Otakon 2016: The 1st Day

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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine…)

There’s a touch of trepidation in the air after the phrase “I’m going to Baltimore”. High profile, racially charged incidents has sullied the reputation of the nicknamed “Charm City”. The industrial blue collar town, 40 miles from the nation’s capital is a city on edge, as seen in the riots of 2015 and the protests of 2016. Yet, even if the contentious attitudes towards the city’s officials aren’t universally shared, everyone in town can agree that it was freaking hot out. The combination of sun and stifling humidity turned Baltimore into a sauna. The high temperature was 96, very close to a record, but had a heat index of well over 100. As I arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) this afternoon, none of the world’s problems mattered.  The late summer tradition is once again upon us as Otakon weekend begins today. 

Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)

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I’ve attended Otakon since 2013 and the most exciting/anticipated aspect of the con is the costume role-playing also known as cosplay. Though Otakon is geared toward the amine, members come dressed as their favourite TV, Video Game and anime personalities. Even as I type in the press lounge, to my left is a woman affiliated with Team Rocket, reimagined as a biker gang. To my right is a member of the Red Lantern Corp. Expert cosplayers do more than play dress up. They seemingly transform into their characters, which could be really great if you’re a Gundam or slightly annoying if you’re Deadpool. The lengths cosplayers go through to perfect their craft is admirable, making it a must see attraction every year. 

Aside from general walking the convention space, hunting for the best costumes, there are scheduled photo shoots at several locations throughout the convention center. Photoshoots are ongoing through the length of the con and can are usually pretty awesome. Popular shows such as Naruto, Hunter X Hunter, One Punch Man and DragonBall have shoots throughout the weekend. I’m excited for Sailor Moon, Kingdom Hearts and Gundam shoots but the weekend is always packed with surprises.

Street Fighting Man

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A match in Marvel vs Capcom 3

Between running to different photo shoots, I had to make time for the Video Game Room. It’s an opportunity for gamers to show their skills in a public, competitive setting. Hall A is designated for all things gaming, but not limited to consoles. One side of the hall is dedicated to tabletop games, another side is for stand up arcades, while the center of the hall were filled with rows of console games. All of the popular multiplayer titles were present; lots of fighting games such as Mortal Kombat XL, Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear Xrd had long waits for gameplay. There were the occasional outbursts from all corners of the hall but none were louder for a very peculiar game. 

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Cho Chabudai Gaeshi (Super Table Flip) is a game where you flip a small circular dinner table knowns as a chabudai.  The game presents a few scenarios such as a wedding reception, an office or at home. You pound on the table at times for combos then when you can’t stand anymore you blow your top and flip the table. The table goes flying and the further it goes, more points are accumulated. Flipping the table is something that may literally happen in a Japanese home when a father is upset at the family. Flipping the table isn’t a test of strength and requires finesse to achieve maximum height and distance. It’s fun and I’m surprised that the game hasn’t left Japan. It surely could find a home on the Wii or PS4 with its motion control capabilities. The only disappointment was the lack of classic consoles. SNES, Genesis nor Dreamcasts made it back this year which was disheartening, but is only a small blemish on the fantastic space that is the Video Game Room. 

Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen

As the sun sets on day 1 of Otakon 2016 the atmosphere is festive, though the weather outside is still blistering. It’s been a long day so I’m going to call it a night, though Otakon will still rage on until 2am. I didn’t have a chance to catch any of the movie screenings, panels, workshops or fan made videos. Such is the case with Otakon; no matter how meticulously I plan, I always run out of time. 

Until Tomorrow, goodnight Otakon.

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