Photo: otakon.com
Otakon is an annual anime convention that takes place on the United States West Coast during July or August. Originally held in Baltimore, Maryland, it moved to Washington, D.C. in 2017. Otakon is a three-day convention dedicated to East Asian popular culture (primarily anime, manga, cinema and music) and its fandom.

The convention’s name is a portmanteau derived from the Japanese word “otaku” (a person with obsessive interests, commonly anime and manga) and the English word “convention”. The inaugural Otakon was held over two days in July 1994 in State College, Pennsylvania. During the first few years of its existence the convention was held in different states such as Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

In 1999, Otakon moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where it was held at the Baltimore Convention Center every year between 1999 and 2016. Since 2017, the convention has been held in Washington, D.C. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the attached Marriott Marquis where it will continue until at least 2024.

Otakon is run by Otakorp, Inc. This is a non-profit organization based in Pennsylvania that aims to promote the appreciation of Asian culture, primary through entertainment and media. Otakon attendees don’t buy tickets to the event. Instead, they become a supporting member for Otakorp and pay an annual membership fee that allows them to attend Otakon and other sanctioned events.

Otakon is one of the longest-running anime conventions in the United States and the fifth largest event of its kind in North America as of 2016 (it used to be the second largest, behind only Anime Expo in California). Its annual attendance is around 30,000. The latest attendance record (as of 2016) was set at the 2014 convention that drew almost 40,000 anime and manga fans.

Like most conventions focused on Asian popular culture, Otakon offers diverse programming that includes panels and workshops on various subjects related to anime, manga and East Asian culture, cosplay and Masquerade show, anime and live action film screenings, Artist Alley, Dealers Room, video gaming area, AMV (anime music video) contest, art show, dance, karaoke, maid cafe, and more.

Panels and workshops at Otakon are conducted by both fans and industry professionals. Industry guests at the convention have included Japanese anime director Kazuki Akane, Japanese anime producer Kenji Horikawa, American voice actor Erik Scott Kimerer, Japanese anime director Ei Aoki, American voice actress Sandy Fox, American voice actor and producer David Vincent, South Korean boy band VIXX, Japanese writer Gen Urobuchi, and others.


Photo: Piotrus



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