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My views on ACen 2017

#1 User is offline   randy r 

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 06:59 AM

ACen 2017 is over, and after having a couple of days to recover, I thought I would share my thoughts.

Overall, I thinks this year was the best in several years. It would have been nice if the weather had co-operated more.


What did I like?

The people at the Special Needs booth and staff overall. It was very nice that when I went to get my accessibility pass, the lady manning the booth remembered me from previous years. We talked for a little while we filled out the forms. It was also nice that many of the regular staff, when they saw the pass, asked if everything was ok, and if I was having any problems getting into events. This was the friendliest I have seen the staff in the last several years.

The layout of the dealers' room was much better. It was nice to have the extra space to move around. You didn't feel packed in, especially on Saturday when it is always crazy. And, spinning the Artists' Alley off to its own area made a difference.

The way the signings were handled. The location for the signings, at the front of the exhibition hall, seemed to work much better than having them stuck clear in the back. The organization for the signings was much better. Everyone working the area seemed to be on the same page, with no allowing lines to start early, or allowing people to camp out waiting for the lines to form. In fact, this leads into another aspect- lines for events. It was nice to see that IRT and the people working the events were being even handed in the lines. No loitering in the area, no camping, lines not being allowed to form until a half hour or 45 minutes before an event. It made moving around the con a lot simpler and smoother.

The guest list. This was what we had been complaining about in the past. This year was a very good year. A wide variety of guests. Lots of musical guests. This is the kind of guest list ACen should have been having these past years. I liked that Sekai was able to bring in some guests with them. Hopefully in the future, other companies can bring in Japanese guests, whether voice actors, directors, artists.

The outdoor concerts. This was a very good idea. They allowed big events to be held at the same time, ie the May'n concert and the Masquerade.


What didn't I like or thought could be improved?

The outdoor concerts. If they are held next year, it should be mentioned in the program guide and in Guidebook what will happen and where they will be moved to in case of rain or other bad weather. I felt sorry for the girls in Gacharic Spin, as no one was sure about when their concert was going to go, and so the crowd was light. It was a loud and boisterous crowd, but light. May'n's concert was better attended, as word got out to everyone.

The guest list. Again, this year was heavy on the DJs, and light in other areas. One Japanese voice actor. I would have liked to have seen more. And looking back at the guest lists for previous ACens, the last times we had actual manga artists were in 2010 with Misoto Rocks! and in 2008 with Kenichi Sonada and Ono Yoichiro. I understand that many people come for the rave and Soap Bubble, but many more come for the other guests.

Artists' Alley. Even though it was in its own area, it felt crowded and cramped. Maybe they could be given more space somehow.


Overall, I think there was a big improvement this year over the last several years. If there could be more seiyu and mangaka, and fewer DJs, I would be a happy camper. I give this year an 8 out of 10.
randy


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#2 User is offline   Feyra Cosplay 

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 01:06 PM

I also think this year went very well. There were some speed bumps that didn't have anything to do with ACen so no point in complaining about those.

Things that need improvement:

I would like to sit with all of my friends at the masquerade at least once. I get the whole "fill in the spaces" but our group of 11 could have easily filled up almost a whole row. Instead we had to be split up because other con goers did as they pleased and left 1 person spaces. The only way I see this improving is if for once we just decide not to follow the rules, since the rule breakers seem to get what they want and we get screwed...

Make bathroom breaks while in line a little more clear to IRT. One of my friends asked to go use the bathroom from 1 IRT person and informed another one when she came back that she had left to use the bathroom. He told her that she had to check with the people in line in front of her and back of her to make sure that was ok. Thankfully she was able to go back to her spot in line, but it could have gone badly. Maybe they could hand out passes or something so that it is clear on why the person left the line?

More prepared at masquerade. (self explanatory)

Artist Alley definitely needs more aisle room. So glad I chose not to go through there on Saturday when i had my big sword.

