pumped up for the rest of the con, and I just wasn't feeling that vibe in the room. I didn't like the rap groups that performed. It felt like they were saying "Hey, I like anime too! Lemme do a rap about it," and that was the whole thing. The poor guests couldn't hear their names being called backstage. There were technical difficulties where the videos weren't playing sound.

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Oh man, this might be kinda long so apologies in advance!

Good
-Tokyo Attack running the game room! They are always so organized, friendly, and have a wide variety of games for everyone to play! Also a big perk for me that the new Persona dancing game was set up so I could play before it releases later this year =)

-The panels were awesome this year. Every time I got in minus once I enjoyed the panel and it was always super fun! I went into LAVA After Dark, and that was a big highlight of my weekend. Definitely going again if it comes back next year. 

-The guests. Great variety of guests! Thank you especially for inviting the Mystic Messenger crew, they were incredible sweet, and one of the big highlights of my weekend.

-The Final Fantasy Concerts. WOW! I had never seen Distant Worlds before, but it was really good and I'm glad I went! I especially liked that everyone had Orchestra etiquette while watching.

-The DragonBall Tour booth. As a HUGE DBZ fan, this blew my mind. Also a big highlight. Lots of cool stuff at the booth to do and to buy. Definitely have more booths like this next year!

-The Otakon Makers space. Everyone was so friendly and informative! Definitely a nice space just to do a fun craft or hang out. 

Bad

Everything I have to add will be in Ugly unfortunately...

Ugly

-The Staff. 85% of staff all weekend were very clueless and aggressive. I would ask them where to go or where something was, and they had 0 clue about where anything was. I will add in (though it may not be in your realm of actual authority) but both the staff for the dragonball booth AND the mystic messenger booth were also clueless about where anything was. I know that they are part time but they should have a map with them or a small meeting or something beforehand so they actually know where things are. I missed out on buying exclusives because they had no idea where they were selling them in their own booth.......

-The Mystic Messenger event as a whole. I loved the cast and I loved their panel, but most of the events that weekend were a mess. The merch booth I waited for an hour and a half to buy anything, spending 30 minutes waiting to pay for my merch with 5 other people while they helped people behind us. It was infuriating for all of us ahead of the line. The autograph lines were also a nightmare. I only went the first day, but a staff member led us over to the next set of lines, and when we asked which line to stand in, she said "I don't know" AND LEFT! Luckily the translator got us set where we needed to be, but apparently because of this other staffer not placing people properly, lots of people cut in line beforehand...... Again, this may not be under your authority, but fan events like this should be handled a lot better than this in the future.

-The DBZ Panel. Honestly I have been going to Otakon for 10+ years and a cancellation of this magnitude has never happened in a panel I was in. We listened to trivia for 30 minutes only to be told that it was cancelled. And when we asked the staffer why it was cancelled, he said "I don't know." Please do not let this happen in the future.

-Guidebook descriptions for panels. I was really clueless with my friends all weekend about what panels to go to because there were descriptions for almost nothing. I went to LAVA after dark by accident and had a great time, but I definitely think that you guys need descriptions for your panels in the guidebook. otherwise no one has an idea what they want to consider going to.

Overall I had a FANTASTIC CON, but this is the one Otakon in awhile that I had so many complaints and the first time that I have ever posted on this forum.

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41 minutes ago, EpioneRinnin said:

There were technical difficulties where the videos weren't playing sound.

As the person that edited 2 of those videos (masq & maid cafe), I was very disappointed in that myself. Unfortunately, things happened at the last minute that weren't something we could have prevented (it wasn't something done by Otakon staff) and got us off a foot behind. Alas, that's live events for you, you never know what exactly is going to happen.

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This was my first time at Otakon. My husband's second time, but first time in the new location.

The Good

-Dealer's room had a good variety and a good amount of space to walk around in. I think this is one of the first conventions where I wasn't constantly bumping into other people!

-It was easy to find things we needed to find and staff were happy to help answer our questions.

-Good variety of panels and programming.

-Shoji Kawamori was awesome.

-Karaoke was fun and the staff there were nice and helpful.

-The AMV contest was pretty solid! I loved the Twilight parody animation at the beginning. Though, as someone else pointed out, there were some videos that were VERY clearly miscategorized and the AMV contest REALLY needs an Other category which can help solve those issues.

-The DBZ thing in the dealer's room was really awesome! It reminded me of J-World!

-Lots of tables to sit down, relax, and eat in AA and Dealer's room.

The Bad

-We're big fans of karaoke but could not find it at all on the schedule. We asked at an info desk and they had no idea where it was either. We had to actually text our friend who is part of the karaoke staff to find where it is and found it's called the Otacafe. There's no way to know that Otacafe = karaoke and not, like... a cafe... So definitely making that more obvious would be helpful.

