Experiencing Otakon – celebrating Asian pop culture
What is Otakon and where did the name Otakon come from?
In Japan there is a district called Akihabara or Akiba after a former local shrine. This area known for electronics sales, and the area also attracted other game related content. Electronics, Video Games, Arcades and Animation all related took a foothold in this area.
Japanese use of the word Otaku has changed over time, and in Japan it is associated with Japan’s otaku (diehard fan) culture, someone who was very into a specific hobby possibly to the level of obsession.
In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Japanese animation crossed over from Japan to the U.S. TV Public. The first anime shows I remember watching as a youngster included episode based Astro Boy, Marine Boy, and as popularity started to take off in the states, a story series called Starblazers.
There was cross culture admiration, and in talking with people in Philadelphia the 1990’s, Japanese tended to love Disney and U.S. animation, where the character was drawn with more detail and the background was somewhat simple. Japanese Anime by the contrast was loved by Americans for the exact opposite reasons. Anime had characters that had simple lines for facial structure and a single color for the main colors, and for features (skin, dress, hair) only a shadow again made from a single color, but the backgrounds often had elaborate detail.
It was from these early 90’s that Otakon formed and had its first convention on July 29–31, 1994. Otakon started off in State College. PA and had a total attendance of 350 members and attendance of approximately 850 people. This small convention would move on the July 4th weekend in 1999 to Baltimore because of it growing out of the prior space, Hitting 10,000 unique visitors and continually growing into one of Baltimore’s biggest yearly convention, having attendance in 2011 of 29,311 members and a gate of 95,000.
Visiting Baltimores inner harbor is a during this weekend offers you a view of costumes attendees who wander to eat, socialize and allow photo opportunities for people in approximately a 4 block area.
So if your down in Baltimores inner harbor to visit the many restaurants, going to the Science Center or the Baltimore aquarium, and you love cartoons, animation, pokemon. Take the time to visit Otakon.