A day in Rehab was just what the doctor ordered! Because Otaku•Rehab was held a ways out in Thousand Oaks, the crowd was smaller, but the gathering was much more intimate. Co-Event Coordinators, Bert Le and Nick Kurachi, put on a more homey, summer camp-tinged gathering. The day was filled with events I haven’t seen at any gathering in recent memory. The handful of events were spaced casually throughout the afternoon, leaving plenty of time to socialize with friends, chow down on gourmet cooking and explore all that Borchard Park had to offer.
There was an abundance of tasty delights provided by Bert, Otaku•Rehab’s master cook. And while the food wouldn’t be found on a menu in any anime I’ve seen, it was a delicious addition to the con experience. Bert provided steak and chicken tacos early in the day smothered with his Brazilian Chimmichuri sauce. Dinner was a simple, but wonderfully tasty spaghetti, the flavor of which Bert attributed to cooking in the same cast-iron skillet as the taco meats. With everyone rushing back to the chef each time more food was put out, the plates quickly ran out and hungry Cosplayers ended up eating out of plastic cups. Few if any complaints were lodged, however!
The food wasn’t the only draw though, the summer-camp like mini-events scattered throughout the day were all a different feel than your typical Cosplay gathering events. The first event of the day was, of all things, a hot dog eating contest. Contestants were given 5 minutes to down as many dogs as possible. The winner, Kenneth Juarez, pounded down a grand total of 9 hot dogs, with buns, to be crowned champion! He walked away with a selection of manga donated by the Pacific Media Expo.
Away from the hot dog eating, Nick taught a brave troupe of Cosplayers the art of slacklining. The slackline itself is a wide, thin, mesh-like rope anchored at both ends to provide enough tension to hold a person’s weight. The line was anchored to two trees 20 feet apart and hovered a few feet above the ground. Those daring enough to attempt crossing it were surprised by the rope’s propensity for stretching and bouncing under their feet. No one was injured during training, though only a few managed to make it across.
The crowd broke afterward and spread about the park to enjoy the afternoon sun and cool breezes. Cosplay photographers were in full force shooting in every available nook and cranny. No stone was left unturned and no willing Cosplayer was turned away. There were several excellent costumes to be seen, including Anya Alstreim (Code Geass R2), Ariel (Little Mermaid), Yuffie Kisaragi (Kingdom Hearts) and not one, but two variations of Grell Sutcliffe (Black Butler)!
As the sun began to drift slowly toward the western horizon, the day grew quite cold and most attendees moved indoors. A raffle was held inside with several great prizes that included a “Cosplay In America” book, a Canon Pixma Printer and a one year subscription to World of Warcraft took place before the hosts wrapped up most of the outdoor activity and the dance began. The music was loud and could be heard well into the park. DJ Hellsing spun some homemade mixes that ran the gamut from electronic to 80s hits.
Otaku•Rehab was definitely a change in feel and execution for a gathering. And for a first year, it was well planned. Attendance was low, but that was to be expected considering the distance and the newness of the entire event. Definitely a thumbs up for what was presented though and Con Yearbook looks forward to covering year 2 in Rehab in 2011!
~ Con Yearbook