The Official Otakon logo.
|Genre||Anime, East Asian popular culture|
|Venue||Baltimore Convention Center|
|Attendance||30,785 in 2012 |
Otakon (// OH-tə-kon) is a fan convention in the United States focusing on East Asian popular culture (primarily anime, manga, music, and cinema) and its fandom. The name is a portmanteau derived from convention and the Japanese word otaku. Otakon is traditionally held on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in late summer at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland's Inner Harbor district. Otakon is one of the longest-running Anime conventions in the United States, and the second largest, averaging over 22,000 paid attendees since 2005. Even so, the convention has expanded since then, with attendance above 26,000 in both 2008 and 2009 attendance surpassing 29,000 in 2010 and attendance officially surpassing the 30,000 mark in 2012.
More recently, Otakon has expanded into the realm of video gaming. At Otakon 2012 Otakon officially announced a partnership with indy game development studio, Studio Nasu, to develop an official video game, Crisis Heart Brawlers: Clash at Otakon! to be released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Otakon being in existence which is Otakon 2013. The game will be fully funded through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The Kickstarter site launched on Thursday, August 23, 2012 with a set goal of $20,000. The game will initially be for Windows and Mac OS X with console and mobile versions coming later if enough funding comes through. The game was successfully funded on Saturday, September 22, 2012 with 531 backers and a total amount of $33,642 which means the game is now currently under development by Studio Nasu with a projected release date of Otakon 2013, August 9-11, 2013 for the general public and earlier in 2013 for Kickstarter backers.
|This section requires expansion. (August 2010)|
Video programming 
- Multiple video rooms in which anime and live action East Asian films are shown on big screens throughout the convention. Fan-produced content including fan-parodies and anime music videos (AMVs) are also shown. For several years, Otakon had a dedicated 35 mm film theater, but replaced it in 2008 with an HD theater to take advantage of the wider array of offerings in that format.
Panels and workshops 
- Panels and workshops on subjects such as voice acting, how to draw manga, Japanese culture, and a variety of other topics. Industry professionals announce new acquisitions, and expert guests discuss or show tricks of their trade and field questions from the audience. Many panels and workshops are conducted by fans rather than pros (ex. Create a Comic Project).
Costume events 
- Cosplay and a skit-based Masquerade show, which in recent years has taken place inside the 1st Mariner Arena. Many attendees spend most of the convention in costume as their favorite anime, manga, or video game character. Many enter daily contests, and some participate in skits in the Masquerade show, one of the largest convention events. There is also a cosplay contest and a photo suite where attendees can have their photos professionally taken in costume.
Art events 
- "The Artist Alley" is an artists' marketplace for writers, musicians, and craftspeople to display, advertise, and sell their artwork. A separate art show allows amateur artists to display and auction their artwork.
- Musical performances throughout the weekend. Since 2003, there has been at least one concert at each convention featuring a Japanese musical guest.
- Otakon also features what is known as the "Otakafé" and hosts karaoke as well.
- A room for playing video games on consoles, computers, arcade cabinets, with tournaments scheduled throughout the weekend.
- A "Dealers' Room" in which commercial vendors such as publishers and retailers set up booths and sell anime- and manga-related merchandise.
Friday and Saturday night dance 
- The "Otakurave", a late-night dance party hosted by Baltimore-Washington area (and sometimes national) DJs.
Other Events 
- Opportunities to meet guests and collect autographs at no additional charge.
Live-action role-playing (LARP) 
- Weekend-long anime-themed live-action role-playing with hundreds of participants.
Events for younger children 
- A special children's track called Ota-chan.
