Ohayocon 2011 Review ver. pandamajik

ohayocon_2011

art by Robert DeJesus

Ohayocon is billed as the largest anime convention in Ohio, drawing in just over 10,000 people last year. Last year was my first Ohayocon so I was expecting this to be as fun and awesome as it was for me last year. I pre-registered for a weekend badge but was not able to get to the convention until around 10 PM Friday night, meaning I didn’t even get to roam around until 11 PM or so. The reason I got there so late is that I was stuck in anatomy lab for medical school until 6 PM.

How this review is going to work is that I’m going to give a day by day explanation of things I did with some comments thrown in and then at the end I’ll have a general discussion section (makes this sound almost like a lab report for school or something).

We’re not affiliated with Ohayocon or any convention for that matter. We’re here to make unbiased reports. That means there will be criticism. It also means there will be compliments on things so don’t think we’re just being mean. With that please enjoy reading my review of Ohayocon 2011.

Friday

As I mentioned earlier I didn’t arrive at the convention/hotel until around 10 PM. By the time I got my room key from my friend after tracking him down and getting the room key from him, it was already close to 11 PM. On the way to the Hyatt lobby I bumped into my friends Zak and Kerry (aka Naiiki) and I talked to them to try to get their opinion of the convention on Friday. They said that it was alright so far but the cosplay amount and skill level wasn’t too impressive but they were hoping for better on Saturday. That’s totally to be expected since Saturday is the big day of the convention anyways.

Registration closed at 9 PM so I couldn’t even get my badge even though I had pre-registered. Luckily one of the girls staying in the room with us was gracious enough to let me borrow her badge for the rest of the evening since she was done for the day.

I met up with descent and some of his friends and walked around for a bit. We went to the Let’s Read Hentai Out Loud panel which we were hoping was similar to the Hentai Dubbing panel last year. [Side note – these panels are 18+ so they contain adult material which I will not go into detail about] Last year’s panel had both me and descent laughing so hard our sides hurt afterwards. This year’s was good for a few laughs here and there but mostly there were some really weird stuff. The panelists were certainly very enthusiastic and well prepared for the panel. It started out with the panelists doing the voices for reading through a chapter and then having audience members participate in other ones. They did a few different series (not sure if they’re one-shots or just one chapter in a larger length work). What made it fun was that the people doing the voices were really having fun with it. Still liked the panel from last year better but this one was a good start to the convention for me.

It was getting late at this point so we dispersed and headed back to our rooms to get some sleep.

Saturday

I spent about an hour in the morning making some last minute adjustments to my cosplay such as shifting the position of the buttons on the butt cape for a more snug fit and adding snaps to the jacket so it would stay in place.

The first panel I attended was Ikebana Lecture (Ikebana = flower arranging) which was run by a lady that had been doing it for a long time. I don’t quite remember her entire history but she hails from the New York area and does the main style of Ikebana. It was an informative panel that was very well prepared. Some of the things that were covered is the different schools of Ikebana, a bit about the history, and some presentation of various containers. She mentioned that there should always be an odd number of stems, with a minimum of 3. Also one of the most basic arrangements uses 3 stems and has them arranged such that their tips form a triangle in space. There was a workshop that followed but I decided to go check out some other panels.

Sewing 101 for Cosplay was run by Catherine Jones of God Save the Queen Fashions. Although she used powerpoint for her panel, as soon as I saw the first few slides I knew that it was going to be a great panel. She covered a lot of the basics of sewing including basic tools, which measurements to take, use of patterns, fabric choices, and many more. I knew some of it from having finished my first sewing project myself but there was definitely a lot of new information that will help me for the future. One thing she said that has been indispensable over the years is the book “Pattern Making for Fashion Design“. I’ll have to look into getting a used copy of that book.

