For convention and (shoddy) fan event photos, click here. For cosplay photos, click here.
Sunday night I arrived home from my first Otakon which is in it’s 25th year… older than some of its attendees, wow. The only conventions I’ve ever attended before this are NYCC, the defunct NY Anime Festival, and the young-but-thriving AnimeNYC. So, my thoughts about Otakon as a standalone con and in comparison to the offerings of my hometown are the same:
Otakon… is lit.
Lemme get the negatives out of the way first since there aren’t too many. Seems like there were some snafus with certain panels getting canned because of miscommunications and missing guests. Don’t know how that happened but that’s the big one that needs to be fixed. The other thing I’d like to see is some signposts or labeling in the Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley. Usually tables in those areas have banners with the Booth Name and Numbering, but from what I saw there the vast majority did not. The only way to know which table/booth is which was to look at the Guidebook app map and count as you move… Not really the most convenient navigation system. Actually, it would be nice to see the Dealer’s list and Artist Alley list published before the convention as well, so I know who to look forward to, and how much money I need to prepare to throw.
The good sides?
First of all, Walter E. Washington Convention Center is huge and gorgeous. It’s an excellent venue all around, and there’s ample space for everyone. My main convention (was) New York Comic Con, which is perpetually crowded wherever you go in the entire center. At *any* given point you will be caught in human traffic, be pressed up against other people, or waiting on an obnoxiously long line. On the flip, at Otakon I never even had to wait on a line to use a restroom at any point during the whole weekend. Any line to get into… anything, was completely doable. I like this man-to-space ratio a lot. In the closing ceremony they said this year’s attendance was at 29,000 – a significant increase to the last few years which were in decline. And there’s still space for more!
Left: entrance area of NYCC, 2015. Right: Entrance area of Otakon, 2018.
Second, there’s like… no excuse to be bored. I didn’t participate in a lot of things I wanted to because I was in Fervent Fangirl mode but, if shopping and panels aren’t your thing, there was an arts & crafts room, a Maid Cafe, card & board game room, multiple anime and movie screenings, a gigantic game room with both arcade cabinets and console multiplayer games… the list goes on, but basically if you come with friends you can have fun all weekend long whether you party hard or just chill.
There are two hardcore fangirl things I’ve done in my life.
The first is getting a tattoo of my favorite quote from my favorite character in Mystic Messenger tattooed on my forearm.
The second is dropping everything to rush out to Washington D.C. to meet the VA of my favorite character in their first overseas fan event.
To be honest, I’m still floating on that happy cloud, I’m having trouble coming down and concentrating on writing. But I will do it…!
[Fangirl Mode: ON]
Interacting with the Cheritz team, I’ll never forget it.
Sujin Ri had on the cutest dress covered in cherries! She signs her name with a cherry too!
When I showed her and Kang Soojin (Saeran) my tattoo, they were like “Wooow, show (Youngsun)!”
I asked Kang Soojin his favorite character.
Youngsun: “He’s lying lol”
He then said Luffy (Luppi!) and Inuyasha!
Gyuhyuk Shin said my name is pretty >/////< I was going to tell him that a lot of girls waiting on line were fawning over how cute he is, but then I wondered if he’d have a Yoosung moment and get flustered… hehehe.
When I brought my tapestry for Hosan Lee to sign, he pointed and said “Rika is best girl!”
AND THAT’S TEA.
I showed him my Rika phone wallpaper and he was like “wow!” Another girl told me something similar… I think he has the power to detect the few Rika fans that exist. (If you’re wondering why I like her – to make it brief, I’ve always liked villain characters and liking them doesn’t mean condoning their actions. It saddens me that the Rika hate probably means I’ll never meet her VA.)
And Kim Youngsun.
“I wrote your name in Korean, see?” !!!!!!
Embarrassing as it was, I showed him my tattoo…
He read it out loud slowly and held my hand. That was about the time I died. I’m a ghost now, a happy ghost.
If that wasn’t heart-rending enough, I realized I had trouble reading his handwritten message. It took some work using various tools to figure it out.
“항상 행복하다요!” Always be happy… which is the same thing Kang Soojin (Ray) wrote. OH, MY GOD. This was the hardest game of “Try Hard Not To Cry” I ever played.