Event history 
|July 29–31, 1994||Days Inn Penn State
State College, Pennsylvania
|350 (unique memberships)
875 (estimated turnstile)
|Robert DeJesus, Neil Nadelman, C Sue Shambaugh, Jeff Thompson, Steve Pearl, William Spangler, Dave Fleming, Lorraine Savage, and Rick Johnson.|
|September 1–4, 1995||Penn State Scanticon
State College, Pennsylvania
|450 (unique memberships)
1,100 (estimated turnstile)
|Teruo Kakuta, Toshio Okada, Toren Smith, and Adam Warren, Robert DeJesus, Steve Bennett, Lorraine Savage, Tomoko Saito, Sue Shambaugh, Neil Nadelman, Jeff Thompson, Steve Pearl, Matt Greenfield, Trish Ledoux, and Robert Woodhead.|
|August 9–11, 1996||Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn
Hunt Valley, Maryland
|1,000 (unique memberships)
2,750 (estimated turnstile)
|Steve Bennett, Robert DeJesus, Masaomi Kanzaki, Matt Lunsford, Neil Nadelman, Steve Pearl, Sue Shambaugh, Jeff Thompson, and Adam Warren.|
|August 8–10, 1997||Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn
Hunt Valley, Maryland
|1,750 (unique memberships)
4,500 (estimated turnstile)
|Ippongi Bang, Kuni Kimura, and Matt Lunsford.|
|August 7–9, 1998||Hyatt Regency-Crystal City
|2,500 (unique memberships)
6,500 (estimated turnstile)
|Hiroshi Aro, Tiffany Grant, Shoji Kawamori, Kuni Kimura, Tristan MacAvery, Lisa Ortiz, and Jan Scott-Frazier.|
|July 2–4, 1999||Baltimore Convention Center
|4,500 (unique memberships)
10,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Chris Beveridge, Tiffany Grant, Amy Howard-Wilson, Mari Iijima, Yoko Kanno, Kuni Kimura, Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Shin Kurokawa, Rachael Lillis, Kazuto Nakazawa, Fred Schodt, and Shinichiro Watanabe.|
|August 4–6, 2000||Baltimore Convention Center
|7,500 (unique memberships)
18,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Yoshitoshi ABe, Mandy Bonhomme, Amy Howard-Wilson, Kunihiko Ikuhara, Ian Kim, Steve Pearl, Gilles Poitras, Yasuyuki Ueda, and Simon Yam.|
|August 10–12, 2001||Baltimore Convention Center
|10,275 (unique memberships)
26,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Steve Bennett, Rodney "Largo" Caston, Jo Chen, Colleen Doran, Fred Gallagher, Tiffany Grant, Scott Houle, Toshihiro Kawamoto, Ian Kim, Shin Kurokawa, Masao Maruyama, Hikaru Midorikawa, Fred Perry, Gilles Poitras, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Adam Warren, and Pamela Weidner.|
|July 26–28, 2002||Baltimore Convention Center
|12,880 (unique memberships)
30,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Steve Bennett, Chris Beveridge, Rodney "Largo" Caston, Fred Gallagher, Yoko Ishida, Wendee Lee, Masao Maruyama, Yutaka Minowa, Kiroyuki Morioka, Neil Nadelman, Yasuhiro Nightow, Fred Perry, Gilles Poitras, Tatsuo Sato, and Lianne Sentar.|
|August 8–10, 2003
(Otakon's 10th anniversary)
|Baltimore Convention Center
|17,338 (unique memberships)
40,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Steve Bennett, Mandy Bonhomme, Johnny Yong Bosch, Justin Cook, Julie Davis, Robert DeJesus, Brian Drummond, Fred Gallagher, Scott Houle, Yoshiaki Iwasaki, Toshihiro Kawamoto, Itsuro Kawasaki, Tsukasa Kotobuki, Pontus Madsen, Masao Maruyama, Rica Matsumoto, Dr. Susan Napier, Satoshi Nishimura, Kristine Sa, Fred Schodt, Jan Scott-Frazier, T.M.Revolution, and Pamela Weidner.|
|July 30 – August 1, 2004||Baltimore Convention Center
|20,899 (unique memberships)
55,000 (estimated turnstile)
|angela, Matt Boyd, Siu-Tung "Tony" Ching, Luci Christian, Koge Donbo, Richard Epcar, Christian Fundin, Mohammad "Hawk" Haque, Chuck Huber, L'Arc-en-Ciel, Pontus Madsen, Ian McConville, Yutaka Minowa, Ichiro Okouch, Ananth Panagariya, Chris Patton, Monica Rial, Chris Sabat, Tatsuo Sato, Yuzo Sato, Lianne Sentar, and Matt Thorn.|
|August 19–21, 2005||Baltimore Convention Center
|22,000 (unique memberships)
60,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Greg Ayres, Katie Bair, Matt Boyd, Brian Carroll, Luci Christian, Justin Cook, Richard Ian Cox, Huw "Lem" Davies, Ben Dunn, Christian Fundin, Fred Gallagher, Mohammad "Hawk" Haque, the Indigo, Yoshinori Kanemori, Toshihiro Kawamoto, Dave Lister, Pontus Madsen, Masao Maruyama, Ian McConville, Mike McFarland, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Scott McNeil, Vic Mignogna, Mitsukazu Mihara, Seiji Mizushima, Ananth Panagariya, Fred Perry, Piano Squall, Puffy AmiYumi, Scott Ramsoomair, Xero Reynolds, Monica Rial, Michelle Ruff, Michael "Mookie" Terracciano, and Toshifumi Yoshida.|
|August 4–6, 2006||Baltimore Convention Center
|22,302 (unique memberships)
