Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Five Attractions" Report – OTAKON 2013

August 9-11, 2013 – OTAKON, one of the largest and most renowned anime conventions in America, celebrated its 20th anniversary. Whether you were attending for anime or for music, they presented a dream-like collection of guests that had fans bursting with joy.

HOME MADE KAZOKU – Possibly the coolest, most laid back trio you’ll every cross paths with. Creating a comfortable atmosphere wherever they went, with a panel on Friday, multiple autograph sessions throughout the weekend, and a photo session with those who purchased their special HOME MADE KAZOKU OTAKON t-shirt, fans had lots of opportunities to interact with these charming gentlemen. As the first act of the Saturday concerts at the 1st Mariner Arena they shook up the crowd and had them up on their feet dancing in no time with their smooth rhythms, catchy lyrics and energetic crowd interaction. It was a joy hearing them perform their new song Kimigaitakara in the US for the first time, it was very easy to sing along with. Celebrating their 10th anniversary, in both their live performance and when they spoke about their work they truly exuded a genuine desire to work together with their fans, as well a deep gratitude for all the support they’ve received over the years. Be sure to read the transcript from HOME MADE KAZOKU's press conference!

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T.M.Revolution – During his panel, T.M.Revolution was incredibly sweet and welcoming, jesting with the fans and asking their opinions. When the mic was opened for questions from the fans, members of the audience rushed the microphone, literally running to line up. The line was very long, and unfortunately all the fans couldn’t ask a question; T.M.Revolution apologized so sincerely as they went to take their seats, you could truly feel that he wanted to stay longer.  On Saturday evening his sweet demeanor took on a fierce quality on the 1st Mariner Arena stage. With his bold, fast-paced movements it was nearly impossible to take your eyes off of him. Brimming with energy, his powerful vocals struck you at your very core. Backed by a skillful four-man support band, together they put on a spectacular show. The crowning moment was the final encore in which HOME MADE KAZOKU joined T.M.Revolution on stage for a special collaboration song that the crowd absolutely loved. Don't forget to check out the transcript from T.M.Revolution's press conference!

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Chiaki Ishikawa – A beautiful lady with a gentle but playful aura, Chiaki Ishikawa, who also was celebrating her 20th anniversary in the music industry was present at OTAKON much to the delight of her loyal following. Well known as a former member of See Saw, as well as for singing numerous anime themes over the years, she too held a panel and multiple autograph signings. Very gracious and kind, during her panel, originally no photos were allowed, but moments after the restriction was announced to the crowd, she had a change of heart and allowed everyone the opportunity to take photos throughout, something that made the fans very happy. Even after her live performance on Sunday, she continued to be so gracious with her fans, doing a surprise autograph signing a mere hour before the close of the convention. During her concert she wooed with crowd with her beautiful, romantic vocals, spotlighted on the stage her very presence captivating the audience. Though she only sang four songs, they were incredibly memorable. Please visit our interview with Ms. Ishikawa!

Yoko Kanno – Outside of her two limited autograph signings on Friday and Saturday, to my knowledge Yoko did not make any other appearances for the entirety of the convention until her performance on Sunday afternoon. Fans were dying to see her much anticipated "piano me" performance, and it was more than worth the wait as she put on a concert that can only be described as absolutely enchanting and magical. She was simply adorable with her cat-eared headband and a black and white ensemble. She was very expressive, both in her cute facial and her adorable actions, such as jumping up and down in excitement as the audience cheered loudly for her. Her performance was a unique experience for the eyes as well as the ears. Her piano was cloaked in a form fitting white covering on which a LED light display projected lights and animations while Yoko Kanno’s form was often silhouetted. Performing bold piano renditions of popular hits from Cowboy Bebop, Wolf’s Rain and more, Yoko invited fans to sing along, which they gladly did. She even played the Star Spangled Banner, spurring fans to stand up, their hands over the hearts, to sing the anthem.

Music Fans – Something that really impressed me that weekend was the enthusiasm of the music fans at OTAKON. Coming from all corners of the US, and some from overseas, I often heard fans stating that they came all that way just for one or more of the musical guests. T.M. Revolution and HOME MADE KAZOKU have been guests at OTAKON in 2003 and 2010 respectively, and many fans were overwhelmed with joy to see them return again. Throughout the weekend the fans exuded an unstoppable energy and passion for the artists that they love, showing their support in a number of ways, be it standing in line for hours for tickets and autographs, some singing as they waited, gathering together and taking photographs with merchandise in hand and smiles on their faces. Dancing, singing and cheering until their voices ran hoarse during the concerts. Just seeing their joy and enthusiasm was a great experience in and of itself.

My first time attending OTAKON, and what an excellent experience it was! I want to go again in the future. Congratulations to the convention for twenty successful years and congratulations to the guests who were celebrating hallmarks of their own. I hope to see each of the musical guests return again.

Find out more about OTAKON at their [ Official Homepage ]

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This article is the third in the “Five Attractions” series, written by C.Thomas (CMT), edited by Alicia R. Thomas.


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