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Otakon 2019: 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.

 

I didn't go this year, I just like hearing about people's experiences, list the good, bad , and ugly of your experience!

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The Bad:

  • During the signing on Friday for Elizabeth Maxwell her line just... suddenly stopped. For a good 30+ minutes, before being cleared out. To be clear, I don't mind being cut off as I DID show up to the signing later than I should've. I fully admit that I do mind, however, that staff/gofers were probably somewhat aware the line was going to be cut at this point and didn't see fit to at least warn us "hey she's probably not going to get to you all". This is probably more partially my fault given how absolutely long the wait was getting for the line to move, and you can perhaps chalk it up to my own negligent judgement, but I thought it important to bring up anyway in case something can be changed for next time there's a situation like this. 

The Ugly

  • The situation with the Women in Anime panel. Ugly enough for its own thread. It's probably the WORST scheduling snafu I've personally witnessed at Otakon. You absolutely need to do better going forward, especially for such an important subject that I wouldn't have minded seeing two separate panels for over the weekend if necessary.
  • This is, obviously, not the con's fault but... with the KyoAni well wishes signature board (? not sure what else to call it) was pretty vandalized when I last checked in on it- big advertisements of etsys and instagrams overwriting lovely messages and drawings of support. To be clear with the IGs, I don't mean artists signing their drawings with their IG, I mean flat out "dudes follow me on @.xyzwhatever" without any sort of well wishes for KyoAni. I really hope Otakon has a plan for how to handle that. I guess at least a few of the sheets weren't completely ruined but at least one was just utterly trashed and a couple were left questionable.

The Ehh...? Consider this...?

  • While Closing Ceremonies was overall good, it kinda seemed to end without the same oomph Opening Ceremonies did. This has been something that's occurred at least since the con came to DC, if not before. It's not a big deal in the slightest, but if you were looking to spruce it up any, I wouldn't complain.

The Good

  • Everything else, thankfully, was handled very well.
  • The other autograph sessions I attended (Stephanie Panisello and Kari Wahlgren on Friday, Erika Harlacher and Elizabeth Maxwell/Jason Liebricht on Sunday; my sibling echoes this for Epcar's Saturday session) were probably the best run sessions I've seen at any Otakon yet. Extremely smooth. Big kudos to whoever ran those.
  • Opening ceremonies was entertaining and informative for the con's events. It really made me seriously rethink my planned schedule. Though, due to the aforementioned happening with the Elizabeth Maxwell line on Friday, I didn't really get to. Oh well! But it's still good it made me rethink things, definitely.
  • Richard Epcar's outtakes panel, while short, was funny.
  • The Saturday Morning Cartoons event was a blast. That's such a unique idea I haven't seen before at any other con. Please do it again, and unless there's high priority events/signings/panels I feel I need to attend at the same time to make my con experience "worth it", I'll absolutely come back.
  • Stephanie Panisello's solo panel was fun and informative, quite liked it.
  • The Video Game Voice Acting panel was really fun and informative as well. I was happy to see Jen Cohn and Ellyn Stern on it as well in spite of not being in the description, as I had found their absence odd.
  • I appreciated the acknowledgement and explanation for the food rule when another person brought it up at feedback. That there's a difference between packing some allergy-free foods, a couple of snacks or sandwiches, and bringing in a pile of pizza boxes. I definitely agree bringing in big amounts of food is pretty disruptive (besides being bad for the center's business). I felt a bit like a criminal all weekend when I brought in sandwiches for myself for lunch/dinner and having to sneak around eating them, so it's nice to know I probably don't have to do that going forward, lol.
Edited by Tachibana
suddenly remembered the KyoAni well wishes board being partially vandalized

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Good:

The guest lineup

Richard Epcar's Outtake Panel

My panel went better than I expected, I was nervous about 1 AM turnout but it went well.

Fan parodies are back!

The Marriott Marquis really got its bag-storing in order for guests, got a nice big room to store our luggage in and an orderly system. 

Pigeon-kun

 

Bad:

The ban on bringing in outside food and in some cases water bottles. 

Protests outside the con because of workers getting screwed over (not by Otakon but the convention center)

The Women in Anime panel had quite a number of issues, but there's already a thread on this.

Not at all Otakon's fault, but on Thursday as we were checking into the Marriott Marquis, there were a bunch of MAGA-enthusiast teens hanging around (presumably from the Turning Point event) lounging around and some took to heckling con-goers. Fortunately they seemed to check out on that day as I didn't see them after Thursday. 

 

UGLY:

A LOT of reports of con goers getting sexually harassed by homeless people, I'm in an Otakon FB group and saw a lot of reports about this. It seemed especially bad this year. 

Apparently there were roaches falling down from the ceiling in the convention center's dining court area?

I heard rumors that someone took to finger painting in one of the bathrooms, only they didn't use paint.

 

Edited by windseeker

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The Good: The line management and overall logistics were massively improved this year. Staff were courteous and informative and it didn't take us very long to figure something out if we were unsure or lost. The autograph line was massively improved for this year. It's typically been an Otakon tradition that something goes wrong with the autograph line but I was surprised how smoothly things were handled

The Bad:  I was disappointed with the focus on hip hop this year for the musical guests. This isn't necessarily bad rather its not my preference but I was hoping for a greater variety of acts this year. I really miss Aun and Hide. 

The Ugly(ish): The food. I felt that the prices were either up this year or that the portions were down relative to price since the WWCC switched vendors. I know you guys can't control that but a bag of chips, a nigiri tuna sandwich and soft drink cost as much as the gourmet burger meals at Capital Burger across the street. My other problem was the no outside food or drinks policy. This policy seemed to be unevenly enforced and I was really disappointed to see it enacted at all. I understand the WWCC doesn't want you to order 30 boxes of Papa Johns to the convention center, but I think the policy could be detrimental to  con-goers on budgets, with families or with medical conditions. You could literally go broke just staying hydrated with the $5 bottles of water the vendors were selling. I was lucky and brought in granola bars, small Dasani bottles and beef jerky and wasn't stopped but I saw some people being told to remove gatorade, chips and other small snacks. 

4 hours ago, Tachibana said:

The situation with the Women in Anime panel. Ugly enough for its own thread.

I'm wondering if Erika Harlacher is on the shyer side. I noticed at the video games VA panel Stephanie Panisello and Ellyn Stern seemed to dominate the conversation while Jen Cohn and Richard Epcar said a few things while Erika didn't say a whole lot unless directly asked. 

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I will start with the previously mentioned Ugly - the jerks who put that garbage on the Kyo Ani sheets. Among the well wishing and vibes I saw 'Hope is the stepping stone of despair.' (apparently a misquote of something else, but W. T. actual F.!?), 'Anime is for dweebs.', and of course the almost mandatory (male genetalia) picture. (There's got to be an axiom about how the probability of that happening reaches 100% the longer you make it available. Why do people have to do that?)

