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

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Overall convention feedback in this thread. Please try to keep things as civil as possible.

 

For me there was no good. There was no bad. Only ugly.

 

Good

 

Bad

 

Ugly
- Nothing to do; I ended up just roaming around a little before going back to the hotel most days
- 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
- Panels being canceled at the last minute with no explanation offered; I personally didn't even plan on going to anything but I heard of four+ panels being canceled especially that big DBZ one and the Voice Actors After Dark
- Severe lack of Japanese guests
- No celebrations for the 25th year made things feel lackluster
- There was no need for two Final Fantasy concerts and I will stand by this opinion forever; it felt redundant and a band or something would have been better for at least one concert
- Guidebook being wrong with lots of things, one being I went to the Free High Speed movie. Guidebook said it would be subbed; then it played and it was dubbed
- The bag check is a joke. I waited in line so long one day that I missed something I wanted to go to. And they don't even really check the bags... they just take a small look inside if that and then let everyone continue on inside. If there's going to be a bag check the people need to do it the proper way or not at all, and also more people need to be hired to do it especially at the Marriott connector
- Luckily I didn't care about any of the guests to want an autograph because I heard it was a disaster
- Overall I was miserable. This was my 10th and last Otakon (probably, unless they get really good guests somehow but I'm not very hopeful)

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1 minute ago, robotzor said:

If you can't find a single good thing, maybe you're burnt out? The spark has gone out if you can't make your own good time. 

Or everyone has different tastes/interests and there was 0 things that appealed to my specific interests. I know lots of people had things that appealed to them and I am very happy for them but sad for myself (lol)

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Good

- Got into all the panels that I wanted to see.

- Artist Alley had some of the best stuff I saw in years.

 

Bad

- Lack of anything good shows for the video rooms, even though they cut back on the number of rooms

- Randomly closing the link between the Marriott and the Convention Center on Saturday and making people wait in a line that stretched around the block.  This was not for reg.  This was people who had badges who were just trying to get in.

 

Ugly

- The Art Show.  I will try my best not to rant, but if I do, I am sorry.  I understand wanting to use a new system.  I really do.  This new system just sucks though.  The search didn't work, so I had to go through the whole catalog to find everything.  The pictures of the items had the Otakon logo over it so for some of them, you couldn't really even make out what the art was.  There was no way to see just the items you had lead bid on or even just the ones they you bid on.  There was no FAQ; it was just Lorem ipsum, see attached image. There was nothing explaining that you had to pay online before you got in on Saturday or that you would get an email that you won.  No one said this when I registered, there was no signage at the auction that I saw saying this, none of the staff said this the multiple times I went to the art show on both Friday and Saturday, and it wasn't on the auction website.  Only place I saw this was on a random page on the Otakon webpage.  You can no longer pay in cash with this system, as according to the page, if you don't pay online by 8am, it's considered forfeit.  So I lost three of the pieces that I won because of this.  By pure luck, they had two of the ones that I won.  For me, the move to this system is worse than when they tried to get rid of the Awesome sheet of Awesome because their excuse was everyone has a smart phone.  I just hope for the future of this, they do a better job of explain what hte hell is going on.  The minimum they could've done to help, was just hand out a little slip of paper that said to check your email to see if you won, and make sure you pay online before 8AM on Sunday and a sign at the art show that says this.  The art show is one of the main things I look forward to each year and this year was just a huge kick in the gut.

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3 hours ago, ueda said:

Or everyone has different tastes/interests and there was 0 things that appealed to my specific interests. I know lots of people had things that appealed to them and I am very happy for them but sad for myself (lol)

That was my situation this year. Nothing really jumped out and grabbed my attention so I made all the hours of the convention available to be Gofer assignments. I got some interesting duty assignments this year including helping out with the Masquerade setup/rehearsal. That was my first time experiencing Masquerade (though only the rehearsal) but it turned out to be a lot more interesting than I had always assumed.

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2 hours ago, fuzzy nukes said:

- Randomly closing the link between the Marriott and the Convention Center on Saturday and making people wait in a line that stretched around the block.  This was not for reg.  This was people who had badges who were just trying to get in. 

It wasn't randomly, that line got so long it became a safety issue due to a lack of physical space. The only reason it didn't hit the hotel lobby is they finally had enough staff to start zigzaging it. They closed it down to clear it out.

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Just now, tim_pkmn89 said:

It wasn't randomly, that line got so long it became a safety issue due to a lack of physical space. The only reason it didn't hit the hotel lobby is they finally had enough staff to start zigzaging it. They closed it down to clear it out.

Didn't know.  Thanks =]

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5 hours ago, 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. 

This year of all years I just can't understand this argument. Kawamori is an absolutely huge Japanese guest as not just a director or mechanical designer but also the creator of one of the largest anime franchises of the last four decades. Nagai has directed several highly acclaimed series in the past decade, not to mention a successful anime film. They brought in one of, if not the greatest video game composer of all time. Canna has been a voice actor for almost three decades with multiple famous characters. They even brought in a guest who worked production on several major Ghibli films and a prominent mecha designer.

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7 hours ago, 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
- Panels being canceled at the last minute with no explanation offered; I personally didn't even plan on going to anything but I heard of four+ panels being canceled especially that big DBZ one and the Voice Actors After Dark
- Severe lack of Japanese guests
- No celebrations for the 25th year made things feel lackluster
- There was no need for two Final Fantasy concerts and I will stand by this opinion forever; it felt redundant and a band or something would have been better for at least one concert
- Guidebook being wrong with lots of things, one being I went to the Free High Speed movie. Guidebook said it would be subbed; then it played and it was dubbed
- The bag check is a joke. I waited in line so long one day that I missed something I wanted to go to. And they don't even really check the bags... they just take a small look inside if that and then let everyone continue on inside. If there's going to be a bag check the people need to do it the proper way or not at all, and also more people need to be hired to do it especially at the Marriott connector

- Not really sure about this first point. Otakon had a ton of Japanese and Korean guests this year, more than I've seen in awhile. 

- Agree on this point. It was frustrating that so much of it was not communicated via Guidebook and instead Otakon preferred to use FB to relay that information.

- Again, I thought the Japanese guest list was impressive. 

- Agree- it didn't dawn on us until Saturday evening that it was the 25th anniversary.

- I'm sort of mixed on this. We went to both concerts and I agree that much of what the "New Worlds" ensemble played on Sunday could have been handled by the "Distant Worlds" symphony on Friday. They even played several of the same pieces such as To Zanarkand and One-Winged Angel. I appreciate Otakon trying to make the FF music available to everyone by having it at different times but it did feel a little redundant. 

- Agree

-I was in the WEWCC by 9:30 am every day and I thought the bag check went smoothly. We stayed at the Renaissance DC so maybe that's why since I heard the tunnel from the Marriott was problematic.

 

One suggestion to Otakorp- PLEASE give bullhorns to staffers who are managing lines for large panels. I saw them being utilized by the Dealer's Room staff but not in many other places. For example, the lines for the "Worst Dubs of All Time" panel on Saturday night in 151A and whatever hentai panel was next to it was getting very clogged and the staffer managing it had to constantly scream out instructions as to where the overflow line was. Given that the lines were spilling out into a thoroughfare where people travel, his voice was easily drowned out and several of us wound up getting in the wrong line. 

I felt that line management was good otherwise, despite the uptick in attendance. 

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2 hours ago, The Tsunami said:

This year of all years I just can't understand this argument. Kawamori is an absolutely huge Japanese guest as not just a director or mechanical designer but also the creator of one of the largest anime franchises of the last four decades. Nagai has directed several highly acclaimed series in the past decade, not to mention a successful anime film. They brought in one of, if not the greatest video game composer of all time. Canna has been a voice actor for almost three decades with multiple famous characters. They even brought in a guest who worked production on several major Ghibli films and a prominent mecha designer.

You have to look at the big picture. Not just say they got one or two big guests therefore this must have been an expensive year. 

