In the past, Otakon held their matsuri as a kickoff event at the West Shore Park along the Baltimore waterfront. The transition to DC evolved the matsuri into an event side by side with the convention itself. This year the Library of Congress teamed up with Otakorp and served up a pre-convention event called Anime for All filled with performances, workshops, storytelling sessions and collectibles galore. Misreported back on the 2nd was a Studio Ghibli related musical performance. Rather, the Washington Toho Koto dropped in at the Great Hall in a pop-up fashion this past Wednesday.
The Young Readers Center hosted two events to include a manga drawing workshop as well as a cosplay how-to/q&a with Rebecca Hawk. A young lady named Jaydee started the morning with tips on how to draw chibi characters. For the less confident and younger audience, there were templates to color on. Moments later, Rebecca Hawk came onto speak about her fashion background and how it slowly segued into her passion for cosplay crafting. For those curious to timeline, materials used, tips and tricks with wigs, Rebecca certainly answered questions like a master chef. However, she did point out crafting props isn’t her strong suit at the moment.
For a pre-convention event, Anime for All felt like a con of its own with workshops, panels and even a feature film. The afternoon continued at the Coolidge Auditorium where Studio Ghibli fanatics can soak in The Tale of Princess Kaguya. There’s no such thing as a bad Studio Ghibli film and we especially loved the calligraphic visuals of Princess Kaguya.
Other than a movie screening, the Library of Congress also had on display 13th century picture scrolls, wooden block paintings and a preview of the Dragon Ball Tour. Fans of yokai, Studio Ghibli, The Mighty Atom (Astroboy), Robotech, Transformers would have a blast in this mini museum. Up until recently we also didn’t know Dragon Ball Z keshi (think M.U.S.C.L.E. toys) figurines existed. On deck were LOC personnel to answer any questions about the media on display. With so many artifacts of the otaku variety, it was definitely an exhibit that’ll make one squeal for joy internally.
The second to last program for Thursday’s Anime for All was a real treat as it hosted Kihara Hirokatsu, a former Studio Ghibli production desk manager. The seasoned writer turned actor and master of ceremonies at monster conventions discussed his involvement with My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky and Kiki’s Delivery Service and his transition into the horror genre. Urban exploration is one of our favorite pastimes so it was delightful to hear Kihara mention drawing inspiration from abandonments. One takeaway was a comparison to the soots from My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away us unexplainable natural occurrences. Not that this actually happened, but a giant “Ahhh” should have taken place when he alluded to the parallels between Studio Ghibli creations and the horror kaidan sub-genre.
Overall, this was a great panel discussion as Kihara is a very animated personality and even shared original sketches of Studio Ghibli works. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to document them. That said, we highly recommend to Otakon goers not to miss out on his two appearances at Panel 4 on Friday and Saturday. Heres a fun fact, the man has also collaborated with Japan’s master of horror, Junji Itou.
Anime For All concluded it’s Thursday event with a screening of Superman on the North Lawn. However, the event continues with a panel discussion at Otakon on Saturday. To those who wanted to start their Otakon 2018 right, this was a no brainer. Hopefully, this will become a new tradition between Otakorp and the Library of Congress in years to come.