I’ve lived in Baltimore for seven years and somehow managed to
miss all seven Otakon conventions! I was alerted to this massive
gathering of artists and enthusiasts from a short piece in the
City Paper. Unfortunately, I was out of town and
unable to attend, but I did a little research on this annual event.

The convention bills itself as the biggest East Coast festival celebrating Japanese animation, manga, J-pop, and east
Asian culture, and is decidedly one of the largest in the nation. It is such a popular event that it was sold out this
year, and even the 2,100 at-the-door tickets went fast. If you look at the
historical stats of Otakon membership, it shows growth from 350
members in 1994 to over 20,000 today, illustrating the exploding interest in this art form. Members belong to
Otakorp, Inc., the nonprofit educational organization that runs

If you are interested in learning more about the world of Japanese magna and anime, this MIT hosted
site looks like a good place to
start. The Anime News Network is another place to read up on this phenomenon, and they have a nice
summary of the opening ceremonies from the 2005
event. I think it would be a fascinating convention to witness in person. This year it cost between $40 and $55 to
become a member and attend. The dates are already set for Otakon 2006: August 4-6 in Baltimore. Mark your