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Anime Expo 2009: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

July 12, 2009

Well, here we are. A week after another Anime Expo, and the “after con blues” have set in. After becoming accustomed to having something to do 24 hours a day, for 4 days, returning to real-life is boring. As such, I bring you my review of Anime Expo 2009!

The good: It’s Anime Expo. There’s always something to do, and you meet tons of interesting people! The guest of honor line-up was good, too! Clicky! There were lots of concerts and dances to attend, plus tons and tons of cosplay!  Things I especially liked were the masquerade ball, the Claytime panel, and console gaming (woo Rockband every night!).  Of course, there was also the Indecent Otaku Comedy Hour panel which I helped out with by cosplaying the Shacho from DMC for them.  The panel was a hit thanks to the hard work of all those involved (How a Girl Figures, Anime Diet, Anime Genesis, Makenai). If you didn’t catch the panel, here’s my part on youtube!

The Bad: Certain events seemed very poorly scheduled, rehearsed, or planned out.  I think the best example of this was the Masquerade.  The many problems with the audio pretty much made the masquerade a joke this year.  I don’t know if the problem lies with AX staff in charge of sound or the tracks the individuals participating in the masquerade submitted.  Either way, one would assume that at some point, sound checks would be performed in order to ensure an optimal performance is given.

A particular pet peeve of mine:  kitsuke gone wrong.  I blame this one on the “vintage kimono” vendors in the exhibition hall.  I saw way too many girls wandering about in juban tied with obiage.  Kimono vendors should be knowledgeable about their product.  Instead of trying to make a quick buck, they should let these girls know what they are buying.  “Honey, this is a juban, it’s underwear.  That’s a lovely piece, and would look great under this kimono.”

I don’t know if the vendors even know enough about what they’re selling in order to truly help their customers. I was attracted to a certain booth because they had some gorgeous fukuro and maru obi on display (which were incredibly overpriced, by the way).  The proprietress  was wearing furisode even though she was way too old, and married, with  fukuro obi and no musubi.  She just clipped the obi on with a pin.  I asked her if she had any items with a chidori motif or nice zori, and she looked at me blankly.  I then proceeded to tell her that kitsuke was a hobby of mine, and that I was just looking for some good deals.  She pointed out their “bargain” bin, but I wasn’t about to pay $40 for a stained synthetic komon.  She literally knew nothing except how to spin enough BS to make a sale.  Considering the number of people I saw dressed badly in kimono, I assume she’s doing quite well.  I guess that’s good for her, but unfortunately her booth wasn’t the only booth events like this were taking place at.  Instead of becoming knowledgeable and educating their customers, vendors simply buy into the stupidity and cater to it.  It’s good for business, but it’s aggravating and drives prices up for people who actually know what they’re doing.

The Ugly:  Press affairs…. The Moi dix Mois concert.  Ugh.  We attended Anime Expo as press this year and wanted to go to this event so badly, however, we were not able to secure tickets.  Why?  Well, there are several reasons.  First- We were told that only a certain number of tickets would be given out per press outlet (2).  However, when we went to sign up for tickets, there were press outlets that had signed up 7 or 8 people.  At that point, we were told that the events were first-com- first-serve, and it didn’t matter how many people were signed up per outlet.  The staffer at press and industry affairs said we could buy an event ticket and then wait in line with everyone else, which we weren’t about to do since we had been assured we would have two free press tickets.  After the concert was over, another staffer told us that we could have waited for stand-by tickets, which would have been free.  We could have gotten in to the concert, but due to poor communication and uninformed staff, we didn’t get to attend.  I do not, by any means, expect every staff member to be be able to answer every question they are asked, however, a simple information sheet or a walkie-talkie for each staffer stationed in areas requiring specialized knowledge would help to solve communication problems such as the one I’ve described.

Another press perk gone awry was the press bag giveaway.  It was supposedly one bag per press outlet, however, we personally know one person who got a bag for each person in his press corps.  We asked around and discovered this wasn’t an isolated incident.  I know, I know, how uncouth of me to complain about a free bag.  The bag is not the problem, the problem is the selective application and liberal enforcement of the rules.   AX really needs to get it together when it comes to communication, and if a rule applies to one press outlet, then it needs to apply to all of them.  This is a very frustrating and unprofessional issue, one that I never expected to run into at an event so large and so well-known.

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