I'm going to mix it up a little, as my Goods had some Bads. (N.B. Most of the bads are subjective rather than objective.)
Good - the weather was nice. Bad - However this lead to a lot of walking around on Thursday, and the ankle I sprained years ago kept twinging all weekend. Plus I may have gotten a touch of sunburn.
Good - I spent practically all day Saturday and Sunday in panels. Bad - Because of this, I only got to the Dealer's Room once. (Admittedly, I don't get much there to be honest, but there's always the chance I'd spot something.)
Good - As always, props to the cosplayers. Always a joy taking their picture. Bad - I didn't get all the ones I wanted due to physical limitations (going opposite directions on the escalator) or the people being busy with their phones. Bad2 - I have to quote a line after seeing some of the more... daring (read skimpy)... costumes on the younger generation of con goers: "You make a happy man feel very old." ;)
Good - The bag check from the Mariott was never more than 2-3 minutes. It helped that I was using a shopping bag instead of something with a lot of zippers and pouches. Can't really give a Bad with this, but I'll note that they didn't have an issue w/ outside food and water. (That was the majority of what I brought to the Convention Center.)
Good - The hotel - early check in, comfortable beds, no issues with them. Bad - Noisy neighbors on Friday night. They were very loud when I got back to my room a little after midnight.
Good - I only missed out on 2 panels (Real life weapons, Weirdest Japanese Commercials), and they weren't a 'Maybe you'll get in here at some point.' These had a long line even after they were full, so I didn't bother. Bad(?) - I don't want to suggest anything, but does that imply that there were less people around? Correlation is not causation and all that, just a random theory that I'd like to see disproved.

Random points:
I didn't see a printed schedule at the Info booths until Sunday morning. Not that I was looking for one, but I'm pretty sure I would have seen them before that.
The 'Otakon figure' booth wasn't there this year. Was that a con prop, or did someone bring it?
I was able to get my Krupnikas. Now I can compare it to my Halo Honey Shots. For scientific purposes *cough*.
Can't really say it was a 'Bad', but I was under the impression there would be more than just a bag available for anniversary merchandise. (I have enough bags I don't use, so I couldn't justify picking one up.)

Overall, I had a lot of fun, and plan to go again in 2020. If I can decipher my scrawled notes, I'll give my impressions on the panels I attended. (My phone is too primitive for the guidebook app, so I can't leave feedback there.)
 

Edited to add: What was the deal with the 'Please do not bring onions into this room.' sign on the Staff room? Allergy, lingering smell, something else? Just curious because that caught my eye.

Edited by Revan

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Last years Otakon was probably my worst experience since going in 2005. I am happy to report that this year was a vast improvement and probably my best experience at Otakon since the con moved to DC

This year there was nothing ugly for me 

Bad 

* The no outside food/drink policy. This may have been in ugly and could turn ugly in the future but since it wasn’t really enforced well it’s just bad. As others have said the price for food in the con is expensive. Even if you buy some food you may still want to supplement it with something else throughout the day. To force people to buy only the expensive convention food is ridiculous. I realize this is obviously the convention centers policy but someone at Otakon really needs to talk to them about this for next year. 

And there really are not enough water fountains to say you can’t even bring in outside water. 

* As for the convention food I ended up eating a Beef Bowl which was great and on another day a Burrito which was fine. But on Sunday I got pizza and it was literally the worse pizza I ever had in my life. I wasn’t expecting anything gourmet (despite that fact it was priced that way) but this Pizza was worse than any frozen pizza I had. I am not sure how Pizza one of the most simple foods can be messed up so badly 

 

* How the Promare line was handled. Again this could have been ugly for me if my friend and I didn’t get it but we got in just fine and the actual line management was well done. It’s just why have a Promare movie line up time on the schedule and not adhere to it. If people are allowed to line up whenever then just don’t put a time to line up on the schedule 

* Lack of industry presence again in the Dealer Room (although it was cool to see Animate there). Not something Otakon can really control but it was still sad 

* Missing a lot of stuff I wanted to do because there were a lot of hard choices this year. But that is actually also one of the Good things about this years Otakon

 

Good 

* And going off my last bad point that also leads into my Good Points. There were so many amazing Japanese guests this year. One of the best guest line ups for me in a long time. I literally could not see everyone I wanted to and I missed a lot of great panels and some autographs I wanted but I also got to go to a lot of great panels  & got autographs that made me really happy as well. 

* Speaking of guest and autographs Nagahama was great. He took a really long time in his autograph line because he drew unique sketches for everyone. He was also a really sweet man to talk to. 

* I was also really happy Funimation chose Otakon to bring over the new Japanese Fruits Basket cast. The panel with them on Saturday morning was super fun and I was also lucky to get  that autograph too. The Seiyuu of Tohru and Yuki said  it was their first time in the US. I hope they enjoyed their stay here and the welcome the US Fruits Basket fans gave them. 

* Autograph line management was extremely well organized this year and the staff working it were very pleasant 

* The Promare film was fantastic. I love that we got a special premiere like that and then got to hear from director, character designer and producer after the film. Events like this are what gets me excited about anime cons. 

* I was seeing a lot of people on Twitter say how much friendlier the atmosphere is at Otakon compared to AX. 

 

* The Discotek Panel. I like that this is on Sunday it’s always an exciting way to end the con. They always put on a great panel even if I don’t want anything they announced I can feel the excitement in the room. 

* I was too late to get my badge mailed this year and came on Thursday. My train ended up being delayed so I was afraid I wouldn’t get my badge in time. But when I got to the con there was no line at all. Whether you get you badge mailed at all the process has now become super efficient 

* Speaking of lines I was also super impressed how quickly the bag check line moved compared to previous years 

 

So overall an excellent Otakon for me. I hope next year will have a similarly strong  guest line up. 

 

 

 

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The GOOD:
- Everything I went to ran smooth and efficiently.  Any panel that was near or at capacity had staff managing the lines so I did not waste any time waiting on something I could not get into.  The Friday Nujabes tribute concert started late, but it was only a 20 minute delay which is reasonable given that there were prepping for 4+ sets back to back.
- Convention entry management was very smooth, I never had to wait more than 3 minutes even during peak hours.  There weren't any places that got cut off due to attendee bottlenecks thanks to the aforementioned line management.
- My friends really appreciated the cold brew coffee stations set up throughout the convention to get their quick jolt of caffeine.  Ditto for the Wild Bill's soda cups- I saw so many people walking around with those steel mugs.  I have a feeling that the "Unlimited Beverage Vendor" idea might offset the stupidly priced $5 convention water bottles.
- Cosponsoring the Thursday Hip Hop panel and lawn concert at the Library of Congress was a great way to have an official Thursday activity and was a nice preview of things to come at Otakon proper.  I hope the Thursday off-site programming continues.
- The tournaments in the game room using smash.gg to manage the brackets is a great improvement.  Props to UGL for streaming the Top 8s even though there is now video evidence of me getting blown up.
- Heard there was some potential issues with the Arcade cabinets being brought to Otakon, so I am glad to see the issue resolved and the Arcade section was at full force.
- Shout out to everyone working the photosuite area.  They were great at their job and helped us out when the USB stick we purchased stopped working when we were transferring the files to a laptop.

