Friday, March 30, 2018

Anime Los Angeles 2018: Tally's Report

First and foremost, I wish to apologize for the late entry of this report. I have recently started a new job, so most of my time has been taken to work, and nothing else. So, again, I do apologize for this late entry.

Now, before I actually get into this review, please do know that I have every ounce of respect for those who run conventions. More so, the volunteers who dedicate their convention time to making the convention a success.
What will be written below is my personal opinion, my view on the convention, and I am aware that others may not share my view. You may take my words any which way you'd like.


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Before Anime Los Angeles, there was an issue with Artist Alley and this convention. It was my understanding that those in artist alley were to be situated inside the convention, like the previous year. However, this wasn't the case this year. In fact, Artist Alley was rumored to be inside a giant tent. It was an industrial tent, but a tent nonetheless.
Now, Alec Orrock, current head of ALA, has taken the blame for this fiasco, insisting it was his fault that the artists were not informed of the changes. Well, let's just say, the apology wasn't well received, especially with artists, and even some con attendees.
If artists wished to drop out, due to the tent situation, this was impossible due to the contract signed when they signed up if accepted. No refunds were issued.

So, a lack of miscommunication and a small fiasco with artists right before con was a bad start. But, this didn't harm the convention's reputation as much as one would think.

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As per usual, a convention's guest list is a special thing for attendees. This year, it was big. What I mean is that the cast of Cowboy Bebop attended for the 20th Anniversary of the series. Steve Blum (Spike), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Julia), Wendee Lee (Faye), Melissa Fahn (Ed), Beau Billingslea (Jet), Skip Stellrecht (Vicious), Lia Sargent (Judy), Paul St. Peter (Punch) and Derek Stephen Prince (Lin). Along for the ride, the crew also attended. Marc Handler (English ADR Director & Writer), Mary Claypool (episode writer), Les Claypool (sound supervisor) and Raj Ramayya (songwriter/performer).

This was the biggest event for this convention. Cowboy Bebop is a loved series by anime fans. Some, like myself, call it a cult classic. It is a masterpiece. Between the characters, story line or the music, this is the reason the series is so well-known.

Now, the cast and crew of Cowboy Bebop were not the only guests invited. Erza Weisz, known for such roles as Kaname Kuran from Vampire Knight, was invited back. This time as the host for Masquerade. Steven Universe fans were happy. Zach Callison, voice of Steven, was a guest.
RJ Haddy is known for being a runner-up on Face-Off for season two. Odd, yes, but he wasn't the only industry guest invited. Carrie Sleutskaya, a professional high-end fashion designer, costume fabricator for the music, television and film industries, as well as an artist, product designer and illustrator.

Other special guests included Jonathan Fahn (Shikaku Nara in Naruto Shippuuden and Miles from Cowboy Bebop). Bonnie Gordon (Silque from Fire Emblem Echoes & the vocalist for the end credit song, as well as Rainbow Mika from Street Fighter V). Grant Imahara from Myth Busters and Jeff Nimoy (Tentomon/Kabuterimon from Digimon & Digimon Tri) were also just a few  more of the guests invited.

As I keep saying it, over and over again, the guests make the convention. Good guests, depending on the series/franchise, means more drawn in interest, meaning more attendees show up. This logic is not flawed. It works very well, as seen with the guest list above.

 Skip Stellrecht's autograph.

Steve Blum's autograph.

Paul St. Peter's autograph.

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn's autograph.


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Like any convention, there are always events that draw people in. Whether it be panels (industry/fan/etc.), karaoke, dances or masquerade. Though, if anyone has ideas to apply for fan panels for this convention, it is best you save your panel idea for another convention that accepts fan panels. Anime Los Angeles does not, and has not since last year. I found this out the hard way. Two rejection emails with very little of an explanation as to why, until I called a source and explained the situation. He stated that due to "copyright" problems, the convention does not accept fan panels anymore.
However, this was not stated on the application page. So, again, if you apply for panels, do not do fan panels. If any fan panels do get accepted, someone is using their influence to get their panels accepted by the convention volunteers. I'm not saying this happens every time, or at every convention, but it is a possibility.

On a good note, food trucks were available this year, as they were the previous year. Various types of good, in one location. There was a slight problem though, and it was brought to my attention by another anonymous source. The first day, the food trucks were allowed to sell water. By the second day, not so much. In fact, according to my source, the convention did this to boost the sales of their water and food, despite theirs being overpriced. A minor problem, yes, but a problem nonetheless.

This wasn't the only problem though, I am sad to say. No outside food or drinks were allowed in. Again, to most likely boost the sale of the convention food. Food vouchers were given out to volunteers, but too late. Some volunteers could not eat using the vouchers, as they were accepted the previous day, but not the next day. Instructions for the food vouchers were not given. Those given the food vouchers had to "figure it out" as to where they could use them and what they could get.

Another problem, and this was a major issue in my book, was the fact (and I am in no way accusing this, but...) almost all work concerning the convention was pushed onto one person, from the head of the convention. After the Artist Alley incident, it is under the assumption that Alec Orrock was seldom seen and passed any/all work onto Allison Meyer. Her job was Director of Entertainment.

Volunteers were kicked out without a legitimate reason. Andrew Vo was asked to "vacate the premise" and "not to return". This was a nice way of saying it.  Reasons why certain people were let go included refusing to do impossible tasks.

"Tent Con", or artist alley, had other issues besides the miscommunication issues beforehand. Climate control did not work most of the time. Night time was cold and windy. Instead of keeping the air flow cool during the day and warm at night, it did not work properly. The tent was not helping at all, and some artists could not work on commissions in that kind of environment. Also, some artists made ribbons that said "Tent Con" in honor of this major fail.

Panels were canceled, or delayed. So much so, times were crossed off, switching around schedules. This caused confusion for attendees. When asked why certain panels had crossed off times, answers could not be given due to the staff member not knowing.

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Not all of this convention was bad. Gatherings were run very well, organized even. Panels, for the most part, were run smoothly and on time. Crowd control was not much of an issue, seeing as the convention can hold the amount of attendees that showed up for this event. The photo room was used by many cosplayers.

If there are problems, which there are, they are listed above. One wasn't listed, until now, and I personally feel this is the big one. Even bigger than the Artist Alley fiasco. Anime Los Angeles is slowly becoming Anime Expo, and Anime Expo is trying to be San Diego Comic-Con. Changes are being made, and sometimes, not for good. Anime Los Angeles is for the fans, run by fans. Just like Fanime. But, ever so slowly, it is becoming more industrialized. More for industry, less for fans. Times change, yes, and interest is slowly changing, but conventions are for fans. The more industrialized they become less entertaining for those who attend.

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Again, what is posted above is my interpretation of what I observed. Anime Los Angeles is a good convention. The idea is there, but since the change of power, there have been problems that either seem to get better, or worse. I personally enjoy this convention, as it is the first one of the year for myself and a whole lot of other people. I look forward to this con every year, as should you. The problems you see don't mean this con is terrible. They are just bumps in the road. Should these problems get fixed, then the con will be worth it even more.

Until next time.
See you at Fanime!

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