66,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Christine Auten, Troy Baker, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Christian Fundin, Fred Gallagher, Caitlin Glass, Kate Higgins, Kouta Hirano, Hirotsugu Kawasaki, Ayako Kawasumi, Nana Kitade, Yuri Lowenthal, Pontus Madsen, Masao Maruyama, Mike McFarland, Mucc, Kazuto Nakazawa, Monica Rial, Antimere Robinson, Patrick Seitz, Makoto Tateno, Nobuteru Yuuki, and Yoshiki Hayashi.|
|July 20–22, 2007||Baltimore Convention Center
|22,852 (unique memberships)
67,000 (rstimated turnstile)
|AAA, Morio Asaka, Steve Blum, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Aaron Dismuke, Eminence, Christian Fundin, Fred Gallagher, Caitlin Glass, Ryuhei Kitamura, Kenji Kodama, Pontus Madsen, Vic Mignogna, Maki Murakami, Mamiko Noto, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Tomokazu Seki, Stephanie Sheh, Mike Sinterniklaas, Michihiko Suwa, and Steve Yun.|
|August 8–10, 2008||Baltimore Convention Center
|26,262 (unique memberships)
78,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Laura Bailey, Peter S. Beagle, DaizyStripper, Richard Epcar, Peter Fernandez, Taliesin Jaffe, JAM Project, Willow Johnson, Kyoko Kano, Mika Kano, Mela Lee, Yuri Lowenthal, MarBell, Masao Maruyama, Hiromi Matsushita, Tony Oliver, Tara Platt, Derek Stephen Prince, Mike Sinterniklaas, Ellyn Stern, Kazuko Tadano, the Underneath, and Kappei Yamaguchi.|
|July 17–19, 2009||Baltimore Convention Center
|26,586 (unique memberships)
79,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Becca, Crispin Freeman, Kikuko Inoue, Noboru Ishiguro, Yukio Kikukawa, Hidenori Matsubara, Masao Maruyama, Mike McFarland, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Misako Rocks!, Tony Oliver, Fred Schodt, Sonny Strait, Naomi Tamura, VAMPS, Kanon Wakeshima, Travis Willingham, MELL, and Yutaka Yamamoto.|
|July 30-August 1, 2010||Baltimore Convention Center
|29,274 (unique memberships)
87,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Maile Flanagan, Vic Mignogna, h. Naoto, Yoshida Brothers, Home Made Kazoku, Todd Haberkorn, Clarine Harp, Jerry Jewell, Patrick Seitz, J. Michael Tatum, Amy Howard Wilson, Christopher Bevins, Takamasa Sakurai, Yoshiki and Sugizo from X JAPAN, Antic Cafe's Kanon, Hiroshi Koujina, Masao Maruyama, Yūji Mitsuya, Michael Sinterniklaas, Masashi Ishihama, Koji Masunari, Tomonori Ochikoshi, Peter S. Beagle, and Felipe Smith.|
|July 29–31, 2011||Baltimore Convention Center
|29,337 (unique memberships)
95,000 (estimated turnstile)
|Chemistry, Tony Oliver, Lisa Ortiz, Tom Wayland, Roland Kelts, Johnny Yong Bosch, Eyeshine, Sixh., Makoto Shinkai, Masumi Kano, Mitsuba, Takamasa Sakurai, Kazuya Murata, DJ Saolilith, Scott Freeman, Orine Fukushima, Noboru Ishiguro, KYLEE, Momoko Ohara, Scott Sager, Akira Sasanuma, Patrick Seitz, Chiaki Shimogama, Bob Shirohata, J. Michael Tatum, Cristina Vee, Nobuo Uematsu, Stephanie Sheh, Masayuki Ozaki, Masao Maruyama, Shelby Lindley, Cassandra Lee, Atsuhiro Iwakami, Toshihiro Fukuoka, and Peter S. Beagle.|
|July 27–29, 2012||Baltimore Convention Center
|30,785 (unique memberships)
96,500 (estimated turnstile)
|Ai Nonaka, Aya Hirano, Brina Palencia, Christine Marie Cabanos, GASHICON, Gen Urobuchi, Hidetaka Tenjin, J. Michael Tatum, Jason David Frank, Lauren Landa, Masao Maruyama, Michael Sinterniklaas, Mikako Joho, Peter S. Beagle, Sarah Williams, Shin Sasaki, Tetsuya Kakihara, Trina Nishimura, VIXX, Yuuka Nanri |
|August 9–11, 2013
(Otakon's 20th Anniversary)
|Baltimore Convention Center
|Crispin Freeman, Maile Flanagan, Home Made Kazoku, Masao Maruyama, Vic Mignogna, T.M.Revolution, Yoko Kanno|
1995 Four-day convention 
While the idea of a four-day convention has some support among the general membership (especially among younger members), the idea has been summarily dismissed as unworkable by Otakon staff. It was attempted in 1995, over a holiday weekend, back when Otakon fit comfortably in a small hotel, and even then it was an exhausting prospect that didn't pay off. In those days, the entire convention could be set up in a matter of hours, while it currently takes two full days to prepare the site. At its current size and functional requirements, Otakon would face a significant additional expense in running an extra day, and both industry and dealers have said that it would not be worth their time and money to attend a fourth day. Finally, it is clear that few staffers would be able to afford the extra day (most staffers already use as much as a week of vacation time to help run the con). With almost zero support from staff, industry, or dealers, there is virtually no chance that Otakon will ever attempt a four-day convention again.
