I apologize for being late for this report. The main contribution to this lateness had to do with me getting the usual "post-con cold" afterwards, with me taking medicine as soon as I started to expect that this was a cold. Of course, other elements of the lateness also include me being busy with video games and a Lego set that I picked up the Wednesday after the con.

Back when I was taking classes at a local community college, I found about it having an anime club, and, having already been watching the titles that were on Cartoon Network and regular television at the time, I was curious about it (although I was also cautious, as I was aware of the some of the "adult" aspects of these titles). After attending one meeting and realizing that I can handle the anime being shown at these meetings, I began attending anime club meetings on a regular basis. With these anime club meetings, this also led to me attending the nearby anime conventions as well, with one of the major trips being Otakon, the biggest anime convention in the East Coast. Even after the anime club club disbanded, it had become a tradition for me to attend Otakon as my "summer vacation", with me booking a room at a nearby hotel and staying in the area for the weekend (rather than my usual routine of being dropped off at the con in the morning, being picked up later in the evening, and, depending on the con, repeating the process the next day).

Fifteen years after attending my Otakon, this year marked the end of one aspect of my annual "summer vacation", as Otakon’s run at the Baltimore Convention Center comes to an end, and it moves to Washington D.C. next year. With the con still being nearby (heck, I pass the Washington Convention Center when I go to and from Anime USA), my annual trips to Otakon are still happening, with me already booking my room for next year's con. However, before we get to Washington, there’s one con to take place in Baltimore, and like any Otakon since 2001, I was there.

The good news is that two years of messy Thursday night badge pick-ups, Otakon finally got their act together this year, with the badge pick-up process going smoothly this year. However, two years of that crap also resulted in me opting to have my badge sent in the mail instead. As such, I had plenty of time to check out Baltimore on Thursday afternoon after I got my hotel room (with me this year asking for a first floor room on the tower side of the Holiday Inn to make things easier for my regular Otakon roommate, who tends to pack a lot of stuff for the con). Along with the usual "night before Otakon" activities of checking out Inner Harbor and getting my Pokemon Go urges out of the way before the con (as I know full well how much battery power that game drains from my cell phone), the main part of Thursday afternoon was me finally getting a chance to check out one tourist attraction that I wanted to see in Baltimore for quite some time, Geppi's Entertainment Museum (with admission being free to Otakon attendees that weekend).

For those not familiar with Baltimore, Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located across the street of the Convention Center on the second floor of the former Camden Station. Inside, the museum contains various pop culture based items on display, ranging from classic comics (including first editions of those featuring the first appearances of major superheros), pop culture memorabilia from the 1930's to the 1980's, and an entire section of the museum devoted to local "heroes" like Billie Holiday and Cal Ripkin, Jr. One thing's definitely for sure: a lot of people around my age and older would be geeking out at some of the stuff on display there (for instance, my "geek out" moments came in the 1970's-1980's section, which included lunch boxes from a couple of Sid and Marty Krofft shows and toys based on the Disney films from the Ron Miller era of the company, or as I call it, the "dark era").

After a night in Baltimore and some sleep, it was time for the real meat of the weekend to happen, as it was time for the con to be fully up and running. Like any trip to Otakon, the first priority was the long wait for the Dealers' Room to open so that way I can pick up this year’s t-shirt without any issues (i.e. long wait time;; my size selling out, although I'm starting to fit into 2XL shirts thanks to the diet in preparation for Disney World last year). One complaint that people had with Otakon this year is that the regular dealers were pretty much selling the same items at their tables without any real variety. I could definitely see how this could be a problem, as the lack of variety (and in turn, the lack of "cool" stuff that I could miss the first go-round, resulting in a purchase on Saturday and Sunday) meant that most of my main shopping was done on Friday, with only a couple of Blu-Ray purchases being made during a subsequent trip on Saturday. However, there was one thing about the Dealers' Room that was a real treat: with Otakon weekend not interfering with Wonfes Summer this year, Good Smile Company had a booth at the convention. As such, I was able to pick up some figures that either are only available at cons (such as cheerleader bodies for Nendoroid figures) or would have had to wait until October to receive from overseas (and pay additional money for shipping). Hopefully, Good Smile Company will be back next year when Otakon moves to Washington D. C., as I'd definitely like to see what con exclusives they have in store for 2017.

