Greg: This year's trip began early in the morning of August 8. We (Dave: newsletter head, Lillian: mighty native Japanese speaker, Gregory: archivist, John: treasurer, and Lawrence: slightly useless man) packed up the rental car with some food and parts for my costume, Evangelion Unit-01. I drove the 7 hours from Ithaca to Baltimore, MD. We arrived shortly after the other members of our little band. James, Eddie, and James's buddies from home met us at the convention. Jerry (ex-AV god) and his sister joined the party, as well as Allen. The party had grown large and strong, and together they knew their destiny would lead them into the depths of the unofficial CJAS gathering place: OTAKON. Then we split up. Eddie and Lawrence immediately got in line just to get into the dealers' room, to earn the privilege of being one of the first people to pay zillions of dollars for stuff. The dealers' room contained many booths from stores and companies selling all kinds of anime goods. This year, I was frightened by the horrendous amount of Evangelion merchandise and the pathetic lack of rarer cool things like Child's Toy. Biggest error one could make: bringing a credit card into the dealers' room.
Lawrence: That night, the CJAS group entered the anime trivia contest, and we nearly swept the competition. Jerry had the best performance, outclassing everybody, but he was lucky that the questions were mostly about post-1985 anime, or else Lillian (who won second place) would have trounced him. Greg, Dave, and I each got some time on stage as well, and at one point, it was all CJASers on stage. I always knew that knowing what Voltage Fighters Gowcaizer was would do me good some day. So Jerry won an Otakon T-shirt and Lillian got a pretty ribbon. Not bad, considering that we had just won anime Win, Lose, or Draw a few hours before. Greg and Lillian's team won, but credit must be given to the losing team, which included Jerry and Eddie, because they had the best round of play in the whole game. Eddie drew this:
By some remarkable power of deduction (or Shin-gan if you've watched Rurouni Kenshin), Jerry correctly guessed Project A-ko. Go figure. It was uncanny. [Hey, can anybody else think of how to draw "Project A-ko" really quickly? -Eddie]
James, Dave, and I then attended the Fan Summit Meeting, in which anime club officers met and discussed issues regarding fandom in the United States, running clubs, and other controversial things that only people who run anime clubs could possibly enjoy (or tolerate) talking about. We found out that CJAS is very large for an anime club on the East Coast, and that our system of scheduling, making decisions, and showing anime is actually quite well-developed compared to many of the clubs out there, i.e. we aren't run like a dictatorship. A few of us then sampled some of the late-night anime and live-action showings in the video rooms. If you can't imagine, live-action Kekko Kamen was quite bizarre, but humorous.
Lillian: Greg neglected to mention that, even after 2 months, his costume was not finished when we hauled it into the hotel room. Eva Test Type was merely a pile of bare white bones in a cardboard box. That night and most of the next day, all of the CJAS crew were at one point put to slave labor, racing to get it done. (My Misato costume wasn't done at that point either, but the jacket could easily conceal a bunch of safety pins.) Greg and poor Jerry stayed up all night and didn't spend much time doing anything but prepare Eva. The other biggest mistake you can make going to a con is bringing an unfinished costume. Greg got what was coming to him by having to stand for 2 hours while we put the costume together on him, with an occasional needle poking through. The saddest part was that, despite a lightning-fast paint job and a last-minute facial, we were too late for the judging. We still got tremendous satisfaction seeing the audience gawk in silence at his awesome roar on stage, though, that I think it was all worth it. The judges were so impressed that they gave us a spontaneous prize (even though it was a T-shirt)! Standing as an accessory to Eva, I've never had my picture taken so many times in my life.
James: So, what did I do at this con? On the morning of the second day, Dave and I went to see the "Obscure Anime" panel where we got to see clips from this awesome soccer anime. The premise here was that there are these soccer teams vying in a fantasy universe to be the top team in the world. The winner gets to fight these evil demons in a game of soccer in order to save the world. This is because the god of the land in ancient times challenged the evil demons to a game of soccer and beat them, sentencing them to eternal imprisonment. However, these demons get a chance for a rematch every so often, and thus our heroes must play soccer to save the world from total annihilation. Sounds cool, ehh? Well, we also got to hang around the con suite and drink soda and eat chips and veggies. So, chips and soccer... what else... oh yeah. There was this awesome talking Mokona (Puu! Puu!) in the dealer's room. After 2 days of debating the expense of this item, I decided to buy it. There were also several entertaining skits at the cos-play later. If any of you have played a collectible card game like Ani-Mayhem, you would appreciate the skit where they got all the people in costume to "play" a game. Seeing "Ryouga with Priss's hardsuit is about to be thrashed by Kagato. Interrupt: Super-Saiyajin powerup! Ryouga blasts him to bits!" was fairly amusing. There was this scavenger hunt that we were a little too late in gathering items for, so we didn't win. And in the final 30 minutes of the con, I tried to bargain down this dealer that was selling the last Gundam Wing LD (which only has 1 episode on it), but I was unable to get any decent concessions from him and was forced to purchase it at the inflated price.
Eddie: I thought that last year's Otakon was actually better than this year's. The dealers' room this year had a lot of items that didn't interest me, and not enough of the ones that did. There weren't even great discounts on the last day of the con. And unfortunately, most of the anime that they were showing I had already seen. In fact, I think I only went in to the main programming room to watch the music video contest. Speaking of which, there were a heck of a lot of music video entries this year, about two and a half hours' worth. A lot of them just plain sucked, but some were really good. Among my favorites were a video filled with clips from various anime to the music of Nikki French's version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and an Eva video to New Order's "True Faith". The video that won was set to Weird Al Yankovic's "Trigger Happy", filled with lots of gun scenes from various anime. I was very disappointed that it won because it's clear that the song carried the music video, and I'm not a fan of using pointless comedy as a primary device (but that's for another topic). Besides the music video contest, other aspects of the con that I enjoyed include the aforementioned games, scavenger hunt, and cos-play. A bunch of us CJASers also went to the karaoke room one night. I don't believe we sang "Fly Me to the Moon" again...