Nothing this year screamed big show to me. Especially when I started seeing youtubers start getting announced as guests left and right.

 

On topic, the dragonball super regional was interesting but i did only end up sticking around for 2 rounds due to wanting to hit the dealers room. 

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Well I've already posted my issues in other threads. But I am going to be blunt. I've been going to Otakon since 2005 (missed maybe 3 years in that time) and this has been for me the worst year ever. 

The Ugly

Extreme lack of communication.

Panels being cancelled and not letting attendees know until after they sat in the panel room for 30 mins (not to mention the waiting time to get into the panel). This happened to me not once but twice this weekend. The second time was probably less Otakon's fault but the panelist who just didn't show up. But the DB tour panel fiasco definitely could have been avoided. 

Letting attendees stand in line for hours in autograph lines without letting them know they weren't getting one until the last minute so maybe they could have done something else with that time

Even simple things as other people mentioned. If you think a loud voice is enough to carry a message; It's not! People who are in the back of lines cannot hear what you are saying 

Also autograph lines are still a mess despite having so much more space than we did at the Baltimore Convention Center. Still don't understand why Otakon thinks the best way to handle autographs is to have everyone basically run into a line once its formed in complete chaos. Have been to many other conventions and I've personally not experienced anything else like this. 

 

The Bad

Lack of Industry presence. This isn't really Otakon's fault but it still disappoints me how little the industry seems to care about Otakon these days. The industry booths were lackluster. It just doesn't feel like the Industry sees Otakon as a must go to convention. But then as an attendee I am beginning to feel the same. It just feels like the glory days of the convention when I first started going are gone. There were some very good guests (and I didn't even get to see them all) but I also agree there is distinct lack of big current names that I feel Otakon used to get, I do hope we get those glory days back. 

 

The Good

Kawamori was lovely. Really wish I could have went to his panel or any of the guests panels really 

I enjoyed the Free Movie (although as a negative it said subbed in the guide book but the dub was shown. I still really enjoyed he dub but I could see how this would disappoint others)

My convention did end on a positive note with the Discotek panel. They didn't even announce anything I really wanted I just loved their enthusiasm. 

The Dragon Ball tour booth was wonderful. This was one industry booth that actually was impressive. 

 

 

Did this in the opposite order but I prefer ending on a positive note.

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-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. 

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58 minutes ago, razisgosu said:

You have to look at the big picture. Not just say they got one or two big guests therefore this must have been an expensive year. 

I responded to a comment that specifically said that it didn't feel like Otakon tries to get Japanese guests anymore"... I pointed out that not only did they get multiple big guests, they also got a large number of very relevant Japanese guests (and I didn't even remember to add the Studio Trigger team to my list). 

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Been attending since 2003:

 

The Good:

-Solid industry production guest list with people that many US fans would be interested in.   Trigger is probably more loved here than they are domestically.  Kawamori can preach and tell stories about mecha design all day long and you would not be bored.

-DBZ anniversary booth.  I haven't been so impressed with an anime con booth since the US licensing peak years of 2004-2008.

-Tokyo Attack in the game room.

-All the Trigger panels and Yoh Yoshinari doing LWA sketches for everyone with his autograph.  The man is a beast.

 

The Bad

-Double Final Fantasy concerts that played somewhat similar pieces.  Because of acoustic requirements, the hall used was probably half the size needed to accommodate everyone that wanted to be there, which made Friday's line a mess.  I just wish there was more variety in musical guests with a different genre like how Otakon used to have most years.

-Scheduling conflicts all over the place for Japanese guest panels.  I really wish there was a larger effort in creating a scheduling path where you can make sure someone can see all your Japanese industry guests without worry about ditching a handful of them. It also reduces the chance of very empty panels for someone who spent the time to fly over here which is a regular occurrence at Otakon.

-No female seiyuu.  Otakon used to always at least bring one major one in, but to be fair two solid male seiyuu came instead.

-Lack of major premieres to watch.

 

The Ugly:

-During setup, the subcontractors surged 240V to Clover Collectibles' Pachinko machines that run on normal 100/110V and fried the transformers on 2/3 of them, knocking them out of commission for the whole con.  That's why you only saw two slot machines running.  I know Otakon's attorney got involved and it wasn't a pretty situation.  I was ready to buy a machine or two but couldn't because of this AND because of FF concert scheduling on Sunday.

-Autograph line as usual.  Kawamori I heard was a nightmare so I didn't even try.  Trigger on Friday was a failure that cascaded into me getting cut out of the Distant World concert since I wasted time in a futile line.  I was successful on Saturday at least by brute forcing my way in the pre-preline and getting lucky at being next to the right preline gate for what I wanted.

-DBZ panel cancellation

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1 hour ago, Dostovei Illuminas said:

...but how many cons do you think have had Distant Worlds?

The answer is "None". This is the first time in their over 10 year history that the Distant Worlds concert tour has ever played in a convention. It's been even longer if you count its predecessor concert tour "Dear Friends" from 2005.

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11 minutes ago, Krabstarr said:

The answer is "None". This is the first time in their over 10 year history that the Distant Worlds concert tour has ever played in a convention. It's been even longer if you count its predecessor concert tour "Dear Friends" from 2005.

I might be mistaken in some of the particulars but I know for a fact that multiple cons have had FF concerts, and I believe that the same orchestral group does all of them. They were at Anime Weekend Atlanta last year, for instance:

https://awa-con.com/events/featured-events/new-world-intimate-music-final-fantasy/

Maybe I'm getting "A New World" and "Distant Worlds" mixed up, but the larger point still stands; a FF concert is not anything new so using it as your "we want to do something different" is a very poor example of "something different" and having two FF concerts in the same event is just redundant.

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The Good: All the panels I went to were a lot of fun. Mr. Creepypasta was a great guest to have, his storytelling panel and horror feud game panel were great and I hope he’s able to make it in future years. I also loved the K-Makeup and Skincare panel, the hosts were so positive and knowledgeable and made great use of the time, along with speaking individually to people who had questions on skin types/routine changes. There were also a ton of fun samples to try out, from toners to lip tints in order to create a currently popular Korean lip trend. Although I didn’t get to go in, I really appreciated the create space available, it was a wonderful idea and I enjoyed seeing all the teru teru bozu on display. I also appreciated the Shinto Shrine getting a more prominent room this year, although I wasn’t able to make it to any of the educational panels there. The Distant Worlds concert on Friday was a ton of fun, although I wish there had been a bigger space for it. We stood in the area around 4 pm, and I heard that at 5:25 the room was already full. The guidebook suggested getting in line at 5:30, but that’s just not going to happen at an event like Otakon, people will come hours in advance in order to get in.

 

The Artist’s Alley was great this year, I spent more money this year than probably the last few years combined. I saw a great variety of work, and way more custom artwork than usual, which is great for me because I prefer custom work over fan art. My favorite dealer was also in the dealer’s room with a lot more room and products, so that was exciting too.

 

I think the traffic flow in the convention was great this year, and pre-reg pick up on Thursday went just as smoothly as it did last year (basically walked in and out in about five minutes). I love that the 18+ wristband booth is available on Thursday so we didn’t have to spend any time on Friday waiting in line.

 

The Bad: I noticed a lot more slowdowns during the lines for bag checks this year, as well as a lot of lines outside at times I wasn’t expecting them (like 11:30 on Saturday). There was also a lot of confusion outside about what lines were for what, and not many staffers available to give clarity. The bag checks were very brief, I had a backpack with multiple sections and each time I got checked, they just went through the top of the largest section and called it a day. I realize that just having a bag check discourages some people from sneaking things in, but I wish they would either be more thorough or change the bag size that needs to be checked.

 

There was actually no Ugly section for me this year. I’ve been going to Otakon for 15 years now, and this has to be one of my top years. I had a great time, and never felt like I was bored or was wasting time.

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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.  

 

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I'll honestly say this was maybe a good convention for me. I'd rank it as one of my Top 5.