-I don't know if this is possible at all since it depends on who applies and what they're selling, but it would be nice to have more variety in the artist alley. The artists there are all amazing, but it's just sooooo much fanart of the same series/characters over and over. I only saw a very few artists with original work or even fanart + original work. I think there was one person selling their own comic and one person selling a novel. It would be nice to see more original comic artists.

-On Friday in the dealer's room, my husband and I were about halfway through looking and saw it was time to line up for the concert. We discussed and determined that we were going to finish the dealer's room rather than go to the concert because the lining up + seating + actual concert would have taken too long (total of 4 hours). I guess someone on staff overheard us talking about it and she was trying to be nice and she asked us what we were talking about. So we told her that we didn't want to wait in line for it and she tried to quickly explain "Well, Uematsu hasn't been in the US in 10 years!" and then walked away before we could really say anything. I just found it to be a bit unnecessary to try and give us an excuse when I didn't really care either way about that, I just didn't want to spend 4 hours of my Friday for a concert - especially when it was taking so long to get through the dealer's room! (not a complaint about the dealer's room at all.)

-Food was way overpriced. I don't mind paying a bit more for food and I expected it to be pricey... but $11 for basically a rice ball is just too much. I saw the staff's comment saying nothing can be done, but I'm saying it again anyway.

The Ugly

-The Voice Actors After Dark was canceled at the last minute. It was very confusing to us because it wasn't clearly written in the app so we asked at the info desk and they were also confused! We weren't able to find out for sure until we went to line up for it and asked what was going on.

-We went to the concert on Sunday which we lined up for and everyone was sitting on the floor without any issue. Around 12:15, someone came by and yelled at everyone to stand up. Okay, cool, we thought we were all going to head in and be seated soon since the schedule did say seating was going to begin at 12:30.

...Except it didn't begin until an HOUR later. Please PLEASE consider that not everybody is able to stand for extended periods of time. I myself am currently going through some medical issues and had a lot of pain on Sunday and standing up was definitely not fun for me. A lot of people ended up sitting down eventually, but it was just unnecessary in the first place. Don't make everyone stand up if it isn't time to be seated.

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7 minutes ago, cavechan said:

I guess someone on staff overheard us talking about it and she was trying to be nice and she asked us what we were talking about. So we told her that we didn't want to wait in line for it and she tried to quickly explain "Well, Uematsu hasn't been in the US in 10 years!" and then walked away before we could really say anything.

That is a very bizarre thing for a staff member to say, as it is very untrue. Nobuo Uematsu is regularly in the US for Distant Worlds concerts. I saw him personally in Chicago in 2011, and HE WAS AT OTAKON IN 2011 AS WELL. Since then, he has been at many other concerts, including Chicago again in 2017, and in New York City in Carnegie Hall this past January. What kind of misinformation has been going around about him?

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9 hours ago, F00LY said:

This should have been presented as the alternate option when the announcement went out then.  Instead, we got told our favourite "After Dark" panel was cancelled and replaced with an "All-Ages" (which reads "Child Friendly" in my mind) panel.

Why LAVA was not presented as the alternative is mind boggling.

EDIT : Also, panel descriptions were horrendous as always.  I didn't know, and still don't know, what the hell "LAVA" means or is, and your panel description offered nothing to indicate.  

AGREED on all of the above! Once I saw LAVA on Friday I figured that was the "After Dark" replacement panel. But it would have been good to direct folks looking for a replacement for that type of panel to the LAVA panel in the announcement itself.

And, ditto on not being sure what LAVA was. I even asked on the social media post that mentioned it, but didn't get an answer. I went on a gamble.

PLEASE Otakon, properly label and describe your panels. And your rooms! I had no idea what Funimation Lounge was until the Funimation Panelist mentioned it, half way through the con. I still don't really understand what happens in Otacafe or The Maid Cafe or Lolita Gardens, and I have been going here awhile. In the end I just don't check out the things I am not sure about in favor of things I am, to be sure I am not wasting my time. But descriptions are key.

It is a shame that lack of a proper title and panel description led to low turnout in some of the guest panels. :(

 While I am here, 2 positives I want to echo that I forgot --

Seating areas in Dealers' Room and Artist Alley were great.

Also appreciated the wider walking space in both those as well.

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15 minutes ago, Suika07 said:

 

Seating areas in Dealers' Room and Artist Alley were great.

Also appreciated the wider walking space in both those as well.

Just want to echo this.  The DR as a whole felt lacking to me this year, but my vision is skewed, I had just returned from a trip to Japan. So everything is going to seem dull on my end.

