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Regarding Concerns and Suggestions

#1 User is offline   El Ken 

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 12:21 PM

Greetings ACen Faithfuls,

As I enter into my third year heading up Guest Relations for the convention, I continue to find many opportunities for improvement all across my range of responsibility. The past 2 years I have been paying close attention to every post in my section of the forums. And there have been a lot of good suggestions and valid concerns brought up.

While not every point brought up is immediately actionable, or even plausible, one of most frequent and probably simplest-to-address suggestions/concerns is the lack of transparency of just what is going on during the planning months of ACen. There was a rather long thread about this last year where we talked about the contract concerns, and how that usually means we cannot announce who we are actually in talks with prior to contract execution. That conversation ended with a couple suggestions - to give general information about what we're pursuing (i.e., a Japanese band, 4 seiyuu, 2 mangaka, etc.), and perhaps with a status regarding where in the deliberations we are with these unnamed, potential guests.

Something that has received a bit more attention this year (but has also been brought up in the past) is how you, the attendee, can help this process along. This is unfortunately a fairly complex subject. Beyond the normal suggestions, and without actually becoming Anime Central staff, there is not much you can do to help us. About the only thing I can suggest is that if you have direct contact with a potential guest that you (and others) want to see at ACen, let us know that with your suggestion. While we would not be able to work through you to negotiate the appearance, putting us in contact with the potential guest, perhaps with some sort of introductory correspondence, would speed up the actual procurement process. For privacy and legal reasons, though, you would not be able to be a part of the negotiations.

The last general theme I'd like to bring up today is the overall guest list year over year. Many people have voiced concern over a lackluster guest list. And I think the concern is a valid one. Anime Central is one of the 5 biggest anime conventions in North America. There is no reason for our guest list to not compete with the likes of Anime Expo and Otakon, other than for a lack of trying. This is the primary reason I took this position from my previous post.

And as we discuss every year, everyone's view of a killer guest list is different. There is no way to please everyone completely, so we have to strike a balance - a balance that I feel has been lacking for several years at ACen. My overall goal for the guest list is 1/3 Japanese anime/manga guests (seiyuu, mangaka, artists, etc.), 1/3 American guests (VAs, ADR Directors, etc.), and 1/3 anime- and Japanese pop culture-related guests (musical, video game, fashion, etc. from Japan, the US, or wherever).

I think I need to cut myself off there. Now, I want your feedback on the above. It's still fairly early for the 2013 con year, and not much is set in stone yet. I can still tweak our current processes, but some things have been set in motion already. Let me hear what you have to say, and I'll be sure to engage back into the conversation.

Thanks for taking your time to read and respond!
Ken Leiding

Guest Relations Section Chief (2011- )

Hotel/Convention Site Relations, Retired (2006-2010)

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#2 User is offline   Ohki 

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:24 PM

Personally, I think you have the right idea here. The main thing I want to see in the guest list is variety, both in terms of Western vs Eastern guests and in terms of what the guests are known for. To me, ACen has felt like it's been lacking in Japanese guests that are directly related to anime (see; not musical guests or fashion guests), and Western guests that aren't voice actors. Personally, with a few exceptions American VAs are the least interesting guests to me, as quite a few of them aren't actually anime fans themselves. I know I'm in the minority on that and American VAs draw in huge crowds so I wouldn't suggest cutting back on them too much, but I would like to see more types of guests offered. What I really want to see are the people who made my favorite series. The manga-ka. The directors. The writers. The artists. The animators. In some cases the seiyuu. Anyone like that is infinitely more interesting to me than an American VA. When it comes to Western guests, I'd like to see more of the academic crowd. I ask for Helen McCarthy every year and I will continue to ask for Helen McCarthy every year until she comes. I also think it would be fascinating to see some of the more prolific manga translators.

But in short, the best way to go would be to get as broad of a variety as possible. Also, when it comes to guests like Japanese seiyuu, it would be a good idea in my opinion to go for seiyuu that have a lot of work under their belts than ones who are only really well known for a couple of popular roles. When the big guest announcement for a con is a bunch of seiyuu who were leads in one show, but haven't done much else, it kind of sucks for anyone who hasn't seen that one show.
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#3 User is offline   SargentJY 

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 02:40 PM

View PostOhki, on 17 July 2012 - 01:24 PM, said:

Personally, I think you have the right idea here. The main thing I want to see in the guest list is variety, both in terms of Western vs Eastern guests and in terms of what the guests are known for. To me, ACen has felt like it's been lacking in Japanese guests that are directly related to anime (see; not musical guests or fashion guests), and Western guests that aren't voice actors. Personally, with a few exceptions American VAs are the least interesting guests to me, as quite a few of them aren't actually anime fans themselves. I know I'm in the minority on that and American VAs draw in huge crowds so I wouldn't suggest cutting back on them too much, but I would like to see more types of guests offered. What I really want to see are the people who made my favorite series. The manga-ka. The directors. The writers. The artists. The animators. In some cases the seiyuu. Anyone like that is infinitely more interesting to me than an American VA. When it comes to Western guests, I'd like to see more of the academic crowd. I ask for Helen McCarthy every year and I will continue to ask for Helen McCarthy every year until she comes. I also think it would be fascinating to see some of the more prolific manga translators.

But in short, the best way to go would be to get as broad of a variety as possible. Also, when it comes to guests like Japanese seiyuu, it would be a good idea in my opinion to go for seiyuu that have a lot of work under their belts than ones who are only really well known for a couple of popular roles. When the big guest announcement for a con is a bunch of seiyuu who were leads in one show, but haven't done much else, it kind of sucks for anyone who hasn't seen that one show.