Nitpicks:
- There were some odd scheduling choices of competing panels overlapping that I was not sure if it was intentional to avoid overcrowding.  For example the Lupin the 3rd fan panel was at the same time as the Lupin movie premiere so I wonder what the turnout for the panel was.  In the late night track there was a Shibari panel at the same time as a Shibari workshop, which is what prompted me to think that this might be an intentional crowd management strategy.
- Since the smash.gg tournament signups are free please have a tournament check in before the brackets are created.  There was a lot of time wasted in round 1 because of no-shows and the players who show up on time should have a higher seeding.
- Bag check for the Saturday Dance was very slow- but the obvious solution next year is to hold all my wife's things in my pockets to skip that whole process.

The BAD:
- I was surprised to hear that people had issue bringing in food or drinks through security.  My group got in with energy bars, granola packets, and water bottles without issue.  Maybe there needs to be a posted guideline so that Security, Otakon Staff, and the attendees can all be on the same page about what types of food are allowed in the convention center (e.g. sealed bottles are good, loose McDonalds cups are bad).

The UGLY:
- This is a venue management issue but the convention food is still trash, the prices on everything is trash, and the fact that Aramark isn't paying their workers enough is trash.  I wouldn't mind paying the convention "tax" if it meant that the local workers were making good overtime money but seeing their workers on strike outside means there is no way I'm paying for a $12 con-burger.

Edited by DeathJester

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4 hours ago, KyoKyo said:

The Bad:  I was disappointed with the focus on hip hop this year for the musical guests. This isn't necessarily bad rather its not my preference but I was hoping for a greater variety of acts this year. I really miss Aun and Hide. 

There was also Bradio, Diana Garnet and Nano so I think it's unfair to say there wasn't a variety this year - that's Hip Hop/Rap, Funk, Pop and Rock. I didn't get to go to this, but there was also the video game anthem performance in a panel. 

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19 minutes ago, mellow-osity said:

There was also Bradio, Diana Garnet and Nano so I think it's unfair to say there wasn't a variety this year - that's Hip Hop/Rap, Funk, Pop and Rock. I didn't get to go to this, but there was also the video game anthem performance in a panel. 

That was the RPG Anthem Variations performance for acoustic music fans- Eric Roth of Final Fantasy Distant Worlds ran that panel. There was also a DJ set by Taku Takahashi so electronic music was covered also.

Edited by DeathJester

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Since it looks like I can't edit my original post, 2 more Good things for me personally:

- I don't seem to be showing any signs of Con Plague. It's too early to say for sure, but usually I feel something right after the con.

- I don't have a Safeway card, but if you choose the 'Enter Phone Number' option and use 202-867-5309 (like the song) it will give you the member discount. So I ended up saving a couple of bucks at the store. (I read an article that said the local area code and 867-5309 is likely to be in the system and you can get the discount. I know that it works in several local stores where I'm located.) 

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So, I'm seeing alot about the food policy, but did anyone personally have food taken off of them? I walked in every day with a Starbucks coffee, a few granola bars, one day with a wrapped up subway sandwich with chips, and a couple tangerines. From this explanation, I figured that's why they were so lax about it: 

10 hours ago, Tachibana said:

I appreciated the acknowledgement and explanation for the food rule when another person brought it up at feedback. That there's a difference between packing some allergy-free foods, a couple of snacks or sandwiches, and bringing in a pile of pizza boxes. I definitely agree bringing in big amounts of food is pretty disruptive (besides being bad for the center's business). I felt a bit like a criminal all weekend when I brought in sandwiches for myself for lunch/dinner and having to sneak around eating them, so it's nice to know I probably don't have to do that going forward, lol.

 

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I was able to sneak in food just fine (there's a hidden compartment in my bag so I used that lol) but on one trip into the building security told me I couldn't have my mini water bottle on me because someone had put liquor in one of theirs. Fortunately she seemed to change her mind and to go on in. It was weird. 

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I walked in on Friday and Saturday mornings holding one of those Starbucks cold drinks from the convenience store and nobody said anything to me either.

To be clear, I wasn't trying to test any policy, I just had no idea said policy existed! I came in both mornings through the Marriott tunnel and there were no signs or anything. Later on Saturday I did see a big No Food and Drink sign by the main entrance (from outside), but I never saw one entering through the Marriott tunnel.

Edited by WorldisYours

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Forgot to include this under Bad:

The Otakon Game Show. I didn't stay for the whole thing because, well, I couldn't see what was going on. You had to be in the first few rows to even get a glimpse. And from what I heard at the con feedback session, it didn't get much better, a guy was complaining that the whole thing was basically "elementary school games." 

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I am going to start by saying this was the best Otakon I have been to in Washington, I had a lot of fun, and after last year's con being borderline bad, it was a lot better this year.

 

The Good

You fixed the autograph line, this was the best autographs Otakon has ever done, I want to heap praise on the autograph staff and the way you had it set up. I would prefer it out of the Dealers Room so you could have autographs more than 8 hours a day, but otherwise it was great.

 

The Guest List: A bunch of guest who don't go to a lot of cons in the area, and Japanese guest. You are by far the closest con to me that can bring them in so I was very happy to meet the Trigger staff, Toru Furuya, Minmi, and Kaoru Wada, not to mention Kari and Kirk who have never been to a con near me. Those are just the people I saw, there were a ton of other great guest that I recognize but wasn't as interested in.

 

Promare movie premiere: I cheated and got in the line early, I am sorry for the people who actually followed the rules, but for this type of thing, considering it happens every year, you just have to cheat. The movie was a blast, the crowd was maybe a bit too hyped, I mean don't cheer a character's first appearance guys, Galo could suck (he did not). I am however very happy that the staff got to hear a crowd that excited for their film. Work with GKids more Otakon, get us more East Coast/US premieres, I feel like the number of those have shrunk lately.

 

Tatami Galaxy Blu Ray Premiere: Just fun, and I love the blu-ray cover, when I get it someday that will be the cover I use. I like Otakon doing smaller premiers like this and City Hunter, which I didn't go to, as well.

 

Bag Check on Sunday: I liked how the Marriott did their bag check on Sunday, I hope they do that again, it made Sunday a lot simpler. 

 

Discotek Panel: In a year where no one brought anything besides Manga Gamer to excite fans, Discotek did what they always do and saved the con from an industry perspective. Nothing too exciting for me but I am not going to complain about a panel with 12! announcements.

 

The Bad

Lack of Industry in the Dealers Room: No Viz, Aniplex, Crunchyroll, Good Smile, or GKids was a massive disappointment, I planned on grabbing Mirai from Gkids and. The Sentai booth and Funimation booth were just stores this year and had no reason to go to them if you were not buying anything, considering that the companies fall over themselves for AX it makes the East Coast congoers like myself feel like second class fans. This is nothing new of course.