AA was amazing overall though, and the seating area and walking space really really helped out. It was one of the few years where people asking for / giving photos in the AA/DR didn't feel like a nuisance to everyone around them.

Edited by F00LY
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I think this is probably the most appropriate place to post this. 

For those who might not know, I'm the head of Otakon Press Relations. I've heard from a couple departments about registered members of the press -- the ones with a green flag on their badge -- causing some trouble during Otakon. If you've had such an experience, please contact me with as detailed a description of the individual and what they did as possible. Though it's too late to revoke their status this year, it can certainly impact whether we have them back. the best way to reach me is to e-mail me: awilson@otakorp.org.

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9 hours ago, Krabstarr said:

That is a very bizarre thing for a staff member to say, as it is very untrue. Nobuo Uematsu is regularly in the US for Distant Worlds concerts. I saw him personally in Chicago in 2011, and HE WAS AT OTAKON IN 2011 AS WELL. Since then, he has been at many other concerts, including Chicago again in 2017, and in New York City in Carnegie Hall this past January. What kind of misinformation has been going around about him?

He also played a show at MAGFest with his band Earthbound Papas some years ago.

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TL;DR: Loved Otakon (22nd straight for me) with the space and programming. Like/have issues w/ guidebook. Not crazy about lines for popular panels. Why no Fan parodies? Looking forward to next year!!!

 

The Good:

 

·         Con space: This place is glorious. Sun outside the videogame room was great for pictures, had digital signs, room for lines (I’m sure some disagree, but compare all this to the BCC and you should see what I’m talking about) and the dealers room/Artist Alley . . . glorious. While it felt more full than last year the space was outstanding. You guys are getting the hang of this space. I’ve been going to the auto show every year since ’82 and that’s (now) held in the same space. You folks are managing the crowd very well. Kudos!

·         Behavior signs on digital signs: The big red “No touching without consent” sign was something I saw regularly and I haven’t seen it mentioned so far. Thank you, Otakon. It was worth singling out.

·         Bag Check Line: This was the only issue I had last year and it was ACRES better this year. I’m not saying nobody got caught in a line; one of our party did. The times we did get caught in a line it moved very quickly. I personally think the decision to make the main entrance a one-way door was the right one. I did not use the Marriot tunnel so I can’t comment on that.

·         Guidebook: I’ll mention this later as well. I love the thing and find it vastly superior to the sheet of awesome. I love what the app can do and I used the hamfat out of it. However I will have to list this later as well.

·         Fellow Congoers: Between cosplay, being orderly and (mostly) well behaved, I was very happy having my little Raptor bouncing around and taking pictures with folks.

·         OtaChan: This NEVER gets mentioned. The ability to have our littlest Otaku have a place to experiment with play-doh and learn Origami and the like cannot be undervalued as a parent. Last year my Raptor discovered Seasonal Fairy Sugar and – while I’m not personally a fan of some of the shows – there’s a variety of programming. The staff there is always helpful and they get a huge thank you from us!

·         Distant Worlds: The highlight of the convention for us. While I’m not the gigantic fan of FF my wife is (she constantly refers to each game by its Japanese and North American number (“II AKA IV for example)) Getting to hear this with Nobu-san in attendance was a once in a lifetime chance for her. Coupled with his joining the choir = geek out time.

·         Two Final Fantasy Concerts. I’m listing this as a big plus. With two opportunities to see similar concerts, there was less pressure to wait in line for the only chance you may ever have to see/hear this. Those of us on the board with families including small children can appreciate this. Imagine the line if you only had one concert. We got in and sat in about the last row and had a blast!

·         Bottomless Otakon Cup: OMG I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT THIS FRIDAY. I got mine on Saturday and IT . . . WAS . . . B-E-A-U-TI-FULL-ISHUS! Please bring this back.

·         DBZ Display: I’m not a big DBZ fan, but that was too awesome to pass up! Made me want to watch some DBZ Abridged (I’ll get to parodies later) but full marks for this!

·         Everything in the BCC: I was happy I didn’t have to go to/from the Marquis for programming and given the potential line issues I feel strongly Otakon made the right choice.

·         Lots of food around the WEWCC: Tons of choices of varying styles. I loved the City Tap Room (especially the burger) but even the food at the hotel (Renaissance) was good.

·         Otakon Staff: You don’t get thanked enough. The fact you are able to pull off this thing each year – granted with issues but that’s true of any convention – is something I don’t think you all are thanked for enough. Good on ya.

 

 

The Bad:

 

·         Guidebook: I listed this as a plus but it was also a negative. While I loved the thing I see so much more that can be done with it. Descriptions for guests and a list of dealers would have helped me, but it wasn’t until I read this thread I became aware of how much I missed. While I enjoyed getting the updates I did receive, I see Facebook was the most accurate/up to date source for information. But I still LOVE Guidebook!