I would like to see some 18+ panels that lean towards a little more informative side and not just straight up porn or hentai/yaoi (if I wanted to see that I would watch some by myself lol). A little of both is ok but not just straight up 1 or the other. I went to one 18+ panel where I felt like a hand check needed to be done constantly and went to a different 18+ one the next night that was very boring (needed to be ran by more enthusiastic people).

Things that went well:

No issues with IRT scolding people for lining up early. Thank god! This was such an issue for us last year. Honestly, running late things worked in our favor. (I.E. Instead of getting to the masquerade line an hour early, we go there 45 min early, which is when people usually try to line up.) I also liked that staff kept an eye on lines so that no one would cut. A chunk of the line tried to on a panel that we went to and the staff person held them back.

Loved the layout of the dealer's room. I felt like I could breathe.

Signs/flags for cosplay gatherings were great! Please never get rid of those!!!

Can't think of anything else that went specifically well, but there are prly other things that went well overall.

Balance, clear cut, and consistency are the keys to a successful con. I'm also going to go with 8 out of 10. Good job ACen!
Feyra Cosplay and member of Fireside Cosplay

ACen 2017
Friday: Leona Pool Party Skin (League of Legends) 100%
Saturday: Fu (Yuki Yuna is a Hero) 100%
Sunday: Azmaria (Chrono Crusade) 100%

#3 User is offline   Washu Takahashi 

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 09:24 AM

Overall, my two biggest gripes are the same as every year.

1) Guests. One Japanese VA doesn't really cut it ACen. Granted it was a great choice and I loved that a sieyuu's autograph line was PACKED for once instead of them sadly sitting there waiting to see if anyone showed up. But still, ACen should be getting at LEAST 2-3 seiyuu, and myself and others would kill to see a current relevant manga-ka ( doesn't need to be some crazy big name, but someone whose work has been made into an anime would be nice). I was also disappointed with the English VAs. Swasey was the only "new-to-ACen" VA. There are still plenty of high profile guests ACen has yet to have in my 11 years of attending (Jerry Jewell, Luci Christian, and Eric Vale, to name a few), so it'd be REALLY nice to see some more variety.

2) Photoshoots. Not even going to get in to this here since we all know leading up to the shoots was a crap show this year, but I DO expect next year to be better as they've claimed there will be changes in staff :)

I definitely agree with Randy that Special Needs was top notch this year! I had quite a few staff recognize me from previous years (particularly those in autographs, haha), and they were all super accommodating. I had a few issues with the red coats letting me in through exits and the like (was with my nearly-due pregnant friend and we needed to get through to the bathroom ASAP), but once you get them to actually see your disability badge they were fine.

I loved loved loved how well autographs were handled and that the staff fought off those trying to line up early (even if it doesn't really apply to me anymore). But something needs to be done for guests like Crispin Freeman. There was a crowd of probably 200 sunday hoping for his autograph, and no matter what staff did they of course couldn't chase them off. Staff did their best to control everyone, but despite their best efforts, it was still a mad dash to get in Crispin's line when the line came and those of us in Special Needs had to try and not get trampled. Not sure what the best way to go about this is, but something needs to be done about lines for high profile guests. Maybe a ticketing system or something, I don't know.

I personally didn't like the idea of the concerts being outside in a public place where you can't differentiate those there for the con/concert and those not. Plus the fact that it was rainy and cold and no one knew if the concerts were even going to happen. I didn't go due to scheduling/not wanting to freeze, but I heard they went pretty well. Some more thought needs to be put into outdoor concerts if they intend to hold them again I think.

Signage for the photoshoots was a GREAT idea! But they weren't out early enough Friday and people were confused on where the heck rain locations were since those descriptions were very vague. Love the idea, just needs slightly better implementation.

Artist Alley was WAY too small. You could barely get through the aisles. It also felt like due to being shoved back there, there were less artists total? I can't be certain, but it was definitely cramped and felt like less artists. I also heard there was some kind of lottery system being used for artist this year which got a lot of backlash. Can't say much since I don't know much, but that may be something to look at and reconsider.

I thankfully didn't have any shoots in the area, but I was told the dealer hall shoots were a mess due to being right next to the Bang Zoom booth. People couldn't hear shoot runners. Those two things should not be located next to each other in following years.