While I'm on the subject of Good Smile Company, for someone whose Otakon schedule usually has me busy attending some of the big industry panels, the scheduling of the panels this year, with the major ones conflicting with other events that I planned to attend, resulted in me only attending some of the "smaller" industry panels, and while TRSI had its technical problems that resulted in me leaving during Q & A, the other two were worth attending. With Good Smile Company, it’s great to see them have a panel at Otakon this year, and I managed to suggest them making a figure based on the "Justin Bailey" version of Samus from Metroid (although, when suggesting Xenoblade figures, I ended up saying Xenosaga instead). Then, there’s Discotek, whose panel last year was a decent way to end last year's Otakon. This year, Discotek easily won Otakon with the titles that they announced (i.e. Blu-Ray releases of Arcadia of My Youth and Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer; the American license for Chargeman Ken, a title that I've been researching ever since I got back from the con to see just how "bad" that anime is). Also, after hearing all the extras included on the Street Fighter II Movie Blu-Ray, as soon as the panel ended, I immediately headed to the Dealers' Room to pick up a copy of it (Discotek had copies of it available well before street date at the con) before it sold out.

As for some of the "other events" that interfered with me attending the bigger industry panels, one of them was a major no-brainer for me: the AMV Contest. Once again, I created a new video for the contest (even though I could easy have submitted one of the two videos that I made before this one instead, including one that made the finals at Anime Expo, I wanted to have something fresh for Otakon). It didn't make it into the finals, although it manage to screen during the Sunday showing of the AMV Contest Overflow (with a few chuckles coming from the sillier moments, and the ending getting a bigger reaction). Watching the contest itself on Friday, I can clearly see why my video failed to make it into the finals, as the category I entered it in, Comedy, was stacked with a ton of hilarious videos. Among some of the comedy videos that made the finals:

-A Haikyuu version of the Scott Sterling volleyball video on Youtube (given how the Olympics were going on during Otakon weekend, I couldn't watch volleyball coverage without thinking of Scott Sterling after watching this the video);
-An "Eat It" video that utilizes the two main "food" anime in recent years, Food Wars and Gourmet Girl Graffiti;
-An Oreimo video where Kyosuke and his dad have issues about just how hot Kirino is (that video wound up winning Best in Show in the Contest);
-A video that mixes Attack on Titan with Spike Jones' "You Always Hurt The Ones You Love" (this was one video that, once I mentioned it to him, my roommate was interested in checking out, as he has a few Spike Jones albums at his home).

As for the rest of the contest:

-Drama had some good videos ranging from a technical Death Parade video to a trippy video using a number of KyoAni titles;
-The winner that won the Action category, a video that combines Gurren Lagann and the musical Hamilton, was well worth the wait (as the creator hinted about the video on the animemusicvideos.org forums);
-After watching the winner of the Romance/Sentimental category, an Ore Monogatari! video set to the Smash Mouth cover of "I'm a Believer", I am perfectly fine with that video beating my video; at Anime Expo (not that I was expecting my video to win anyways).
-After a great year last year, Upbeat was somewhat disappointing, with the only memorable video being one that, despite having a good premise, didn't really please me, as it reflects my issues about how Madoka Magica has affected the mahou shoujo genre in a negative way.

As for other observations from this year's Otakon:

-My younger brother and his girlfriend attended their first Otakon this year with some friends visiting from Salsbury, with me saying "hi" to the two on Saturday afternoon. In terms of the main things to come out of talking to them:

1. It’s a good thing that I only take cosplay photos and actually consider things if I do decide to cosplay again, as I heard my younger brother did a cosplay of Misty from Pokemon on Friday.

2. With my younger brother's girlfriend looking for Pusheen stuff in the Dealers' Room, I wonder if she ordered the September "Doki Doki" crate from Japan Crate, with will have a couple exclusive Pusheen items (I myself ordered it to see what it's like, although, unless October's box is interesting, I plan to cancel my subscription once the box arrives).

-In terms of comparisons between Otakon and Bronycon, while Otakon didn't have the gender neutral bathrooms like Bronycon (I'm not going to go there when it comes Bronycon), some of the better food choices offered at Bronycon (i.e. Papa John’s pizza, the Bavarian pretzels) were also available at Otakon. Combined with the usual food stands and trucks outside of the convention center during Otakon weekend (i.e. a stand selling hamburgers, the ice cream truck fleet), that made sure I had my regular meals while at the con.

With Otakon said and done, it's time for me to start preparing for the final con of my convention year, Anime USA. As usual, I’ll leave you with the cosplay photos that I took during the weekend.