 

The Ugly

Dude Where's My Schedule: Oh look no paper schedule, glad to see Otakong doesn't care about people who don't own smartphones. Don't claim that it was to save paper either, the Awesome Sheet of Awesomeness had a back that was really not needed, and rife with errors. I am so glad that they learned their lesson from when they did this before. Don't take that people didn't grabbed the printed out schedules on Sunday as proof that people didn't need them, just take it as it's Sunday, I don't need it anymore.

 

Lack of Water: There was no water stations at the con outside of rooms I felt, and not every room had water stations. I guess I should have paid for the overpriced water bottles in the con.

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2 minutes ago, mitamaking said:

The Ugly

Dude Where's My Schedule: Oh look no paper schedule, glad to see Otakong doesn't care about people who don't own smartphones. Don't claim that it was to save paper either, the Awesome Sheet of Awesomeness had a back that was really not needed, and rife with errors. I am so glad that they learned their lesson from when they did this before. Don't take that people didn't grabbed the printed out schedules on Sunday as proof that people didn't need them, just take it as it's Sunday, I don't need it anymore.

https://twitter.com/Otakon/status/1153273603431030785


They have been pretty clear that they are not printing schedules because with the lead time required for mass printing any pamphlet they give out would be inaccurate by the start of the con.  You could have just printed your own copy before leaving for the con or use the digital signboards that were all over the con.

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6 hours ago, mellow-osity said:

So, I'm seeing alot about the food policy, but did anyone personally have food taken off of them? I walked in every day with a Starbucks coffee, a few granola bars, one day with a wrapped up subway sandwich with chips, and a couple tangerines. From this explanation, I figured that's why they were so lax about it: 

The policy was unevenly enforced. I saw some people being told to discard their gatorade bottles and small snack bags while others like myself were allowed to come in with mini Dasani bottles, beef jerky, granola and other stuff.

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12 hours ago, Revan said:

Edited to add: What was the deal with the 'Please do not bring onions into this room.' sign on the Staff room? Allergy, lingering smell, something else? Just curious because that caught my eye.

That was an allergy alert for staffers an any other persons that were to enter the room. It was a department area where staffers wait for assignments and may take their breaks/lunches in. Some staffers have severe food allergies and thus the sign was in place for their safety.

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THE GOOD:

  • Great variety of guests this year, especially on the Japanese side, with a couple of old school seiyuu and the crew of a number of popular titles.
  • Vic not only bringing back the fan-parodies that have been sorely been missed since the move to Washington, but also doing a great job handling the Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos panel when the two hosts were unable to attend (showing most of the videos that makes this event one of my regular panels each year).
  • Discotek once again giving Otakon a bang of an ending with its panel.

THE BAD:

  • Convention Center staff basically blocking the escalators for a few minutes when it opened up on Friday. There needs to be better communication there.
  • The complete lack of water stations in key areas (i.e. Dealers' Room, Artist Alley, Video Game Hall).
  • The handling of the line for Promare. While I did plan ahead in case I was unable to attend the screening, the fact that people were lining up for this three hours before the scheduled start time seems unfair to those who waited until said time to line-up, only to learn that its already full.

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The Good:

  • Every line felt like it flowed really well, no line con this year almost at all
  • Artist Alley had a better variety than last year? Not certain if this actually something Otakon did or if trends just changed but it definitely felt like it was more varried
  • All the Justin Coale panels are really good
  • It was great to see all the support for KyotoAni out at the con with the closing ceremonies and such

The Bad:

  • Like everyone else said the uneven enforcement of the bag check food and water stuff, brought bottles in all three days with no problems but its really dumb that some people had to through stuff away
  • Seriously what is with that bag check, they literally look in your bag for 0.5 seconds and then let you go through, what's even the point.
  • The variety of panels felt more lacking, or maybe the timing was the problem
  • Schedule more things to do between 11-1 on friday, it's always a massive dead zone

The not really ugly because it wasn't Otakons fault but still sucks

  • Lack of industry presence, the worst aniplex panel I've ever seen. Really irritates me how every company basically ignores the east coast entirely when I always remember all of their exclusives selling out by Sunday
  • Bluefin pulling out two weeks before the convention is actually garbage. Again not Otakons fault, but really embarrassingly unprofessional from bluefin and felt like a hole in the dealers room experience for me.

The Ugly

  • I can't be the only one that's wondering this, but why is Otakon seemingly moving to the weekend directly after SDCC consistently now. I know for a fact that is why bluefin had to cancel, and it seems like it would hurt a lot of turn out for bigger names?

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3 minutes ago, Kui Shanya said:

 

The Ugly

  • I can't be the only one that's wondering this, but why is Otakon seemingly moving to the weekend directly after SDCC consistently now. I know for a fact that is why bluefin had to cancel, and it seems like it would hurt a lot of turn out for bigger names?

We've always jumped around between this weekend and next weekend. Well, at least for the 12 years I've been on staff. My facebook memories likes to remind me that anytime from July 20th-ish until mid august has been an Otakon at some point. 

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I'm starting to think this whole D.C. thing might work out! It's really becoming its own thing.

I love that we have new regulars like Kihara-san and the guys from Trigger (some of the best panels I've been to. I really hope you guys can book em next year too if they're down)

The Marriott and WWCC staff definitely seem to be coming around to us, which is great! I don't envy them because it's tough work, but most seemed legit happy to help us! I saw a lot  complimenting cosplayers with some even taking pics. It's just so damn heartening to see given the animosity you see at a lot of cons.

I just hope people begin to branch out more outside the center. A big plus of otakon in Baltimore was that attendees kinda took over most of the area. It'll probably take a few more years for most residents to grow used to it but it sucks to still feel so awkward in cosplay a few blocks away because hardly anyone strays that far... especially when cool photospots like chinatown are right there. I like that you guys are trying your part with things like the nandos promo though.

Overall great con! Keep it up!

Edited by Anti`
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9 hours ago, Kui Shanya said:
  • Lack of industry presence, the worst aniplex panel I've ever seen. Really irritates me how every company basically ignores the east coast entirely when I always remember all of their exclusives selling out by Sunday
  • Bluefin pulling out two weeks before the convention is actually garbage. Again not Otakons fault, but really embarrassingly unprofessional from bluefin and felt like a hole in the dealers room experience for me.

I've been going to Otakon since '04 and have watched as the industry presence has slowly diminished over the years. I remember the days in Baltimore when Geneon was still around and they had an enormous Hellsing  photoshoot set and Funimation had a sign the size of a car hanging from the ceiling. It seems that the move to DC has further diminished their presence. The industry hardly makes a showing at even smaller east coast cons nowadays. 

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I mentioned the lack of industry too. Those of us who have been going to Otakon a long time really feel the change. It’s just depressing. 

I don’t think it helps that Otakon is not really growing. They did go up a lot from 2017-2018. But attendance fell again this year a bit. That doesn’t bode well for the future. 

I think now anime industry saves their big East Coast booths probably for NYCC. 

I was glad at least that we got some strong industry guests this year that weren’t just companies bringing over dub actors to promote shows 

 

Edited by Kirarakim
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I'd like to join the Industry Panel comments here.

