Otakon 2013 – Opening Ceremonies

Japan is a culture that enjoys the new while celebrating the old. For a Japanime con like Otakon, it is natural that we’ll have a bit of ‘tradition’ at the party amongst the new anime, manga, game and music. With their roots in Okinawa, Maryland’s own Chin Hamaya Culture Center graced us with a shishimai aka. lion dance, a fan dance and taiko drumming with a gangnam style twist. To the cheers of the crowd, the dances are truly a mixing of cultures, old and new with young teens of various ethnic backgrounds and age, coming together for fun and love for the art.

Since I was late to the party, I missed the fun part…but I did get to see this.

O.o Why is Todd Haberkorn in a Superman outfit?!? I feel like I just missed a crowning moment of awesome. Oh well….

When I entered, author Fushimi Tsukasa-sensei for Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai aka. Oreimo was speaking.

    Tsukasa: We brought the final episodes of Oreimo which we will be showing next door in the HD theater. I hope everyone can come to enjoy the screening.

    Adachi: Hello, I’m the character designer for Sword Art Online, Adachi Shingo. I hear that the English dub of Sword Art Online is here at Otakon. I haven’t seen it myself, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the dub came out. Currently, I’m shaving off precious sleep every day to create this anime. I hear alot of anime fans in the States enjoy watching Sword Art Online. I hope you enjoy it and if anyone hasn’t discovered SAO yet, I hope this will your opportunity to see it. I hear that we are also doing a Sword Art Online panel so if you have any questions about the story or about any new works that are ahead, please come and join in the discussion.

    Kawakami: *in English* Hello, everybody! *audience replies* I also work on Sword Art Online with Adachi Shingo. My name is Kawakami Tetsuya. I’m here and I see first hand the fanpower of the cosplay and the enthusiasm, energy and I’m very impressed. There is plenty to enjoy here at Otakon, including Oreimo as well as SAO so I’m planning to have fun today.

Ishikawa Chikai-san.

Right, Director Tachikawa Yuruzu-san and left, Yomiuri Producer Suwa Michihiko-san.

    Roland Kelts: Konnichiwa! I first came to Otakon 2 years ago and it is great to be back for the 20th anniversary. And I have to say the people who put this together Jim and his crew are very wonderful and it was one of the great reasons to be here. The people who organized this really take good care of us, we all agree that and that they really care about what they’re doing here. If you can spare a second and give them a round of applause to the people who make Otakon happen! *audience applauds* I wrote a book called ‘Japanamerica’ which is about the trans-cultural exchange about Japan and America and Japan and the rest of the world. We’re doing a panel tomorrow afternoon about anime and the online industry. So everything about fansites and Crunchyroll, to the new websites coming out of Japan to streaming anime. That will be tomorrow at 2:30 and sunday, I’ll be doing a panel about post-apocalyptic anime called ‘Anime after the Quake’ so I hope you’ll come by. Also, I do a column for a paper called the Japan Times, This time, I’m doing the column about the ‘Inside of Otakon’. What happens inside of anime conventions in the United States. So if you want to be quoted, come up and talk to me. Please come to the panels and get quoted! Thank you very much!

    Christina: Hello! My name is Christina Vee and I’m a voice over actor. I’m Riven the Exile in League of Legends, I’m Homura Akemi in Madoka Magica, Mio Akiyama in K-ON!. Currently directing the voice over for Skullgirls and I play Cerebella in that. I’m actually here to help promote the Otakon the video game. I play Hiroko the mascot. So I’ll be at all the ‘Crisis Hearts Brawlers’ panels so I hope to see you there!

    Kyle Hebert: Hi, everybody! Awesome! This is my very first Otakon, really excited to be here. I’ll run through a few quick credits. *announcer voice* Dragon Ball Z! *switching to voices* Sosuke Aizen on Bleach, Kiba Naruto. Shoryuken! Ryu on Street Fighter and ‘Wreck It Ralph’. I’m super happy to here guys. Thank you very much!

    Micah: Hello, guys! “I’ve got 99 souls, but a witch ain’t one.” *fans scream* Soul Evans from Soul Eater. Awesome! How many of you heard of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time or Summer Wars? Well, we’re premiering the English dub of Wolf Children. It’s amazing, isn’t it? You guys should come! 7 o’clock tomorrow night premiere. It will be me, Jad and Mike Farland, the director. We’ll hang out, watch some anime and have a good time! Sound good to you? *fans cheer* I knew I could trust you!

