Otakon Needs Our Help

Otakon, the largest American anime convention on the east coast, is in trouble. Due to the ongoing pandemic stifling last year’s event and the nonprofit nature of its parent organization, Otakon is at risk of shutting down for good. In order to fight off this unfortunate possibility, Otakorp is now, for the first time ever, accepting donations online.

I make no effort to hide the fact that Otakon is by far my favorite anime convention. I’ve been an attendee since before I started Ogiue Maniax all the way back in 2007, and I’ve gone as press (and occasionally even a panelist) every year since. Writing con reports and conducting interviews with great Otakon guests have become staples of this blog and my experience as an anime fan. Donating to Otakon has been one of the easiest decisions I ever made.

What I love so much about Otakon is that it never feels as commercialized compared to some of the professionally run anime conventions that are so common these days. I can expect interesting guests from Japan, including those who might not be as well known to the mainstream anime fan, and it’s always a pleasure to pick their brains for industry insight. I also love the fan panel culture that has grown out of Otakon, where every year is full of genuinely enthusiastic presenters, both new and seasoned, who encourage their audience to explore a little further and think a little deeper about anime, manga, and fandom. And it’s also been a great place to connect to many of the fellow fans I’ve met online.

In honor of Otakon and in hopes of it continuing on, I’ve decided to list some of the great interviews I’ve done at the convention over the years. I hope they can at least show you why it’s a cultural touchstone worth saving.

Furuya Toru, the voice of Amuro Ray and Tuxedo Mask (Otakon 2019)

Inoue Kikuko, the voice of Belldandy and Aina Sahalin (Otakon 2019)

Kawamori Shoji, creator of Macross (Otakon 2018)

Furukawa Toshio (Piccolo, Kai Shiden) and Kakinuma Ai (Naru in Sailor Moon) (Otakon 2017)

P.A. Works, the studio behind Shirobako (Otakon 2016)

LeSean Thomas, co-director of The Boondocks and creator of Cannon Buster (Otakon 2016)

Takamatsu Shinji, director of Gundam X and J-Decker (Otakon 2015)

Park Romi (Edward Elric, Loran Cehack) press conference (Otakon 2015)

Seki Tomokazu, the voice of Domon Kasshu (Otakon 2013)

Japan: Opportunities to Give and Consider

A number of sites have cropped up in the wake of the 8.9~9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan last Friday and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear scare with the purpose of uniting anime fans to donate to Japan. Certainly a noble cause, but one that I have honestly not felt entirely comfortable with, just because I don’t want it to be “about” being an anime fan.

I have benefited greatly from anime and manga. It has been a great source of entertainment, comfort, self-realization, and even one of the reasons I currently have an unbelievably wonderful job. I studied in Japan because of a love of animation, and I continue to make friends in Japan because of that passion. But before I could donate as an anime fan or an anime blogger, I had to do so as a human being.

However, I realized that it’s not my place to tell people “why” they should donate, or even if they should be donating at all. I have my reasons for acting as I have, and I know that the folks running these donation drives have the best intentions at heart. The more opportunities the better, and I can at least provide people with links to donate, whether you want to do it as an anime fan, an anime blogger, or just a person who wants to help.

Anime Fans Give Back to Japan: They’re doing a 24-hour podcast tomorrow, March 19th, starting at 6pm EST. They have a number of fans, podcasters, and even industry professionals lined up to show their support.

Crunchyroll Japan Earthquake Donation Fund: The biggest streaming site for anime promises to match donations.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan: They’ve got two donations going, one for Shelter Box, and one for Doctors Without Borders, a self-explanatory group that I first came to know due to their distribution of Plumpy Nut to combat malnutrition in Africa. That’s not exactly the problem here, but I think it says a lot about their mission.

Japan Society: 100% of donations go straight to helping Japan.

Red Cross

UNICEF

Lastly, a lot of artists have been creating work in response to the earthquake, and as much as I have neglected that side of myself, I felt my hand moving on its own when put in front of a piece of lined paper and given a writing tool to work with. It’s not exactly a clear-cut “Pray for Japan” image, but it definitely comes from the heart.