Good

-There were a number of fan panels that I wanted to go to. There was a few I just didn't have time to go to but honestly I wasn't bored at all this weekend.

-The DC Convention Center. Honestly, this is just me but for 2 years in a row I felt that the DC Convention Center is miles better than the old BCC. I don't feel as claustrophobic in the DCCC as I did in the BCC. The staff for the DCCC is also miles better than the BCC staff was. I honestly hope Otakon stays in DC from now on. Plus the dining and food choices outweight everything.

-The guests. Kawamori was great, the Studio Ghibli panel was top class and maybe ranks as one of my top panels of all time.

-The Dealers Room and Artist Alley. While I've been moving more towards games and there wasn't as many stores for video games (this is becoming more common though in most anime cons since now retro games and video games in general are getting their own cons). The layout of both rooms and some of the booth, that Dragon Ball Z booth felt like I was back in the mid 2000s. While I know we will never see every industry booths being like the Dragon Ball Z again, it was still great.

-Video Game Room. Great selection and nice that it was so big. I really liked the choices and had a lot of fun this year at the place.

-Maps. OMG, you don't know how wonderful it was to see the maps this year in the middle of the floors unlike last year. This was fixed and I was so happy for it.

Bad

-No Voice Actors After Dark. I figured when it disappeared from the schedule it was more of a conflict that there was some that just didn't want to do it. Was upsetting so to me to at least put it on here.

-Bag Check- It wasn't ugly since it did move and I know Otakon can't do anything about it. But god it was just more stupid this year than last. Thank god I didn't have a bag most of the time but I was still with my sister and her friend who had bags.

Ugly

-Autograph Line- Just hearing second hand accounts and seeing it myself shows what a mess this was. Wasn't in it personality but from what I heard and saw it was bad so I should give is a mention.

-Panels Cancelled- Just seemed to all of the sudden cancel when people are already in the room. No notice or anything. WTF guys?

-No Communication- For the love of God Otakon, I love this con but this has been going on for as long as I can remember. Fix the communication people. You have video monitors everywhere now. Some notices on those huge screens would help so much. It almost feels like a secret meeting nobody is invited too when stuff happens.

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The Good: 

  • I was able to get into all the panels I wanted to go to.  I know some people are complaining about the lack of content but it I think it forces you to do new things and explore different facets of Japanese culture.  I did that this year and I was pleasantly surprised.  I was also able to fit everything in - typically I have a hard time choosing between things.
  • Sword Art Online Summer Festival.  This was a really good presentation and having the English voice actors of Kirito and Asuna was a real treat.  I highly enjoyed this panel.
  • Taiko Drumming Demonstration - I've always missed this in previous years so I was happy to attend this.
  • DBZ anniversary museum/display.  I'm not a huge DBZ fan but I still think this was pretty awesome.

The Bad: 

  • Interjections/heckling during fan panels.  Please leave the questions/comments for the end unless the host says otherwise.  It's really distracting from the content.
  • No line ropes for more popular events.  This was a problem last year, too.  Some of the zigzagging gets really confusing and they kept pushing us towards the wall because the lines got unruly.  
  • Photo-shoots in the quiet zone.  

The Ugly:

  • Where was Crunchyroll, VIZ Media, Pony Canyon and Good Smile?  I look forward to seeing their booths every year (especially the Pony Canyon lanterns) and didn't see them.  What's the deal?

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I guess I feel a bit differently than a lot of other people because I thought Otakon did a good job this year.  It wasn't perfect but, I feel, better than previous years.  And SO MUCH BETTER than a certain big west coast anime con, I went to last month (which to put mildly was a disaster for me).

Good:

  • I had zero problems with the bag check.  I got to there plus cons a year, most have a bag check at this point. And Otakon this year for me was by far and away one of the most efficient I went through.
  • I got into all but one panel.  And they one panel I didn't get into they were good about telling us that it was full.
  • Loved all the open space in the artist alley.  I really got to explore all the stands.
  • Same for the dealers' room. 

  Bad: 

  • I was on the backup list of panels.  I got to run my panel, which was super cool.  The problem was I only found out I was running my panel because it was listed in the guidebook app.  I was expecting a phone call or at least an email or such to let me know.

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5 minutes ago, nettefairy said:

Where was Crunchyroll, VIZ Media, Pony Canyon and Good Smile?  I look forward to seeing their booths every year (especially the Pony Canyon lanterns) and didn't see them.  What's the deal?

 

I am guessing this is something Otakon themselves have little control over.  It is up to those companies to decide if running a booth at a convention is worth spending the money.  Flying people and those fancy booths out is expensive.  I am also guessing Pony Canyon blew a lot of their budget at AX this year with Go Nagai (which was such a mess, I can't even).

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One other thing I just thought of was the critical lack of signage for things like the exits for the dealer room, where you had staff continuously having to yell that it was exit only because there were no signs of any sort. I think at one point on Saturday I saw a staffer holding a handwritten sign, but they were gone later. It really shouldn't be hard to print a couple big "EXIT ONLY" signs and post them.

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Also agree with the complaint about having all the Japanese guests scheduled at the same time. I know Trigger & Kawamori were at the same time. 

 And what is worst their panels often conflict with their autograph signings. They might not be at the exact same time but as you have to get to the autograph area at least an hr before having the panel right before that and not close by to the dealer room makes you ultimately  have to decide between the panel & autograph. Unless you are super quick at navigating the halls which I’m not. 

 

This isnt usually an issue for me because I just do autographs one day/panels another but this year missed the autograph on Friday and thus had to miss the panels on Saturday too. I know that was my choice but it was still very disappointing. I could have went to more panels on Friday if I hadn’t wasted my time in the autograph line. 

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The panel/autographs have always been scheduled tight, I can only assume because the guests don't want to have long layoffs between their scheduled events. While I managed this year, I do worry that this year's system will more times than not create a situation where it is impossible to attempt to get autographs from several guests (having all Japanese guests signing at the same time). 

Other than that, having the first Friday autograph session line merged with the dealer's room line was rough (I got in the line at 10 AM which is the only reason I managed to get the Kawamori autograph). A difficult situation for the con is when guests choose to do things that greatly limit the number of autographs they can give per session. If a guest chooses to do brief sketches for congoers as part of their signing, I think it is unreasonable for the convention to tell those guests not to do it. One thing that congoers CAN do as a courtesy to others is to refrain from asking for photo ops with popular guests, but again, I don't think staff can really interject and refuse on a willing guest's behalf. 

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2 hours ago, Kirarakim said:

Letting attendees stand in line for hours in autograph lines without letting them know they weren't getting one until the last minute so maybe they could have done something else with that time

This has been an Otakon tradition for years. It's truly my only recurring, major gripe about Otakon and they've done little to fix it over the years. 

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Oooof I haven't posted here in a WHILE. But otherwise here is my breakdown:

 

The Good:

-DISTANT WORLDS (Friday, didn't go to Sunday): My biggest thank you to whoever wrangled this performance at Otakon together. A real treat that left me rather emotional. 

-SUPER ART FIGHT (Unleashed): Also a big thanks for letting them do their 18+ version this year. Every time I go to see them they do not disappoint. 

-Con Staff: Every staff member for the most part was exceedingly helpful, and outside of a few circumstances seemed to have a handle on everything I went to. 

The Bad: 

-Dealers Room Selection: NOT OTAKON'S FAULT! Alot of the non industry dealers seem to have a very Samey inventory ALA Funko Pops and the same four to six franchises. Perhaps I didn't look hard enough but this was the first year I have ever bought no merch at a con. 

-Programming selection: Perhaps I'm just really picky or something, but not alot of the programming spoke much to me in terms of "I HAVE to go to that." There were definite standouts for sure, but otherwise my schedule felt sort of empty. 

The Ugly: 

-Security: One of the people in my room was pulled aside four times over the weekend by a guy on the front entrance. He would be told to step to the side, hold out his arms, and "Lean in, and give it to me" while he found it humorous the first time it was not received so well the times after to the point that he would go out of his way to use the tunnel to avoid the guard, or just stay in the room. Not Cool. 

