As many of you may know, Otakon 2007 was last weekend in Baltimore – surprisingly early for the con. A bunch of the Powet crew were present to witness the awesome glory and crazy mayhem that was the largest anime convention on the east coast. Though visual documentary on the convention for us may be a bit on the slim side, I did manage to have enough footage (both my own and a few snippets donated) to put together a small video-tour of the convention.

It also documents just how big a bunch of nutty geeks we here at Powet are.

The convention was held at the Baltimore Convention Center, like the many years before it. Hotels were sold out many months before the con actual started, which isn’t strange. A final tally of attendance for the convention has yet to be seen, but the range is estimated well over 22,000, with 16,900 of those being pre-registered. Of that number, probably half were in some way cosplaying. Pre-registration was surprisingly quick for those who came to pick up their badges on Thursday evening, despite lines being out the door of the building and a good ways down the block at times.

Otakon2007panelThere was an abundance of panels being featured this year.The OCRemix panel, which featured the head staff of OverClocked Remix holding contests and showing off video and music clips of remixed music, was interesting – particularly for those of us who were avid gamers. The AMV showings were another one we’d attended, which featured a slew of anime music videos submitted by fans and was shown in a conference hall on a big-screen projector. There was a separate AMV contest being held later that night. However, that is about as much as this little girl got to see, other than poking my head into random panels for some video shots. Despite the overwhelming amount of panels, very few were actually seen by our grouping.

Which brings me to one of the downsides of the convention that I noticed – the layout. I had overheard that the way things were laid out at this year’s convention were actually considered better by some. However, if that was the case, I didn’t notice. I thought the layout was incredible scattered and not well organized. One example that really got to me was the way you got to the Dealer’s Room and Artist’s Alley; which I learned had been moved from the previous year. Both rooms were situated right next to each other, with a door between the two large rooms. However, the public was not allowed through said door. To get to the Dealer’s room, and then from there the Artist’s Alley, you had to do as follows:

* Walk all the way down to one end of the first floor, and walk down a flight of stairs to Hall F
* To Exit, you couldn’t re-enter the doors you came in. You had to walk all the way across Hall F to the other side, out the door, and then up two flights of stairs to the second floor.
* To get to the artist’s alley from there, you had to walk to yet another flight of stairs to get down to street level again, and a second set of stairs (only one lane) to Hall E.
*To exit, you walked through the same doors you came in through, but they were separated so half was for the exiting crowd. You then walked straight to a separate set of stairs than the ones you came in, and climb up to the separate Charles St. building. To get back to the other building required walking across the street.

This may sound trivial to the seasoned convention goer, but even if you have a very comfortable set of shoes/boots on, that’s still an incredible amount of walking to do, to get to the two most frequented attractions of the whole con. This was not helped by the fact that many of the escalators were not on and were blocked off. Perhaps this was for safety reasons, but it did not help when you’re walking around in a heavy outfit or with large props. Otakon2007cosplay

Other than that gripe, there was plenty to do at the convention. The dealer’s room was absolutely packed with vendors including weapons dealers, large-scale manga distributors, and an array of toy & game sellers with products you probably aren’t going to find outside of ebay. There was plenty of representation from other conventions also, as we ran into the Anime Boston booth near the exit. The Artist’s Alley was equally impressive. The sheer amount of artistic expression being held on display and for sale was astounding. No matter what your fandom is, they had someone selling fanart of it. Yes, even the creepy furry stuff. You could also bid on art entered into the Art Show in the auction held on Sunday.

Overall, no matter how big an anime geek you might be, you should try hitting this convention up at least once in your lifetime. It’s not so much the anime that’s the real appeal of the event, but rather the experience. If you are a geek, this is your childhood Mecca.

Just….bring comfortable footwear.