·         Seven Dollar Hot Dog. Cant’ do too much about that.

·         Popular Panels: Several panels had lines which were too long to consider. The concern is there are often very popular panels with limited space and the choices are a) spend all day in line or b) miss the panel & go see other stuff. Personally I agree w/ the policy of being forced to make tough choices between outstanding events, but I don’t like the space crunch/line requirement for a popular panel.

 

The Ugly:

 

·         No Fan Parodies: I understand last year the reason was the time crunch. I didn’t see a reason on the forums this year. It was one of the highlights and I was sorry not to see it on the schedule. Certainly not a con-killer for me, but my wife was upset this was the second year w/o Friday or Saturday night fan parodies. Was there a reason?

·         Virtual On Broken: I understand there was a power surge of some kind from reading other parts of the thread. I love that game and I went from gleeful to crestfallen in a matter of moments. These things happen; the only reason I list this under Ugly is my affection for this particular game (and I don’t get the chance to use my twin sticks for my Dreamcast anymore.)

 

I’m soooo looking forward to next year. If you’re taking suggestions for themes, Space should be considered as it will be the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing just a few days prior to Otakon!

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19 minutes ago, Revengel said:

Bottomless Otakon Cup: OMG I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT THIS FRIDAY.

YES! I wish I had known about it earlier as well. I saw the soda fountains in the middle of the Dealers Room on Friday, but I didn't see any indication as to what it was all about. Even a little sign above each one with a picture of the mug and information on how to get it could have driven sales. I know I would have gotten one the first time I would have found out about it on Friday. Heck, a sign advertising the OtaMug at the bottom of the escalator entering the Dealers Room and directing people to the Otakon merch booth to get one would probably have done wonders.
I know they advertised on Twitter and Facebook, but some people aren't checking social media once they get to the convention.

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1 hour ago, Krabstarr said:

YES! I wish I had known about it earlier as well. I saw the soda fountains in the middle of the Dealers Room on Friday, but I didn't see any indication as to what it was all about. Even a little sign above each one with a picture of the mug and information on how to get it could have driven sales. I know I would have gotten one the first time I would have found out about it on Friday. Heck, a sign advertising the OtaMug at the bottom of the escalator entering the Dealers Room and directing people to the Otakon merch booth to get one would probably have done wonders.
I know they advertised on Twitter and Facebook, but some people aren't checking social media once they get to the convention.

The first I learned of this is...right now. We all assumed it was employees.

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2 hours ago, alycewilson said:

I think this is probably the most appropriate place to post this. 

For those who might not know, I'm the head of Otakon Press Relations. I've heard from a couple departments about registered members of the press -- the ones with a green flag on their badge -- causing some trouble during Otakon. If you've had such an experience, please contact me with as detailed a description of the individual and what they did as possible. Though it's too late to revoke their status this year, it can certainly impact whether we have them back. the best way to reach me is to e-mail me: awilson@otakorp.org.

My only interactions with people wearing the Press ribbon were when they were trying to get into areas I had not been told the press were allowed in. Most were good about it but a couple were a bit ruffled that I wouldn't let them through. This happened in a couple areas: At the main entrance where I was directing everyone up the ramp to bag check, and at the Ballroom A Accessibility Entrance for the Masquerade. At the main entrance, the only exceptions I was given to the bag check line were: Convention Center employees; Otakon Staff; Otakon Gofers; and people arriving for a Make A Wish event. For the Accessibility entrance at the Masquerade, my instructions were to allow anyone with the Accessibility ribbon (naturally); Otakon Contractors Badges (lights and sound for the event); Otakon Staff; and Otakon Gofers. I had one person with a press ribbon at each location insist they didn't need to use the normal established entrance path. For all I know they were right in trying to do so, but my instructions did not include anything about Press.

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6 minutes ago, Fadamor said:

My only interactions with people wearing the Press ribbon were when they were trying to get into areas I had not been told the press were allowed in. Most were good about it but a couple were a bit ruffled that I wouldn't let them through. This happened in a couple areas: At the main entrance where I was directing everyone up the ramp to bag check, and at the Ballroom A Accessibility Entrance for the Masquerade. At the main entrance, the only exceptions I was given to the bag check line were: Convention Center employees; Otakon Staff; Otakon Gofers; and people arriving for a Make A Wish event. For the Accessibility entrance at the Masquerade, my instructions were to allow anyone with the Accessibility ribbon (naturally); Otakon Contractors Badges (lights and sound for the event); Otakon Staff; and Otakon Gofers. I had one person with a press ribbon at each location insist they didn't need to use the normal established entrance path. For all I know they were right in trying to do so, but my instructions did not include anything about Press.

