Otakon

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Otakon
Official Otakon Logo 2.jpg
The Official Otakon logo.
Status Active
Genre Anime, East Asian popular culture
Venue Baltimore Convention Center
Location(s) Baltimore, Maryland
Country United States
Inaugurated 1994
Attendance 34,211- Unique Memberships
107,500 - Estimated Turnstile in 2013[1]
Organized by Otakorp, Inc.
Filing status 501(c)(3)
Website
Otakon.com
Former official Otakon logo, since been replaced.

Otakon (/ˈtəkɒn/ OH-tə-kon) is an annual three day anime convention held during July/August at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland's Inner Harbor district. The convention focuses 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 one of the longest-running Anime conventions in the United States, and the 2nd largest North American anime convention as of 2013.[2]

Otakon announced that an additional new convention would be created in Las Vegas, Nevada starting in 2014.[3] It was announced at Otakon 2013's closing ceremonies that the convention will be moving to Washington, D.C. and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center starting in 2017 and continuing until at least 2021.[4]

Programming[edit]

Rabbid cosplay at a 2007 Otakon.

As one of the longest running and largest conventions of its type, Otakon offers a very broad range of programming, exhibits, and other events. Typical Otakon programming includes:[5]

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[6] to take advantage of the wider array of offerings in that format. Panels and workshops on subjects such as voice acting, how to draw manga,[7] 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).[7]

Cosplay and a skit-based Masquerade show, which in recent years has taken place inside the 1st Mariner Arena.[5] 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.[citation needed] "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[citation needed] 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. The "Otakurave", a late-night dance party hosted by Baltimore-Washington area (and sometimes national) DJs.

History[edit]

Event history[edit]

