Don't miss the official OtakonVideos channel on Youtube for all the official convention videos, including prior animations, commercials, and promos from our guests.
It's back to the drawing board for the third year running, as the Otakon Opening Animation returns for 2010 -- and this year we're once again trying something a little different.
Otakon 2010 will open with an original animated short, produced by Production I.G., as well as an original theme song, composed by Hiroki Kikuta. Once again featuring Otakon's mascots, Hiroko-chan and Hiroshi-kun, this year's project will showcase the convention's focus on music.
This will be the fourth original animation commissioned for Otakon, and the third to be produced by a major Japanese animation studio. Two previous animated shorts were produced by Madhouse, while a third was produced by an Otakon staffer using computer-generated graphics.
Award-winning Production I.G. -- known for its work on the Ghost in the Shell series, FLCL, xxxHolic, Blood: The Last Vampire, and other high-quality projects -- has assigned director Nekomataya to the project. Nekomataya has served as a storyboard artist, character designer, animator, or director on such successful shows as Wolf's Rain, Fullmetal Alchemist, Chobits, Eureka Seven, Blood: The Last Vampire, and the new Heroman television series.
The opening song, "Shackles of Night", was written by Hiroki Kikuta specifically for this project. Kikuta is best known as the composer for the video games Secret of Mana and Koudelka. A self-taught musician, Kikuta spent seven years working at Square alongside the likes of Nobuo Uematsu and Hitoshi Sakimoto. He has also worked as a manga artist, sound designer, and video game designer. The lyrics were written by Sarah Alainn, the vocalist on the hit new video game Xenoblade, which debuted at #1 in Japan earlier this month. The music is supervised by Eminence Symphony Orchestra's founder, Hiroaki Yura. In 2007, Eminence (in the form of a string quartet) performed to a packed house at Otakon.
Performing the theme will be singer/songwriter Shihori, part of the classical pop unit "Shihori and Asuka". A talented composer and lyricist, she's has written several songs and sung backup for Nana Mizuki, and collaborated with Yoko Kanno on the song "Universal Bunny" for the Macross Frontier movie.
Otakon's mascots, older sister Hiroko-chan and (slightly) younger brother Hiroshi-kun, have represented the convention in three prior animated shorts, as well as more than a decade's worth of program guides, t-shirts, and other merchandise.
We'll be showing it during opening and closing ceremonies, as well as at Masquerade. And we may have a few other surprises up our sleeve...
Yes, it's true -- thanks to the warm reception of the opening created for our 15th convention, Otakon's celebrating its Sweet Sixteen with another opening animation!
Otakon 2009 will once again feature an original opening animated short, created by award-winning studio Madhouse. The animation will premier at Opening Ceremonies and be shown several times throughout the convention.
This year's segment is co-directed by Takuji Endo (Paranoia Agent, Highlander: Search for Vengeance) and Yoshinori Kanemori (Death Note, X); Kanemori also serves as character designer. The short will feature Otakon's mascots, siblings Hiroko-chan and Hiroshi-kun, who were the focus of last year's opener.
While once again Otakon's staff provided a number of possible gags and situations, Madhouse's staff was given free reign to improvise broadly. The inspiration is, once again, the much-loved Daicon IV openings.
What it is
The "Otakon Opening Animation" was a brief animated short, intended to be used both for TV commercials and for the opening ceremonies for Otakon's 15th convention in 2008. It was produced by Madhouse.
How it came about
Back in 2001 one of our staffers, Chris Ochs, put together a 3D CGI animation for opening ceremonies featuring our mascots, Mecha Run For It found here.
Since then our staff started to consider the idea of producing a second animated short. Finally, in 2006, we started sounding out friends in the industry to see what might be possible and what it would cost.
As our 15th convention season approached, it finally felt like the right time. We approached Madhouse with the idea, and in 2007, Mr Maruyama told us they could fit it into their schedule.
At that point, it all became amazingly real. We put it in the budget and had to begin the real work. Otakon's got so much going on that we really wanted to put everything in, and that just wasn't going to happen. So we had an amazingly fun brainstorming session amongst our staff (ranging from people who just joined to those who were there in year one), put together a wish list and a lengthy list of sight gags, and presented this to Madhouse along with a basic framing concept. The inspiration was the old Daicon opening animations, done by the group that eventually formed Gainax. We wanted to capture that anything-goes, "all the stuff we love in a blender" feel, and yet we also wanted something that could be easily modularized, so we could more easily use some of it for commercials, or add to it in successive years. We wanted our mascots prominently featured, as well as Baltimore.
The pitch session at Madhouse's Los Angeles offices went very well, and coincidentally, a suitable director was visiting, and Mr Maruyama roped him in.
As of 23 July 2008
This past weekend, we were able to treat the Otakon staff to a glimpse of the animation, and it went over VERY well. In addition to a rough animatic, we also got some color samples. Madhouse has REALLY come through for us on this, and it's just amazing to see what they've done with it. I'm already scrambling to put together a bigger budget for next time...
The real deal will be ready for the con, but for now here a few more glimpses....