Jason Charles Mille set to thrill anime, menga and video game fans in Baltimore. Image: Otakon
BALTIMORE– The countdown has started for this year’s Baltimore Otakon Convention. Scheduled for the Baltimore Convention Center, this year’s convention will be held from August 12 through 14. The annual event is one of Baltimore’s major summer festivals. In its twenty-third year, Otakon brings together more than 34,000 people to the heart of Baltimore for three days each year.
Since 1999, Otakon Convention has been a meeting point for young and old who love Asian culture. Otakon not only celebrates popular culture, it is also the gateway to a deeper understanding of Asian culture. There is a particular focus on anime, menga, video games and music from Far East.
As expected, preparations are in top gear to make this year’s Convention even better than previous years. Like other years, Otakon Matsuri will kick off the Convention. To be held August 11 at Baltimore’s beautiful West Shore Park at the Inner Harbor, the event is expected to be great fun, bringing together menga, anime and Asian culture fans. There will be games, contests, prizes, live entertainment, and great food.
Already, several exciting artists and musicians have been lined for the 2016 Otakon Matsuri festival. One of the performers is Lotus Juice. A rap pioneer, Juice is well-known for his Japanese anime game music. He draws his inspiration from 90’s hip-hop J-Pop, dub, rock, comedy, love, menga and many more. He has worked with Shoji Meguro from Atlus Japan, ripping the mic on the track Mass Destruction on the game Persona 3. A frequent traveler, Juice is a popular face at anime and game conventions in Argentina, Mexico, and the USA. He has provided music for much of the Persona series. He has also collaborated with Taque Iwasaki and has gained substantial recognition from their joint effort. He is currently working on his third album.
Also expected to thrill fans at the Otakon Mitsuri is Shihoko Hirata. A powerful singer with a big voice, Hirata is expected to send fans to the dancing floor. Hirata grew up listening to mainly funk and soul, but she has developed her own style of music. On stage, her voice illuminates venues with power and soul. Hirata’s talent was recognized by Shoji Meguro in his works for Persona 4, a game that has gained international recognition and loved by many fans around the world. The soundtrack to Persona 4 earned a Nihon Gold Disc Award for Soundtrack.
Diana Garnet is another artist to watch at Otakon Matsuri 2016. Born in Washington D.C., U.S.A., Garnet was heavily influenced by her anime-loving father. She was immersed into anime and mengavculture at a young age. That love for anime culture grew into a music career that blends East and West music traditions.
Diana Garnet is one of the few prominent foreign artists signed to a major Japanese record label. Her journey to a musical career began after listening to Yuzurenai Negai by Naomi Tamura. She was so inspired by Tamura’s story that she became determined to become a singer in Japan.
Inspiration, determination and luck met in 2013. While working as a middle-school English teacher in Japan, Garnet decided to enter for Nodojiman, The World 2013 Spring, a nationwide karaoke TV show for foreigners on NTV. She was not only crowned the winner of the contest, she also secured a major label debut at the same time.
Since 2013, Garnet has continued to make great strides. After releasing cover works for her first single and mini-album, she soared to great heights, climbing the ladder of success. Her first original single, Spinning World, was selected as the ending theme song for the mega-hit anime Naruto: Shippuden. With that, she became the first female solo foreign artist to sing an anime theme song. Her second original single, Nankai! Mystery, was selected as the theme song for the NHK E-TV anime Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note. Nankai! Mystery which aired from October 2015 to March 2016, elevated Garnet’s status among anime and mass audiences.
Garnet’s has featured in Flow’s best album as a guest vocalist. Based on her success, she was also tapped as one of the “likely breakout stars of 2015” in Yahoo! Japan’s Video Topic Awards. Her presence at Otakon Matsuri will add color to the funfest that will include menga and anime fan.
Drake McWhorter is another guest slated to bring excitement to this year’s event. Better known as Trailer Drake or Comic Drake, McWhorter has helped produce the SideScrollers podcast, the daily news show Hard News on Screw Attack website. He currently produces the insanely entertaining, but informative Comic Drake channel. An anime fanatic, McWhorter is expected to excite audience at the Matsuri event.
Nerdy People of Color (NPC Collective)
Nerdy People of Color (NPC Collective), a group combining the musical and artistic talents of people of color, will be a major attraction at this year’s Otakon Matsuri. Members of the group that will be at this year’s event include music composer and producer Richie Branson; rapper, producer and trombonist Ryan “Kadesh Flow” Davis; business process engineer and musician 1Up Creative Mindframe; and musician Eye.Q.
NPC Collective started as a way of encouraging people of color who want to create music, art or think differently than their counterparts. It is the platform for people of color who are discouraged and forced to conceal their thoughts and ideas.
Raheem “Mega Ran” Jarbo, founder of the collective, set up the group with the main objective of bringing together like-minded creatives who enjoy nerdy things and have faced teasing or worse as a result. NPC Collective includes rappers, educators, students, athletes, and even a WWE superstar.
Songwriter, singer and voice actor Jason Charles Miller is another major highlight of this year’s Otakon Matsuri. A lover of menga, anime movies and Asian culture, Miller is celebrated in the anime world. With more than two decades of professional experience, he is expected to thrill fans at the festival. Originally from Clifton, Va., Miller now lives in Los Angeles, where he owns and runs the successful recording complex, Central Command Studios.
Miller is the frontman and founder of the rock band Godhead, the only band ever signed to Marilyn Manson’s Posthuman Records. The band has sold more than 250,000 albums and toured the world with the likes of Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed, GWAR, Slipknot, Rammstein, Linkin Park and Korn frontman Jonathan Davis.
Miller has co-written songs with artists Marilyn Manson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ben Moody of Evanescence, Chuck Goff of the Toby Keith Band, Jeordie White of Nine Inch Nails, Driver Williams of the Eric Church Band and many others. Miller has also received two Gold Record Awards for sales: one for the Godhead song Penetrate on the Queen of the Damned movie soundtrack, and the other for the song The End Has Come, which he wrote and performed with Evanescence founder Ben Moody for the movie The Punisher.
As a voice actor, Jason has appeared in over 60 animated productions and dozens of video games and live action productions.