    Jad: You took my spiel! Hey guys! I’m Jad Saxton, I’m one of the other wolf children and we’re really excited. Mike McFarland saids to say ‘hi’ to you all! We’re really excite to present that to you tomorrow night. We hope to see all of you guys there. It’s a really beautiful film. Thank you so much from coming out!

    Crispin: *announcer voice* Good afternoon, Otakon! My name is Crispin Freeman. I’m happy to be here with you guys. My first Otakon was 1999, Some of you may not have been born…we don’t know. *audience laughs* It’s a pleasure to be here with you guys. I’ll be having an autograph session later today at 3 o’clock. For those of you that may be interested, I’m doing my big anime mythology panel tomorrow, saturday at 4:45. It’s a fantastic presentation. You can think of it as a standup comedy routine where you learn something. There will be video and slides and all sorts of cool stuff. So that’s happening in the Hilton at 4:45 tomorrow. I’ll also be doing Q&A panels and autographs tomrorow as well. It’s a pleasure to see you all here and it’s wonderful to be back at Otakon. Thanks so much for having me!

    Vic: Hello, Otakon! *audience cheers* You guys are very lucky, this is one of the greatest conventions in the country. I missed being here and I’m so excited to be back. And I’m so excited to be standing next to Maile Flanagan. *fanboyed* I love her so much! *audience awwws* We all got alot of events this weekend: autograph sessions and Q&A sessions so please check your schedule. There are alot of great things to see in Baltimore, but I only came for one reason…and that is to see you. So come and see me this weekend, come to events and say hello. I look forward to meeting as many of you as humanly possible. Thanks so much!

    Maile: I’m going to wrap things up with a Taylor Swift medley-now. *audience laughs* I’m Maile Flanagan. I play Naruto-Believe it! *audience cheers* I’m excited to see you guys at some of our panels.

They introduced a surprise guest…via video.

Secretive as always, the video featured the voice with face hidden of Watsuki Nobuhiro-sensei, the creator of Rurouni Kenshin and his cat. He remarked about how he was unable to attend Otakon and instead, sent his original art pieces as a special show. The first ever Kenshin art exhibit in the States. The MC commented about him never showing his face. “Perhaps if send his wife home with lovely tales of how well he was received here, we can convince him otherwise. We’ll see.” His wife, novelist, Kurosaki Kaoru-sensei came in his stead.

    Kurosaki: Minna-san, konnichiwa! *audience replied with ‘konnichiwa’, and one with ‘kawaii’* Thank you! As you have just seen on the video, Mr. cat-on-lap-like-Dr. Evil, my husband Watsuki. I’m his wife, Kurosaki Kaoru. Starting today, we’re showing an exhibit of original Rurouni Kenshi genga, manga manuscripts here at the art show at Otakon. I bought 130 pages of genga with me: it was very heavy. This is the first genga exhibit that Watsuki will be doing and it’s a first for Otakon as well. It’s a first for me so I’m very nervous. *audience applauds* I also brought the live action Rurouni Kenshin movie which will be screened here at Otakon. Also, my husband Watsuki drew original art for the Otakon charity auction. He will be contributing one piece of art for everyone to bid on. *in English* Thank you!

The MC noted some guests who aren’t present including Yoshida Toshifumi who is part of Bandai Entertainment amongst others. After the guests, the Chairperson of Otakon of the last 20 years (the ones that could appear,) stepped on stage.

To be able to pull together a convention that is second in size to Anime Expo is truly an accomplishment in itself. And for those that decide to chair twice in their lifetime…. *applauds* It truly was an opening ceremonies worthy of 20th anniversary. 2013 President Andy Earhardt stepped onstage to address the attendees.

    Andy: For some of the audience, there has never been a world without Otakon. This might be your first or your fifth or your fifteenth or for a special crazy number of you, your twentieth. There are a few other there. Over the 20 years, a few special individuals have stepped up to lead this organization. Over the last years we had great leaders to lead this organization of Otakon that we love. Each year, new challenges arise. And each year, the staff, president and con chair go through these challenges not unlike the way the troops are led through the battlefield. To commemorate the bond that all the individuals share make Otakorp the organization that it is today, I present to you the challenge coin. There is a ‘president challenge coin’ and the ‘con chair challenge coin’. Please give a round of applause for the con chairs throughout the years! *audience applauds loudly*