Monday, February 29, 2016

Ray Reports: Animation on Display 2016

Last year, I took a bye year from Animation on Display. This year I thought about swinging by, and the right circumstances led to my decision to attend after all.

Since I started attending, AoD has changed venue twice: from the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco's Japantown district to the Hyatt SFO in Burlingame off US 101 in 2014, and then to the Santa Clara Convention Center near Great America and Levi's Stadium this year. I was getting ready to be a little excited that AoD was finally growing by moving into a proper convention center rather than just a hotel, but as I'll explain soon enough, that wasn't exactly the case.

Still, I managed to squeeze whatever enjoyment I could from this year's iteration; the key was having a plan and sticking to it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

AOD 2016: Robbie's Report

Valentine’s Day weekend was a busy one for con-goers all over nation. There was Katsucon in National Harbor, Maryland; Gallifrey One in Los Angeles; and a few other events and gatherings across the state. But I was at a long-time favorite: AOD.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Anime Los Angeles 2016: Tally's Review

It is that time of year when convention season starts, and Anime Los Angeles is no exception to con goers. This con, in particular, being the first con for SoCal cosplayers.

The convention officially moved to the Ontario Convention Center. A step in a new direction for the con, considering the convention head changed. Yes, you read correctly. Chaz Baden is no longer in charge of ALA. Alec Orrock is now running the convention. If you recognize the name, then you know that Mr. Orrock was once Chaz's second in command, his right hand man. Times have changed.

New convention head, new location.

This is all well and fine.

However, there was a problem or two that I encountered prior to con. This has to do with panels and what was accepted and what was not.

The year's theme for the convention was "Idols". That being said, almost all fan panels were not accepted due to this theme. I have a small list of panels that were not accepted. They were not idol themed, yes, but I know for a fact that the panel heads had planned these in advance and to be denied because of the con theme this year was, and excuse my language, a load of crap. (This is toned down from what I would love to say about this.)

For example, all three Hetalia panels were denied, as well as a Kingdom Hearts panel, a Fairy Tail panel and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing panel. The 18+ DRAMAtical Murder and 18+ Starfighter panels were not accepted either. In fact, as you see below, a staff member in the programming department was in charge of the DMMd panel and it was denied.

When emailed as to why the panels were not accepted, the response was the photo seen below.



Here are some screen caps from a status posted by someone who had their panel(s) denied. I blackened all by my name and comments, to protect the other people's identities. Safety reasons.

 

Looking through the panel listing, there were barely any interesting panels, in my opinion, and barely any idol based panels.

So, why were most fan panels denied? That is my question. I understand that any panels should be based on the theme for that year, but forcing panel themes to be the same theme as the convention theme is not acceptable.

I would still like my question answered. Why was the Shingeki no Kyojin maid panel accepted? It was not idol based. Therefore, by this logic I was getting from panel head, should not have been accepted.

Perhaps favoritism is in play here. It honestly would not surprise me by this point.

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Normally, as a member of press, I usually hear back about my application being accepted a month in advance (at most) before con. Not even a week and a half, did I hear back that my application was accepted. I asked twice in the Anime Los Angeles group on Facebook about when to expect the email notification about my application, and no lie, someone yelled at me via comment that I was "crying over a press badge."

All I did was ask a question. That was it.

I will admit, I am used to hate, especially after two of my Anime Expo reviews a few years ago. But, this was new for me. Harassment is one thing, especially over the internet, but to say I was whining and crying over whether my press application was something else.

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New convention location meant a bigger venue. A bigger venue meant a larger attendance number. This is no lie. In 2015, the attendee number was capped. With the new venue, the attendee number will only go higher.

I will admit that the larger venue will only help the convention grow to possibly up to Anime Expo status, just less corrupt and industrial and more for the fans.  Sure, everything was spaced out and it posed a problem for those in other hotels who had to walk home. Especially with karaoke and the dance at the Raddison.

This is a suggestion, but perhaps relocating karaoke would be beneficial.

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I dislike covering this, but there were multiple reports of "roofies" at the large party in the Raddison lobby. Two or more young women were roofied. This is a concern. Luckily, nothing major happened to the young women the night of day two, but something could have.

Who brought "drugs" to the lobby party and why would you roofie people? These women could have been hurt while people would not have noticed due to their drunken state. It is one thing to drink at a convention, and I will admit that I do on occasion, but never will I partake in doing drugs at a con. It goes against my morals.

I suggest to anyone who has a room party, please make sure you are with good company. By good company, I mean, people you trust to not take advantage of you should you become incoherent. Party with those you trust. Drink inside your hotel room and play Cards Against Humanity.

I am not going to say do not party with other con attendees you do not know, but just be cautious. Be safe, for you never know if the drink being passed around has some unknown substance inside it.

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The guest list was impressive, as usual. I am not surprised by this, since Anime Los Angeles never lest their attendees down with special guests. Todd Haberkorn, Stephanie Sheh and Caitlin Glass were a few examples of guests this year. Bravo, ALA for a superb guest list.

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Would I suggest you go to Anime Los Angeles? Yes. Yes I would.
Within the next three years, the convention will only get better. It is the first year at the new location and the con staff are still trying to make it home. To make it as it was back in Los Angeles. To make it the best the convention can be.

Will Anime Los Angeles become like Anime Expo? I pray not, but knowing the volunteers and staff, I get a feeling the convention will not be. We do not need another Anime Expo.

Thank you to the volunteers and staff who made this convention. You all were great and worked hard.

Until next con.