Cosplay at Baltimore Otakon. Photo: Kazad/ARTCENTRON
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND– Weeks before Baltimore Otakon 2015 began, there were high expectations that this would be a great year in the history of the convention. Beyond the preparations made by the organizers of the event, the list of artists, musicians, and guests excited fans of Asian culture, anime, manga, video games and East Asian popular culture that were eager to attend the event.
When the event opened, it was clear that this was going to be a memorable year for this annual anime convention that brings thousands of anime fans to Baltimore. It began with an amazing outdoor event at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Tagged Otakon Matsuri, the show brought together an array of exciting music group from across the globe that thrilled Otakon fans.
Just before Otakon Matsuri opened, Baltimore’s beautiful West Shore Park at the Inner Harbor, venue of the event was packed full of Otakon fans and Baltimoreans who were ready to enjoy good music. The lineup for the musical event included Project BECK, Kieran Strange, hip-hop star Richie Branson and Back-On, a hybrid rock band.
Before the top stars of the day got on stage, fans mingled and took photographs. At the center of all the activities were two beautiful anime fans dressed as bunnies and a young man showing off his six pack. They were fun to be with as they freely posed with fans. While some fans posed for photographs, others took time to eat some food and also enjoy the water fountain.
When hip-hop star Richie Branson got on stage, he ignited the event with so much energy. Singing tracks like Bring Back Toonami, Toonami’s Back Bitches, Cosplay Girl, Regular Life, and Cloud City Problems, he showed why he is a celebrated hip hop star of the anime world. When he began Gundam Rap – Aznable Dreams, the crowd went wild, singing and dancing along with the hip-hop star. When his performance ended, fans appreciated his act with a loud applause.
Project BECK, a tribute band for the anime series BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad heightened the fans musical experience. Following in the footsteps of the anime group, Project BECK has made a name for its self-performing tracks from the anime series. When the band got on stage, the already excited crowd could not hold back. Performing tracks like Brainstorm, Reloaded, Spice Of Life, Face, Youkai Ningen Bem and several others, the vigorous band showed why it deserves to be celebrated.
After a short interlude and fashion show, it was the turn of Back On to thrill the audience. The excitement was thick enough to be cut with a knife when Back On got on stage. Dressed in jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers, the band made up of Kenji03, Teeda, Gori, Shu, Icchan, did not disappoint their fans. Singing popular tracks like Dig It, Moon On The Water, Rockstar Anthem, Infinity, Butterfly and Strike Back, they got the audience dancing and jumping. When the group performed Departure, fans went wild, dancing and cheering. The unrelenting Back On urged them on, dishing out amazing dance steps and energetic performance.
The days that followed were as thrilling as the first day. Dressed in costumes of their favorite anime characters, fans of Asian culture, anime, manga, video games and East Asian popular culture came out in full force, showing their love of anime and Japanese culture. Some of the characters represented included Kakashi Hatake, Izaya Orihara, Yamacha, Ryu Hayabusa, Gordon Freeman, Mario, Black Jack, The Nameless One, Asuka Langley Soryu, Trunks, and Motoko Kusanagi among many others. At the Baltimore Convention Center, fans of the Otakon generation got together and took photos during Cosplay. It was a delight to see the friendship that bonded the fun seeking young and old anime fans. While some posed for photographs, others sat around and engaged their phones.
In the Game Hall, there was so much to see and games to play. Sitting in front of big screen televisions, young men and women played some of their favorite games. Games like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed: Victory, Battlefield: Hardline, Bloodborne, Game of Thrones, Evolve and Dying Light entrapped game players who competed against each other. Indie Games, the game developer, also made some of their games like Connecting Oxygen, Heroes Guide: The Journal, Love Cave, Phobos, Jumpy Food available for experienced game players.
Captivated by video games, players expended energy as they vigorously manipulated their joysticks. To replenish lost energy, the food stands and water fountains situated at strategic areas of the hall were beneficial. Walking to the food stands and water fountains also provided the engrossed players the opportunity to stretch their legs and hands before returning to their game spot.
This year’s Otakon ended on the high note on which it started. The amazing performance by Oreskaband, the all girl group left fans with a lot to cheer about. In the packed hall at the Baltimore Convention Center, they thrilled audience made up of young and old fans. With astonishing dexterity, they played the trumpet, saxophone, and guitar to the amassment of the cheering crowd. When the performance ended, the fans were still asking for more.
It is estimated that more than 30,000 people attended this year’s Baltimore Otakon. Drawn from across the globe, fans of Asian culture, anime, manga, video games and East Asian popular culture came out in full force, showing their love of Japanese culture. Beyond bringing so much fun to Baltimore, the annual convention also held grow the Maryland economy.