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Before I begin, I believe this might be the worst Otakon I have ever been to

 

The Good:

Solid selection of guest - While it still feels a bit small for 25, Uematsu and Kawamori alone make a really good guest list, add in people I care about like Nagai and Ebikawa and the list was quite good

Discotek Panel - Good job being the clear winner of panel and announcements from industry reps (to be fair Right Stuf and Manga Gamer did fine too). Maybe best industry panel ever in fact, just nice to go to one that is not 90% social media fluff

Dealer's Room - I feel there is a bit much of the same 4 shows every where (Love Live, Jojo, One Piece, DBZ, more Love Live, seriously so much Love Live), but I found some stuff I wanted

DBZ Booth - This was amazing, and it was great to see Otakon actually get one of these on the East Coast considering this is the type of stuff that is normally only at AX or SDCC

 

The bad:

Panel rooms too small - It seemed to me that almost every panel room was one size too small, getting the Mariott back would help this I believe because it would buy you the space I believe

Con felt smushed - After last year I felt the con would have room to grow in the convention center but like I said in the last point, everything felt a little squeezed together, even out in the hallways which I found quite spacious last year

Two Final Fantasy concert - One two many, should have brought someone else for the Sunday concert

Questionable guest - I like Prozd, he should be a featured panelist, Mr. Creepy Pasta should have been a featured panelist, all those years of not inviting certain guest due to your mission, seems to have been lies.

The ugly: 

Autograph line - Let me just quote myself on July 18th

Quote

Wow that sounds terrible

I wasted Friday getting two autographs, wasted, I had to get into the dealer's room line right as the con opened, to make sure I could get into the autograph line 4 hours later, putting the autographs in dealer's room is a horrible idea which makes the dealer's room line worst and makes it so there is less time you can do autographs in a day. I didn't get out of the autograph area till around 1:15 pm, and I was a lucky one. The way you did it was horrible, and it seems the people running autographs didn't even know it was being run that way. People told you it wouldn't work, hell anyone who read the idea could tell you that but you stuck to it, good job.

The featured panel room was a waste of space that should have gone to main events - Did you see the line for Distant Worlds, capped 2 and a half hours before the event, seriously....

Something was just off - I dunno if it was just me, but I think the rally had a lot of people on edge and ruined the mood of the con

Bag check on Saturday - I ran a panel on Saturday, I needed to get a bag into the con, so I had to leave to get my bag 2 hours early, then wait in line over a half hour to get back into the con, and why, ONE BAG CHECKER and don't even get me started on ONE PROP CHECKER, seriously, what the ---- were you thinking Otakon, I want an answer to this.

 

I really don't feel like I had fun at this con, and I had been looking forward to it all year. 

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48 minutes ago, KyoKyo said:

This has been an Otakon tradition for years. It's truly my only recurring, major gripe about Otakon and they've done little to fix it over the years. 

Yup, this is almost a rite of passage for this con.  Any experienced Otakon attendee knows when the autograph staff tells you to disperse you never do if you seriously want to guarantee your autograph and lining up at any unofficial pre-line is done at your own risk.  You also need to judge for yourself whether to keep remaining in line based on the pace of the first couple of folks because no one will help you.  Once in a blue moon the guest will be awesome and ask to stay to sign for everyone left in line especially towards the end of the day, but with this year's horrible setup I wonder if the communication would've been even passed down the line.

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Good:

- Most importantly, I want to thank the staffer who helped my sister get to the taxis out in front of the con on Saturday. I go into a bit more detail here (incidentally if someone could move that topic to this section, that'd be great). I was going to stay after the feedback panel to talk to the line control head to see if he could figure out who it was, but I needed to go to the bathroom really badly and I wasn't allowed back towards the panel room after by center staff, which is fair and makes sense, oops. Also rather kind, informative man staffing the OtaMuseum on Sunday. I really wish I had thought to catch their names.

- Excellent variety of programming and guests. It was pretty hard to decide what to attend with the former (or rather, I had some must-sees that meant I couldn't attend others that seemed cool too, hah), and a number of guests I thought about going to panels for or getting autographs from (ultimately did meet Cherami Leigh, and Todd's panel and the general VA panel that replaced VAAD were both hilarious and great fun). Also I'm aware Charles Dunbar is thinking about taking a break or flat out retiring from the con circuit but if you CAN get him back again next year as a featured panelist, then, please, do.

- Distant Worlds. Just. Distant Worlds. Especially all of us getting to sing with the chorus in One Winged Angel, that made my day. :P

- I appreciate that a certain panel given by Men at Arms last year that I pointed out was a bit... sketchy didn't show up again this year even though they came back. (They're great guests, that one panel was just kind of.... ehhhh. That might just be coincidence though and they decided not to do it anyway. I do encourage a variety of panels, including those which make points I disagree with, but it was  making a poorly constructed rebuttal to a strawman argument on a rather contentious subject in both feminist and fandom circles, and was perhaps more importantly titled and described completely differently from what it turned out to be. But that's more about last year, so, uh, that's all I'll say to that.)

- The replacement for the VAAD still kept the heart of VAAD without being, you know, 18+- basically VAs being silly with each other and Jerkshirt man (I'M SO SORRY I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I'M BLANKING ON YOUR NAME). Good job. 

- Just a really great con this year! I can really feel you guys feeling out this new center to try and figure out the best way it can be used.  That said, I'm critical by nature, so I still have some things to point out......

Bad:

- Allowing people to line up BEFORE the Distant Worlds concert official line up time of 4:30. Just. Why? Tell them to go away. By treating a line that formed before as official, you essentially retroactively changed it so that there WAS no official time. Which is fine, but you can't do that day of, that's really not fair. Not a BIG deal since it seems like everyone who showed up at 4:30 sharp got in, but still.

- Been thinking about this, and I've come to the conclusion that more scheduled room clears are needed, or at least, staff policing of panel rooms that will have a major panel afterwards. As someone at feedback mentioned, having loud folks come in and make a ruckus halfway through a panel because they're here for the next one is... just unfair and rude to the presenter. Those people should be kicked out of the panel or at least made to wait outside.

- Going off of that, I felt... very awkward about having to walk in on the Gundam Live Reading halfway through that event. These are talented guests, one coming all the way from Japan, and to have people barge in in the middle of a panel who are clearly not here for them is... uh. Unfortunate. Doesn't help the Persona panel had stuff to give out, and was intended to be given out as people entered like, you know, most industry panels. I mean, yes, I could have waited outside, but I had no idea how many people were going to show up and didn't want to accidentally shoot myself in the foot. Thankfully no one was rude in THAT instance beyond just walking in, though.

- Please utilize Guidebook better. Both AUSA and Katsucon have figured out how to sort panels by guest or presenter, for instance. There's no reason y'all can't.  

- Bring back the quiet room. Almost walked my sister (she and I both have anxiety issues, her moreso than I) into the staff lounge because of the "come in and relax" signing which is the exact same signage said quiet room had last year. And those who I asked said there wasn't one. Thankfully we found a quiet corner to settle down in, but... yeah, it's kinda important. Maybe that's one thing you can put back in the hotel along with the signings like you mentioned at feedback might happen?

Ugly: 

- The schedule. What happened? Half of the guest panels had no description. Understandable if even the guests don't know what they're going to do, but then you could give some generic "X guest is here! What'll happen is up to them, show up if you like them!" And then, several of the fan panels didn't mention who was presenting them, while others, well, did. Just. Do better, please. This (if you include it in general improvement of Guidebook use) is the one thing I experienced that I KNOW for a fact you can improve upon at least a little, so I'm expecting it.

- Some of what others have said they experienced here is absolutely ugly. The DBTour cancellation (it's freaking Dragonball and the panelists weren't the ones who cancelled, and NO rescheduling? What gives?!) and first autograph sessions both seem like pretty rookie mistakes. I expect better of Otakon.

