Come forth, weebs of all genres. Otakon 2019 blasted off July 31 through August 2, with thousands descending upon the nation’s capitol to celebrate Japanese animation. This year’s highlights included a Nujabes homage concert with Japanese artists known for their work on Samurai Champloo. MINMI performed live. There was an annual AMV Contest, and of course the legendary Dealer’s Room and Artist’s Alley were on point for those brave enough to wander through with cash on hand. Chances are, you could put a deposit on a house with the amount of money us weebs drop at an anime convention. I was FLOORED by the magnificent displays of fashion and costumes as I perused the halls of this convention.
Otakon has always been another home for me. The familiar faces I see year after year bring comfort as I roam the halls. My conversations touched on the evolving anime culture. With other fans I waxed nostalgic about anime conventions of times past. Returning home, I find myself musing on what we have become. As we twentysomethings navigate the hellish landscape of the real world, reality intersects with our long-lasting love of nerd creations in new and sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful ways. We wonder where we can go from here; growing from the brutalities and the solaces of familiar manga while also facing our complicated feelings at the sluggish social progress of certain anime narratives and tropes. We continue to hope for the best in our communities.
Founded in 1994 as a celebration of Asian pop culture, Otakon is in its 24th year of bringing new experiences to East Coast conventions. Looking forward, I hope to see even more change next year. Primarily, I’m still disappointed in the lack of representation by marginalized peoples on panels, in leadership, and on the guest list of the convention. It is beyond time for this to be addressed.
Cosplay continues to be one of the big draws of Otakon. I spent much of my day at the convention with my phone in my hand, snapping pictures of my personal favorites. I’ve featured them here. If you see your picture, reach out and let us know so we can tag you photo with your preferred social media name. It is always fun to see so many Black cosplayers and I’m sure this will only continue to grow at future Otakons.