Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Otakon For Non-Otaku

A good deal of my weekend was spent at Otakon in the Baltimore Convention Center. Otakon, as it’s publicity states, is the largest anime and Japanese pop culture convention on the east coast. They rent out the entire convention center for three days and attract 22,000 paying attendees. I was there at the behest of my 15 year old son who reads manga, watches anime, and plays videogames way too much. When he begged to go, I let him throw me in that briar patch.

I am the veteran of four science fiction conventions including Magicon, the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention, so I thought I knew what to expect. At science fiction conventions the costuming is a minor but significant part of the convention activities. I enjoy the bizarre costumes and like to go to the cotume constests. In fact, I thought the last science fiction convention I went to a few years back in Philadelphia had a fairly lackluster Masquerade. But nothing had prepared me for Otakon.

In addition to the run of the mill anime and manga fans, Otakon seriously courts people into cosplay. Of that 22,000 attendees, about half come in some level of costume ranging from Halloween-lite cat ears and dyed hair to full blown hand-made leather costumes with props. At no time was I out of eyesight of someone attempting to look like some anime, movie or videogame character.

The most disorienting aspect was that I rarely knew who or what most of these people were trying to be. Other than well-known touchstones such as Star Wars or Harry Potter, only a few of the shows featured had bubbled high enough on the pop culture radar screen to be identifiable. I eventually learned that any guy all in red leather with spiked blond or bleached hair was Vash from Trigun and I could spot the Sailor Moon squad, but I couldn’t tell you Sailor Venus from Sailor Neptune if my life depended on it.

I normally take a camera to science fiction conventions to get pictures of writers I admire or other quasi-celebrities. But since the Puffy AmiYumi line went on for several hundred people and I didn’t recognize any other name in the program, I took pictures of the attendees instead. Fortunately that seemed to be encouraged and almost de riguer, so I didn’t quite feel like the pervy old man I otherwise would have been tagged as by taking lots of pictures of scantily clad complete strangers.

Actually most of the costumes were fairly tasteful and modest given the lasciviousness of some of the source material. Thankfully so, in the case of some of the attendees. (That was a little uncalled for.) Otakon tries to stay as family friendly as the hormone level of the target market allows and all the “adult” oriented panels and activities were clearly marked with ID required.

Here’s where you, the unsuspecting blog wanderer, come in. I have posted the less blurry pictures I took on Flickr and set up a separate set for just characters. Since I am completely clueless, please leave comments stating who the character is and what show they’re from, or let me know in the comments of this blog where I should go to get better acquainted with these shows without having to BitTorrent hours of Cowboy Bebop.

You’re help in my education is much appreciated.

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31 comments:

Nancy said...

WOW! I had no idea that there were conventions like this. I would have no idea who people are either. I am a LOTR kind of gal.

Michele sent me.

Shannin said...

Here via Michele's M&G. I don't get anime, but it's amazing how popular it is. I mean, my brother liked his comic books and all, but not to this degree!

Great photos, but there is no way I could identify any of these characters - not one Speed Racer or Hello, Kitty among them.

used*to*be*me* said...

I'd love to help you out on this, but I'm relativly clueless. Sorry man...

Anonymous said...

Picture 1 is Vash the Stampede, from the Trigun comic book.

Picture 2 is (top row) Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, (bottom row) Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars; all from the series Sailor Moon.

Anonymous said...

Picture 3 is an Orange Mushroom from the online game Maple Story.

Anonymous said...

Randomly surfed in from the Otakon mailing list. I'm sorry if the characters I mention you already know from someone else.

"Otakon23" is Xeloss, from Slayers.
"Otakon6" is Eriol (the one with the huge staff) and Sakura, from Card Captor Sakura.
"Otakon7" is Krad, from DNAngel.
"Otakon14" is Dizzy, from the game Guilty Gear.
In "Otakon12," the one with the umbrella is Itachi, from Naruto. The other one I don't know, but it's most likely one of Itachi's henchmen, also from Naruto.
"Otakon15" is a Chrno Crusade cosplay group, although I couldn't rightly tell you which one is which character.
"Otakon44" is a Revolutionary Girl Utena cosplay group.
"Otakon42" is Princess Serenity and Endymion, from Sailor Moon.

I hope I helped, I'm sorry if I just told you information you already knew, and good luck with the rest!

-Windsong (windsong137 [at] gmail.com)

Anonymous said...

...And a few more:

"Otakon46" is Felicia, from the game Darkstalkers.
"Otakon45" is Sailor Saturn, from Sailor Moon.
"Otakon43" could possibly be Jon Talbain, also from the game Darkstalkers, but I'm not too sure on this one.
And to be picky/more specific, "Otakon59" is Wolfwood from Trigun.

-Windsong

Anonymous said...

Otakon 8 - Vash with his brother, Knives (the one on the left) both from Trigun (manga version)

Otakon 3 - Most are from Fruits Basket. From left is Kyo, Tohru, Yuki, Kagura, and Hana. I'm not sure about the little girl in yellow (might not even be a costume) or the guy on the right.

Otakon 20 - Alucard rom Hellsing

Otakon 25 - Maestro Delphine and Alvis from Last Exile, Otakon 24 is Delphine again.

Otakon 47 - Last Exile, from left is Sophia, Alex, I'm assuming Tatiana, might be just a random crew member, Delphine, Klaus, Lavie, and on the bottom, Alvis.

Otakon 38 - Shampoo, Akane, Ranma (boy), and Moose from Ranma 1/2.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Otakon 23 is actually Zelgadis from "Slayers,"
Otakon 15 is acuatlly a Guilty Gear group; two Ky Kiske's, two Bridget's, and a Sol Badguy.
Otakon 9 is Lina Inverse (right) and Amelia (left) from "Slayers."
Otakon 13 is I-no from "Guilty Gear XX."

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Connor Wilson said...

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La Tigre said...

Came in off Drink At Work's blog.

Cosplay.com is a pretty good site where you can get more information about cosplay.

A good introduction to anime is on Cartoon Network, especially during the Toonami and Adult Swim blocks of programming. A warning: they like to show non-anime "original programming" in the latter block, which is hit and miss.

G4 also has an anime block called Anime Unleashed.

Also, most anime conventions have rooms reserved exclusively for showing anime. So pop in every now and then to expand your horizons.

And, last but not least, chat us anime geeks up after you snap our pictures. We love talking about our hobby and drawing more people into the craziness.

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