We will make it more clear to them next year, although you're likely to still get questions, because we've noticed not everybody reads all their e-mails. Our existing press kit does state that they are subject to the same rules and regulations as regular members, including bag checks, but I can make a point to put that information out separately closer to the convention as a reminder.

Edited by alycewilson

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On 8/14/2018 at 10:58 AM, DeskLaser said:

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.

I can't really speak too much for other departments but I am a part of the group that handled the line for the concerts. And the person on our team that handles the accessibility members puts a lot of work into what she does. I will pass the compliment on to her because she doesn't give herself enough credit. 

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18 hours ago, MadameZombieStix said:

Good
-The Otakon Makers space. Everyone was so friendly and informative! Definitely a nice space just to do a fun craft or hang out. 

Hello! I ran the Makerspace this year, along with my fellow group members, and just wanted to say I'm glad you enjoyed the space! This was the Makerspace's first year and we're always open to suggestions/ideas for the future - if you have any experiences/feedback you'd like to share, please feel free to let me know! Thanks for stopping by to spend time with us! :)

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7 hours ago, Revengel said:

No Fan Parodies: I understand last year the reason was the time crunch. I didn’t see a reason on the forums this year. It was one of the highlights and I was sorry not to see it on the schedule. Certainly not a con-killer for me, but my wife was upset this was the second year w/o Friday or Saturday night fan parodies. Was there a reason?      

I wanted to know this too.

5 hours ago, F00LY said:

The first I learned of this is...right now. We all assumed it was employees.

Yep, I had no idea about OtaMug either. I'm disappointed now :(

 

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The Good:

-Got into all but one panel I wanted to see

-Had a very successful cosplay this year, a bigger hit and more photo requests than I had expected. I did have a minor emergency with a piece of it but managed to fix things relatively okay.

-My first ever panel went well :)

-All around good time

The Bad:

-Some of the panel rooms are downright freezing. I brought a throw blanket in my bag for this but was still chilly.

- Lack of weapons vendors in the dealers room. I only spotted two and the selection was very limited.

-Quite a few panel cancellations. Not otakon's fault, but still.

The Ugly:

- NO FAN PARODIES. Its just always been a staple of the otakon experience for me.

- Why was OtaMug not advertised???

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Good
-Attended a lot of panels I was interested in and some I didn't expect anything but came out pleasantly surprised of the content and presentation.
-I think lines for the most part were handled well.
-Whether you used Guidebook or the paper schedule or the TV schedule or the map boards, having all of the resources helped.  Not even San Diego Comic-Con has that setup.

Bad
-Felt some of the rooms used for some of the panels were mis-sized.  I get it if participation for a particular panel wasn't judged correctly but there were some that ended up being overly popular and filled up quick and probably could've been in the larger rooms whereas there were some that didn't have as many people and as such could've gone to the smaller rooms.
-Not sure if there was a reason that there wasn't as much K-pop/J-pop representation but it seems like there was a big enough crowd of enthusiasts as the dance classes always had long lines and filled up quickly and there probably could've been a small concert for that niche (assuming they could get one of the bands over here).
-While nice to see designated spots for group cosplay pictures, many of them had heavy traffic in or around them whether it was the general populace passing by or there wasn't enough room to separate cosplayers from photographers and you had many instances where cosplayers were sitting/standing in front of the photographers and it wasn't easy getting close or getting a good shot of the group.  Otakon staff was helpful in most cases maintaining order but for group and maybe even singles pictures, why aren't we using a large space like where they hold the rave/dance?  If it's not being used during the day, why can't you just open it up and set sectioned areas via pipe and drape for the groups to take pictures at?  Then you wouldn't have them in the random nooks and crannies and back corners of the convention center trying to organize while impeding convention traffic.
-While it didn't affect me, I heard some of the last-minute panel cancellations really bummed people out.  I get it if there's a valid reason, but seeing it just show up as cancelled without an explanation is frustrating.  When you can give a practical reason and get the buy-in of the convention attendee, they usually walk away okay with it and not left with a feeling like they may not want to come back for future years.
-With my mention of lines being handled well, I noticed that some staff members had bullhorns and had no problems relaying exactly what they wanted the crowds to do but then you have had others with no bullhorns screaming to the top of their lungs and only getting the people in the immediate 20 feet to understand what was going on.  Probably try to invest in bullhorns for all staff that need it.
-Lack of industry presence.  I'm not saying it has to go San Diego Comic-Con and I support the local vendors I see in the vendor room but aside from the Dragonball booth (they were there because they're on tour anyway) and a few other vendors, I didn't see much else.  As far as guests already scheduled to attend not sure how to speak to that since that wasn't what I was coming to the con for but I'm sure others might have an opinion in either having more of those guests or maybe the variety.  But I didn't even see Crunchyroll or VIZ Media or maybe the bigger third-party toy companies that would be making toys/figures that are otaku related.
-Speaking out of turn/heckling during fan panels; while not as often for the panels I attended, I heard it was prominent and a distraction in others.  It probably should be made clear if there will even be a Q & A session near the end or if attendees just need to be quiet the whole time and post questions offline after the panel.
-Audio/Video staff not watching levels.  I felt that in some panels they could've pushed the mic volumes just a tad louder or adjusted the EQs so that understanding the dialogue in a video was easier.  Then there were some other panels where the video or music was playing and they didn't seem to care if it matched the volume of the presenter(s) or was louder than them or they preferred more bass than treble.