Extremely Ugly 
Simply put, Sentai Filmworks need to put up or shut up with it's Industry panel. This is the second year in a row Sentai's panel was basically pointless. IF they were a fan panel, they would not be back. Only 20 minutes out of 60 used for content? Went to random QA after 20? That's not acceptable, a fan panelist who wanted to get in could have used that time much better. There was so much they could have padded the panel with. 

Lets just get to the point. Discotek needed another 15-30 minutes on Sunday. Just give the extra time to them. They take this seriously. 

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It's perhaps worth noting that the anime industry does turn out heavily on the east coast for Anime NYC now, if people haven't been to that con yet (it's only two years old). If you're looking for a large industry presence without traveling all the way to AX (or dealing with the extreme crowds of NYCC), that seems to be your best bet at the moment. On the other hand, ANYC features almost no fan panels to speak of (they're even more extreme in this aspect than AX, which does have a few) and certainly no fan-created content like the AMV Theater and Workshops. It also charges extra for certain events and concerts, something Otakon has no interest in doing.

So basically if you're an east coast anime fan, you can either pick between an event that is heavily industry or heavily fan-based. You get both extremes here. I personally go to both because I think they're both worthwhile and unique in their own way, but if I had to pick one it would be Otakon every time and it isn't particularly close. It seems the days that veteran con-goers are talking about of essentially having it all under one roof are over. I remember those days as well, but I still appreciate what Otakon brings to the table. I think being, essentially, the largest "fan-driven" con in probably the entire country is something to be celebrated, even if the industry isn't as keen on the convention as they may have been in years prior.

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1 hour ago, Kirarakim said:

But attendance fell again this year a bit. That doesn’t bode well for the future. 

 

It actually went up a little. The official number last year was 28.1k, and the not quite yet official number announced at closing ceremonies was 28.3k, iirc. 

Edited by Eimi
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7 minutes ago, Eimi said:

It actually went up a little. The official number last year was 28.1k, and the not quite yet official number announced at closing ceremonies was 28.3k, iirc. 

Wikipedia mentions different numbers for last year. It has it 29,000+ last year and 28,000+ for this year. That was what I was going by. But if those numbers are inaccurate and it went up then good. 

 

Edited by Kirarakim

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12 minutes ago, Kirarakim said:

Wikipedia mentions different numbers for last year. It has it 29,000+ last year and 28,000+ for this year. That was what I was going by. 

 

Ah yes, Wikipedia, the internet’s crowd sourced 9000.1% accurate and infallible source of information.

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5 minutes ago, Kirarakim said:

Wikipedia mentions different numbers for last year. It has it 29,000+ last year and 28,000+ for this year. That was what I was going by. But if those numbers are inaccurate and it went up then good.

Always take Wiki information with a grain of salt unless they have a citation source.

Since we're on the topic of attendance figures, Otakon "felt" more busy so I wonder if the wider adoption of single day "Trial" badges got more people into the convention center.  I would rather see the convention have a steady 10% growth than the claustrophobic nightmare that was the 2013-2014 attendance explosion.  Right now there is a good balance between having enough people to make a lively atmosphere and full activities without the problems that come with overcrowding.

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33 minutes ago, DeathJester said:

Always take Wiki information with a grain of salt unless they have a citation source.

Since we're on the topic of attendance figures, Otakon "felt" more busy so I wonder if the wider adoption of single day "Trial" badges got more people into the convention center.  I would rather see the convention have a steady 10% growth than the claustrophobic nightmare that was the 2013-2014 attendance explosion.  Right now there is a good balance between having enough people to make a lively atmosphere and full activities without the problems that come with overcrowding.

Otakon attendance statistics also posted on Otakon's site. Which is likely the source for the Wikipedia page.

https://www.otakon.com/info/about/stats/

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41 minutes ago, Aux10 said:

Ah yes, Wikipedia, the internet’s crowd sourced 9000.1% accurate and infallible source of information.

I am pretty sure who ever posted on Wikipedia didn’t make up the numbers and they came from somewhere. And also Wikipedia IS a reliable source when the article uses good sources 

 

Here is ANN also reporting on the 29,000+ attendance that is what Otakon itself reported back in 2018. Maybe they updated the number since then. But that could also mean the number for 2019 could go down  too 

https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2018-08-13/otakon-2018-attendance-numbers-rise-again/.135455

 

 

 

 

Edited by Kirarakim

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The good.  

Hiros lounge being back.  I missed the casual swing dance vibe.  It's the happy medium for people who don't like the rave but don't want to get dressed up for the ball.  The classes were stellar and the teachers were laid back and fun.  The blue bandana folks assisting were also very helpful.  I really hope they bring this back again.  Would be a crying shame if they didnt.

The bag check felt like it moved faster than last year which was nice.  

Boardgame library seemed a bit more stocked which was also nice.

The soda stalls with the metal mugs.  The people I roomed with really loved the soda stall. 

The bad

While the lines moved quick for bag check there were a lot of inconsistencies with what you could and couldn't bring in.  I got shot down for bringing in a sign and returned it to the room.  Only to see several others get a free wave.(The sign was an area 51 meme framed as a WOW style looking for raid macro.) I get why they dont want signs but it feels kinda bad to be the unlucky one to be caught.  

Areas for photos I feel like having a few little areas marked for it would help traffic flow and make it so people could get pictures of cosplayers.

Splitting the dance lessons up.  Doing some on Friday might give the instructors some time to breathe.  During the 9pm dance a few of them tapped out since they were going on 12 hours straight. 

Ugly.  

Dealers room and artist alley felt like they opened later than the previous year for Friday. The game room could have also opened sooner. I just didnt feel like there was enough time to check them out and hits panels.  Kind of just ran through to at least see them.  

Supposedly the ball on Friday had a tux only dress requirement for the guys, which is insane.  Apparently the people running it were talked down a little but that is a bit nuts.

 

 

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59 minutes ago, Kirarakim said:

I am pretty sure who ever posted on Wikipedia didn’t make up the numbers and they came from somewhere. And also Wikipedia IS a reliable source when the article uses good sources 

 

Here is ANN also reporting on the 29,000+ attendance that is what Otakon itself reported back in 2018. Maybe they updated the number since then. But that could also mean the number for 2019 could go down  too 

https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2018-08-13/otakon-2018-attendance-numbers-rise-again/.135455

I went and updated it to the official number for 2018. Usually numbers will be based on ANN and animecons.com, and those numbers publish/reported to them often change later. Someone needs to go in and fix the guests lists, but that's a different topic.

Edited by esw01407

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2 hours ago, Kirarakim said:

I am pretty sure who ever posted on Wikipedia didn’t make up the numbers and they came from somewhere. And also Wikipedia IS a reliable source when the article uses good sources 

 

Here is ANN also reporting on the 29,000+ attendance that is what Otakon itself reported back in 2018. Maybe they updated the number since then. But that could also mean the number for 2019 could go down  too 

https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2018-08-13/otakon-2018-attendance-numbers-rise-again/.135455

 

 

 

 

The Confusion here is total attendance of the con vs unique memberships.

