Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tally's Anime Expo 2013 Review

Anime Expo is the largest anime convention in the states, or so I've heard and/or read. Expectations grow each and every year the con is active. Normally, I look forward to attending the con and enjoying myself, possibly meeting a voice actor or two. However, after hearing live reports and witnessing most of what I was told, I can officially say that Anime Expo lost all of it's glory this year.

Normally, if attending a convention, the staff is well-informed, well-trained and respectful to the guests. It's only fair, as in, if you're respectful to the guests, they'll respect you. Equivalent exchange. However, this was not the case for Anime Expo. The staffers were not well-informed. They didn't know where anything was. In fact, most of the staff there, according to a woman I talked to on the shuttle, are SDCC trainees or regular staff for  SDCC. Some staffers even told attendees to, and mind my language, "fuck off", or "fucking move". They didn't ask attendees nicely to move. It was more of a rude tone in their voices. A part of me wonders if these rude staff members even wanted to be there? Now, there were some nice staff or volunteers. The ones I felt actually wanted to be there. Sadly, there weren't many though.

AX (staff) photographers kept jumping in front of other photographers, so to speak, during cosplay gatherings. From what my room mate told me in our hotel, and other reports from Facebook via comments on AX's status last night, AX photographers acted like they owned the place and that they HAD priority for pictures over the other photographers. Something is very wrong here.

The weapons policy this year was, and excuse my language again, shit. Some cosplayers had their prop weapons destroyed by staff, or the prop was damaged (i.e. paint job ruined) due to the staff. For instance, various Resident Evil cosplayers were not allowed to take their weapons in. By weapons, I mean toy guys. No wooden weapons were allowed at all. This rule was added this year. This would leave out anyone who makes weapons out of wood. Sometimes, props, weapons or not, complete the cosplay. According to a source, AX staff stole or broke props. Whether this is for their personal enjoyment or their new policy, I do not know. Though, I hear that a few law suits are coming toward Anime Expo's way.
The following was taken from a con attendee named Sel. Sel had her hollow mask broken by AX staff. These are before con (picture 1) and after con (picture 2).

Concerts and panels started late, but ended on time. How is this even possible? They were cutting the event short. Some panels didn't have people start lining up until the time the panel was supposed to start. This is a major problem that the head of the convention needs to fix as soon as possible. Some panels didn't even have the right amount of seats and people had to stand. This would be considered a fire hazard in their eyes, yet, they allowed it. Many con goers got denied after the panel room was filled. One instance, there was one seat left in a panel and the one person was denied. One seat left that could have been taken.

398 people complained to Con Ops about the staff and were banned permanently. They cannot come back to AX. 38 of the people were Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan cosplayers. The SnK fans/cosplayers complained about the AX staff photographers jumping up ahead of other photographers. This issue was mentioned in the second paragraph. Banned permanently is a little over the top. Even for just major complaints such as this.
Correction, attendees who had their props stolen or broken and complained to Con Ops were banned or blacklisted. This also includes the SnK cosplayers complaining about the AX (staff) photographers. The count is combined for both. Again, in total, 398 people. My source stated, "I can't give exact, but it is higher than 100+" and "That's the number I counted. Some were temporarily banned for that. Others were black listed." When I asked my source where the 398 came from, they said "I combined the two."

An inside source, who shall remain anonymous, informed me that a few of the volunteers were paid illegally. My source told me that they (themselves) didn't take the money. Volunteering means that you work for free. Being paid under the table is not part of the contact.

Age restrictions were place in events that didn't need them. For example, the Garden of Words English dub premier, according to the guidebook graciously given to con goers, the premier has no age restrictions. Yet, the day of the premier, there was suddenly an age restriction. 16+. Maid Cafe, as well. The age restriction, at night was 18+. During the day, it was supposed to be all ages. It was 18+ the entire time. This sudden age restriction has me thinking. Do they only want just adults to go to Anime Expo? It's supposed to be family friendly, for the most part.

A few of the vendors were rude. Crowd control was not an active staff duty this year, apparently. Exhibit hall was WAY too crowded. This would be a fire hazard, and had someone called 911, the whole convention could have been shut down. Anime Expo needs to watch out for this. Con traffic was the worst. Major hall ways were blocked off. People were sitting on the stairs, near the Exhibit hall, and they were told to leave (rudely) by con staff. Then, when a bunch of people sit on the stairs, they say nothing.

Many people paid extra for premiere passes. Next to press, they were to go in before regular attendees. However, this wasn't the case. Press and Premiere pass holders were treated the same, almost the same as regular attendees. Maybe, a bit better. I'm not too sure if this is part of the new policy either, but either way, the rules they set in were not followed. Premiere badges meant discounts. This was also ignored.

The same source I talked to said that next year, the prices for badges is going up even more. For all four days, $100. Premiere pass is $175. All of this, of course, is just a high possibility. Whether this is true or not, we will know in due time. I will know more once I get more information.

If you lost your badge, you had to pay $45 for one. If you didn't have the money, then you wouldn't get your new badge, and couldn't get into panels, dealers hall, etc.. Simple as that.
Not to mention, the food on the food trucks was way over priced. Handy, but over-priced.

Anime Expo is the new Line Con. If you went to Fanime, you may have heard this nick name before. Nothing but long lines.

Another problem had come up during con. Homestuck cosplayers were harassed. Some of their horns were taken off their head and kicked around. The Homestuck Hunters are believed to be the cause of this. Con security did NOTHING. They just let it happen. I wonder if any Homestuck cosplayers are going to feel safe at cons anymore due to this. In fact, some cosplays were even ruined. Who is going to want to go to a convention where con security isn't going to do anything to keep other attendees safe if they're being harassed/bullied? A few reports of sexual harassment have been spreading, so to speak. Multiple reports, actually. Most of the reports of are the older males at bag check. This applies for some of the attendees and photographers as well.

Personally, I felt the con was a huge disappointment this year, compared to other years.

However, I will say this. I vaguely enjoyed the con. Vaguely. I say this because the only parts I enjoyed was the cosplay gatherings I attended (Katekyo Hitman Reborn/Resident Evil) and the Eyeshine concert. As much as the staff did not want us near the stage, Johnny Yong Bosch said that this was a rock concert and that he wanted everyone by the stage. I can imagine the staff fuming at this. I give JYB props. He cares about his fans and wants them to enjoy themselves at his events. I mean, don't get me wrong. The list of special guests was good: Eric Vale, Christopher Sabat, the entire cast of K Project/K, Kyle Herbert, Vic Mignogna, and Pornograffitti. If their guests of honor are good, that makes the con worth it, somewhat.

Overall, I must say that Anime Expo is the most unorganized convention I've ever been to. 2010 was the best I've ever seen it. Now, it is hell, and very greedy and power hungry. Whether AX staffers or the head of the convention will admit everything they've done, or their faults, is up to them. It was unorganized, had rude staff, started events late and ended on time, had the concerts the same day as masquerade, all in the same time frame or later, as well as the dance. Also, broken or stolen props and gatherings broken up for fighting posed pictures or too many weapons in one area, rude staff photographers, half-ass bag checks, and banning for complaints of con staff, expensive/no badge replacement and expensive food.

While, yes, I've pointed out all of the flaws AX had this year, I must say this. Flaws or not, if you come for the guests of honor, the gatherings or to just hang out with friends or meet new people, then it is worth the flaws. Personally, I feel like I will not be attending Anime Expo next year. Only for a gathering or two, but that is it.

I give this con a 2.5 or out of 5. I pray these issues get fixed. This could make or break the convention next year. 

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