The next day was the Fan Event, a two-hour miracle. The video of the event will eventually be published on YouTube so I won’t spoil too much here. I will say that a room full of fangirls singing the MM theme was nothing short of amazing, Hosan Lee is hilarious (WAKANDA FOREVER!) and even though V is my least ideal MM partner, knowing Hosan is also frustrated with V makes me feel better. We laughed, we damn near cried, we oohed, ahhed, and cheered. One big Mystic Family ♡
[Fangirl Mode: REST]
I never played an otome game until Mystic Messenger. I wasn’t opposed to it in the least, but my romance muscle is almost always asleep. It’s not that I’m completely turned off by the idea of a relationship, but finding someone who wants to put in a balanced mutual effort is like finding bottled ice cold water for $1 in D.C. (Otakon joke that I learned…). Plus I just grew up to be a pessimist about most things, so while I have faith in romance and relationships – more than a lot of other people I know, somehow – I don’t have much faith in finding it. Finding someone who clicks with you AND is willing to give mutual effort is the hard part – but if it doesn’t happen, I love the solo life a little too much, and there’s no need for romantic supplements. I only decided to play MysMe because someone wrote in a blog on MFC that their friends got sucked into the game and dragged them along. I was like, I’m bored and people are buzzing, why not? Problem was, my one poor iCrap didn’t have the memory to run the game beyond the introductory chatrooms. Still, didn’t stop me from going to NYCC and buying a print of 707 days later. Knowing nothing about him or the game, his character still felt intriguing.
Some time later I got myself a tablet and decided to just play on there and enjoy the bonus of a large screen. I played the suggested route, got sweet talked by three guys and one girl, and felt quite smitten with them. But I was dying to play 707’s route the most still not knowing what was ahead. I noticed something about him in all the other routes. He holds a particular… understanding of the nature of things, that there will always be positives and negatives, and you can’t have one without the other. The understanding that comes from that really clicks to me. (It’s the same reason I got into Sansei Muramasa from Fullmetal Daemon Muramasa, though that takes the yin-yang concept to an extreme). That mindset is just… the only thing that makes sense to me.
When I got hit with a snow day, I used my excess hourglasses to play through his route start to finish. Seven says a lot of sweet things in his phone calls, but then he hit me with this one line. This one line that hit me dead in the chest.
I swear I felt my heart smile in that moment. What in the hell? I genuinely can’t remember the last time I felt that.
Fast forward a year later, the snowiest day of winter. I went sliding down the slick streets to a tiny tattoo parlor to make those words a part of me. I figured, if I’m getting a tattoo in hangul, I should probably try to find a Korean tattoo artist since they’d be more comfortable and accurate (I’ve seen too many botched tattoos in English and other languages, so). The tattoo artist seemed to really like the quote. Looking at my hands, he asked what I like to do. Shorter fingers like his that are good for gripping are better for people who work all the time; longer fingers like mine tend to belong to more lax people. Never thought about that. This guy’s interesting, I thought. Too bad I can only see him if I’m getting tattoo work done.
About a month and a half later, it faded badly. I went for a retouch. I think I was mentally in a fog, and by the time I came out of it I was poking his muscles (by invitation) and answering a bunch of questions about myself. He showed me a dating app he was using without success and asked if I was seeing anyone. Wait. WAIT. Does he… whoa.
We exchanged numbers. I wondered if he would really text me.
I texted him the next day instead. He forgot to retouch the last mark of my tattoo. Felt bad to fuss over such a tiny thing but it’s permanent nonetheless. He said to get back to him in 3 weeks. Okay! Phew… I think. I was still thinking about it a lot. I always do the approaching, I never get approached… what’s going on?
So to keep this story moving, it took several weeks after that to get the guy to give me an appointment date. Forgetful, or I have bad timing with asking, or both.
When I saw him again he gave me a big hug. We talked about various things, he gave my tattoo the final polish. It’s finally perfect. He asked if I was dating at work. No way. He asked me to text him. Maybe we could have some fun. He earned the rare card of seeing me blush. A-Alright.
Over the weeks from them, I texted him from time to time, with him barely responding. On the one hand, working 6 days a week, training apprentice artists, exercising daily, along with all other adulting, makes for a tight schedule. On the other hand, better late than never. Have some courtesy and answer? On the rare occasion he did respond, he was super sweet, but also cited being super busy. Eventually the responses died down again. Well, I’ll text him when I’m home from D.C., he inadvertently aided one of the most precious memories I have. I wonder when he saw the quote, did he just like it, or did it touch his heart too?
And then, I tend not to think too far ahead, but just… Can you imagine that story? MysMe found me actual love?
When I got home it was almost Monday. When I finally settled in I checked my Instagram feed and saw his new post. Interesting picture and hashtag.
WELL, SO MUCH FOR THAT.
Don’t “awww” or console me – I’m not hurt. I’ve been here so many times that I’d be mad at myself if I did feel bothered. An opportunity came but it wasn’t the one for me. He’s buff and good looking, maybe he’s fun, but I like men who are more responsive for a start, and more honest on top of that.