 

Otakon in 2018 had 28,116 unique members, 759 Staff, 294 Artist Alley Exhibitors, and 110 Dealers room exhibitors who may or may not be counted as members and may have multiple people per booth, and 38 Guests.

I'm assuming to get technical 'full attendance', Otakon probably added the staff and then some of the artist and dealers or maybe guests? and then came up with the 29,293 figure

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I think there should have been consistent messaging and enforcement of the food and drink policy, whatever it actually was.

I wasn't about to pay $40 for the mug, even if my debit card hadn't been compromised on Friday (whoops!). I would have liked having the old mug deal back, given that stations to refill those were more plentiful than Wild Bill's.

The lighting in the photoshoot spaces was a bit drab. It was like holding photoshoots in a shopping mall. I know there are a lot of moving pieces to consider, but I wonder if there's a chance the shoots could be moved back inside WEWCC, like by the staircase near reg, that area where the tables were on the walkway to the dance hall or downstairs near Rainbow Road. I'll grant that that last one may be complicated because of the lactation station, and I completely understand if that's not doable.

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2 hours ago, Kirarakim said:

I am pretty sure who ever posted on Wikipedia didn’t make up the numbers and they came from somewhere. And also Wikipedia IS a reliable source when the article uses good sources

Wikipedia is never a source of primary information.  It is a index and summary of information posted elsewhere.  Always check the citations if you need to confirm hard facts because if it is not clearly marked where the contributor got their information then it might as well be information that came from my uncle who works at Nintendo.  Even if it is not malicious, the Wikipedia 29,000 attendance figure was not properly cited and it referred the total attendance count rather than the unique memberships so it was a misleading year over year comparison. 

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4 hours ago, WorldisYours said:

 It also charges extra for certain events and concerts, something Otakon has no interest in doing.

Hasn't Otakon been doing this for the past couple years now? Anisong was a charged event when normally it would have just been a musical guest. This year i recall premium seating being offered at a fee. 

While likely not Otakons fault don't forget the Funimation autograph session travesty. That only cost a blu ray preorder fee. That's not something you'd normally see at Otakon. 

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34 minutes ago, razisgosu said:

Hasn't Otakon been doing this for the past couple years now? Anisong was a charged event when normally it would have just been a musical guest. This year i recall premium seating being offered at a fee. 

While likely not Otakons fault don't forget the Funimation autograph session travesty. That only cost a blu ray preorder fee. That's not something you'd normally see at Otakon. 

I think the concert in 2017, the first year in DC, was Anisong World Matsuri and did cost extra. I didn't go that year so I'm not entirely sure, but I remember hearing that there was a massive backlash from the fans on having to pay extra for a concert, which probably had a strong effect on Otakon's opinion on the subject.

I asked one of the Board of Directors members about this topic specifically- paying extra for concerts and other special events- at the Otakorp Financials panel on Sunday. He basically said that while they're comfortable charging extra for VIP and preferred seating (as they did this year), they aren't comfortable with required separate admission charges. So in another words, they probably will keep the VIP and Preferred options around going forward, but as that's not a requirement to attend the event (you can still choose to line up ahead of time and attend the concert or event for free, as long as there's still enough space) it will be limited on how much extra revenue it can bring in versus straight up charging an admission fee to everyone to attend the event.

Personally speaking as an adult with disposable income I would prefer to see them charge separate admissions for concerts if that's what it will take to start bringing in bigger name and higher profile musical guests again. I was not thrilled with the musical guest options in the last two years. However, I understand the resistance to this idea from Otakon's perspective, as well as why more cash-strapped attendees would obviously be against it.

Edited by WorldisYours
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1 hour ago, WorldisYours said:

I think the concert in 2017, the first year in DC, was Anisong World Matsuri and did cost extra. I didn't go that year so I'm not entirely sure, but I remember hearing that there was a massive backlash from the fans on having to pay extra for a concert, which probably had a strong effect on Otakon's opinion on the subject.

I asked one of the Board of Directors members about this topic specifically- paying extra for concerts and other special events- at the Otakorp Financials panel on Sunday. He basically said that while they're comfortable charging extra for VIP and preferred seating (as they did this year), they aren't comfortable with required separate admission charges. So in another words, they probably will keep the VIP and Preferred options around going forward, but as that's not a requirement to attend the event (you can still choose to line up ahead of time and attend the concert or event for free, as long as there's still enough space) it will be limited on how much extra revenue it can bring in versus straight up charging an admission fee to everyone to attend the event.

Personally speaking as an adult with disposable income I would prefer to see them charge separate admissions for concerts if that's what it will take to start bringing in bigger name and higher profile musical guests again. I was not thrilled with the musical guest options in the last two years. However, I understand the resistance to this idea from Otakon's perspective, as well as why more cash-strapped attendees would obviously be against it.

I'm inclined to agree with not charging for concerts when you don't need to. A badge is a badge is a badge and one of the great things about Otakon has always been the populism of it. There are no velvet ropes. I ponied up for VIP for JAM Project and TMR because I love JAM Project. I was at the same panel--think about a family going to Otakon and how much it costs for parking, hotel, food. Everything adds up and you don't want them to introduce this (apparently successful) $50 badge for kids 9-12 and offset it with $20 concert tickets. I think of the Baltimore Orioles--what they did last year to goose attendance, they let parents bring in kids free to the upper deck and slashed concession prices. They weren't about to then jack up parking to compensate.

From what I understand, Anisong World Matsuri was run like a matryoshka doll within the rest of the con. There may have been extraordinary costs associated with bringing the 21 musicians and all the support staff from Japan. It's possible that there were demands placed on Otakon by AWM (a JV of Bandai Namco Arts, Amuse and Sony Music Entertainment) that weren't placed on Otakon when working with Lantis in the past. This is all conjecture.

I don't think keeping concerts included with your badge has kept Otakon from getting bigger name musical guests. Think of all the guests Otakon has brought without asking members to cough up extra. I think there's room for VIP and preferred passes, but unless it's a hard-bargain sort of thing ("we want $X per butt in the seats"), I think they should avoid charging everyone who wants to go to this or that concert/

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The value of musical guests are always going to colored by individual preferences so I hope that Otakon never runs an on-site ticketed concert again.  If an opportunity like another Anisong Matsuri comes to Otakon, then the event should be held off-site.  The acoustics in the convention center are not good enough to justify buying a ticket within a ticket.  Even if they get a big name like RADWIMPS then only existing fans are going to pony up extra to buy the additional concert ticket instead of exposing their music to any attendee that is willing to line up.  The VIP packages or preferred seating upcharges is a good enough compromise to keep the concerts free while building more capital towards future musical guests.

Also, could you imagine the outrage if you had to start buying tickets for individual movie premieres in the video rooms?  It devalues the Otakon membership once you have to start asking yourself if the thing you want to do is included in a $90+ weekend badge.