Ugly
-For me, it was the organization of the entry/exit to the dealer room.  So you had everyone walk to the end of a long hallway to get in, criss-crossing with traffic that was either coming in from the upstairs level or coming out of the dealer room, migrating three points of traffic at one spot.  I don't see why they couldn't make the entry where the exit was and vice versa.  Then everyone exiting would have to come from the long hallway and then then those coming from the Marriott entrance area or from the upper level near this year's exit would only really have one place to go to, the dealer room and then everyone else hanging out in the hall from the very end would just be those exiting and maybe chilling out in the nooks and crannies while heading back towards the front of the convention center.

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20 hours ago, Krabstarr said:

That is a very bizarre thing for a staff member to say, as it is very untrue. Nobuo Uematsu is regularly in the US for Distant Worlds concerts. I saw him personally in Chicago in 2011, and HE WAS AT OTAKON IN 2011 AS WELL. Since then, he has been at many other concerts, including Chicago again in 2017, and in New York City in Carnegie Hall this past January. What kind of misinformation has been going around about him?

Ah, okay. That just adds another layer of mystery then... I don't really keep up with Uematsu but I thought I had heard about him being in the US here and there. I don't know what was up with that person then. It was such a weird and awkward moment.

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The good

  • Most of everything.

The bad

  • Why was the main entrance enter only?  There were a lot of unused doors.
  • Restaurant discounts - the website that Otakon linked to didn't work very well and wasn't helpful.  Please provide the PDF you used to with a restaurant list, discount, address, and distance from the convention center.  Most of us are from out of town.  We don't know where each district is to sort results by.
  • Attach clear files to End of Line signs to put a paper inside saying what the line is for or have an End of Line sign for Panel 1, Video 2, etc.
  • At least there was only 1 unscheduled room clear this year (before Aniplex panel).
  • Programming the escalators to be down only several hours before the ending ceremonies. 
  • At the end of a panel in ballroom C, I was forced to go down the stair case that goes directly to the main entrance when I needed to get to Panel 1 next.  I had to go all the way back up to the bridge between the buildings and then back to the front of the building.
  • No notification to those that had badges mailed to them that the Fate/Grand Order lanyards were being given out at registration.
  • Fewer industry booths in the Dealer room.
  • Lack of Friday/Saturday night fan parodies for the 2nd year.
  • Mark panels better. Specifically, where the panelist doesn't have anything of their own and just want to do a Q&A with people that show up.  I can do that on forums at home.  I go to panels to hopefully get some new incite on the material through their presentation or learn about a series I never learned about before. 

The ugly

  • Food prices inside the convention center but that's nothing new.
  • Didn't go to the concert this year but glad I didn't since everyone was saying they had to be in line 5 hours before it started.  Tickets were mentioned in the feedback at closing ceremonies.  Just don't do it again where you have to be in line 4 hours for tickets since that defeats the purpose.  Might have been the year Yoko Hana was there but when I got in line for tickets as soon as I could get inside (9:30am), the lines were already full/at capacity.
Edited by deathnote666

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This was my 2nd Otakon so here's what I have:

 

Good:

  • Sat/Sun memberships.  I couldn't get a lot of time off from work, so I just came for Saturday.  Having the reduced rate was nice - esp since I had to buy badges for 3.
  • Getting in the door.  I must have lucked out on Saturday. From joining the line, getting in (able to skip bag check), and pick up badges and officially enter the con - was about 5 minutes?  Must have been before the entrance from the hotel was closed.
  • Otakon cups were nice.  I needed a new cup that size, anyhow...having the soda available was a bonus.
  • Artist Alley had a lot of cool vendors this year. 