I planned on roaming around for about an hour or so before heading over to the Tocha Tea Tasting panel. Towards the end of that hour I noticed that there was an FMA photoshoot going on so I headed over to take some pictures. I got called in for a few of the pictures since I was cosplaying as Roy. To be frank I was a bit hesitant to be in the pictures at first since I didn’t get a chance to finish the gloves so they were just plain white gloves.

After meeting up with my friends cosplaying as Lust, Ed with automail arm, and miniskirt Winry we went to the Reckless Crew Exhibition, which was a breakdancing event. The multicolored lights and loud music pumping really got you into it and the people breakdancing certainly wowed the audience. Although they started off a bit slow with complexity level, by the end of the 20 minute or so exhibition they had displayed an impressive array of tricks and moves.

I dropped in on the Women in Anime & Manga panel which had 3 panelists, all of whom were females in the industry. It was run almost like a Q&A session. I wasn’t particularly interested but wanted to just drop by to see what it was about.

The Dysfunctional Aspects of the Otaku Subculture panel sounded like it could be interesting depending on how and what was presented. When I walked in they were talking about people marrying 2-D characters and hikikomori. I had expected the panel to be light hearted, poking fun at some of the quirks of the otaku subculture in a fun way. It seemed like the panel was just a presentation of the extremes of what people are like. Frankly not really that interesting for me.

The Tocha Tea Tasting panel was just concluding by the time I got there but it seemed like a huge hit. They had at least 5-6 different types of tea that they let people sample and try to guess how they rank in terms of quality, taste, and price. The winners got some nice prizes. I only got to try one of the teas which was somewhat sweet but overall pretty good.

My plan was to head over to the Top Ten Anime Villains & Villain Showdown! but by the time I headed over there the line to get in was really long and the area was just crowded in general. I was somewhat interested in the panel based on the title, but judging by the overall quality of the panels as a whole I wasn’t really banking on it being spectacular so I went around and roamed hoping to take some pictures.

Since I wasn’t really interested in any of the panel offerings during this time I roamed around for a while to take pictures and talk to friends. The line for the Cosplay Masquerade started at around 5:30 and there was no way I was going to wait an hour and a half for it so I didn’t and just walked around. The Masquerade was held in Battelle Hall which seems like it’s smaller than the room last year although at least you don’t have to make the trek from one side of the convention center to the other.

Realism in Costuming was again run by Catherine Jones of God Save the Queen Fashions. The presentation was also really well organized with pictures highlighting what she was explaining. This panel was mostly about some tips and tricks for making accurate costumes. Some of the techniques she covered were pretty advanced such as using boning, use of appliques, etc. so it was a bit over my head. Hopefully I’ll be able to remember some of the things she mentioned if and when I use those techniques in the future.

I headed up to my room to eat dinner just before the Masquerade started hoping to be able to make it back in time to catch it being streamed on a screen somewhere. I ended up hanging out in the room for a short bit and then went around with Benson and his two friends. I managed to only catch the end of the Masquerade on the screen outside of Battelle Hall where it was being held. Some of the cosplays that won I hadn’t even seen all day so maybe they had saved them just for the competition.

By the time I got downstairs I bumped into Zak and Kerry again (I bumped into them all weekend, way more than anyone else I knew) and we walked around trying to find the Gurren Lagann group since Zak had his time skip Simon cosplay and Kerry had her Nia wig. We finally managed to track them down after about half and hour and we talked with them for a while. They had a pretty sizable group including Kamina, Yoko with rifle, young Simon, time skip Rossiu, time skip Viral, formal wear time skip Simon and Yoko, and a female Boota. It turns out they’re all mainly from the Ann Arbor/Michigan/NW Ohio area so I’ll have to keep in touch with them seeing as I’m in that same area. It was definitely fun having their group explain how they made various things for their cosplays. I always find the process really interesting and you can tell they made it themselves based on the descriptions they gave. We probably hung out with them for close to an hour, with Zaid and Paige showing up halfway through in their Kamina and Yoko cosplays. It only got more fun from there and there was a good 10 minutes of people taking pictures of the entire group.