- I realize there's little Otakon themselves can do about this, but it ties into my first "good" point actually... try to make sure the vendors in the con center itself aren't selling RANCID food, okay? Let alone 7 dollar rancid strawberry smoothies. Maybe pass that along to WEWCC.

Other considerations:

- Unless WEWCC quite literally doesn't allow it, consider 24 hour programming. It needn't be jam-packed, but having one or two showings or panels (regardless of rating) going at the same time in the wee hours would be pretty fun. Obviously stuff like AA, DR, the video game room and such can be confined to normal hours, I'm just talking about having a few things for late night owls who, say, aren't used to being up until noon on the weekends, haha. 

- Utilize the hotel space. Hell that'd be perfect for Autographs next year, as suggested at feedback.

- While I WANT to say have a panel like VAAD but for all ages like what we had this year during the day ALONGSIDE a nighttime VAAD panel... I wonder if that'd lead to more typical questions being asked, a few of which did get asked this year (in spite of most, thankfully, being good questions). Maybe make it clear it's a comedy panel or something and to leave questions for only one guest for other panels? Eh, I dunno, just a thought.

13 hours ago, ueda said:

Ugly
- Nothing to do; I ended up just roaming around a little before going back to the hotel most days
- 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
- Panels being canceled at the last minute with no explanation offered; I personally didn't even plan on going to anything but I heard of four+ panels being canceled especially that big DBZ one and the Voice Actors After Dark
- Severe lack of Japanese guests
- No celebrations for the 25th year made things feel lackluster
- There was no need for two Final Fantasy concerts and I will stand by this opinion forever; it felt redundant and a band or something would have been better for at least one concert
- Guidebook being wrong with lots of things, one being I went to the Free High Speed movie. Guidebook said it would be subbed; then it played and it was dubbed
- The bag check is a joke. I waited in line so long one day that I missed something I wanted to go to. And they don't even really check the bags... they just take a small look inside if that and then let everyone continue on inside. If there's going to be a bag check the people need to do it the proper way or not at all, and also more people need to be hired to do it especially at the Marriott connector
- Luckily I didn't care about any of the guests to want an autograph because I heard it was a disaster
- Overall I was miserable. This was my 10th and last Otakon (probably, unless they get really good guests somehow but I'm not very hopeful)

- I apologize, and I think we've quibbled about this before, but... I find this bizarre. I found the panel and events were really varied this year. What kinda stuff are you into? There was so much stuff going on. Even if there weren't ANY panels or events I wanted to see and I finished with the Dealer's Hall and Artist Alley, there's still, like, various showings, the Video Games hall, tabletop gaming, etc. It sounds like you might just have a really niche set of interests. And if so... maybe spell them out so Otakon can try to get some programming you like? Because clearly it's not just anime in general, but more specific anime? Or something?

- The two Youtubers who were invited are Asian American. Further, while there perhaps weren't as many Japanese guests invited this year (but, those that were were incredibly high profile imo), part of that is probably because of the extremely sizable number of Korean guests there were and they needed to cover airfare and boarding for them that's just as expensive as the Japanese guests. East Asian culture isn't just Japan, you know? It includes Korea, China, Vietnam, Mongolia, (arguably) all of the Southeast Asian nations, and of course Asian diaspora. I mean, even current climate aside, the con inviting people who don't have to do with Asian media, but ARE Asian themselves, is nothing new. Heck, wasn't there an astronaut who came a few years ago? That's pretty neat, I think!

- Definitely poor communication there, and not acceptable in the DBZ case.

- 14 Japanese guests is... a lack? Maybe it's not as many as previous years but there were a lot. Almost all high profile at that. 

- I agree that a lack of emphasis on this being the 25th year (arguably a bigger milestone than 20!) is a bit sad. But ultimately I don't think this negatively impacted the con at all- it felt like a 25th anniversary in spite of it.

- The two concerts were different. One was an epic orchestra, the other was a smaller, chamber ensemble. If you attended one you definitely did not get the same experience as the other. At least, based on clips I've seen of A New World, vs what I experienced with Distant Worlds, and given the differences between orchestra music is from chamber music.

- This, as I covered earlier, I agree with. Otakon absolutely NEEDS to utilize Guidebook better. Other, smaller cons with less staff but almost the same amount of programming have. 

- This seems a bit self-contradictory. You want more thorough bag checking, but... faster bag checking? I think this is as best as we're getting, at least with the main entrance. I can definitely see improvements for the hotel entrance being possible though. I will add I pretty much stay in the convention center all day, so this may have something to do with it, if bagcheck lines get longer past noon or so.

- Only the first signing of the first day. The rest of the time it was handled about as well as previous years.

2 hours ago, F00LY said:

- 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.

- 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.

Wrt VAAD, the replacement was absolutely not a "children's programming" panel, as if anything that's not 18+ is for children. Sure people weren't making sex quips every five seconds but the humor was still at least at a PG-13/TV-14 level. Absolutely did not regret attending, it was actually a lot more enjoyable than last year's actual 18+ VAAD, which is saying something.

The DB tour panel being cancelled, which I thought about attending but luckily decided not to last minute, is absolutely unacceptable though, especially since Otakon is saying they're responsible, not the presenters themselves. There had better be a good explanation for it.

I definitely agree with the other two. The schedule I covered earlier. And, I thankfully didn't attend any room-capped panels (some that were ALMOST though), but I attended some panels which were perhaps only halfway full. Some better judgement on what will be popular or not should be considered- maybe to the point that putting out a poll on what the most anticipated fan panels are would be helpful?

2 hours ago, Dostovei Illuminas said:

One other thing I just thought of was the critical lack of signage for things like the exits for the dealer room, where you had staff continuously having to yell that it was exit only because there were no signs of any sort. I think at one point on Saturday I saw a staffer holding a handwritten sign, but they were gone later. It really shouldn't be hard to print a couple big "EXIT ONLY" signs and post them.

I completely forgot- but yes! Better signage needed!

28 minutes ago, mitamaking said:

Con felt smushed - After last year I felt the con would have room to grow in the convention center but like I said in the last point, everything felt a little squeezed together, even out in the hallways which I found quite spacious last year

Questionable guest - I like Prozd, he should be a featured panelist, Mr. Creepy Pasta should have been a featured panelist, all those years of not inviting certain guest due to your mission, seems to have been lies.

- Kiiiind of? Now that you bring it up, and looking at other complaints in the thread, it was definitely a lot more crowded feeling vs. last year which was heavenly. I think not using the hotel squeezed things together a lot more than need be. 

- Not lies. As I said earlier, they're both of Asian descent and can thus offer uniquely Asian perspectives on things.

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As I stated in another thread, I rarely go to Panels because they just don't appeal to me. Not sure that will ever change.

I did get to see some new anime, but the video operators had a rough time getting things set up. They were going back and forth into DVD menus trying to get the Japanese Audio and Subtitle tracks enabled. The very first video on Friday had the Zoom turned way up, so no-one could see the DVD menus. I think 4 people were there trying to figure it out. A few times, the person running the Video Room was going into the equipment set-up menus by mistake. If Otakon has an idea of which equipment is being used, then I suggest putting a troubleshooting card on the displays (e.g. Which remote to use. Equipment: Set Zoom to 0, Volume at 5. Anime: Set Audio Track: Japanese. Enable English sub-titles, etc.).

My first Otakon was in 1994, so I am well past 18. That being said, it seems like many of the anime and panels after 8 PM required an 18+ wristband. If you did not have an 18+ band (which I do not get for the most part) your activity choices were limited. That could be my perception, but it seemed to stick out this year. There was a lot of downtime on the schedule for me.

 

  • UGLY: The air quality.
    Between the wall of cigarette/vape pen smoke surrounding the convention center, and the great un-washed, I had a rough time finding clean air. Doing my best to avoid lung cancer.

