Once upon a time…precious memories: Otaku Festival 2014 – biased review

Posted: May 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

Since I haven’t updated my blog in years (literally), I consider that the perfect time to do so is after this edition of Otaku Festival, held also at the Romanian-American University, with the help and partnership of our friends from the “Romanian-Japanese Studies Center Angela Hondru”. I’ll try to make my own personal review of the event, to show a bit how it all looks like through the organizer’s eye.

Leaving aside all the pre-event preparations (which lasted for months actually), to me Otaku Festival point zero was Wednesday April 30 at midnight, when I went along with my colleague Cristian and the awesome volunteer Alex to pick up Kaname-san from the airport. Since our incredible translator/interpreter Odeena (I’ll return to her later in this review, because she deserves all the appreciation in the world) could come to Bucharest only on Thursday evening due to work-related issues, I found myself in a “swim or sink” situation. I was nervous as heck, because my Japanese is only at a beginner level and I was soon to meet a cosplayer whom I respect a lot and wanted for a long time to meet in person, and didn’t want to screw it up in any way. The flight was delayed with about half an hour, but finally I spotted our guest near the baggage reclaim band (it was quite a distance, but perhaps stress transformed my -1 diopters into eagle-eye vision). Of course, first thing I apologized for my bad Japanese, but Kaname-san just laughed and said “daijobu, daijobu, no problem desu!”. That was the moment all my stress went away because I knew I was dealing with a very kind person. With a helping hand offered via telephone by Odeena, everything went smoothly. We went to the hotel (special thanks to Pullman for the excellent partnership) and took care of the accommodation and we declared operation “picking up guest 1” as successfully accomplished.

The next day was at least as hectic as the first evening. I was still stressing about my lack in Japanese and kept calling insistently Odeena, asking her once in 50 km where exactly she was (please accept my apologies for that day). When I finally understood there was no way she could arrive before evening, I knew that I was dealing with “sink or swim 2.0”.  I went to the hotel, ready to offer a Bucharest tour by signs, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. With a bit of English from Kaname-san, a bit of Japanese from my part and the huge help from the translation software on the mobile phone (long live technology), we managed. The group was soon joined by our beyond awesome friend Lex, who had just arrived from the airport, and later by cute Peggy, the second guest to arrive. After walking through the old town, filming and taking photos and selfies, in the evening we brought the guests at the hotel. What I remember most clearly from that part was an incredibly beautiful sunset, with mild brightness, and puffy-flowers flowing in the air. It all seemed so peaceful that the only thing I could do was gaze through the window and smile like an idiot. Then I hurried to the airport again with Alex and Cristian, because there was no way in hell I could miss welcoming our dear friend Lina, especially since there was more than a year since I had last seen her. When we came back to the hotel, memorable-presents-moment arrived. To our surprise, sweet Cvy had sent presents for each and every one of us, along with nice letters written by her very hand. Thank you so much Cvy for the adorable sushi kit! You are a darling and I wish I could see you soon! Then gift no. 2 for yours truly, from Lina: a very very awesome Hibari figurine. Thank you so much Linaaaaa!

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But my evening continued to be as hectic. A bit of dinner, then I finally met Odeena and we rushed to the airport with two cars, along with the boys, to pick up Reika and Ricky (aka Shiroin). After bringing them to the hotel it was way past midnight, so we declared the second day over and done with. Not before being announced that I’ll be going from the part of the organizers’ team with the group of guests the next day in Sinaia, to visit Peles Castle.

This is why my Friday started again with me freaking out, because I had a lot of work to do for the fest. But fortunately the Toyota cars were blessed with WiFi so I boarded the Toyota Avensis driven by Odeena, together with Reika-san and Kaname-san and started off. To me, the road meant one hand on my mobile, and the other on my laptop’s keyboard, writing texts, sending e-mails, and monitoring. I got sick on the way, but in the end I was proud to have finished all my tasks. At Peles, Reika-san and Kaname-san had an awesome photoshoot with the amazing photographers Pugoffka and Shiroin, we had our share of incidents, but in the end it was a nice day, in spite the rain. I was happy to tears to see Reika’s Joker and the new costume of Kaname, Yuris from Last Story (that wig was one of the most beautiful cosplay things I had ever seen).

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We returned to Bucharest in the evening, tired as hell, but with a feeling of accomplishment. “Otsukaresama”-photo in front of the hotel after such a day was certainly a must.