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Good: I loved the photo suite! None of the ones I've encountered at other cons have included pose coaching--the photographers are normally very perfunctory about the whole thing, whereas in this case it really felt like the photographer was working with us to make sure we got the best possible photos. And although I might have expected that this would slow things down, it seemed to be a well-oiled machine with short wait times for almost the entire con, including much of Saturday, so props to them for that. Also, after a lousy experience with the dealer's room at Anime Boston this year (i.e., it felt like every booth was selling the same ten figures and five keychains--limited categories of merch and no variety even within those categories), I was happy that Otakon's dealer's room was as varied as I remembered it being the last time I went, ~5 years ago.

Bad: Every other con I've been to has had a cosplay repair room/station that was largely self-service--a place where you could get a handful of safety pins or sew a button back on or fix your wig with a comb/detangler/bobby pins/hairspray/whatever, even as you could also get volunteers to help you fix bigger problems. I'm not saying Otakon should do this, necessarily; I can see how a minimally-supervised cosplay repair room could be dicey for a con this size. However, since the way Otakon does it is different from pretty much everywhere else, I think it would be nice to include some kind of a sign outside the room explaining what it's actually for (having experienced volunteers fix major costume mishaps for you, yes; fixing minor costume issues yourself, no) and also for the volunteers to perhaps be a little more patient when people are confused about how it works. I mean, I assume they were probably just tired of having to correct people, but then that's all the more reason to have an explanatory sign or something like that.

Also, there were a lot of fan panels that filled up and then some, but it seemed the staff doing line management weren't doing head counts for those and so it was possible to wait in line for something and learn only once seating started that you never had a chance of getting in (at least not at the start). It may not be feasible to do head counts for everything (and since I haven't been back to Otakon in a while and spent a decent chunk of my con-going life avoiding fan panels anyway, I don't know if maybe they didn't expect them to be so popular?), but I don't know, I feel like "everyone past this point is probably not getting in" is something you should be hearing before you wait half an hour to get into something rather than after. But I didn't try to get into that many panels, especially after having this experience the first time, so maybe most staff were doing this and I just had bad luck.

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23 hours ago, Kui Shanya said:

The Bad:

 

  • Schedule more things to do between 11-1 on friday, it's always a massive dead zone

Do you mean morning or evening? If you mean morning, it's probably like that to avoid direct competition against the opening of the Dealers' Room and Opening Ceremonies.

Quote

The Ugly

  • I can't be the only one that's wondering this, but why is Otakon seemingly moving to the weekend directly after SDCC consistently now. I know for a fact that is why bluefin had to cancel, and it seems like it would hurt a lot of turn out for bigger names?

I believe among the main reasons for it are as followed:

  1. Whenever there's an Olympics year, Otakon does tend to host it while it's taking place.
  2. Quite honestly, this period is likely a better time to book Japanese guests (and with a lot of the big Japanese events that Otakon usually competes against being rescheduled due to the Olympics, it could allow some better Japanese presence next year).

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Overall had a blast at Otakon 2019! I must say this year everything ran extremely smooth, and the weekend was a lot of fun.

Good:

- Autographs ran amazing. This was probably the most organized I've ever seen autographs. The communication was crystal clear from staff and everything was labeled perfectly. Well done Otakon!  Truly an incredible job well done.

- Video Gaming Room. The selection of the games was off the charts and all the different arcade games especially the Gundam pods and Initial D were a lot of fun. Please bring them back next year as well. 

- The AC. For real the air conditioning inside the Walter E convention center is one of man's greatest triumphs over nature. Instantly cool down from being outside.

- Line management. The lines overall this year moved very quickly. Dealer's Room, some panels I went into, autograph lines, etc. All the lines I was in over the course of the weekend was pretty quick. 

Bad:

- I believe several rooms on our hotel floor were having a huge smoke out. Literally walking down the hallway to my room, it just reeked of bad weed. I don't care if people want to smoke up, but have common sense and either do it outside or with proper ventilation. I think even the hotel staff noticed because smoking fines papers were placed near the elevators by mid day Friday. 

- Campers in the Video Gaming Room. This seems to be an issue every year and overall it's gotten A LOT better, but still there is always a handful of people who will not give up their seat or let someone else take their spot unless called out by multiple people. It's not even Otakon's fault, it's the membership's fault and people not having respect. I noticed it a few times over the weekend, but for the most part it wasn't a major issue, just something I wanted to point out. 

 

Ugly:

- I'm glad someone else mentioned it in this thread, but I also noticed several roaches inside the convention center. And these weren't little ones, there were huge suckers. No freakin idea how they got there, but I saw a few in the Dealer's Room, the second level hallways by all the panel rooms, and several in the huge hallway that connects the Dealer's Room/Artist Alley. Can't say I've ever seen roaches inside a convention center, but they were there, and it was freakin gross. And I understand it's totally not Otakon's fault. Just something I want to bring up to staff's attention because the people who own the Walter E center need to do a better job cleaning that place up. 

Edited by Eddie 2
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8 hours ago, Eddie 2 said:

- Campers in the Video Gaming Room. This seems to be an issue every year and overall it's gotten A LOT better, but still there is always a handful of people who will not give up their seat or let someone else take their spot unless called out by multiple people. It's not even Otakon's fault, it's the membership's fault and people not having respect. I noticed it a few times over the weekend, but for the most part it wasn't a major issue, just something I wanted to point out.

Thank you for calling people out on this! I played a lot of Chunithm and Sound Voltex in the game room this year, and twice I saw a guy try to immediately start a second game in a row despite having a line of people behind him waiting to play (one time actually just one person waiting, which is still one too many people to be doing that crap, but the other time a line of at least four people!). Both times we successfully shamed the person into giving up the machine (and especially when I was the only one waiting for SDVX I thank my neighbors for joining in on telling the person to learn how to share), but it honestly boggles my mind that people would even try it. Learn some basic manners before you leave your house!

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Hotel -- Our group stayed at the Washington Mariott Marquis and checked in on Friday morning. Thanks to the help of our wonderful bellhops, unloading the car was impressively efficient and the front desk staff had us checked into a room with the requested two double beds in moments. This was the easiest hotel arrival I’ve experienced at Otakon in years.

Our room itself was decently spacious and comfortable with a great view of the street outside. All public restrooms and common areas were kept clean despite the large number of guests staying for the convention that weekend. Finally, the wait time at Starbucks in the morning was very reasonable and the staff serving us at The Dignitary bar were friendly and accommodating both nights.

We'll definitely be booking here for Otakon 2020!

Autographs – Getting to meet Kari Wahlgreen was one of the highlights of my Otakon! The autograph staff was very helpful and polite to attendees while we waited on Saturday morning. It did feel a bit like we were waiting in line to wait in another line to wait in a third line, but that’s a pretty petty gripe. Overall, this was one of the smoothest anime convention autograph experiences I’ve ever encountered.

Arcade – I didn’t get to spend as much time here as I would have liked, but always ALWAYS bring Tokyo Attack back! Their setup is phenomenal and I look forward to sneaking in a few games of Jubeat into my schedule each Otakon.

