I didn't take that many pictures after Otakon '03, and originally didn't bother posting them. What follows is a text recap I e-mailed my peeps soon after the convention, interspersed with some of the better pictures that did emerge. Although I tend to rank it low on my favorite con experiences (which say more for the others than it does about this one), it was my first trip to the east coast and thusly added West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland to my list of "visited" states, with New Jersey, New York and Delaware added the following year (if you count Delaware as a state, of course). Furthermore, while ACen was big, this was my first *huge* con. Meeting Rica Matsumoto and experiencing Camden Yards were definite pluses.

Where the geek seek to kill a week... end.

If you caught my ACen adventure, you'll remember Nick, and the adventure he had getting from Milwaukee to Chicago. Well... for Otakon it was only him and I, and it's from Milwaukee to Baltimore. Fun, fun, fun. First he underestimates the amount of time it will take. Then he forgets to account for the time zone difference. We were supposed to meet the guys we were rooming with (a "who's who" of fansubbers) at 10:00 in the morning. He said we'd arrive at about 7:00, giving us enough buffer time to account for traffic and parking...

We pulled in at 11:30. And that's only because I drove from Indianapolis to Wheeling at 80 mph. Incidentally, this was also my first time driving a stick shift. That's part of the adventure I'd rather not get into. 

There's the Ravens' home in the background Eh, I could hit it from here... golfing.

The convention center is very nice, and right across the street from Camden Yards, home of the Orioles. So *that's* what's on the other side of the warehouse!!

I don't care if I'm able-bodied, I want one!

Friday was basically a blur, spent recovering from the trip (my driving shift was from midnight to six, and by the time I was done, it was a misty morning in the Appalachians- a sight you don't want to miss). I did recover in time to catch the MAT3K event (the victim: Crusher Joe- an eyecatch every five minutes or your pizza's free) and the AMV contest (Nick snuck me into row four). Only two of my five choices won (a dramatic Trigun video and an... interesting CCS video by
DDP), but there was only one winner that I thought wasn't deserving (sappy Escaflowne romance... :P).

Love Tropicana!

Saturday- usual "we're taking over the world and there's nothing you can do to stop it" BS from the ADV guys. I'll give them one thing- they know how to turn fanboys on. Screened their dub of Angelic Layer- Misaki's voice was acceptible (she sounded annoying in Japanese too). Itchan's voice was not. They didn't license Jungle Guu. Damn.

Now you see her... What a clever disguise!

Went to catch the end of Kare Kano after that. They showed two episodes and pre-screened Comic Party. I stuck around. Didn't regret it- I discounted CP much too early. It gets interesting, and the dub is... well it's better than Angelic Layer!

As is my normal policy, I showed up for the masquerade five minutes before it began. After being herded through the winding line (the "labyrinth of meditation" as I said to one of the ushers), it was a semi-disappointing show, except for a great action sequence by a bunch of guys who just used Battle Royale as an excuse to do their mad fighting demonstration. Of course, I don't really get a big kick out of the masquerades anyway. Didn't attend the one at ACen 2k3; didn't regret it.

A little love for Meiling, please

In the midst of all this, I did meet up with readers Jon Hubbard and Joe Klemm. Sad to say, Joe and I have "This is Otakudom" memorized, and we were bugging the hell out of everybody around us as we proved it during the screening.

Yes, Maro-chan's up there somewhere.

That night, we found out that we had accidentally reserved the main guest suite at our hotel, making our party really interesting (we even had bartenders show up unexpectedly and serve drinks). I didn't drink much- the only thing more fun than being drunk is being sober and watching drunks make idiots of themselves. People were passing out all over, and the ones who had to drag them out of the way were also piss drunk. Fun!

Sunday- Rica Matsumoto! Best known as the voice of Satoshi on Pokémon (you know, the main character). I stopped in, primarily to see how she came across to a fanbase who had pretty much dismissed Pokemon as crap years ago. Very entertaining girl. She's knows she's good, and she isn't modest about it. She got an impromptu request to perform the opening theme song (which she sings, if you didn't know). Unbelievably, she had a copy of the song on CD (you know, just in case), but the staff didn't have a CD player available. So she performs the opening theme song to Pokémon, a cappella, to a bunch of anime fans- and the majority don't like Pokémon. She brought the house down. It was the official highlight of the con for me.

Throw away your life for justice- buy ADV!

Next up was the industry panel. I showed up mostly to inquire about positions in ADR writing. So after the panel I go up to talk to ADV despot Matt Greenfield. Guess who's there!! This time, since I was about to talk to Matt, I didn't even acknowledge Tiffany Grant (Greenfield's wife), until she walked up to me.

"I remember you!!"

I believe I started crying... mentally at least. I did ask my question, but didn't get much of an answer. I don't know if it's considered good or bad to have Asuka's voice actress recognizing me.

Chromus, I want my money back!

Ah yes- purchases. Spent way too much money this time. I blame $100 of it on Chromus (Fushigi Yuugi OAV and first 2 vols of Ai Yori Aoshi). Also finished off my collection of FLCL and Gatekeepers 21, and continued my Battle Royale manga collection. All Grim Reality jokes aside, I can't stress enough how good that manga is.

We left early Sunday afternoon, continuing the epic adventures of my stick shift driving. We were so zonked out by the party that the ride back was quite difficult. Although word to the wise- never get off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Ever. Along with that, here's the ultimate lesson of the trip-

Breezewood, Pennsylvania is a vortex to hell.