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Meanwhile in Russ…Bucharest: everyone was busy as hell at the festival venue (I apologize for not being able to be there), the boys made multiple trips to the airport to pick up Big Man Tyrone, Miyo, and other friends, while our team of volunteers made sure everything was put into place smoothly. And this is the perfect moment to thank the whole team for their incredible work and dedication. Without you there could be no Otaku Festival. The girls who coordinated the teams were incredible. Wana, Jo, Andreea, Alexandra, Simona, Madalina – you did a great job and we are all thankful for your work.

The convention days are actually a bit blurry, since I couldn’t see much of the event. I had other tasks, such as explaining the public that the guests have a very tight schedule or they are already tired and need a break. And here I would like to clarify a few things. First off, the guests DID take photos with the fans. Thing is, they just couldn’t have taken pictures with ALL the fans, it’s basically “mission impossible”. They are human beings too, they need to go to the restroom without being followed (I witnessed that when I escorted Reika there), they need to be understood when they don’t want to take pictures when they look too tired – especially since staying for a whole day in costume is really tiresome and difficult, and they also need to be understood when they want to go to karaoke simply to have fun along with you, not to give autographs and take photos. They really love karaoke and they wanted to have their share of fun with everyone. To try and understand them – and understand that when they don’t want to take photos it’s not because they are arrogant, but simply tired – is a matter of respect. And I’m sure that the Romanian public is mature enough to be able to understand this.

A special thank you goes to Odeena, our awesome translator and interpreter. As I am a philologist myself, I can fully understand the extent of her help. Being an interpreter even for an hour is exhausting as hell. It’s an activity that drains you of energy, because it needs focus and a whole lot of concentration. Guess what. Odeena did that for three whole days. And from/into a very difficult language to learn. She did that as a volunteer, she drove across half a country to come to Bucharest, for the sole reason she loved the fest, she liked our guests and she’s our friend. To be able to speak Japanese like she does is an incredible asset and the result of many years of very hard work. So she deserves praise, not nasty comments on Facebook. She stayed between Reika and Kaname in order to be able to translate for both of them in real time, so to accuse her of ruining fangirlic dreams of perfect “Reikaname” picture is no less than rude. Thank you, Odee. You are the best!

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As I was saying, I was too busy with behind-the-scenes work to see what happened during the event, but it seemed to me that people had fun. And if this is true, then Otaku Fest accomplished its purpose. We had awesome guests and friends, whom I’d like to thank from the bottom of my heart for being present at our event. Reika, Kaname, Elena & Sviat, Miyo, Peggy, Lina, Lex (this guy deserves a very special prize for being one of the most wonderful persons I’ve ever met – I’m really happy to be your friend), Tyrone, Astarohime. Emperor, Christelle, Ricky: you are wonderful and I’m glad to have met you or seen you again! Not to mention the tons of Romanian friends who gave us a priceless helping hand with the workshops, panels and other activities (Mistik, Andreea, Livia, Mrs. Murgescu, Bogdan, Ada, and all the rest – without you, this event wouldn’t have been the same. You did a really great work!

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The event finished for the public on Sunday evening, but for us continued in the following days. I admit I had the most wonderful task, that of continuing to take care of the guests who remained longer in Bucharest. I spent the Monday at the mall, shopping with Lex, Kaname, and Ricky, and later Elena and Sviat joined us and we went to karting. That day was really really awesome and I won’t forget it anytime soon.

The next day we went to show Ricky and Kaname a bit of Transylvania. A sunny and peaceful day in the mountains, the yellow canola fields, Kaname who was in charge with the music in the car (hence “DJ Kaname), the awesome bulz we ate near Bran, the snowy peaks visible from the citadel of Rasnov, my sister trying to prove herself as an archer, Johnny who was an awesome driver and took such a good care of us. It was one of the most beautiful memories I have from this event and I’m really grateful for it.

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Pugoffka and Sviat left the following day. Same did Kaname-san, whom we drove to the airport after a wonderful morning spent at Methos’s home with everyone. Ricky was the last to leave us the next morning. The guests have already gone, and right now I still have a feeling of emptiness after all these wonderful days. In Ricky’s words, it might be “post-event depression”. What I know is that I already miss everyone and from time to time I’m looking at my autographed poster on the wall of my room and I really hope that in the future we’ll be able to meet like this again.

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Minna-san, otsukaresama deshita! Hontoni arigatou gozaimasu!

Ruxi

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Comments
  1. Alexander says:

    Thanks for the hard work. I had loads of fun!

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