Bar set too high or not
What really bites though… I think I might be out a tattoo artist… well shit. LOL
The Power of Prayer
Yes, I wrote that last post slightly tongue-in-cheek, but:
My first prayer is simple: that everything goes smooth.
I haven’t skipped town in an inordinately disturbing amount of time, so while I’ll try to prepare for any worst case scenarios, I hope to be free of theft, broken luggage, getting stranded, losing valuables, and any other ugly curveballs that could get thrown at me. I hope my energy keeps up since I’ve decided the only transportation I’ll be using is a taxi to and from my AirBNB.
Everything went 98% smooth. I did hit one snag though. On Sunday morning as I was packing my bags, I couldn’t find my RFA VIP lanyard. I thought it was in my tote bag but after searching my room high and low, in absurd spots and crevices, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Those aren’t sold separately, only in the VIP box which is $79, so replacement isn’t easy or cheap. When I got to the convention center I decided to try my luck and ask the Lost & Found.
And wouldn’t you know they had it??? They also had a Cone of Shame for me to sign for losing my belongings, LOL! I’m still super lost as to how that happened, as I wasn’t taking things in and out of that bag (I wore a hip pack all weekend for easy access).
The other thing that happened was right before the first autograph session, actually. Dozens of fangirls lined up for autographs in rows. Me in the front of row 2. I’m solo, but chatting with everyone in line because we’re soooo excited. Here’s the thing about me flying solo – I love it, but the reason it can suck is because I see things that no one else notices. Case in point. I noticed ProZD walking by.
“Hey, it’s ProZD!”
But everyone was buzzing so no one paid attention. It’s fine though, they may not know who we is.
Along the back of the area were various food vendor stands. The one closest to us had one of those industrial ovens that look like a big steel fridge (sorry, I don’t know the proper name) full of mini pizza boxes. Something in that oven caught fire.
“Wow, that oven is on fire.”
But no one paid me any mind, so I watched.
The person just closed it back. Were they trying to suffocate the flames? Someone else opened it. Still on fire. They started taking the stacks of pizzas out. The third stack was either catching on fire or just too hot to grab because the person burned their hand. The flame got bigger.
“Damn, that fire’s getting big.”
People start finally noticing. What the hell is this? A cloud of smoke was streaming straight upward. A cloud of irritation flew up from us: Please do not burn down the area right before we get the autographs we traveled from all over to obtain. Where the hell are the fire extinguishers?
Finally someone reached in and grabbed the burning ??? and stomped it out. The area filled with the smell of burning. Moments later, another oven on another part of the floor caught fire, as we couldn’t see it from behind the partitions but we could see another jet of smoke shooting upward. Okay, maybe I should add that to the improvement list – better equipment/fire maintenance?
My second prayer, which I’m surprised I’m making, is for people to be kind and understanding to Cheritz on their first voyage to the US. It dawned on me that people might try to put Cheritz team on the spot during the fan event because of the upsets related to the Summer Vacation event. I really want it to stay light and enjoyable. If they must broach such serious topics, I hope they do so respectfully.
The fan event was nothing short of stellar and actually ran out of time, so there was no time to ask questions, period. But being in a room full of fans singing along to the MM theme was one of the best moments of my fangirl life, and everyone was kind to one another. I only wish there was a cosplay group photo op afterward.
My third prayer, is for my wallet, my bank account, and all my cards. Be strong and full…
Other than paying for my largest purchase with Paypal from the wrong funding account (derp), we’re good!
My fourth prayer… is to see a hot Tamamo cosplayer. I’m a total ho for Tamamo, what else can I say?
I did see one! I didn’t get a photo though as we were moving in opposite directions, but yay for Tamamo!
My fifth prayer is for no post-convention illness. It’s hot enough, I can’t handle a fever on top of that.
I am free of illness! I’d like to thank the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil soap.
I can’t use these since my hands are too sensitive to sanitizer, but… this is SO genius to have in a convention center.
My sixth prayer, is for everyone to be safe since The Whites are at it again, and for those useless Nazis to get hit by a bus. And if that statement bothers you, either you’re part of the problem or not paying attention.
No one got hit by a bus but the march failed AND it rained on them. Bless.
My Seventh Prayer is that meeting the God Seven himself will go smooth.
This seems a bit out the way but as I mentioned elsewhere… the last time I met someone important to me… they hate me now and I still don’t know why. Story for another day.
Please, God Seven, remain a shining light in my tiny metal heart.
From top to bottom this weekend was the best. Cheritz team flew 14 hours to meet us. People came from all parts of the country AND THE WORLD to see them. We exchanged so much love, and I’m sure Cheritz Team will return to work fueled and ready to continue making amazing content for us. And we’re ready to show them all the support. For once, my heart is full and happy. ♡ I hope to meet them all again!