Otaku USA Magazine
Otakon’s Craziest Deaths

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You might not guess it from reading our humble magazine, but Otaku USA is staffed by a bunch of rebel ne’er-do-wells. Last weekend three of us broke some of the toughest laws around – the laws of Otakon. Otakon 2009 was the year we all got busted.

We weren’t doing it on purpose. Daryl only meant to entertain with his “Anime’s Craziest Deaths Panel”. It was called off after just 10 minutes due to complaints about sexual content.

Otakon2009OtakuUSA - 16-mDavid Riley only wanted to meet podcast listeners at his Artist Alley table. He meant no harm drawing on the disposable plastic tablecloth. Otakon staffers harangued him for wasting his $80 and not bringing any art. Later, when Dave’s podcast partner Joel White showed up, they got busted for being “too loud.” Those good old boys just have deep radio voices, but I guess that’s just a little bit more than the law will allow.

My intentions were good when I loaned another freelance writer my hushand’s press ribbon. I broke the Otakon laws, and I totally got caught. I think everything was set straight in the end.

It was my first year as press, and maybe I didn’t do some of the things I should have… things like showing up on time to the press orientation (since when do the Chinatown buses drop you off at Cherry Hill?!), or going to the individual guests’ press conferences. Maybe it’s different at other cons, but Otakon is serious business. They take attendance at press conferences, and your privileges next year are based on “…records of who showed up for requested interviews and press conferences, and other performance factors, when we make determinations next year about conferring press credentials.”

All I wanted to do was interview Fred Schodt (and/or Trish Ledoux) but none of my interview requests were filled. Thanks to my own shenanigans, I’ll be lucky to get a press badge at all next year.

I spent most of the con hanging out with Anime World Order, and they got a 10-minute interview with Schodt, which is pretty much just as good as if I got it. I can’t wait to hear the audio.

The rest of the time I was glued to my Artist Alley table, trying to break even on T-shirt sales. There was trouble behind the scenes at Artist Alley and many seating requests went unfulfilled due to a last minute change in management. My Gothic Lolita friend and I would have covered each other’s tables if we were next to each other but we couldn’t, so bathroom breaks were hard to come by.

Otakon2009OtakuUSA - 36-mHere is my totally unscientific data on the popularity of certain titles at Otakon based on cosplay and AMV content:

^ Gurren Lagann
^ Hetalia: Axis Powers
^ Shugo Chara!
^ K-On!
^ Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler

v Death Note
v Naruto
v Bleach
v Kingdom Hearts

According to the dealers I spoke with, sales in the dealer’s room were about the same as last year or better. Attendance at the con was also about the same as last year. Gerald Hogan of Trilogy Shop said Death Note was his top selling title, with Berserk right behind it.

The Kinokuniya booth had two big crates of Hetalia books (in Japanese) open near the aisle. Hetalia is also displayed prominently in the New York store. Manager Shingo Nozaki told me Kinokuniya sold around 100 copies of Hetalia at Anime Central and Anime Expo. “I guess everyone likes that title,” Nozumi said.

The weird thing about Hetalia‘s popularity is that you get girls dressed like boys dressed like Nazis carrying huge flags around the convention.

If I learned one thing at Otakon this year, it was that not enough people have seen Satoshi Kon’s Paprika. It may be his finest film yet, people! The DVD came out two years ago and you can pick it up for $12. You should all be as cool as Ada Palmer, writing invoices for a million yen while cosplaying as Black Jack and handling Fred Schodt’s panels while you simultaneously write your own book about Osamu Tezuka. Ada totally knows about Paprika.

A teenage girl wearing cat ears stopped by my Artist Alley table with her mother as I was about to pack up on Sunday. They wanted to know what a “weeaboo” was, because it was on my T-shirt and button designs. Earlier in the weekend, the mom wanted to get a picture with a bear-suit character, and her daughter had to yell, “No, mom! Get away! That’s Pedobear!” The girl looked too young to be reading 4chan.

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