Otakon, the amazing people-watching festival–I’m sorry, I mean anime/manga/video game fan convention–that’s been held in Baltimore since 1999 is decamping to DC next year. But don’t be so quick to say goodbye.
I think my favorite season in Baltimore is “Otakon.” The city becomes alive with people in rainbow wigs, carrying spears, living their fullest lives. When it’s Otakon time, I could just sit around the Inner Harbor and people watch all day.
But perhaps even better than Otakon people watching is post-Otakon missed connections reading. It’s always amusing to scan the Missed Connections section of Craigslist to see who’s catching eyes around town; that activity is made all the more entertaining when you add in costumes and intense fandom. Here’s a sampling from this year:
There’s no room for debate: Otakon is a good thing for Baltimore. If you like anime, it brings you a host of likeminded folks from around the country; if you like people watching, it brings you thousands of characters in various elaborate costumes for your gawking pleasure; if you like money, you can rest satisfied knowing that the conference boosts the city’s economy by millions of dollars. (And Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” always gets a little more compelling during Otakon season.) Well, enjoy it while you can — Otakon just announced that it’ll be moving to DC, in part because “the Baltimore Convention Center has not aged gracefully,” according to organizers.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Bronies are dudes (bros) who are really into My Little Pony, specifically the cartoon TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Their annual convention has drawn more than 4000 enthusiasts to New York in recent years, but this year it’s coming to Baltimore instead. Will you attend?
You know how every summer, the Inner Harbor suddenly fills with people dressed as if they wished there was a way to actually live inside a video game? That’s thanks to Otakon, the anime/manga/video game/nerd conference that’s been held in Baltimore since 1999 — and which happened to pump $15 million into the local economy last year. No longer content to confine their fandom to a summer weekend, the folks behind Otakon have planned the first-ever Otakon Music Festival, which is set to descend on Baltimore the first weekend in November, and which will feature “Anime song supergroup JAM PROJECT.” Um, we pretty much can’t wait.
Have a penchant for people-watching? Looking for a cheap thrill? This weekend the Inner Harbor may be the place for you, as Otakon, the convention for fans of anime, manga, video games, and all things Asian pop culture, takes over the Baltimore Convention Center starting Friday morning.
If you don’t mind the heat, you can score a couple hours of free entertainment as you watch fans in (sometimes quite elaborate) costumes enter and exit the Convention Center. But, unless you’re one of the cognoscenti, don’t expect to recognize any of the characters being portrayed.
The name Otakon is short for “otaku convention,” otaku being a Japanese word of dubious connotation used in English to label obsessive fans of Japanese movies, comics, and video games.
The annual gathering has been held in Baltimore since 1999, with over 20,000 in attendance every year, and growing. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, Otakon 2010 piped over $15 million into the local economy.