I first heard about Otakon when I was at Sakura Matsuri in D.C. Being relatively new to anime, I was excited to attend.
The metro had construction, so I decided to take a Lyft. My driver was an anime fan, who was even more excited than me to see all the cosplay! As soon as I stepped out of the car, a cute girl dressed as a bee ran up to me (I’m sure a popular anime character I haven’t met yet), exclaiming how much she loved my Dera shirt (Redbubble). We bonded over our love of Tamako Market, how he was my spirit animal, and how funny his character was. Having made my first friend I was even more excited to enter Otakon.
The line outside of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center at 11ish on Friday was long, but there were friendly staff with signs clearly indicating where the end was, and the line moved quickly. You could feel the excitement from the crowd as we eagerly stood in line. There was a very muscular and very attractive Shoto Todoroki in front of me, but I did my very best to be a classy lady.
After bag check, I headed to another line, a much longer one, to pick up my badge. I had my email confirmation on my phone and ID ready. As a precaution for lost badges, there was this sign:
Hear that Todoroki-kun?! Write your real name on your badge lol.
Also, give me your real name and your real phone number haha. Just kidding. Mostly.
Being an Empath I find large crowds overwhelming. Attending Otakon on Friday, instead of Saturday, helped but self-awareness was key during the line for badges. It was a well organized line, but it was long, crowded, and the attendee behind me did not know about personal space and even tried to barge ahead when the girl in front of me paused a moment for a photo (we had only moved one foot, so we weren’t missing much). Kindly telling him it would be just one moment, he relented.
Another thing that helped tremendously, was visualizing white light entering from my crown and raiding out and enveloping my aura. I no longer felt annoyed or encroached by his energy. And he also left my personal space. Intention, body language, and awareness helped me. I used this later when I was on floor with the vendors and there was a large crowd.
I was handed a bag upon check-in. It had my Friday badge with an orange Crunchyroll lanyard, Schedule Companion, Otaku Study Guide, Program Guide, and an Awesome Sheet of Awesomeness (directory and program highlights).
At the top of the stairs, at the event entrance, there were two dancing Pikachus posing for photos and other characters ready to welcome all the Otakon attendees. Unfortunately I thought I could come back to take a photo with them, but alas, even Pikachu needs a break.
Hoping to find some anime dvds I followed the crowd to the Dealers Room. While I couldn’t find everything on my list, I did find a few! And I got a shirt.
There were rooms playing anime. I went into the first room, the lights were dim, and it was pretty full but still there were plenty of seating. I watched part of Poppy’s Hill, and the beginning of Penguin Highway. Staff from Eleven Arts greeted us before Penguin Highway, and asked a few questions to the crowd. One lucky film watcher, who followed them on social media, even got a free dvd of the movie!
I would’ve watched more of the film, but I felt antsy like I needed to get up. Wandering down the hall I heard karaoke and saw other events going on. But one room caught my eye in particular.
Not being particularly creative, I didn’t think this room would appeal to me. But now that I stood right in front of it, I could feel peace and calm radiating from this room, and everyone looked so happy. I had to go in. There were folks sitting at round tables working on various projects. You could sit wherever, and people were happy to say hi and chat. The staff was friendly and were there to assist if we needed help conceptualizing our ideas. They even had a wheel if you were stuck for ideas. Tons of materials were available for us to use for our projects; scissors, hot glue guns, cardboard, markers, crayons, ribbons, paint, felt, and so much more! It was extremely well organized. And there was a wide variety of origami paper if you felt inclined. I really enjoyed myself and I felt rejuvenated when I left. I decided to make an EMA. (No I don’t think it’s a coincidence EMA is also the abbreviation for the blog Empath Meets Anime lol).
Feeling renewed, I decided to go back to the Dealer’s Room and finish browsing the other half. I found Kamisama Kiss, Season 1, at a great price so I was happy. I ate some delicious and spicy Caribbean food, and made two new friends, Kathy and Stephanie who were in town from PA. The mom told me about older animes I should check out (even mentioned one my sister likes called Nightwalker). They’d gone to Otakon every year. I think it’s awesome that it’s a fun event mom and daughter can bond over. Her daughter was dressed as Shoto Todoroki (maybe I should watch My Hero Academia, it seems to be a sign!)
I love how passionate and excited people are when discussing their love of anime.
The Lyft ride after Otakon granted me wonderful views of the sky and it made me appreciate what a great experience I had. Afterwards, I went to a Starbucks and the cashier saw my shirt and lanyard and exclaimed how excited she was Otakon was this weekend. Later at dinner, I presented my friend with the Umaru-chan stress doll I bought her. Umaru-chan looked happier than me at the prospect of a yummy dinner!
I had an amazing time at Otakon, and I look forward to going again in the future!