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Good:

-Fun panels, I really enjoyed the rating anime waifus panel and all of Josh Grelle's panels

-Dealers room & artist alley had a really good selection of things to buy (at least in my opinion)

-Bag check was fine I dont know if it was because I showed up to the con early but going thru the line went smooth for me

Bad

-Autographs, not so much as the line but getting info about which guests were ready for more folks to get in said line? No one could hear what the gofer/staff were saying because the dealers room is so /loud/ I honestly dont think it should be there next year

Ugly

-no signs in the artist alley. I think it was brought up last year but I think it would be great to have signs pointing out the different sections of the hall because it is wayy to easy to lose a specific booth you would be looking for 

 

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Been attending Otakon since 2011. I had a great time even if I wasn't super excited about most of the con.

The Good

-The DBZ stuff in the dealer room was really cool to see and I'm not even a big fan.

-FF Distant Worlds concert was awesome!

-Even though I didn't get to check it out, having the stuff going on with the Library of Congress seemed really cool and I hope it's done again.

-Stayed at the Marriott Marquis for the first time and IT WAS AMAZING!

-Tons of great cosplays as usual.

-Stumbled upon some really good panels (I normally don't go to many panels)

-Had some really great interactions with people in and out of the con. No people problems at all.

-Got to see the monuments this year.

The Bad

-Even though it turned out not to be a big thing during the con, just worrying about the rally all weekend kind of stressed me out.

-Not Otakon's fault at all but I didn't get my cosplay done in time.

-Didn't get to do anything I really wanted to in the video game hall due to crowds or games not working.

-Con center food is insanely expensive as always but I ate it a couple of times out of convenience and got sick twice.

The Ugly

-I'm getting older now and feel like an old man when I can't stay up for late night stuff and have to more carefully watch what I eat/drink to stay active.

-Parked at the City Center Garage (we prepaid) and took forever to find a spot. Signs kept showing open spots but almost every one was blocked off by cones for some reason.

-Even with more space, people still insist on blocking the way to take pics.

-Otakon needs a megaphone company as a sponsor so staff can have more to use. We really need them.

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The Good

  • The atmosphere was particularly good this year, I though. Lots of people were excited to be at Otakon and were just having a great time.
  • So many great cosplay again this year! I love them!
  • There's always gonna be some level of people not feeling the content mix of a particular year, or people with eclectic tastes being forced to choose between panels. No avoiding that, really. However, trying to shuffle the deck so panels of similar interests don't get scheduled concurrently seemed to go well this year. I didn't seem too many instances of conflict.
  • The Photosuite!! I haul my cosplay there every year because it's a great way to get pictures of your costume but also it's just a fun thing to do, especially if you have a group. When I went this year on Saturday (and maybe she was there on Friday too, I don't know), there was a woman named Erin (cosplaying Sleeping Beauty) whose whole existence was to help people with poses or do touch-ups on wigs and makeup to get their best photos. I'm notoriously terrible at posing, so that was a great help to me in particular, but she was also so nice and fun that she really added unbelievably to the experience. I don't know if she was there in an official volunteer capacity or if she just offered up her services, but I'd love to see Otakon give her an official 'thank you' or something, or invite her back next year for the same role if she's willing.
  • There was nothing I wanted to go to that I missed out on because of space issues. My schedule didn't always work out to make everything, and sometimes having to squeeze into an awkward seat is less than ideal, but there was always enough space in the rooms without having to arrive an 1 hour on average. That continues to be a plus of the bigger convention center space.
  • Food vendors seemed better prepared for volume this year. I remember last year they ran out of a ton of stuff halfway through Saturday.
  • I thought there was a really good mix of products in the Dealer's Room this year. It's been many years since I saw the quantity of products that seemed to actually come Japan. I know there are import costs involved in some of those decisions, but it does get boring when the DR is just full of stuff I could easily find elsewhere on the internet. It was nice to have a mix of stuff that seemed more Japan-oriented, and I probably was more excited about DR this year than I have been in quite a few of the past years.
  • That Funimation booth was amazeballs this year. I've been coming awhile, I remember when industry booths used to have more than just overpriced DVD boxsets and free promotion posters. They used to have actual merchandise and things to interact with. I would love to see other industry booths encouraged to bring the same kind of interactive A-game that Funimation brought to the con this year. (And yes, that giant Shenron was killer.)
  • Elephant in the room, the political discourse event on Sunday seemed non-existent as long as you were in the convention center. Plenty of people were worried about the potential impact, and it was nice that it didn't manage to get into the convention atmosphere.
  • Stayed in the Renaissance DC again this year. Still a quality housing option, though with other booked events they weren't quite as decked out for Otakon as they were last year. That was fun, and I actually missed it a little this year. Their check-in is still really fast, which is great when you're trying to get in and settled.

The Bad

  • For all of last year, and for all of Friday this year, the main doors were used as both entrance and exit, and then suddenly without announcement they were shut down as an exit on Saturday. There was no explanation given as to why, and there weren't any notices put up through the center telling people they have to use other exits. It resulted in plenty of people walking all the way over to the doors only to be told to trek all the way back around the building to another exit. Not cool.
  • LineCon on Saturday morning. Especially as temperatures continue to rise each year, it's simply unacceptable to make attendees wait for large chunks of time out in the searing heat. That goes double when you consider all the people in heavy and/or elaborate cosplays. There were no problems on Friday with keeping the line moving, so I don't know what exactly happened that Saturday that 'caused the hold up. If you need more prop checkers, then get more prop checkers. Bag check seemed to be fine as long as it didn't get mixed up with the prop check line. Maybe it's worth it to have prop check flow to the right while just bag check goes to the left? Does the space allow for that?
  • Speaking on behalf of my friend, I know she was frustrated that there inconsistencies in the Guidebook for panels. Sometimes panelists were listed, sometimes they weren't. Several times, a featured panelist wasn't even listed. She was very frustrated by this.
  • There seemed to be an unusually high number of people paying ZERO attention to their surroundings this year. On multiple occasions, I had people almost crashing into me when I was standing still, never mind when I was walking. There were a ton of people holding up the traffic - sometimes in both directions - in a hallway to do pictures, and I never saw a single staffer telling them to pull off to the side. Good traffic flow makes for a good convention experience.

The Ugly

  • I agree with everyone else on the subject of the lack of #Otakon25 fanfare. I literally didn't even realize it until I was at Closing Ceremonies and they had it on the screen. There should have been more fanfare and anniversary events for such a quarter-century milestone.
  • Break-in Room: There is absolutely zilch in the way of information about these save for the room number. A friend and I were trying to do one on Sunday, but we ultimately missed out because there was nothing about there being a cap of people, or general event description, or anything. For an event reoccurring all throughout the weekend, there needed to be a basic set of information passed around so people can properly prepare their schedule.
  • Opening up hotel booking was a disaster this year. You told people we'd get "plenty of notice", and then people got, like, 2 days to find out it was opening. It caused a lot of chaos and some booking snafus for people, myself included. Also, please don't snatch up all the doubles in the Renaissance for staff. It's nice of Otakon to try and leave the Marquis free for attendees, but not everyone can fit into that hotel and some of us still need doubles in our other preferred hotel.

The Meh

  • Personally, I felt a little let down by Artist's Alley this year. I know other people thought it was fine based on their own tastes, but I usually go wild in there with loving and wanting different things, and I just didn't get overly excited about much this year.
  • I'm not going to complain about the quality of bag checking since we had that conversation last year. If it's mandatory that Otakon have bag checking period, better a cursory glance to keep the line moving than having a full-scale "paw through everything" process that lets in about 1 person per 5 minutes. "Ain't nobody got time for that."
  • Any inkling on when more local businesses might open their hearts to Otakon for con discounts like Baltimore did? Still not seeing much. I like the convention food just fine, but it's still overpriced in most cases. It's nice not to have to leave, but it's also nice to have options.
  • Where the hell was Viz? Crunchyroll? Pony Canyon?? Like, okay, there's plenty of other booths to visit but...they're such staples to see in the Dealer's Room.
  • Also, why was there soda everywhere in DR but no water? Kinda unhealthy for Con.
  • Speaking of the Dealer's Room, my sides were splitting over the shade Otakon was throwing in the listed Hours & Operation. Friday and Sunday just had the hours, but Saturday had this long list of how the DR hours were 10-6, how they've always been 10-6, how you're wrong if you think they've ever been different, and how you need to learn to shop first and eat dinner after. I. Was. DYING.:lol:
  • It was weird to see Closing Ceremonies and Con Feedback held so late this year. You've condition me to expect being chased out of the building by 430, lol. That said, pretty much everything finished at 3, and there was just dead space while you waited for Feedback to start. If you're gonna be open later, have some more videos or something going to keep people occupied.
  • 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.

