Otakon 2013 marked the 20th anniversary of the convention. Held in Baltimore, Maryland, Otakon is the second largest anime convention in the US and one of the longest running anime conventions as well. 2013 marked a new high in attendance numbers, drawing in a crowd of almost 35,000.
Otakon pulled out all the stops this year with music guests TM Revolution, Home Made Kazoku, and Yoko Kanno, an amazing composer whose scores I’m sure everyone has heard before. There was also the premiere of the Oreimo OVA which brought out a large crowd, not to mention Oreimo cosplayers! They also had a schedule filled with panels put on by both guests and fans. Then of course there was the dealer’s room filled to the max with merchandise to satisfy everyone’s wants.
One of the big things about Otakon is the weather and luckily this year was not as warm as the past but the humidity was still pretty high. The badge pickup line was really long but a majority of it was held inside so hopefully no one had to deal with the heat for too long. And of course, there’s everyone’s favorite attraction, the “ice cold water guy” who sells bottles of water for $1. There still were some problems though. In an attempt to manage traffic, Otakon decided to close some entrances and open others, mark some doors as entrance/exit only even though no one was using them and the door right next to it was packed. It wasn’t too bad, but at times some of the halls felt worse than even the halls at San Diego Comic Con.
At Otakon, there were two main areas to gather, the upstairs terrace and the indoor fountains. Of course, there were outside areas too but good luck wearing cosplays in the heat! The terrace was nice but either got too warm or too crowded. The indoor fountain was a good location until lines formed for events in the middle of it, then it was too packed.
As for the cosplays, there was a good variety. Some brought out their Cowboy Bebop cosplays for the Yoko Kanno concert, some brought more comfortable costumes for the heat, some brought out their full armor, and lots brought out their rave outfits for Saturday night.
Baltimore has a lot to offer and the Inner Harbor has a lot to offer, from hotels to restaurants to the ships in the dock. However, with the growing size of Otakon and the space requirements growing, they’ve made the choice to move to Washington DC in 2017.
How this will affect Otakon next year and the years to come, I’m not sure. Perhaps a new location will draw more people, though I’m sure the Otakon regulars don’t care where it’s held since they’ll come back every year. Oh, and Otakon has also launched a second convention called Otakon Vegas in January, we’ll have to see how that turns out as well.