The Overdue Otakon 2015 Report

Last Otakon came and went, it sadly seems to go quicker each year.

There were good things and bad in 2015, but I will start with the positive.

I didn’t really plan a cosplay this year like I have in years past. Last year I did Princess Serenity and it was exhausting. I had a lot of things going on, and had neither the time nor the funds to go all out like that again this year….additionally, I just honestly didn’t feel like it. In the month prior to the con, I finally made the decision to go as Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy 7. It seemed appropriate; the revamp of FFVII was announced not long ago, and Tifa was a character I felt I could easily do.

Photo by Dancing Squirrel Photography.

Photo by Dancing Squirrel Photography.

The costume itself was not to difficult to make. I hemmed a tank top to make the shirt, I sewed two black arm warmers for the black pieces under her gloves, I had to paint my gloves so they would match my boots and glue on my “materia” jems, and I made the elbow gaurd that she wears out of craft foam. Yes, just regular old craft foam. The rivets? Those were googly eyes I just painted over.  Over all it was a pretty simple costume and it wasn’t nearly as labor intensive as Princess Serenity was for last year.

I was nervous about one thing…..I was afraid to cosplay the FFVII Tifa because she wears a belly shirt and her stomach shows. I don’t typically do cosplay that shows a lot of skin, and this particular thing worried me a lot. I’ve heard some stories… I’m sure you have too. Some people can be dicks to girls who cosplay a “sexy character” when that guy determines they aren’t “sexy enough”. Sometimes their concept of beauty isn’t realistic. I always preach to be happy with yourself and your own beauty and don’t worry about everyone else and their perceptions of what you should be but yet I worried. I worried because….I don’t have a flat stomach, I’m not one of those perfect cosplay babes like Jessica Nigri or Yaya Han who has an amazingly flawless body and just looks good in anything and everything. Some people hear me talk about these things and say to me, “But Kelley, don’t you model?” Yes I do, but I know my body and I compare myself to others just like everyone else and I also feel down on myself at times, as much as I try not to.

But even though I was afraid, I made my mind up to do this cosplay.

And I was afraid, I was afraid for so long. I was afraid I’d get to the con, someone would see me and say Tifa let herself go or some shit like that. I will confess I was terrified up until I left the house and thought several times about not even cosplaying at all.

But then I got to the con, and that didn’t happen. In fact it was the opposite; I got complimented nonstop. After I had been so afraid all along that I would be made fun of and I would regret this cosplay… I actually ended up enjoying it more than I ever expected.

Final Fantasy Group shoot

Final Fantasy Group shoot

But now I have something else, something serious, that I feel strongly about addressing.

I don’t know if it’s just me who sees this stuff, but I feel like every time I turn around, someone has some awful shit to say when it comes to this convention on message boards and on Facebook, which seems odd since it is only one of the most popular conventions on the East Coast, and the second largest anime convention in the USA following Anime Expo. The amount of bellyaching I have seen online has grown exponentially since my first year attending in 1999. The first complaint I saw was the prices went up, and yeah it sucks, but it happens. Shit, I remember when Otakon had day passes and it was about $20 to get in. I remember when there were group discounts if you signed up with friends. I remember when there was NO ATTENDANCE CAP.

But things change.

Yeah, it sucks that the price went up, but this is exactly why I pre-reg. Pre-registration is cheaper. On the plus side, the badges had the option to be mailed out for the first time ever, and I didn’t have to stand in the line ride of doom this year. I gladly paid $10 extra dollars for that luxury.

One of the big topics I see when talking about Otakon is “the danger in Baltimore”. Nearly every year I see people complain about panhandlers and safety on the streets. To those people I have always said Baltimore is a city, and like any city, there will be beggars and an element of danger in certain areas. That’s what being in the city is like. Besides, the Inner Harbor (where the convention center is located) is probably one of the safest areas in the city. Perhaps I take it for granted at points that I live in this area and know what to expect, but it always makes me shake my head to see people discussing how things will be so much better in DC, like nothing ever happens there….. The rioting that occurred in Baltimore in April certainly didn’t help how people view this city, and generated all the wrong sort of talk on Otakon boards….suddenly the conversation became “Oh my god, look at Baltimore— is Otakon still going to happen?”

I have to say this.

Is Otakon going to happen? Really? That’s all that concerned you? Not the details of the case? Not the issues that have plagued this city for years before the incident with Freddie Gray? The thought of some young otaku fearing their precious convention wouldn’t happen during the days when I was fearing for the safety of my friends who live downtown, those I know who have businesses in the city,  friends who work for the police, and a certain friend of mine who works for the Baltimore Sun who was out covering on the situation as it was happening….it just infuriated me. Not to mention the people making jokes in the time after that, and the snide comments to anyone who happened to speak up against the offending remarks. I’m not going to get into my feelings on the case and the situation in Baltimore because this isn’t the place for that particular discussion, but I will say this: if you hear about something happening in our city and your first concern is if Otakon will still happen, you need to get your fucking priorities straight.

From what I have heard, 2016 will be the last year Otakon is in Baltimore, and then the Baltimore Convention Center will undergo remodeling for an indeterminate amount of time. I hope after the remodeling is completed, the con can come back home to Baltimore. Say what you want about my city, but even with it’s problems, there is still good here and whenever I go downtown and pass the convention center, I always think fondly on my past Otakon experiences. Otakon didn’t start in Baltimore, it’s true, but it has spent the bulk of its existence here. To have it move will be like leaving home I feel, but hopefully it will all work out for the best.



One response to “The Overdue Otakon 2015 Report

  1. Thanks for posting about your experience! Last year was my first time attending Otakon (and it was also my first time in Maryland). I was going to blog about it, but completely forgot and now I feel like it’s too late. @_@

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