Otakon 2010 fire alarm incident 
During Otakon 2010, at approximately 2:00 PM on Saturday, the entire Baltimore Convention Center had to be evacuated due to a fire alarm, although there was no fire. Hours of certain events and rooms were adjusted accordingly to accommodate for lost time.
This was only the second safety incident of this sort to take place during Otakon. Nine years earlier, in 2001, the convention center was evacuated due to after-effects of the Howard Street Tunnel fire. Residual explosive chemicals from an earlier train accident reacted with air, and the resulting explosions launched manhole covers into the air. This incident was spoofed in Otakon's 2008 Opening Animation: in the video, one of the convention's mascots causes a barrage of manhole covers to strike a giant robot menacing the convention center.
Otakon Vegas 
Event history 
|January 3–5, 2014||Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Otakon has been located in the Baltimore Convention Center at least in part for every year beginning in 1999, though it soon expanded to require the entire convention center and more recently, other buildings as well. Events such as the masquerade now place in the 1st Mariner Arena, located one block away, and at least some programming takes place in the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel, connected to the Convention Center by its skybridge, as was the case in both 2009 and 2010.
1st Mariner Arena 
Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel and Otakon 
The Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel opened on Friday, August 22, 2008. In 2009, Otakon had been promised a minimum of 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) out of a total 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2) by the Hilton Baltimore. and had confirmed that they would use the Hilton for the convention itself; however only a limited number of events and panels took place at the Hilton with the major of events taking place in the more-spacious Baltimore Convention Center.
On February 7, 2009, Otakon posted information on its panels for Otakon 2009, confirming that panel space will be in the Baltimore Convention Center and will be expanded into the Hilton Baltimore. Otakon 2009 utilized in the Hilton, the Poe meeting room for its Manga Library and the Key Ballroom for two additional panel rooms and one additional autographs room.
Otakon 2011 further expanded into the Hilton, using the entire space on the second floor, and one room on the first floor of the Hilton for the first time.
Otakon 2012 continued the trend of utilizing the convention space at the Hilton Baltimore, using the entire space on the second floor and two rooms on the first floor.
Otakon is the annual meeting of Otakorp, Inc. Otakon attendees do not purchase "tickets" to Otakon; they actually become a member of the non-profit organization that runs Otakon with their paid attendance to the convention. Everyone who pays the annual membership fee to attend Otakon is also a supporting member for Otakorp and is able to participate in sanctioned events, contests, or giveaways that might occur during the year.
All staff are unpaid volunteers, although registration tasks are supplemented by temporary workers provided by Visit Baltimore, and certain services such as legal and accounting work are by contract. Otakon also enlists the help of non-staff assistants, who are referred to as gofers. Otakon 2006 listed over 500 staff on its roster, though not all work the convention directly, though in a similar count, At the time immediately following Otakon 2010, Otakorp listed 685 staff on its online roster.
Economic impact on Baltimore 
As of July 30, 2010, Otakon has had a great economic impact with its host, the City of Baltimore. Otakon has had the highest economic impact[clarification needed] in Baltimore for 2009, 2008 and 2007 and has been a top convention for Baltimore since 2003. Otakon 2009 had an economic impact of $12.5 million in direct spending and booked over 4,500 hotel rooms. Otakon 2010 had a great impact in terms of food vendors. According to the Baltimore Business Journal on December 10, 2010, Otakon 2010 had 4,575 booked hotel rooms and an estimated economic impact of $15.3 million, up from $12.5 million the year before.
Otakon Awards and Recognition 
In 2011, Visit Baltimore (Baltimore City's tourism agency) awarded Otakon with a "Customer of the Year" award for "hosting their annual tradeshow and convention in Baltimore since 1999. They have demonstrated ongoing commitment to Baltimore, bringing more than 27,000 attendees to the city every year, a much-anticipated event by the local community and media" and that Otakon "have also selected Baltimore as the host destination through 2016.""History: In the News". Otakon/Otakorp, Inc. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
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