Otakon, the annual anime and manga fandom convention is taking place this weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center. It will be Otakon’s final year in Baltimore. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC will begin hosting Otakon starting in 2017.
Why the move? Because the Baltimore Convention Center hasn’t aged gracefully. From the official Otakon website:
The primary driver for this move is the state of the facilities in Baltimore and their uncertain future. The Baltimore Convention Center has not aged gracefully and there are proposals to replace both the BCC and the Arena over the next five years. Any upgrades would require at least a temporary move and would result in disruptive changes in our facilities regardless of the final outcome.
The Arena is the Royal Farms Arena located a block away from the Baltimore Convention Center. I haven’t been there is years, so I don’t know if it too has not aged gracefully.
Another problem with hosting Otakon in Baltimore is the city itself. Parts of Baltimore are dangerous, not the kind of places you’d want to go dressed up as Sailor Moon.
You also never know when the Baltimore police will kill someone. It happens all the time. When it does, there’s good chance there will be riots and the city will burn. Black Lives Matter.
There’s a reason the HBO series The Wire took place in the city of Baltimore.
I’ve been to Otakon only once, and I didn’t care too much for it. Although my interest in Anime and Japanese pop culture is not the greatest, I do have some interest in it. What stood out the most was how rude and obnoxious everyone seemed to be. I had more people bump into me at my one day there than I had the prior twenty years combined. I’ve been to Star Trek cons. I’ve been to comic book cons. The fans at Otakon are just different.
Another thing I don’t like about Otakon is the price. They don’t sell single day tickets. The event takes place Thursday through Sunday. If you want only to go to Friday’s convention, you have to purchase a four-day $100 membership. They get away with this because they cater to hardcore fans, the type of fans who wouldn’t dream of going to Otakon for only one day.
I’m a much more casual fan of anime and Japanese pop culture. My casual fandom isn’t conducive to forking over $100 for the privilege of attending a convention for one day.