[Con Report] Otakon ’18 ~ Word Up

Otakon 2018 took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC from August 10 to August 12, but many attendees were there on Day Zero (Thursday) as well. As usual, badge pick-up at Otakon was a breeze! They had a Press booth in the registration area, so that’s where I went to grab my badge for the weekend. Staff was very friendly, and even gave me some recommendations for nearby food. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to try any of those food places during the weekend. In the spirit of saving time (and not walking in the humid heat), I ate at the convention center or at the Marriott Marquis sports bar & restaurant (High Velocity) throughout the weekend. I actually ate at High Velocity for dinner every night I was at the con.
When I was people-watching in the convention lobby on Thursday evening before a photoshoot I had scheduled, I met a cosplayer who was visiting from Rio, Brazil! We had an amazing discussion and an impromptu interview that she said was fine to post to Scarlet Rhapsody. Her name is Natsumi Louise, and it was her first time not only at an American convention, but also her first time in the United States! She’s been a cosplayer for 9 years, and a professional cosplayer for 4 years. She enjoys all aspects of her cosplay life, from crafting props to modeling in photoshoots to interacting with her fans on Patreon. Before Otakon, she mostly attended conventions in Rio and explained some of the differences she already noticed between Brazilian conventions and American conventions. It was an awesome conversation, and I think that’s one special thing about Otakon: it’s a big con, but still has small-con-vibes in terms of meeting new people.
On Friday, two of my roommates and I were all planning on cosplaying from Bungou Stray Dogs, so it worked out. All three of us were also squished into the same bed in the hotel room, so we were joking that we were the Bungou Bed crew! I tried to make it to the Effective Merch Collecting panel at 9am that morning, but got stuck in a line at Starbucks and got a bit lost trying to find the panel room. I made it there at the end, so I wasn’t able to attend the actual panel, but I heard there were many good tips shared about shopping for merch in Japan as well as in the USA, online and in-person. Grace has tons of experience with buying merchandise, so I definitely recommend checking out her panels at future cons if you are a collector or simply want some anime merch shopping tips!
From 2pm to 3pm, I attended the official Bungou Stray Dogs Photoshoot which was in the Photoshoot 2 area. I have no sense of direction, so I was grateful to the maps in the Otakon guide (Guidebook app) as well as in-person large maps around the con that helped me find my way. The clearly placed Information Desk at the con was very helpful too when I needed to find a specific location. At the photoshoot, the host was cosplaying as a genderbent version of Chuuya and we went through the basic photos of group photos with everyone, by character, by groups, and by ships. It was a chill and fun shoot that wasn’t too crowded, but had a good number of both cosplayers as well as fans and photographers. At the end, I especially enjoyed the group dabbing photo and other silly meme-worthy photos!
On Friday night, I attended the OtakuRave dance for a bit. I didn’t stay too long since I was exhausted from the long day and knew I had to be up early for the fashion show check-in on Saturday morning. From the time I was at the OtakuRave though, it was fun! I was there during two different DJ’s sets and one of the DJs said it was his first time DJing at Otakon after applying for several years, so I was really happy for him! The music was fun: there was a lot of electronic music mixed with some anime music you would expect, as well as some American classics and oldies remixed. The floor near the DJ was the most crowded, but there were less crowded spaces to dance in farther away from the main stage, so you can choose to dance wherever you’re most comfortable. I also appreciated the water stations! Make sure you stay hydrated if you go.
Saturday was the day of the fashion show, so this took up most of my day. After the morning check-in, I waited in the dressing room for the designer to arrive so we could try on our looks and made sure they fit. The backstage area used as the models’ dressing room and waiting room was crowded, but staff was really nice about bringing in more tables and chairs, providing water, and supplying us with things like light-up mirrors and makeup wipes and wig brushes.
I modeled for MonsterEnvy, and was super excited when I saw what she had me wear: a floor length red dress with a black overlay piece. It was my first time modeling a floor length dress; before this show, I had only modeled tea length or shorter. We had one dress rehearsal on the stage to music, and then a break for lunch. Me and my friend who was also modeling, Sarah, went to grab lunch from the Dealer’s Room so we could also check that out while we ate lunch. We got lunch from one of the convention center food spots, and then realized after that there were even more convention center food options in the room — lots of kiosks, stands, etc. Before returning to the dressing room, Sarah and I were able to do purikura quickly! There was a line, but the line moved pretty fast (probably due to the speedy photo-taking timer!). Purikura photo booths are super fun, but the short times allotted for selecting photo backgrounds and posing for photos can be stressful.
The line for attending the Otakon fashion show began at 3pm, but the actual fashion show started at 4pm and ended at 5:30pm. For Monster Envy’s lineup, there were four models in total. Michelle, the designer for Monster Envy, told us about the dream she had that inspired her lineup for the show. Three of us were dressed as the monster/demon girls who were chasing the maiden in the bloody white dress from her dream. It was a cool and creepy concept, and I loved the guro lolita style for the maiden in white. After the show, Michelle gave each of us a Monster Envy goody bag to take home with a thank you note. That was super sweet of her! I bumped into her later at Otakon when she had her child with her too.
Later that night, after dinner, I checked out the Video Game room. I tried playing the Korean game Pump It Up for the first time, but didn’t realize what it was until I was actually there on the platform. I thought I was in line for Dance Dance Revolution (oops…). The line took a long time; it didn’t look that long, but a lot of people played games solo or played multiple games with different friends. I was impressed watching them dance, but somehow didn’t notice it was not DDR… I failed epically since I kept thinking it was DDR and stepping in the wrong places by accident. It was fun though, and I got to dance to k-pop!
After my failure at Pump It Up, I went to the panel Girls Loving Girls Loving Girls after midnight. It was my first time attending a Yuri panel! The panelist, Skylar, presented many great yuri recommendations: both anime and manga. Some of them were on my to-read list, some I had watched or read, but some titles were things I never even heard of. I am happy that there is more yuri out there than I thought! She even shouted out Love Live!
After that panel, I went to see the D.C. Gurly Show, a cosplay burlesque show. I missed the first two or three acts since there was a bit of an overlap with the Yuri panel, but I was able to watch most of the show. From Saitama (One Punch Man) to Princess Leia (Star Wars) to Lust (Fullmetal Alchemist), there were a variety of characters represented. Toward the end of the show, the host took anime recommendations from the audience. I waved my hands wildly because I really wanted to recommend Daiya no Ace to everyone! I thought I wouldn’t be picked, but toward the end of this segment of the show, the host did choose me. I was able to recommend Daiya no Ace / Ace of the Diamond, and she even said she’s sold after I said two words: “Gay Baseball.” I’m not going to lie; that was probably one of my highlights of the con. The burlesque show was so much fun!
Sunday was my shortest day at the con since I wasn’t there for very long. In the morning, I had a quick photoshoot in the Marriott Marquis lobby. This hotel lobby is gorgeous and was a popular photoshoot spot throughout the con. I also went to the Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley for a bit before I had to leave. Hope to see you next year, Otakon!

Written by Li Mei | IG: @pearlpeony | Tumblr: @xiaorawr | Twitter: @treizemacarons

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