Kerry and I are both on the Ohayocon forums (Naiiki and Panda Majik respectively) so we went to the Ohayocon Forum Meetup. The style of the panel was to display a picture of a forum member (taken from their Facebook pictures by Benson) and have people guess who it is. After the person has been guessed, they’re to go up and briefly introduce themselves including forum name, real life name, and a little about themselves. They were asked to tell their life story in three words but about half the people either had two words or a few extra words. A few people in the game changed to be that the person who was introducing themselves would be the next guesser and so on. The panel was only an hour long and there were about 40-50 pictures so towards the end they just sped through about 10-15 pictures of people, many of whom were not even there. I remember Benson contacting me about using one of my Facebook images but I guess I didn’t get included in there (not a big loss).

I managed to catch the ending part of descent’s Vocaloid Horror Show panel. When I walked in there were 3 people at the front dancing along to the Vocaloid music video being shown on the screen behind them. Following that was a presentation of the “Double Rainbow” video. The panel seemed to be a huge hit and I’m glad that descent was able to pull it off with such success.

I wasn’t too impressed with how the Valve Addicts Anonymous panel was being run. It was a free form Q&A style panel which I’m not a big fan of. They talked about how hats killed TF2, complained about the delays in release of Half-Life: Episode 3, speculated on some major releases for Steam, etc. I was somewhat surprised no one there mentioned that Steam is going to be releasing Dota 2 since IceFrog works for Valve.

The 5 minutes I was in there for the Are You Seme or Uke? panel was when they were doing a game where one person would ask questions for 4 possible candidates and then try to decide which one to go on a date with or something like that. This type of things has been done before and the success of it really just depends on the audience members that participate. The panel seemed to be pretty well attended.

The last thing of the night I went to was Who’s Line is it Anyway? UNRATED. It had its moments of hilarity but I was somewhat concerned about them taking the racism thing a bit over the top. Using racism in comedy is a fine line that needs to be tread between being funny and being actually offensive and coarse. The “world’s worst” and “freeze tag” games are usually among some of the funnier segments and they didn’t disappoint.

Sunday

Most of the morning was spent packing and getting all my stuff back to my car before heading back to the convention center to try and attend a few panels.

There was an Old Toonami & Adult Swim panel at noon. I’ve been to the one at Colossalcon which was the panelist showing videos of various Toonami openings in chronological fashion showing the changes over the years. This panel was much different, involving 6 panelists sitting up on the stage without any actual presentation. A majority of the panel seemed to be something similar to “Oh, do you remember this show?” followed by some audience response. My main issue is that they didn’t really go further past mentioning what shows have been on Toonami and Adult Swim. If I simply wanted the list I could easily find it online. I was hoping it would be an intelligent discussion of differences in Toonami and Adult Swim with the current versions.

I went over to the Eastern Astrology panel but the panelist wasn’t there so after ten minutes I left. At this point I just walked around, talked to a few people, and decided to leave the convention since there really wasn’t any interesting panels left.

Overall

Organization

There were plenty of staff everywhere so it wasn’t too difficult to find someone to go to if you needed to ask a question.

The level of helpfulness on the other hand wasn’t such an easy thing to come by. For instance, I was trying to help some friends find the Ohayocon J-Walk Fashion Show and Dance going on Saturday evening but by the time we got there it was halfway in and we saw a line outside. After a few minutes we realized the line was for the rave, which got moved not long after we got there. However, when I went to ask the security staff outside the Regency Ballroom where the Fashion Show was supposed to be, he said that he didn’t know what was going on inside the Ballroom and even said “do I look like I know what’s going on in there?” I felt like that comment was a bit of an odd thing to say considering he’s staff.

There were not too many other times I needed to find staff for help so that could very well be just an exception to the general state of helpfulness of the staff.

