1. Don't miss Saturday night's Masquerade

It's more than just a bunch of people in costumes, Albisharat assures. "You'll see a lot of people in costume over the weekend, but the Masquerade is the keynote event," Albisharat says. "You've got people coming out on the stage at 1st Mariner Arena and performing in skits they produce themselves." (Kim Hairston, The Baltimore Sun / July 28, 2011)

While Otakon will be following its standard all-Japan-all-the-time formula again this year, organizers are stretching their cultural boundaries a bit.

"We're actually starting to focus on some Korean pop culture as well," says Otakon spokesman Victor Albisharat. "That's been a growing market."

Among the offerings is the U.S. premiere of "Quick," from South Korean director Jo Beom-goo. "The best way I could describe is kind of a Korean version of 'Speed,'" Albisharat says.

"Basically, the premise of this one is a delivery guy on a motorcycle, his first package is actually a bomb. He picks up his girlfriend, she puts on one of those bike helmets, and it turns out it has a bomb in it. He has to keep delivering packages in order to save him and his girlfriend,"

This year's Otakon will also feature several examples of what is essentially the Korean version of manga, known as manhwa.

"We're just starting to premiere some of these Korean movies and such," Albisharat says.

Chris Kaltenbach