ANIBeat Idol Stage -- I talked a bit about this programming track in my panel feedback but I felt this was a home run first year for the ANIBeat stage. The idols that performed were talented and high energy and it was so much fun to experience idol culture without having to travel to Japan or go to an expensive concert in the states. I sincerely hope this track is brought back and expanded upon next year because I think it has tremendous potential.

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Good

  • Fun panels, and a good mix. I brought my wife this year (who isn't into anime), and she found a lot of panels to interest her. In particular, some of the food panels and the Japanese commercials were mostly good.
  • Smooth lines, rarely needing to wait (except to queue up for popular workshops)

Bad

  • Friday night autograph line for Erika Harlacher stalled for 20 minutes while someone monopolized her with conversation. The staff should have moved things along
  • Some popular panels (e.g., Japanese Commercials) should have been in one of the big panel rooms. There's always next year
  • (Minor) With the Festival theme, I was disappointed there was no Thursday Matsuri.
  • Not as much anime. With only four screening rooms, one of which was devoted to Live Action and another to vintage/kids shows, we didn't have much in the way of cool new shows. I'd like to see Otakon go back up to the 6 screening rooms of the past.

Ugly

  • Convention food was horrid this year. We had pizza with dirt or ash on the bottom, and tasteless poke bowls (with chicken instead of tuna? ugh). Prices were high, but I'd pay for reasonable food.

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So, obviously my cape and I had a great time at the Formal Ball.  I would definitely like to see this become a recurring event.

 

Overall, the staff was very friendly there and they were diligent about keeping the dancing to more ball appropriate styles (stopping people from doing cartwheels and the like).  The music selection was quite good, in three hours only an occasional song came up that I felt was a weird choice.  And after YEARS someone FINALLY played Waltz For the Moon!  My only suggestion here was about arrangement.  It would be better to start with the more energetic, club style dances, then end with the slower more romantic dances when people are tired and have had a chance to meet and get to know people a bit.  Doing it the other way around means that people are often too tired to do the energetic dances at the end of the night.  I like that they adopted the armbands seen at other formal balls to help determine if a person is open to being asked to dance.  Though the armbands can often be hard to see.  I find that they often end up under my sleeve.  I'm not sure if there is a better method or not, but it is worth considering.

 

However, the formal ball NEEDS a much bigger room.  Every other ball I have been at has had capacity for at least 5000 people.  This had little more than 1 tenth of that.  It was way too small, and many people were left waiting on line to get in.  Had I not got there early, I would have been deeply frustrated.

 

So, in short.  Please keep doing the formal ball, but please make sure it has the space to handle the large number of people who participate.

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Good:

-Pretty much every panel I went to this year was at least pretty good, which isn't always the case every year. Panelists at Otakon have gotten better at the basics of presenting, or at least I got lucky and the ones I went to have.

-As a panelist myself, Otakon continues to have the highest quality technical staff and tech set-up in general compared to any other convention I present at. Makes setting up before my panel so quick and easy, you almost feel tempted to take it for granted, but I'm sure a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to make it work so smoothly. Bravo to Otakon here.

-Tokyo Attack's lineup this year was A+++! Three Sound Voltex machines and four Chunithm machines were both great calls and meant you never had to wait super long to play either game (although honestly Chunithm was so popular the lines did occasionally still get pretty long, probably because unlike SDVX and most of the other games you can't play it at Round 1s in the US as of yet). Please, please keep bringing them back, they add a lot to the convention!

-Not sure if this was new this year or just something I didn't pay attention to before this, but I like the idea of doing a themed "retro" video room a lot. Obviously video rooms in general have less utility to the convention attendee than they used to, given the widespread digital availability of anime, so I think this kind of themed room is a better use of this space. It both exposes newer fans to older series they may not have watched before and gives us older fans a chance to rewatch beloved classics in rooms full of excited people. I only popped in once, for Sailor Stars, but had a great time when I did. Hope this sticks around.

-Similar to above, the AMV Theater remains a great room that I spend at least some time in every year. A great use of space.

-Bag checks were a breeze, took two seconds, never waited in line really. Please keep that up in future years!

Bad:

-Although as I said the bag checks were a breeze for the most part, I do have one complaint about the security set-up. Security folks on the Marriott tunnel entrance often seemed to have no clue what each other were doing. I'll give one easy example: on Saturday there was a guard standing before the bag check table, and he was waiving people through to his left if they didn't have a bag (the bag check table was to his right). I didn't have a bag at that point so I was waived through by him and kept walking. I didn't even notice it, but a friend I was with told me that apparently one of the security guards at the table began angrily screaming for me to come back and show him my badge, as if I was somehow trying to cheat the system or not following directions, despite the fact that I was just waived through by a security member! Nothing really came of it since I was so far from the security entrance by the time we noticed anyway and he didn't try to chase after us or anything, but it's just absurd that a security guard can make you feel like you're breaking the rules for following the directions of another security guard. This was the most extreme example, but there were many times when it felt like they would waive you through and then another one would act like you weren't supposed to be going where you were going. They need to communicate with each other better or just have a better set-up.

-I wasn't a big fan of the concert line-up for the second year in a row, and didn't end up attending any concerts despite it being one of my favorite parts of the convention going experience most of the time. It feels like we're in a post-Anisong World Matsuri slump when it comes to musical guests, and I hope Otakon is able to attract some big name acts next year and get us out of this. As I said earlier, I would totally be fine with even paying an extra admission for a big lineup like AWM's from two years ago, even though I understand that is not a popular viewpoint on this message board.

Ugly:

-The lack of US anime industry presence has been covered above, but I definitely think it deserves mentioning. I understand Otakon is not growing at an exponential rate anymore, but it's still rather perplexing to me that much of the US industry apparently thinks nearly 30k devoted anime fans isn't worth their time.

-Food options were indeed terrible and worse than last year, but I fully expected that going in given the Aramark changeover. Obviously not much Otakon can do about this, it just sucks. As others have said, finding out they don't even pay their workers a fair wage (via the protests outside the convention center that were going on) didn't make me feel any better about handing over my cash for their terrible food either.

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23 hours ago, Kui Shanya said:

The Confusion here is total attendance of the con vs unique memberships.

 

Otakon in 2018 had 28,116 unique members, 759 Staff, 294 Artist Alley Exhibitors, and 110 Dealers room exhibitors who may or may not be counted as members and may have multiple people per booth, and 38 Guests.

I'm assuming to get technical 'full attendance', Otakon probably added the staff and then some of the artist and dealers or maybe guests? and then came up with the 29,293 figure

Thank you and thank you for not being condescending and telling me anyone can update Wikipedia as though I didn’t know that. I imagine the Wikipedia article was first edited when Otakon  first reported the 29,000+ total attendance number but not updated to reflect total membership 

I see the 2018 number was updated but I wonder now if the other years are accurate or just a mismash of unique membership and total attendance numbers.

Also do we have both numbers for this year yet to compare to last year? 

 

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