Panel programming tech people were AWESOME! All 3 panels I were in was smooth sailing, had people assisting us before we started to make sure everything worked. Ran into an issue with my computer not playing through the speakers properly, and the staff assisting me knew exactly how to fix it :) Shoutout to those tech savvy people keeping panels running smooth!

So I have a lot of gripes but most of them were pretty minor and I really did enjoy ACen overall :) I think I'd also go with 8/10.
ACen 2017 Plans
Thursday: Maki Nishikino (Swimsuit, Circus) [Love Live! School Idol Project]
Friday: Rider [Fate/Stay Night], Maki Nishikino (Little Devil) Kisumi Shigino [Free!], Kae Serinuma (Gym) [Kiss Him Not Me!]
Saturday: Layla Hamilton [Kaleido Star] 100%, Zen (Spicy Jalapeno) [Mystic Messenger] Maki Nishikino (Sunny Day Song)
Sunday: Christophe Giacometti (Rapsodie Espagnole) [Yuri!!! on Ice] 100%

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#4 User is offline   JujuFox 

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 11:15 AM

As an artist I wasn't able to attend many of the things, but here are my meager comments...

Whenever I mentioned I was in the AA the person I was talking with would ask me where the AA was. Just from walking in the hall it wasn't obviously marked as the Artist Alley.

Other artists in the AA felt extremely cramped both in the aisles and behind their tables. One artist mentioned that they had to crawl under their table to get out for a bathroom break. This info was being shared in an AA artists Facebook group.

I think moving the AA to that cramped Hall B was bad for both attendees and artists, but overall the hall was nice and the layout worked for the most part.

Since I was on an open corner this year many people would ask us questions. One person was a Rosemont PD cop who needed to contact EMRT. The only info we had to give him was for the Exhibit hall dept. It would be super helpful if we could have information on how to directly contact IRT/EMRT as well.

I thought it would be a nightmare to try and go to dinner in MB Park during the May'n concert, but it was fine. It wasn't a huge crowd, probably due to weather and the delay, but it looked pretty well contained and well set up.

The Hyatt lobby turns into such a blocked up mess after the hall closes. It'd be super helpful if IRT could help keep the flow of traffic moving while allowing attendees to congregate in areas of the lobby that don't interfere with traffic.

The video gaming room was impressive, and very spacious. That was a good move. I played some PacMan, so the free arcade games around the outside part was a nice idea too.

Overall it was a good year!




Attending since 2005 • Artist Alley 2011-2017
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#5 User is offline   MsLovelyCookie 

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 04:45 PM

Even with the usual crazy weather, I still had some fun and relaxing ACen weekend.

Start with the bad:

Gatherings:
Well with the rain, it took me a while to find the rain location gatherings by the description for rain location. The gathering signs did help a bit once I spotted them but it would help if the app just showed the rain locations just like they show the outside locations, only when it rains. Once the rain stopped I didn't know if the locations switched to back outside or still inside when a gathering I went to started.

Artist Alley:
Nice that it was in a different section from exhibit hall but the aisles are too small. It was crowded in the middle sections every time I was there. If they could get more space in the aisles it would allow others to walk around the people who are looking at the tables or walking by without running into someone who stops to stare.

Now with the good:

Hyatt:
No complaints on the use of elevators. The plan still works. Food Trucks, I only got to try one of the vendors since the other was popular. Hopefully they can add another choice in the mix.

Exhibit Hall:
WOW so much spaced to walk around this year. People could still walk around people taking pictures, less traffic jams in the flow of the crowds.
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#6 User is offline   JujuFox 

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 08:26 AM

They just posted the 2017 Attendee Feedback Form here: https://docs.google....2zS0rQ/viewform
Attending since 2005 • Artist Alley 2011-2017
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#7 User is offline   xkiabx 

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 10:27 AM

I am going to whinge on to two things here: guests and cosplay gatherings.