It was nice to see water and cups within reasonable distances, allowing people to stay hydrated easily.

Program Guide/Schedule Grid

I was quite disappointed with the program guide this year. Last year they had panel descriptions for all the panels which made it easier to decide what to attend. This year they didn’t have any panel descriptions in the guide. I did see descriptions outside the actual rooms, but it would be a lot easier if they were all in one place (the program guide).

The schedule grid was very nicely decorated with characters in steampunk, following the theme this year. The one thing that I found happening a lot is that I wasn’t sure what time a panel was actually going on easily. With the sheet of paper being so long and the times located on the two extremes, it was difficult to easily determine if something was starting at 1 PM or 1:30 PM. This was especially complicated by the fact that panels don’t always start on the hour and they’re often staggered by half hours when displayed on the schedule in the adjacent columns. A solution to this might be some careful use of cell background coloring to make rows stand out more, similar to what people in professional settings do.

Another thing I noticed on the schedule grid was more than just one or two typos/misspellings. For instance, “Tocha Tea Tasting” was listed as “Touch Tea Tasting.” There should e better proofreading for the future. This could be an error when the panelist submitted the panel, in which case the fault does not lie completely with the staff. However, they should probably question something titled “touch” tea tasting if it was submitted that way.

Location

There were several changes in locations of things within the convention this year. I think it was a good thing since there is now no need to walk from one side of the convention center to the other – everything is located in the part that’s attached to the food court (with the exception of two rooms in the Drury hotel). Last year everything was so spread out that it took 5 minutes just to get from one place to the next.

The location for the dance/rave was moved to the Regency Ballroom (location of the Dealer’s Room last year). The Dealer’s Room and Artist’s Alley were both moved to Battele Hall (North part). It was very spacious and most people I talked to were pleased with the selection. I wasn’t really looking to buy anything so I didn’t spend too much time in these two area.

There were too many “main” panels located in the Union hallway. The lines were really long and it was difficult to tell who was in a line waiting for autographs and who was in a line for a panel. My suggestion would be to move the autographs to somewhere that’s not in such proximity to other panel rooms to avoid confusion. I was turned off from attending at least two panels in that area because of the amount of crowding.

Panels

A lot of hit and miss with panels this year, although really it’s nothing new or surprising. The really good panels were well prepared and the panelist had a clear idea of what was going to be covered in the panel. They often would include good visual aides such as pictures and videos to supplement text. Also not allowing a question to make too much of a tangent is also a sign of a good panelist. Basically: have a plan and try to stick to it.

I feel like a lot of the less successful panels are the ones that don’t have a clear plan and just have people sit on stage and try to engage in an open discussion with the audience. That’s more like something that would happen on forums, not something that happens at a convention panel.

My personal opinion is that there were less panels that I was interested in attending this year compared to last year.

Cosplay

It’s really great to see people enthusiastic about this subculture enough to do cosplay. I love seeing the variety of costumes. My favorite part is seeing ones that are personally crafted, especially when I can learn about how they made various things. With that being said, I wasn’t as impressed with the cosplay this year. I’m not sure if it was my expectations being higher after sewing my own, there being less cosplayers in general, or the level of cosplaying dropping. Talking to a few people it seems like the last two are definite factors so I’ll just say that it was a combination of all three.

There were still some notable favorites, including the Zero from Megaman X (one of my personal dream cosplays), some nice BlazBlue ones, the aforementioned Gurren Lagann group, and the Armstrong from FMA that had sparkles attached to the back of his neck.

Conclusion

This is only my fourth anime convention and Ohayocon was really fun for me last year. Honestly I’m a bit disappointed with everything this year but hopefully they can make some improvements and continue to make the convention better. I still had fun and thanks a lot to all the staff and panelists for putting everything together. Last but not least thanks to all the con-goers because it wouldn’t be a con without you guys!

Posted on January 30, 2011, in Conventions, Ohayocon 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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