Dates Location Atten. Growth Staff Atten. Dealers Atten. Guests
July 29–31, 1994 Days Inn Penn State
State College, Pennsylvania
350 (unique memberships)
875 (estimated turnstile)[1]
N/A First Otakon. 16[1] 4[1] Robert DeJesus, Neil Nadelman, Steve Pearl, Lorraine Savage, Sue Shambaugh, Jeff Thompson,[8] William Spangler, Dave Fleming, and Rick Johnson.[citation needed]
September 1–4, 1995 Penn State Scanticon
State College, Pennsylvania
450 (unique memberships)
1,100 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+29%[1] 25[1] 15[1] Steve Bennett, Robert DeJesus, Matt Greenfield, Teruo Kakuta, Trish Ledoux, Neil Nadelman, Toshio Okada, Steve Pearl, C. Scott Rider, Tomoko Saito, Lorraine Savage, Sue Shambaugh, Toren Smith, John Staton, Jeff Thompson, Adam Warren, and Robert Woodhead.[9]
August 9–11, 1996 Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn
Hunt Valley, Maryland
1,000 (unique memberships)
2,750 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+122%[1] 35[1] 20[1] Steve Bennett, Robert DeJesus, Masaomi Kanzaki, Matt Lunsford, Neil Nadelman, Steve Pearl, Sue Shambaugh, Jeff Thompson, and Adam Warren.[10]
August 8–10, 1997 Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn
Hunt Valley, Maryland
1,750 (unique memberships)
4,500 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+75%[1] 45[1] 22[1] Ippongi Bang, Kuni Kimura, Matt Lunsford, and Jan Scott-Frazier.[11]
August 7–9, 1998 Hyatt Regency-Crystal City
Arlington, Virginia
2,500 (unique memberships)
6,500 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+43%[1] 60[1] 25[1] Hiroshi Aro, Tiffany Grant, Shoji Kawamori, Kuni Kimura, Tristan MacAvery, Lisa Ortiz, and Jan Scott-Frazier.[12]
July 2–4, 1999 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
4,500 (unique memberships)
10,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+80%[1] 80[1] 30[1] Chris Beveridge, Tiffany Grant, Amy Howard-Wilson, Mari Iijima, Yoko Kanno, Kuni Kimura, Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Shin Kurokawa, Rachael Lillis, Kazuto Nakazawa, Fred Schodt, Jan Scott-Frazier, and Shinichiro Watanabe.[13]
August 4–6, 2000 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
7,500 (unique memberships)
18,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
67%[1] 114[1] 45[1] Yoshitoshi ABe, Mandy Bonhomme, Amy Howard-Wilson, Kunihiko Ikuhara, Ian Kim, Steve Pearl, Gilles Poitras, Jan Scott-Frazier, Yasuyuki Ueda,[14] and Simon Yam.[15]
August 10–12, 2001 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
10,275 (unique memberships)
26,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+37%[1] 180[1] 65[1] 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, Jan Scott-Frazier, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Adam Warren, and Pamela Weidner.[16]
July 26–28, 2002 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
12,880 (unique memberships)
30,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+25%[1] 285[1] 133[1] 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, Jan Scott-Frazier, and Lianne Sentar.[17]
August 8–10, 2003
(Otakon's 10th anniversary)
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
17,338 (unique memberships)
40,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+35%[1] 252[1] 73[1] 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.[18]
July 30 – August 1, 2004 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
20,899 (unique memberships)
55,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+21%[1] 271[1] 76[1] 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.[19]
August 19–21, 2005 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
22,000 (unique memberships)
60,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+5%[1] 380[1] 119[1] Greg Ayres, Katie Bair, Matt Boyd, Brian Carroll, Luci Christian, Justin Cook, Richard Ian Cox, Huw "Lem" Davies, Ben Dunn, Christian Fundin, Fred Gallagher, Michael "Piano Squall" Gluck, Mohammad "Hawk" Haque, the Indigo, Yoshinori Kanemori, Kumiko Kato, 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, Puffy AmiYumi, Scott Ramsoomair, Xero Reynolds, Monica Rial, Michelle Ruff, Michael "Mookie" Terracciano, and Toshifumi Yoshida.[20][21]
August 4–6, 2006 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
22,302 (unique memberships)
66,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+1%[1] 417[1] 125[1] Christine Auten, Troy Baker, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Christian Fundin, Lisa Furukawa, Fred Gallagher, Caitlin Glass, Yoshiki Hayashi, 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, and Nobuteru Yuuki.[22]
July 20–22, 2007 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
22,852 (unique memberships)
67,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+2.4%[1] 455[1] 146[1] 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.[23]
August 8–10, 2008 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
26,262 (unique memberships)
78,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+15%[1] 468[1] 149[1] 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.[24]
July 17–19, 2009 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
26,586 (unique memberships)
79,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+1.2%[1] 514[1] 157[1] Becca, Crispin Freeman, Kikuko Inoue, Noboru Ishiguro, Yukio Kikukawa, Masao Maruyama, Hidenori Matsubara, Mike McFarland, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, MELL, Misako Rocks!, Tony Oliver, Fred Schodt, Naomi Tamura, VAMPS, Kanon Wakeshima, Travis Willingham, and Yutaka Yamamoto.[25]
July 30-August 1, 2010 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
29,274 (unique memberships)
87,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+4.8%[1] 587[1] 164[1] Peter S. Beagle, Chris Bevins, Maile Flanagan, Scott Freeman, Todd Haberkorn, Clarine Harp, Yoshiki Hayashi, Naoto Hirooka, Home Made Kazoku, Amy Howard-Wilson, Masashi Ishihama, Jerry Jewell, Kanon, Hiroki Kikuta, Hiroshi Koujina, Masao Maruyama, Koji Masunari, Vic Mignogna, Yuji Mitsuya, Tomonori Ochikoshi, Takamasa Sakurai, Patrick Seitz, Stephanie Sheh, Shihori, Mike Sinterniklaas, Felipe Smith, Sugizo, J. Michael Tatum, The Yoshida Brothers, and Hiroaki Yura.[26]
July 29–31, 2011 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
29,337 (unique memberships)
95,000 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+5.3%[1] 784[1] 178[1] Peter S. Beagle, Johnny Yong Bosch, Chemistry, Eyeshine, Scott Freeman, Toshihiro Fukuoka, Orine Fukushima, Noboru Ishiguro, Atsuhiro Iwakami, Masumi Kano, Roland Kelts, Kylee, Cassandra Lee, Shelby Lindley, Masao Maruyama, Mitsuba, Kazuya Murata, Momoka Ohara, Tony Oliver, Lisa Ortiz, Masayuki Ozaki, Scott Sager, Takamasa Sakurai, DJ Saolilith, Akira Sasanuma, Patrick Seitz, Stephanie Sheh, Chiaki Shimogama, Makoto Shinkai, Bob Shirohata, Sixh., Synergy, J. Michael Tatum, Nobuo Uematsu, Cristina Vee, Tom Wayland, Mari Yoshida, and Hiroaki Yura.[27]
July 27–29, 2012 Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
30,785 (unique memberships)
96,500 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+4.9%[1] 680[1] 161[1] Peter S. Beagle, Christine Marie Cabanos, Jason David Frank, Gashicon, Aya Hirano, Mikako Joho, Tetsuya Kakihara, Lauren Landa, Masao Maruyama, Yuuka Nanri, Trina Nishimura, Ai Nonaka, Brina Palencia, Shin Sasaki, Michael Sinterniklaas, J. Michael Tatum, Hidetaka Tenjin, Gen Urobuchi, VIXX, and Sarah Williams.[28]
August 9–11, 2013
(Otakon's 20th Year)[29]
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
34,211 (unique memberships)
107,500 (estimated turnstile)[1]
+11.1%[1] 828[1] 163[1] Shingo Adachi, Peter S. Beagle, Maile Flanagan, Crispin Freeman, Tsukasa Fushimi, Todd Haberkorn, Kyle Hebert, Home Made Kazoku, Chiaki Ishikawa, Hiroyuki Kanbe, Yoko Kanno, Tetsuya Kawakami, Roland Kelts, Kaoru Kurosaki, Masao Maruyama, Mike McFarland, Vic Mignogna, Kazuma Miki, Masayuki Ozaki, Takamasa Sakurai, Jad B. Saxton, Tomokazu Seki, Micah Solusod, Michihiko Suwa, T.M.Revolution, Yuzuru Tachikawa, Cristina Vee and, Shinichiro Watanabe.[30]
August 8–10, 2014[31] Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland
TBA (unique memberships)
TBA (estimated turnstile)
TBA TBA TBA None Announced as of January 20, 2014.

