Reevothemusefan travels to Otakon 2015

For five years I have been to various conventions around the UK and reporting on them for Anime UK News. Last year I decided to expand my convention travels to Ireland for the first MCM Dublin Comic Con and enjoying reporting on the new venue, however I wanted to go even further and this took me to America to attend the second largest anime convention in the States – Otakon.

Before I start this Otakon guide, I would first like to point out that Otakon will be moving from Baltimore to Washington DC in 2017, so while my discussion on the location will be void in a couple of years, I hope my experience will interest any UK (or even any) anime fans that would like to come to this convention.


Travelling options for Baltimore are plentiful; I took the Amtrak train from New York to get there, and from the train station, it’s a 30 minute walk which didn’t take me long to get to my hotel. There is also a tram and bus station if that interests you.

Near the Baltimore convention centre there are plenty of hotels, the Hilton hotel being the one I stayed at and was also part of the convention. There are also hotels like Holiday Inn Inner Harbour and Days Inn Baltimore Inner Harbour Hotel, so there are many options.

Thursdays at the convention were to pre-register, so this meant most of my day was spend waiting in line until I got my Otakon pass. It’s always best to get there early, as you’ll be closer in the line to get your pass.

While I did do that, one thing that I forgot was to have photo ID when presenting my payment. I made this mistake and had to go get it and then get back in line, so one thing I will say is MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PHOTO ID; passport or license will fine, just be careful with them.

I was disappointed that I was waiting in line again but I actually found this quite useful to write a list of things to do, since you will be outside for most of the day. Here are some points that were suggested to me and some from myself:

1) Make sure you bring plenty of water; there is a very high chance that it will be sunny and hot outside, so keeping yourself hydrated is your top priority

2) Sunblock, again, depending on how long you’re outside, it’s best to put some on so you don’t get sunburned.

3) Bring entertainment, especially if you’re on your own; 3DSs are all over the place so Street-pass was a nice way to pass the time, books and music devices will also help.

Thankfully most of my waiting in line passed in conversations with fellow attendees, so that was a fun way to pass the time.

After I got my pass, Otakon Matsuri was a good way to finish the day, as the event had various performance and musical acts. My highlight was watching the band Back-On, who have done Openings for Air Gear, Gundam Build Fighters and Fairy Tail; their performance was very enjoyable and considering I hadn’t heard any of their songs, it was a good way to finish my Thursday.


As a newbie to the convention, I decided to gather my surroundings before starting to find out what I wanted to do, and Otakon had provided helpful paper timelines of every event.

First of all, I decided to check out the dealers room, which was full of the usual US anime and manga distributors from FUNimation to Vertical Limited, there were also plenty of video game and figure sellers. One thing that slightly surprised me was the large amount of Love Live merchandis. After buying some manga, I decided to head to the Artist Hall.

The Artist section was held in a separate hall and much like MCM London, had plenty of independent talent throughout the area, it also included a separate gallery that you needed to sign to enter but I got a look at some fantastic art pieces.

Next was the Video Game area, which had a section for video games and one for card games, so I got involved on both fronts. The video game section had a wide array of console games from multiple consoles like Super Smash Bros and Steet Fighter IV, plus some arcade games from Japan. I got my hands on the latest anime fight ‘Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax’ which will be getting a Western release soon.

The Card Game area included free Magic The Gathering drafts from the latest set and various other card games I’ve never heard of. This was a great way to play casually as well, so I managed to fit in some Weiss Schwarz games throughout the week, which was fun.

That’s how I spent most of my Friday which was also one of my small regrets, as I hardly went to any panels that day. Time management is something I improved on later in the weekend but I did go and see the ‘From Painting to Publishing: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Kyoto Animation‘ panel at midnight, which was a talk on KyoAni’s history as an anime studio and how they evolved throughout the years, and was very informative.


Now getting a feel for the convention I decided to go to more panels and shows, first up I went to a video screening of the ‘Love Live! TV Special Presentation‘, it was a compilation of Season 1 and 2 clips explaining the story. I’ve come to like the show a lot more as the years have gone by (many Weiss Schwarz card are in my collection) so watching this reminded me of why I like it so much, plus seeing many people playing the mobile game in line was unsurprising.

Next was the ‘Kill la Kill: Honnouji Academics‘ panel which went surprisingly deep into the show’s lore by comparing it to some Japanese folklore stories. The StudyofAnime panellists were really passionate about their love for this show and this made their discussions very entertaining.

After that I took a quick break and headed to play some indie games in the Video Game area;some competitive Nidhogg was involved.

During the afternoon I headed to see the ‘Behind the Stand: Jojo’s Bizarre Discography‘, which was a discussion on the musical references of Hirohiko Araki’s popular manga; some I never knew were referenced and it was fun to listen to the facts that were discussed.

Shortly after in the same panel room was my favourite talk, ‘Girls und Panel Ausf. E‘  which was hugely entertaining, discussing the series side projects and the tanks that were used in the show and their historic background, sprinkled with some good humor; I really liked it.

Finally I went to the ‘New Anime for Older Fans‘ panel that showed a selection of recent anime shows that have gotten very good buzz for veteran (or even new) anime fans, the selection was great and included one of my unforgettable moments of Otakon, seeing hundreds laughing at the second episode of Ninja Slayer.


The final day saw me go to the panel ‘The Rise of CG Anime‘, a look back at how CG was incorporated over the years, the early implementation of it was surprising to learn about, plus the techniques of using CG, such as toon shading.

I decided to do some final shopping around the Dealers Room and the Artist Gallery and bought an Otakon 2015 Shirt, alongside some CDs and more manga.

I did some last video gaming and card gaming with random people, just to get the most out of the rest of the afternoon. Sadly one of the workshops I missed was the Jojo Posing School but I wish to try and do that next time I come to Otakon. I also went to see the Otakon Museum, which had displays of items from various years of the convention.

The last thing I did at Otakon was the ‘Oreskaband Concert‘, the Ska band were fantastic, full of energy, never boring and the crowd loved them. I haven’t been to a gig for 3 years before Otakon, both Back-On and Oreskaband might get me back into seeing bands live again.

After buying some Oreskaband merchandise, my Otakon experience ended. I’m certain throughout the rest of the day I was bummed out, but that goes to show, how much I loved my time at Otakon 2015. The panels were fun, the people I met were helpful and kind, and there were pleasant surprises as well; it was everything I wanted from this trip, so I recommend the trip if you have any interest in going.

If you want to ask me any questions on Otakon, please leave them in the comments section and I will happily answer them. Thanks for reading!