As I observed and experienced it, the main problem Otakon faced this year seemed to be a really terrible lack of communication. There were teams directing event lines that didn't know about other events people were trying get to in the same area. Teams across different floors didn't communicate with each other. Panels were getting schedule or unscheduled without noticed. Entrances and exits were opening and closing without explanation. Communication seemed to be a disaster this year, which is weird because I think I noted last year that it seemed to be pretty satisfactory. What happened there?

 

Requests:

  • Communication: Communicate better. Guidebook notices or tweets, make sure that con attendees are kept abreast of changes. Better for our schedules, better for staff stress levels so they're not getting whined at by attendees. And I know that Otakon uses some kind of communication app to pass information, but either it's not being used to the fullest or it's not the best app. Either way, communication between different departments, or even different floors of the center, needs to improve and get all staffers in sync. Maybe you have 1-2 POCs for each department whose main role is to pass info between teams? Just spitballing. It's just gotta improve.
  • Merchandise: As someone with a plus-sized friend, she would be keen for Otakon to stock up on a few more 3X+ sizes in their shirts so there's enough to go around.
  • Industry Booths: I know to a certain extent, Otakon is subject to whatever presence companies want to put forth, but I really would love to see other industry booths encouraged to do more like what Funimation did (even if not quite to that degree). Be interactive. A row of overpriced DVDs isn't all that fun to look at, but little mini-games or photo backgrounds? That stuff is great! Figure out which properties you're most proud of and develop stuff around them. And maybe if it's within your business strategy, develop some non-disc merchandise for some of these shows and sell that at the convention. I remember a decade ago (back when Viz still did bags, too T_T) Funimation had tote bags and plushies and stuff for some of their series. More than just DVDs and a salesman is what I'm getting at here. Industry booths should be encouraged to put a little more effort in to being part of the convention experience.
  • Smoking: Please, PLEASE, do something about people smoking right near entrances. I know DC has different laws about door proximity than BMore, but as a non-smoker, it's not fair to walk through a cloud of smoke when you're leaving, or having to breath it in because you're stuck in line next to where someone is smoking. I don't know what Otakon can do, but please do something!

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9 minutes ago, LittleHobbit13 said:

 

  • Where the hell was Viz? Crunchyroll? Pony Canyon?? Like, okay, there's plenty of other booths to visit but...they're such staples to see in the Dealer's Room.

I also noticed this. I was looking forward to seeing the CR and Pony Canyon booths and I don't remember seeing a CR panel either.

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3 hours ago, nettefairy said:

The Ugly:

  • Where was Crunchyroll, VIZ Media, Pony Canyon and Good Smile?  I look forward to seeing their booths every year (especially the Pony Canyon lanterns) and didn't see them.  What's the deal?

Likely still collapsing, swimming in their pile of money, deleting youtube videos, and also swimming in their pile of money, in that order.

4 hours ago, F00LY said:

- 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.

- 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.  

 

Nailed it on all points. Photoshoots are given the screw job. Couldn't even play JoJo music for the JoJo shoot without getting hemmed and hawed at! They stuffed the JoJo shoot under the rainbow tube (a very convenient shortcut that was mysteriously closed this year) alcove area last year, which was a mess. Schedule design is bad. Autograph times really ought to include who that person is and what they've done, so at a glance, I can remember who they are and if I want to bother. Room sizes were a pain on Saturday night for the 9:45PM panels - the only two interesting bad dub/bad translation panels were scheduled at the exact same time in the two smallest panel rooms and were stuffed full.

 

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4 hours ago, F00LY said:

Dedicate a room to photoshoots. At least the one's believed to be big ones.

I think this is an excellent AND practical suggestion. It's certainly worth a trial run, to see how it addresses the problem. And while I think photoshoots are more fun with the buzz of the convention around you, if you have to choose between that and space maybe this is even something for which they could use a few rooms over at the Marriott if that's what it takes. If they do it in rooms, it might even be possible to set up better/cleaner backdrops, rather than having windows behind cosplayers with photography-unfriendly backlighting, or putting the cosplayers up against bland hallway with elevators or stanchions in the background.

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51 minutes ago, LittleHobbit13 said:

That Funimation booth was amazeballs this year. I've been coming awhile, I remember when industry booths used to have more than just overpriced DVD boxsets and free promotion posters. They used to have actual merchandise and things to interact with. I would love to see other industry booths encouraged to bring the same kind of interactive A-game that Funimation brought to the con this year. (And yes, that giant Shenron was killer.)

You are giving credit to the wrong group. The Dragon Ball tour booth was not Funimation's booth (although they were one of the sponsors)  

It was part of this https://www.db-tour.com/ 

 

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I brought a family friend this year.  It was his first Otakon.  He is a professional bilingual Japanese localization expert, and Is friends with some of this year's guests because of localizing their anime or video games (so he was happy to see them again) .  He has been to the other two big Anime conventions.


Tonight, he is still raving about how fantastic Otakon was for him.  Going in, his expectations were "meh" from attending the other two big Anime conventions.  Now he is going on about how great the organization, variety, layout, pacing, and content was for the convention.

I'm probably a little jaded, as I think that this was my 18th consecutive Otakon.  But it's fun seeing how spun-up (in a good way) this industry insider is about his first Otakon.  He is definitely coming back next year (me too).

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22 minutes ago, Kirarakim said:

You are giving credit to the wrong group. The Dragon Ball tour booth was not Funimation's booth (although they were one of the sponsors)  

It was part of this https://www.db-tour.com/

Dragonball is a Funimation property in the US. If there needs to be a delineation between that and the sales booth for an "event", so be it, but I'm speaking the general sense of it being one of their sponsored booths.

The point is not whose name is on the booth. The point is that someone from industry did something noticeably exciting for the first time in awhile at Otakon.

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The Good

 

Having to see friends again like CocoFaerie, Gaspar (watching how he played Project DIVA Arcade in the video games room, only confirms that he will slaughter me with that game),  and a reporter from Fandom Post that his name escapes me at this moment.

Seeing some old friends from the industry. 

Able to make most panels and screening that I wanted to attend.

Able to actually make it to my 25th consecutive year.

 

The Bad

 

Seems that some of my peers who has been attending cons almost as long as I have are dwindling in great numbers over the years. 

VIZ, Crunchyroll, Pony Canyon, Good Smiles were notably absent this year.

For this being the 25th Otakon, it felt kind of plain considering this mildstone.

Guidebook was crashing from time to time when it does an update. 

 

The Ugly

 

I got sick for the very first time because of some food that I bought and ate at the convention center that Friday. My stomach kind of settled by late Saturday morning. Didn't eat anything again from the convention center for the remainder of the con.    

 

 

 

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It's been a while since I've been to any convention, let alone Otakon, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I did enjoy myself, but I feel like there were several things that could definitely be improved upon...

The Awesome (is that a category? It's a category now): The Sunday Final Fantasy concert! I've never been to the "A New World" concerts before, and I was overjoyed to have a chance to not only go and listen to some music from the earlier games, but to also have the opportunity to meet Uematsu. I never thought I'd ever have the chance to do this, so I feel like this pretty much made the con for me. (I feel that I got my money's worth, that is to say.)