1995 Four-day convention[edit]

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.[32]

Otakon 2010 fire alarm incident[edit]

During Otakon 2010, at approximately 2:00 PM on Saturday, the entire Baltimore Convention Center had to be evacuated due to a fire alarm,[33] 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[edit]

The official Otakon Vegas Logo.

Otakon has announced that in 2014 a new convention would be held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada where they hope to create a smaller convention and test new ideas.[3]

Facilities[edit]

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,[6] connected to the Convention Center by its skybridge,[34] since 2009.[5]

1st Mariner Arena[edit]

As Otakon has outgrown the convention center alone, it has increasingly made use of the 1st Mariner Arena for large events, most notably for the Masquerade.[5]

Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel and Otakon[edit]

The Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel opened on Friday, August 22, 2008.[35][36][37] 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.[38][39][40] 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.[41]

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.[42] 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 2010 further expanded into the Hilton, using not only the space used in 2009 but also what essentially amounted to all of the convention space on the second floor of the Hilton.[43][44]

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.

Walter E. Washington Convention Center and Washington D.C.[edit]

At Otakon 2013's closing ceremonies, the convention staff officially announced that starting in 2017 and lasting until at least through 2021, Otakon will be held outside of Baltimore (its longtime home since 1999) for the first time, in Washington D.C. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Otakorp[edit]

Otakon is run by the Pennsylvania-based non-profit organization Otakorp, Inc.[45] whose focus is on using East Asian popular culture as a gateway to increase understanding of East Asian culture.

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 2013, Otakorp listed 861 staff on its online roster.[46]

Otakorp, Inc. also sponsors film screenings as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, and assists with programming at other film festivals.

Economic impact on Baltimore[edit]

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.[47] 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.[48]

Otakon Awards and Recognition[edit]

Otakon 2011 Visit Baltimore "Customer of the Year" Award

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. 

Crisis Heart Brawlers[edit]

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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb "Otakon History: Stats Page". Otakon. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  2. ^ Delahanty, Patrick (2014-01-06). "Ten Largest North American Anime Conventions of 2013". AnimeCons.com. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°17′07″N 76°37′02″W / 39.28538°N 76.61734°W / 39.28538; -76.61734