I agree a balanced choice of guests more directly related to the anime industry is essential. US VAs have their attraction, but the same definitely go for Japanese seiyu as well. As for who to invite, I feel those seiyu with super popular recent roles are not easy to be invited at the first place.(Several examples would be like Kana Hanazawa, Tomatsu Haruka, or Toyosaki Aki etc)They might be relatively new to the industry, but I do feel most of them have tried quite a variety of roles and should be able to bring us fabulous panel experience if ACen REALLY GOT THEM. However, I do also prefer seiyu from the previous generation(basically those who were popular during the 90s or early 2000s), other than the obvious fact they have more experience as voice actors, but also the fact they have witness first hand the transition and the rise of seiyu industry. I, along with some other posters of the forum, have suggested some of them, including Megumi, Kikuko Inoue, Asakawa Yu etc. There are also two advantage of inviting them:
1) They are not really of front-line anymore as the new gen, so definitely more flexible schedule wise
2) They usually already have US con in the past, so would be less hesitant about interacting with foreign fans.(This might sound comical, but some seiyu had to reject con invitation due to the fact he or she has plane phobia)
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#4 User is offline   TaiyakiOni 

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 06:26 PM

I would like to see more reaching into the guest list of manga artists.

2009 had the Mangaka for Gunsmith Cats and that had a great turn out. Anime comes from Manga 90% of the time so why not also try reaching out to Mangaka who are known for certain past and recent manga series.

I would love to see more Mangaka, and Japanese voice actors from the 90's. The anime trend is starting to see rereleases of older series in the US market and new releases based on older series. Now is the time to be striking the iron while it's hot!

Also, please don't just cater to the younger fans, it's the older ones who have all the money and a lot of older fans aren't that interested in the fashion guests as much as they are in meeting Japanese guests that they've admired for over a decade or more depending on your age group.

Less fashion, more anime industry guests this year! Please!

This post has been edited by TaiyakiOni: 17 July 2012 - 06:26 PM

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#5 User is offline   MasterHavik 

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 06:14 AM

It would be nice to see some of Japan's best at ACen. you know Daigo, Chou, kuso, and Abegen.(Last three are marvel players). It would also be nice to have someone like mike Z at ACen. But overall, I would like a mixture as well. but don't break your banks. You will have to hire translator for those Japanese guys. You have to also look at a money too guys. Getting some of these guest over is expensive.
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#6 User is offline   obakasan 

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 09:38 AM

Guests are not all that big a draw for me, but I am interested in aspects such as mythology, culture, and language. I had not thought about the translators, but it's a great point, as many not only have to try to translate the language, but the "context" and culture behind the language.

I know I am often fascinated by the differences between the anime subtitles, which often are probably more often than not a "true" word for word translation, and the spoken script, which is probably more "Americanized" not only in language, but culture as well. (Same would go for written material, but without the "advantage" of two interpretations being presented, ie subtitle and audio versions).

So, yes, I can see where translator guests, especially if they are given proper discussion panels, could be not only interesting, but quite educational as well. They could also double as "intro to Japanese" language and/or culture panels too.

PS I'm an "older fart" but I find fashion of interest too. The way people dress can be seen as an aspect/reflection of the overall culture. (The "costumes" of the culture - just like the costumes of a stage play communicate part of the story to the audience).
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#7 User is offline   SargentJY 

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 10:55 AM

View PostMasterHavik, on 22 July 2012 - 06:14 AM, said:

It would be nice to see some of Japan's best at ACen. you know Daigo, Chou, kuso, and Abegen.(Last three are marvel players). It would also be nice to have someone like mike Z at ACen. But overall, I would like a mixture as well. but don't break your banks. You will have to hire translator for those Japanese guys. You have to also look at a money too guys. Getting some of these guest over is expensive.

If u have seen my posts for suggestions, money is always one of the part of the central criteria for my suggestion.(Hell, I even suggest a couple that don't even need translator like Himeka and Asakawa Yu)Even for those suggestions that does need translator, considering the fact many of them have been to other cons, surely their price is affordable to a con with the size of ACen. Therefore, I don't think ACen should take such excuse as explanation why we don't get good guests.(And thanks god they don't use it)Also, u forgot the marketing effect that a good guest can bring to a con. If Anime Expo's guest list always makes me think about flying to CA, the same goes for ACen. So at the end, it is more of an investment than extra expense as u put.
"Now Anime(Visual Novel) may still classed as the niche market these days...but it got such variety...such potential that I am sure will make to the mainstream one day."-ThatDudeInTheSuede

#8 User is offline   MasterHavik 

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 05:43 AM

View PostSargentJY, on 23 July 2012 - 10:55 AM, said:

If u have seen my posts for suggestions, money is always one of the part of the central criteria for my suggestion.(Hell, I even suggest a couple that don't even need translator like Himeka and Asakawa Yu)Even for those suggestions that does need translator, considering the fact many of them have been to other cons, surely their price is affordable to a con with the size of ACen. Therefore, I don't think ACen should take such excuse as explanation why we don't get good guests.(And thanks god they don't use it)Also, u forgot the marketing effect that a good guest can bring to a con. If Anime Expo's guest list always makes me think about flying to CA, the same goes for ACen. So at the end, it is more of an investment than extra expense as u put.
They gotta step up to the plate then. The only downside to this is that it might almost be impossible to get around ACen if there are lines for people like mikeZ.
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#9 User is offline   SargentJY 

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:13 AM

View PostMasterHavik, on 24 July 2012 - 05:43 AM, said:

They gotta step up to the plate then. The only downside to this is that it might almost be impossible to get around ACen if there are lines for people like mikeZ.

Nor sure about others, but I personally wouldn't mind to make such sacrifice for an awesome guest list.
"Now Anime(Visual Novel) may still classed as the niche market these days...but it got such variety...such potential that I am sure will make to the mainstream one day."-ThatDudeInTheSuede

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