So my view on the guest list has not changed somewhat. Since it was ACen's 20th Anniversary, I was expecting to see more new faces but this year more than half were all returnees. Now, I'm not saying that it's a bad thing but c'mon, there are other names out there that I am positive that even ACen might be able to get if they act right now. But hey, one seiyuu, however...after seeing the announcement of one, I thought it might be possible to see more but we didn't. Again, with ACen being the biggest in the midwest and a growing number of attendees, I thought we would get more. I'm not much of fashion person but that part seems to be well done in getting guests for. The music side, it already seems to be heavily well maintained in DJs and musical guests but it doesn't make up the lack of new faces of voice actors and voice actresses, more seiyuu, and mangaka to be brought into the ACen scene. Hopefully, ACen 2018 can provide us more of those. Again, I'm not saying it's impossible but I do think despite the fact that Japan and the Midwest are like 12 some hours apart we have already gotten guests from Japan but just not from the industry that a lot of us ACen goers want. I say that with the fact that we have already seen quite a few requests on the ACen forums regarding what certain Japan industry and guests we want.

Lastly, the cosplay gatherings. So much stuff happened this year that I won't even touch upon considering that it was a constant battle up to when ACen was literally around the corner. First, let me talk about those cosplay gathering flags. So, some friends and even other con goers saw that the flags were not even set out to other locations despite the fact that the convention had already opened and it was pretty much quite into the afternoon hours soon to be hitting the evenings. Only one number flag was set and that was Cosplay Gathering 9. The weather this year was just outright terrible on Friday and Saturday so juggling between rain location and the regular location was all over the place considering that even when it was cold or rained people still went to the regular location instead of the backup. Secondly, the area that cosplay gathering 9 was located this year...For the love of ACen, I cannot believe that cosplay gathering 9 was put right next to the extremely loud voice auditions. Now, when I said extremely loud, hell it was EXTREMELY DEAFENING. The one cosplay gathering shoot that I went to, which was held at cosplay gathering 9, the poor host, he had to scream and was just about as loud as the voice auditions were, luckily. Now, some might say, "Maybe bring a megaphone next time." And no, just no. Hell, I didn't even think the voice auditions were going to be blasted into our ears but it did. I don't know why cosplay gathering 9 couldn't be put in the original place it was last year like nearby the entrance into the dealer's hall. It was so much more convenient that way for cosplayers and hosts of the shoots. Now, I haven't been to ACen too long as many others but with the movement of things having been shifted, I couldn't read the map for the life of me. I walked around the whole dealer's hall looking for cosplay gathering 9 to only realized I actually passed it after having come back around. It was literally inside another hallway or whatever that place was called but I had to go up a small grounded ramp.

Anime Central 2018, I really do hope brings more than than what it usually brings. Yea, it has brought some of the requests we wanted but the past few years that I have gone, I honestly do think ACen can do better for their 21st anniversary. As for the cosplay gathering locations...can we please, work on that somehow? I don't know how it will be worked upon but every year with the growing attendees, even the tower overhang gets packed with smokers. This year was no different as I attended shoots to get pics that were at the tower overhang and oh boy, was it always packed tight with smokers. Luckily, enough to move them to the sides for some space but wasn't enough to get some distance in between.
ANIME CENTRAL 2018 ~ Tentative


#8 User is offline   magishine 

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 08:54 AM

Hmmm where to start. I'll break down my thoughts into a couple different categories

Dealer's Hall: Wonderful! Felt very big and expansive compared to previous years. Never felt squished and was able to look around with great ease

Artist Alley: Oh boy. Whoever thought to stick Artist Alley where they were didn't think that through because compared to the Dealer's Hall, Artist Alley felt cramped and shoved into a corner. I only went into artist alley once because I could not stand how cramped it felt. Also let's talk about the lottery system. It was not a great idea and a lot of artist's that are typically at ACen couldn't get it. However I think there is a happy medium to be found. Maybe do half the spots as first come first serve and the rest in a lottery.