Bad / Ugly (not really Otakon's fault):

  • Dealer room was ungodly hot when I first got there 1030ish.  (seemed to get a little better later on)
  • Dealer room didn't seem to have as much stuff as last year.  A couple of the large T-shirt and plushie vendors were absent this year.
  • Prices were a little higher on some of the stands - but what else is new?
  • Seriously vendors - mark your prices.  Esp when you only have a few items.
  • Some of the DC convention center staff themselves need a few lessons on being polite.  Seen some of them yelling at people when it was totally uncalled for.

Bad / Ugly (kind of Otakon's fault)

  • 2018 T-shirt design seemed a little uninspired compared to last year.  Still got one, but yeah...not feeling it too much.
  • I'm not a huge gaming fan, so the concert wasn't interesting to me - but even if it were, I wish tickets could be separate with reserved seating like last year's.  Not a huge fan of multi hour-long lines.
  • Someone already mentioned about having simple exit signage instead of having people trying to yell the same instructions every 14 seconds.

--------------------

I just spent the day at the dealer room and artist room as I really didn't have much interest in most of the panels (personal preference; not a criticism), but the kids I went with were able to empty out my wallet.  So pretty much a success.

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Re: The OtaMug.

I didn't make it down to the DR until Sunday and at least by then there was a sign up at the Otakon Merch booth advertising about how buying an OtaMug gets you free refills at the soda fountains placed around the DR for the rest of the Con. I had actually seen one of the fountains before I passed the Otakon Merch booth and I wondered why there was a soda fountain with no cups. Walking by the Otakon Merch booth answered my question.

So I guess to make the best use of the Mug you want to buy it on Friday so you can use it all weekend.

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8 hours ago, Fadamor said:

Re: The OtaMug.

I didn't make it down to the DR until Sunday and at least by then there was a sign up at the Otakon Merch booth advertising about how buying an OtaMug gets you free refills at the soda fountains placed around the DR for the rest of the Con. I had actually seen one of the fountains before I passed the Otakon Merch booth and I wondered why there was a soda fountain with no cups. Walking by the Otakon Merch booth answered my question.

So I guess to make the best use of the Mug you want to buy it on Friday so you can use it all weekend.

This should've been advertised elsewhere - like at the soda machines, IMO.  My group never really deals with the con's booth itself, but this year we actually did walk by it, and didn't notice it.  We did however notice the price of drinks at the stands and the soda machines throughout with no signage >_> Love the idea, want to see it back now that I know about it, but want it advertised better!

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On 8/15/2018 at 7:27 PM, Bibi said:

Bad 

 

  • there was a low accessibility for water at the con, I personally didn’t have an issue, but I was worried for the well being of people in general
 

Uh, there was a water dispenser in every panel room I was in.  Any summer con could use more water, but I never had a problem finding any.

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49 minutes ago, Brand said:

Uh, there was a water dispenser in every panel room I was in.  Any summer con could use more water, but I never had a problem finding any.

I do agree with you on that, but I think that having even one water dispenser in the artist alley or dealers room could have helped. While I enjoy going to panels, I know several people who don’t, therefore wouldn’t have that chance for water. (Also I may be wrong but I do recall panel rooms without a water dispenser.) 

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52 minutes ago, Brand said:

Uh, there was a water dispenser in every panel room I was in.  Any summer con could use more water, but I never had a problem finding any.

Well, there SHOULD have been.  Somehow they missed Main Events!  I reported it up to Con Ops and I assume they sorted it out -- along with a few that needed refills that I encountered.

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I think of all the years I've been coming to Otakon (I haven't missed one since 2000!) this is the first where I spent more time away from the convention than inside it, regrettably. My interests have largely shifted to wanting to see Japanese musical acts, a niche that Otakon used to always fill but this year was entirely absent. Distant Worlds is a neat thing, but unfortunately I felt I had my fill of orchestrated Final Fantasy music years ago and found my time better spent elsewhere. Anisong World Matsuri last year was awesome and I wish we had more of that.

The game room, fantastic as it was, I felt was in need of reorganization; there were seemingly twice as many arcade machines this year, which is awesome, but they were crammed into roughly the same amount of space allotted last year. Consoles, on the other hand, were spaced so far apart that someone sitting at one table couldn't tell what games were running at the next table at a glance. The end result was much of the room being fairly sparsely populated, then the end with the arcade machines being a concentrated blob of people and noise. Spreading the machines out and bringing the consoles closer together seems like a better use of the space to me.

On 8/15/2018 at 8:23 PM, MadameZombieStix said:

-Tokyo Attack running the game room! They are always so organized, friendly, and have a wide variety of games for everyone to play! Also a big perk for me that the new Persona dancing game was set up so I could play before it releases later this year =)

To be clear, Tokyo Attack was only responsible for the arcade machines.

