Otakon, 2013 Review: Full (And Finally)!

This is long overdue, but unfortunately I just don’t really have anything to tell you all.  Otakon 2013 was pleasant, if not overwhelming.  As you know my last convention review, Tekkoshocon Pittsburgh 2012, was relatively negative.  Otakon didn’t have any real serious issues to bring up.

Everything went fairly smoothly, the only real issues were a few line-building issues around the panels based in the attached Hotel; which the Otakon people really had no control over.  All of the line issues were architectural, too; the wall where the line had to be formed had a double door every ten feet so the line was broken up twelve times before it wrapped around the corner.

Other than that, though, the only real problem was that there were over 30,000 people traipsing about so it was crowded from time to time in the hallways.  And once again the biggest choke point was the corridor between the convention center and the hotel where a few panels were being held.

Highlights were the Voice Actors After Dark panel, of course, and the Cosplay Burlesque was actually pretty cool to watch, too.  The VA After Dark panel was comprised of Todd Haberkorn, Mike McFarland, Jad Saxton (pronounced like Jade, a recurring joke was calling her something akin to Chad), Cristina Vee, and Kyle Hebert.  This was the second time we’ve seen Todd Haberkorn and he was entertaining, and a little creepy, as usual.  Mike McFarland was very entertaining as Seth MacFarlane since he did several very good impressions of the man’s characters (Peter, Stewie, and Brian Griffin).  Cristina Vee and Jad Saxton were both a little too cutesy and seemed out of their element for much of the dirty humor contained within the panel, but they got a few good lines nonetheless.  Kyle Hebert walked in half way through the panel and jumped right into things as if he’d been there the whole time; definitely a natural to the dirty mind platform the panel required.

But the real star of the VA After Dark show was the Sign Language guy, Semaj, who just made the whole experience twice as fun as it already was.  He was a spectacular sport, especially considering the dirty things they made him sign.

Another highlight was Crispin Freeman’s Mythology in Anime panel.  On his website he lists a few similar types of panels he runs and I think, honestly, you could just have a Crispin Mythcon and enjoy it.  Just Crispin Freeman lecturing for two days straight; he’s entertaining, informative, and he puts complex philosophical points in a very simple context that even laymen can understand.  Trust me, I understood it all, so a regular person should be fine.

That hair is mythological enough.

That hair is mythological enough.

We saw Vic Mignogna, pleasant as always although he can get a little preachy at times and some of the things he says makes it seem like he lives in a bubble, but he’s still a very nice man and is probably one of the most fan-dedicated Voice Actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to (I’m really not sure how he has time to record anything, he’s at just about every con I’ve ever been to).  His main drawback, more so than the preachiness, is that he refuses to share the location of his fountain of youth.

Look at him...he's in his fifties!

Seriously!  Look at him…he’s in his fifties!

I’m still not sure entirely how, but we managed to miss every one of Maile Flanagan’s panels, if you can believe it.  Just bad timing on our parts.

And what seems to be a regular motif with any of my convention reviews…

Our favorite place to eat while in Baltimore was Mount Vernon Pizza.  It was right down the street from our hotel, the staff was friendly, and the food was really good.  Some pretty good coupon deals, too.



Otakon 2013: Hotels!

All right, so the weekend was pretty busy and although I did get the wireless to work somewhat (I wound up connecting to the 3rd floor’s wireless instead of the 4th floor’s to get it to work) I found myself unable to find enough time at the hotel to actually do any pertinent updates besides…

“Going to bed, I are teh sleepiness!”


“Oh god, the Cheesecake Factory has poisoned me with deliciousness!”

This should be the Cheesecake Factory's motto.

This should be the Cheesecake Factory’s motto.

So instead of an actual update/review of Otakon itself, let us first talk about Hotels.  I went for a simple little hotel called the Rodeway Inn on St. Paul Street in Baltimore.  It wasn’t a very fancy room but it had all of the amenities you need on a trip: Comfy bed, several power outlets, a shower, a toilet, towels, a coffee maker (which we didn’t even use), and a few non-essentials that we enjoyed such as the forlorn Wi-Fi internet and a complimentary continental breakfast every morning.

I paid roughly $250 for four nights.  If you don’t include the sleeping we did in the room, we spent a total of about six hours in the hotel in those four days.

A few friends of ours who also went to Otakon were being organized by one of their group, we’ll call him Tom.  Tom has different motivations than I do.  My motivations are very utilitarian: I need a place to sleep, shower, and poop; if I get food and internet out of the deal that’s extra-fantastic.  I don’t care if the room has its own kitchen, or if the bathroom has a tub, or if the hotel has a pool that I’m never going to use.  I want the cheapest assembly of the things I need, with a minor emphasis on my hotel being within walking distance to my destination (i.e. the Baltimore Convention Center).

Tom, on the other hand, has very different motivations in mind.  His motivations are very materialistic and egotistical.  Tom’s motivations in life are material goods and esteem; in other words he wants nice things and the admiration of his peers.

He got a two-room suite, with a kitchen, in a hotel that had a pool, a fitness center, laundry services, and a sauna.  He also skipped half of the convention to practice his routine for the Masquerade: Something where he would be up on stage in front of everyone.  And after the fact he acted rather coldly to us when we managed to find some time to get together because we had decided to go to something else we found more interesting than the masquerade; so we didn’t get to see him and slather him in the attention he so desired.

Now I told you about Tom to make you understand his motivations in Hotel choice.  He stayed at the Embassy Suites on St. Paul Street.  He stayed in a room with three other people, and each person paid $150 for three nights.  That’s a $600 room for three nights.  I paid $250 for four nights.  We both had complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi (that didn’t want to work), we both had 1 bed and a desk, we both had two chairs in our room, but he had a pull-out sofa.

Tom is also a totally different personality than myself.  I plan things out, everything I do.  I pre-registered for Otakon and got my hotel in March, I got my bus tickets in June (and that was just because I had to arrange my schedule with somebody else to drop me off at the bus station so I didn’t have to park my car in a $13 a day garage).

Tom waited until a couple weeks before Otakon to book his hotel and didn’t even pre-register.  So he paid $80 a ticket, $600 for a room, and then skipped half of the convention; he also paid $45 for a one-way Greyhound bus ticket to Baltimore.  I, for the record, paid $70 per pass into Otakon, and $48 for a round-trip bus ticket on Greyhound.

He paid for a fitness center he never used, a sauna he didn’t use, and a pool that he didn’t use.  If I wanted to work out I would have just walked to the convention center instead of taking the free shuttle buses that went right passed my hotel (Charm City Circulator, a wonderful thing for tourists!).  If I wanted to swim I would have paid a taxi to take me to a local neighborhood public pool (and still saved money).  And if I wanted a sauna…I would have just not used the AC in Baltimore.


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