Convention Events: I will speak to the two events I did go to. Anime Hell and the Gacharic Spin/May'n concerts. Anime Hell....I left after 30 mins because these were all videos I've seen online. Spaceman Jones, Warp Zone's Mario Kart 8. I was expecting more anime and less random internet videos. Just wasn't funny. Also they wanted me to sit on the floor. Yeah with my bad back that ain't happening. The two concerts. My first big issues with these concerts is that there was no backup plan in case of rain. Thankfully the weather eventually worked out but still to not have (Or at least no publicly announced) a back up plan is woefully shortsighted. Another issue I have is that ACen seem to make no effort in hyping the concerts. Very few people knew where the concerts were and May'n was during the Masquerade. The crowds for these concerts was pathetic due to the location, weather, and lack of publicity. In the future, please don't have an outdoor concert. We want the concert to feel special and only for us. Having it at the business park made it so anyone with or without a badge could go.

The guest list: Oh I could go on and on about how anemic this guest list was. In year's past, there is usually a theme to go with the guests (like some project they're all in that they are promoting i.e Your Lie in April cast last year) but I will sum up my problems with this. Last year while I was holding my panel, I asked a member of staff what was going on with the guest list last year (because that was bad too) and he informed me that GR was focusing all its efforts into the 20th anniversary. If this year's guest list is the best you can do for 20 years.....and another complaint I will issue is that when I have brought my problems into the Facebook page. Michelle Falco told me that if I think I can do better I should join staff. You know what? Point me to the application! I'm tired of ACen staff thumbing their noses at complaints so you know what Ms. Falco? Yeah I think I can do better and I'm gonna put my time and my energy into proving I can

Photoshoots: Ohhhh the less said about this fiasco the better. I am glad Millions_knives is no longer in charge of photoshoots because never has a man been so inept at his job then he was this year. You can read all about it in the Photoshoot Gathering thread. Many of us had to join a special Facebook support group because of the lack of help we were getting from staff. You're better than this ACen

Final thoughts: I know that this seems like a lot of bitching and moaning but to be honest I did have a pretty solid year. Yes the guest list was bad but I was able to have fun with a lot of my friends this year and mainly the last few years that is what it has been. I just go an enjoy the Dealer's Hall and see some friends (and run my panels if I feel like it) This year I let my wife make the decisions and that worked out really well. Had a really good time because of it. So while I have my complaints, I personally had a decent time but I am questioning if I wish to continue to spend money on ACen in the future
uchu kitaaaaaa!!!!

Cosplays for ACen 2017 and progress made

Greg Universe (5% complete)

#9 User is offline   Drakenwitch 

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 08:35 PM

Show me an artist's alley that ISN'T cramped and I'll show you a con that doesn't have an artist's alley.
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#10 User is offline   neutralist 

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 09:43 AM

View PostDrakenwitch, on 01 June 2017 - 08:35 PM, said:

Show me an artist's alley that ISN'T cramped and I'll show you a con that doesn't have an artist's alley.


This is my vlog for the saturday starting at entering the alley:

https://youtu.be/xPo...D0FE?t=1h16m32s

I have been to past 3 ACens but this year is straight up a fire hazard.

#11 User is offline   Washu Takahashi 

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 11:06 AM

View PostDrakenwitch, on 01 June 2017 - 08:35 PM, said:

Show me an artist's alley that ISN'T cramped and I'll show you a con that doesn't have an artist's alley.

Last year and the year before had PLENTY of room to move around. The aisles were much tighter this year than they have been previously, so your comment makes no sense.
ACen 2017 Plans
Thursday: Maki Nishikino (Swimsuit, Circus) [Love Live! School Idol Project]
Friday: Rider [Fate/Stay Night], Maki Nishikino (Little Devil) Kisumi Shigino [Free!], Kae Serinuma (Gym) [Kiss Him Not Me!]
Saturday: Layla Hamilton [Kaleido Star] 100%, Zen (Spicy Jalapeno) [Mystic Messenger] Maki Nishikino (Sunny Day Song)
Sunday: Christophe Giacometti (Rapsodie Espagnole) [Yuri!!! on Ice] 100%

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