Persona, in particular, was my personal contribution to the game room this year. Glad you enjoyed it!

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16 hours ago, gp80mac said:
On 8/15/2018 at 8:18 PM, EpioneRinnin said:

The opening ceremonies were absolutely horrendous. This is supposed to be an event that gets people pumped up for the rest of the con, and I just wasn't feeling that vibe in the room. I didn't like the rap groups that performed. It felt like they were saying "Hey, I like anime too! Lemme do a rap about it," and that was the whole thing. The poor guests couldn't hear their names being called backstage. There were technical difficulties where the videos weren't playing sound.

Agreed. I  feel that anime con opening ceremonies in general get more and more lackluster and disorganized each year. 

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So I'll just throw this here, and this may not be possible at Otakon depending on how they deal with the situation,

But at Metrocon, at one panel, when the panelist was a no show, this Mad Hatter cosplayer encouraged us to stay in the con room and make our own, fan run version of the panel the best way we could- and the few other times I experienced the no show situation, I encouraged others in toher panels to do the same and for many people willing to be a bit open minded, it was not just a way to not be dissapointed by a totally cancelled panel, but I found these panels very charming and memorable when anime fans just got to improv an activity like this. The introverted part of me that prefers small groups/ the hard of hearing part of me who struggles in louder places also appreciated the more compact experience, hence why I always love panels. Just something to consider allowing if it's not allowed  already.

Edited by ShiroNyako

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On 8/17/2018 at 2:39 PM, Brand said:

Uh, there was a water dispenser in every panel room I was in.  Any summer con could use more water, but I never had a problem finding any.

I thought there were fewer water dispensers than usual this year. I had to look to find one quite a few times.

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The Good

-GENDER NEUTRAL BATHROOMS! I loved having some sets of these, if anything, I'd want a few more! As a trans guy with plenty of other trans friends who maybe aren't as far in transition as me, these were incredibly convenient to me and I thank Otakon for including some in major places with easy access!
-Bag check, I had zero problem going through the bag check. A hell of a lot faster than last year. Maybe add another table for prop checks next year?
-Line management in general was pretty solid. I think some tape on the ground for when lines are clearly going to overflow might be useful in the future
-Having someone go around and put "you are here" stickers on the maps on the floors and having plenty of maps in key locations was great!
-Artist Alley was nice and spacious! And not flooded!
-Craft room! And the place to hang the bozus outside was awesome (and it's what got me into the room). It needs a bigger room next year, imo, the only real weakness I found for it.
-Discotek, once again, stole the damn show in terms of panel and even the dealer's room!

The Bad

-Dealer's Room was a let down for me again. I know a lot of this isn't entirely Otakon's fault, but the selection just seemed so "meh" to me.
-Lack of industry presence. I'm sure a lot of them clearly expended a lot of effort at AX, but I was still sad (especially on the manga front)
- I'd really like some more webcomics at AA next year, if they sign up for the lottery. I've discovered a lot of great webcomics this way, so I was sad to not see many this year.

The Ugly

-Some of the rooms' water would empty out as the day went on.
-The food I got in that hidden underground cafeteria was pretty bad (not to mention overpriced). At least that taiyaki was damn good (pricey, but at least it was tasty)!
-Having the replacement panelists find out by having to check the guide app themselves that they were suddenly doing their panel after all! Maybe call us? At least one of the panelists for the panel?
-Magical OtaMug? Why am I only hearing about this just now?! Advertise it before the con and around the Dealer's entrance!
-Some of those photo locations were just a total mess to get around. And they changed like, 5 times it seemed.

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On 8/16/2018 at 3:08 PM, DekuPyro said:

Hello! I ran the Makerspace this year, along with my fellow group members, and just wanted to say I'm glad you enjoyed the space! This was the Makerspace's first year and we're always open to suggestions/ideas for the future - if you have any experiences/feedback you'd like to share, please feel free to let me know! Thanks for stopping by to spend time with us! :)

Ahhhh wonderful <3 No problem! My sister and I actually saw the wall of tezu dolls and decided to come in! (Sorry I forgot the official name of them!) The only feedback I could give is hopefully you guys get a bigger room??? We kind of did our craft very quickly since we couldn't sit down..... But everyone was very informative and friendly, and everyone on staff seemed to know the limit of letting people in! I hope to see more crafting projects next year =)

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On 8/17/2018 at 4:50 PM, StarCreator said:

To be clear, Tokyo Attack was only responsible for the arcade machines.

Persona, in particular, was my personal contribution to the game room this year. Glad you enjoyed it!

Ahhhh okay, my mistake! I appreciate you bringing it! =) I had some trouble since I didn't know japanese, but I still had a great time and I'm excited for the new game in english in december <3 

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