The Good: The kumihimo panel was fun, and now I have a new craft to do! We got to go to some other entertaining panels, too Artist's Alley had lots of excellent artists, and I really enjoyed the variety. We also got to go to Roxanne and Serena's MMA demonstration on Friday, which was pretty cool. I like how much space there is at the new con center! I still have some nostalgic feelings for the Baltimore con center, but it's nice to have more breathing room.

The Bad: The line to get into the convention when we came back from lunch on Saturday (this was for people already WITH badges). That was pretty brutal, given the heat. The Dealer's Room felt a little..."same-y" in regards to merchandise. Funko Pops everywhere. We were able to find some things to buy, but not much. Also, I get that Otakon can't predict what guests will want to see, but so many things we wanted to see were counter-scheduled. We had to skip a lot of stuff, and that got very frustrating. Especially when...

The Ugly: ...you had placed high hopes on the DBZ panel, got there extra early, and sat through 30 minutes of "fan trivia" only to be told it was canceled. Very confusing, little information, and just...this sense of disorganization everywhere. I felt that lack of communication was a running theme for this convention. The way that the Uematsu/Roth autograph session was handled was frustrating, given the lack of info.  When buying the tickets online, you're told "an autograph and selfie per attendee," but when we arrived at the session, we were told that one person could purchase multiple tickets and get multiple autographs and pictures that way. That seemed really strange, to be honest. Aren't the tickets tied to seats? I really feel that information about that could have been clarified better. 

....Well, that was more than I intended to write! I feel that overall, I did have a good time, but there were a few things that impacted my enjoyment. Things permitting, I'd like to come back again. Hopefully communication and organization will improve!

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52 minutes ago, razisgosu said:

Funimation doesn't own Dragonball in the US though. They own the anime. That's it. They don't own the manga, the card game, figures, etc. I think that's why they're being so specific about this. You're making claims that aren't true.

Did I say they owned it? I said it was one of their US properties, as in the anime. Funimation is a licensing company. Should have been fairly obvious that I was talking about the anime property.

Honestly, you guys are just being assholes at this point, trying to embarrass someone for a partial misunderstanding over a trivial detail. Why can't you just let this go?

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10 minutes ago, LittleHobbit13 said:

Did I say they owned it? I said it was one of their US properties, as in the anime. Funimation is a licensing company. Should have been fairly obvious that I was talking about the anime property.

Honestly, you guys are just being assholes at this point, trying to embarrass someone for a partial misunderstanding over a trivial detail. Why can't you just let this go?

Little Hobbit I’m sorry if you think I was attacking you for making a mistake. That wasn’t my intention. I make plenty of mistakes myself. But if you thought it was Funimation’s booth then I am sure others reading this thread would think the same. My intention was to correct misinformation as I said in my previous post. 

 

It was a fantastic booth and I think all the parties involved should get credit not just Funimation who is really only a small part of the pie. Dragon Ball is a huge property with many companies involved in its success. In fact it’s now the largest money maker for Bandai Namco even beating Gundam. I am definitely happy Otakon got such a great booth but I am also happy Dragon Ball is making such a successful come back & such a big traveling event exists for the series. Because in the end the booth wasn’t a reflection on any one company but Dragon Ball’s Renaissance. 

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For me, Otakon was overall good once again. But to break things down:

 

The Good:

  • Bag check lines seemed to move quickly when I got there (at 9am)
  • Great variety of cosplay. My kids went for the first time this year, and loved watching the cosplayers. Now I have to help them make costumes for next year. (Kudos especially to "Misty" who gave my son a Cerulean Gym badge that had been 3d-printed!)
  • The DBZ booth/exhibit. Even though I'm not a big DBZ fan, this definitely was way cool. I'd love to see similar exhibits in the future. How about a Gundam outside the convention center next year? :D

The Bad:

  • The food vendors running out of some food items halfway through the con (Chicken Curry? What chicken curry?)
  • The overpriced drinks at the vendor stations that were never cold. And to make matters worse, the drink machines were not restocked at all to my knowledge.
  • Panels and video showings that overlapped. Hard to avoid, but I had times where I had little to do (aside from haunt the dealers room), and other times when I had three different scheduled activities that I wanted to see
  • The dealers' room reached a level of "meh" to me this year. Like earlier commenters, I missed CrunchyRoll and other larger-name vendors. There also seemed to be less excitement or spontaneous activities in the dealer's room.
  • Some panelists conducted more than one panel, but their material had significant overlaps between their presentations. If a panelist is giving more than one presentation, please try to have each panel be distinct.
  • Having to walk around the convention center from the metro stop when the room I want to reach is literally a few hundred ft. from the metro-stop doors. It wasn't too bad this year, but I'd hope that they'd allow people to enter from those doors in the event of rain.

The Ugly:

  • Panels that were either little more than some guy showing his favorite videos without an outline, much less a PPT presentation, or panels where the presenter couldn't get his display to work at all. Trial runs, people.

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The Good: 

  • The panels I attended were fantastic! Seeing Michael Toole again was a highlight. So were panels by Manly Battleships, Daryl Surat, Charles Dunbar, and more.
  • The Artist's Alley was cool. I found some rare, amazing Xenogears merch.
  • Seeing friends and eating food outside of the convention center. Just, wow. Cuba Libre's Cuban sandwich.
  • All the pride flags and general visible LGBT support visible. Me and some friends talked about how much anime cons changed the last fifteen years, and -- in my view -- for the better here.
  • Trigger! The autographs were amazing (and the line seemed better by Friday evening, but hard to get everyone); having a sketch by Yoh Yoshinari was one of those amazing, memories-to-last-a-lifetime moments. Their panels were insightful and interesting, and it was clear how much they cared about their fans.

The Bad:

  • Nothing in particular; my con was a pretty amazing experience. These are minor gripes.
  • I felt for the people who got in line for Trigger after me -- like, about five spots after me -- and didn't get autographs. I know "Otakon's autographs are terrible" is a bit of a meme, but I'd like to throw a suggestion out. Many of these have two signing sessions. Could we make one open to everyone and one require a moderately priced ticket (say, $10 or $20)? I think that could help -- if it's above your price point, you go to the free one, whereas the people who really want one go to the paid session.
  • I wouldn't mind not doing two Final Fantasy concerts. That's one more Final Fantasy concert than I'd personally want.
  • Convention center food giving people food poisoning. I didn't like their food last year and made a vow to not eat there, ever, this year. However, "didn't feel it's worth the price" doesn't hold a candle to making people sick.
  • I wanna second Dostovei's idea. Signage in the dealer's room would be a huge help for finding exits. I'd add signage to be placed during the day, for the entrance facing the Carnegie Library (the "front" entrance, I suppose).

The Ugly:

  • My shoe getting a hole in the rain on Sunday.
  • Some guy in the Saturday morning dealer's room line with a mobile phone, a speaker, and a desire to dance in a very enclosed space. C'mon, man. 

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Good-

-Distant Worlds concert (and although I know some will disagree) I personally thought the staff did a good job handling the massive crowd and line. The official line time was on guidebook so people can't really get mad at any unofficial lines getting mixed up beforehand. 

-Cosplay Repair: It had a line when I went by but they were quick and helpful.

-Burlesque show: Entertaining but next year I would give them back their earlier time of 11 or 11:30

-The presenters in a few panels I went to were informative and funny

-All staff I talked to or asked questions to were friendly 

Bad/Ugly 

-No prop check in the tunnel 

-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.

 

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12 minutes ago, bubblesneverpop said:

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

I was looking for him too, and never found him.

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12 minutes ago, bubblesneverpop said:

 

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

  

He wasn't there this year, but you can follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PepperInk/

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9 hours ago, nettefairy said:

The Ugly:

  • Where was Crunchyroll, VIZ Media, Pony Canyon and Good Smile?  I look forward to seeing their booths every year (especially the Pony Canyon lanterns) and didn't see them.  What's the deal?

Good Smile was busy at Comiket this past weekend.

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