Con Reviews

Otakon 2018: In Review

Otakon 2018

With Otakon 2019 fast approaching, it is the perfect time to look back at last year’s convention. There were multiple exclusives such as the Dragonball North American Tour, Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy orchestra performance, A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy concert, a live panel with the voice actors from Mystic Messenger, and so much more. I greatly enjoy anime, manga, video games, Kpop, Jpop, and many more genres. Otakon features programming and events for various if not all of them. Even in its second year in Washington DC, it still feels like home.

Let’s review some of the things that made Otakon 2018 at the Walter E Washington Convention Center most memorable.

Dealers’ Room

Since moving to the Walter E Washington Convention Center, the Dealers’ Room at Otakon has grown tremendously. It is easy to lose track of time wandering up and down the aisles filled with goodness. If you couldn’t find a figure online, or if shipping was too much to consider, fear not. The Otakon Dealers’ Room always has you covered.

The Dragonball North America Tour made Otakon 2018 its second stop of the year, and even a novice Dragonball fan like myself was in awe. Their description tells fans to “get ready for an onslaught of Dragonball history, gaming, and even exclusive merchandise” at their setup. They weren’t kidding! From life-size statues, to an endless array of merchandise, to informational areas to learn about characters and the series overall, it was a fantastic place to get your kamehameha on.

Also spearheading Otakon 2018 was Mystic Messenger. The mobile otome game that took the world by storm hasn’t gone anywhere. MM’s characters and plot are still so loved, as shown by the massive crowds attending the panels and visiting the merch booth in the Dealers’ Room. Many items sold out on day 1 of the convention. There were multiple Mystic Messenger cosplayers and voice actors in attendance. It was great to jump back into such an immersive world that took otome games to a whole new level.

Take a look at just some of what 2018’s Dealers’ Room had in store for attendees!


One of my favorite things to do at anime conventions is to check out the cosplay. The classics will always find their way at a convention, which is a lovely sight. On top of that, there are always so many new anime series premiering every season, which can easily become hard to keep up with. However, seeing the meetups and the cosplayers roam around gives you a quick insight on a series simply based on their costumes. You can easily find yourself intrigued and curious just by watching the cosplayers. I’m still learning about My Hero Academia, but I always truly enjoy viewing the cosplay meetups and stopping cosplayers for photos.

Take a look at some of the cosplayers wandering around at Otakon 2018!


Otakon Photo Suite

Otakon Photosuite – Sailor Neptune (Rizuki Cosplay)

Anime conventions are always A+ when it comes to coordinating fan meetups and photoshoots. The attendees themselves are on a whole other level when it comes to setting up unofficial meetups, too. Then there’s the coordination between cosplayers and photographers for some absolutely beautiful imagery that you see all over social media. Otakon is no stranger to these features.

One perk Otakon has that more people should take advantage of is their Photo Suite. Across the hall from the Registration Area is an entire area set up with photographers and photography stations for cosplayers. You have various pricing options to choose from and can decide between hi-res and lo-res images for print and/or social media. These photos may also be found in Otakon’s media as it’s their photographers taking the shots.

A huge pro to this feature is Otakon Photo Suite staff will give you your images on an Otakon flashdrive. That way you can save more onto them and do whatever you wish. That is incredibly handy! They have various stations setup where the photographers can change the color of the backdrop and will work with you on however many shots you and your group may want. Then, you can sit with them at a computer to review your shots and discuss what option you want to pay for. 

Photoshoots & Meetups

Otakon also hosts their usual official photoshoots at three designated locations within the Walter E Washington Convention Center and the adjoining Marriott hotel. Otakon staff is there with the host to go over the rules, safety, and security, as well as to assist if needed. The host takes over from there with running the meetup and calling out characters in an orderly fashion. Their official photoshoots are always listed at the bottom of each day’s events on their annual schedule.

Sailor Senshi (Luna Mirage Arts, Heavens Gem Cosplay, Demon Nyan Cosplay, Rizuki Cosplay, Shattered Wings — Taken By @alaznej)

Then there’s the aforementioned private photoshoots that are coordinated. Washington DC, the WEWCC, and the Marriott all have prime spots for beautiful photos. Since it’s the summer, you have multiple options for amazing backgrounds.

Otakon is one of the many conventions that has a photography Facebook page. The goal of the page is for cosplayers and photographers to connect and schedule photoshoots. Attendees will see and participate in hundreds of them throughout the weekend. It’s very enjoyable to participate, but just as enjoyable to watch and see the art in action.

Otakon Cosplay Repair

A cosplay repair area is something every single convention should have. If on the off chance something happens to your cosplay, you’re covered. In my case, I had a boot malfunction before even entering the convention on the very first day. My first stop at Otakon was directly to the cosplay repair room, and I was quickly attended to. When chatting with the helpers in the repair room, be aware of the tools they have and what options are available. Confer with them before any repairs are done with certain tools and products. My helper and I discussed my options before we agreed upon using a certain type of glue and packaging tape to help my severe issue.

Thanks to the cosplay repair area, I was able to walk as Chibi Moon the rest of the convention. In photos, you can’t tell that work had been done to the boot to keep it on my foot; it looks completely normal. In person is another story. Great job, cosplay repair team!


Never Forget

I always enjoy myself at Otakon. Otakon 2018 was my 5th year in a row attending this convention, and I was already looking forward to 2019 before the event had even ended. Staff and volunteers have always been friendly and helpful to me. I always find something to do in terms of programming. The Dealers’ Room and Artists’ Alley somehow end up with most of my money throughout the weekend. Best of all, I’m able to see friends I only get to at Otakon and get to make new memories with them every year.

I often hear people mention that they’re looking for an anime convention to fit their needs and desires. Otakon is always on my list of recommended conventions. It was my first out of state anime convention, and I haven’t missed one since. With Otakon 2019 just a few days away, I look back at 2018’s event with fond memories. If you’re considering attending, I highly encourage you to check out their website! Ticket information as well as programming is available to view.

Washington DC—A Positive Move?

The move to Washington DC was a smart one and is definitely helping the convention. In 2017, Otakon announced they had 24,894 unique memberships. In 2018, they increased that amount 13.14% to 28,116 unique memberships. Now that the event is more settled in its new location, it’s easier for attendees to find their way and have their bearings. There’s no second guessing or questions like there was the first year, or even last year. 2019 has a tremendous amount of guests and events that just prove the event is getting bigger and better every time.

What were you most excited about at Otakon 2018? What are you looking forward to at 2019’s event? Hope to see you there at the Walter E Washington Convention Center!

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About the author

Rizuki Ann

… a computer technician, marketing director, and graphic designer by day, and an anime-loving, video game-playing cosplayer by night. Rizuki hosts various workshops, panels, and photoshoots at multiple conventions and events throughout Long Island, New York, and on the East Coast. Her focus is Cos-Positivity, inclusivity in the cosplay community, being a resource for new cosplayers, and uniting the Sailor Moon Fandom. Most of her shenanigans can be found on her Instagram.

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