Alas, that's not the people weren't the only issue. In this time of economic self destruction, people crave a distraction from the horrors that are coming. What meager monies that they might have are willfully spent on events and such that will make them forget, if only for a short time. Problem is, it has become an expense that a lot of people can't quite justify covering for too much longer. As an example, a four person room at one of the hotels can cost upwards of $150 to $280 per person, depending on how you work it. Parking can range from $10 to $40 per vehicle per night. Depending on when you got your AX pass, you could wind up dropping $75 to $110. Parking at the convention center, if you need it, will run $15 to $30 depending on the day and where you wind up. Certain main events cost about $15 to attend. Others $25. Concerts, if you go to them, can run you $35 to $75 depending on where you want to sit, and there were several this time around. Coupled with gas, food, and anything you may want to pick up in the dealer's hall, dropping nearly $1000 on this trip is not out of the question, and you'll at least be dropping a little over half that.
At least the line to get into the event and get your badge was dealt with. Now if only the rest of the lines could be sanctioned just as quickly.
If you're in the press corps, it's not all sunshine and roses either. You're pretty much not guaranteed anything anymore except a place to park your ass for a time away from the convention. This is not a small thing, granted, but it is about the only thing. AX will work with you on interviews for their Guests of Honor, but don't expect any help with industry. Honestly, I can see the issue there; they can't really be liaisons with industry...if you want to interview one of them, you'll need to contact their PR department yourself. That being said, events and whatnot are also not guaranteed. There are a limited amount of seats and tickets, even for people who don't need to sit down in most, such as myself. Getting there at the ass crack of dawn just to ensure a place, every day of a four day convention you're already running yourself ragged over...that's a young man's game, unfortunately. Back when I was 25, I could do that sort of thing. I'm 38 now, and I'm beginning to feel it. That means for most main events, you'd need to either purchase tickets or have an invite from their coordinator...which is why for the first time in twelve years, you will not have a video of the masquerade from us. For some of those events though, neither of those is an issue, like the MCZ and Kiss Concert, but more on that later. Then there were the press conferences that usually go on, but this year, damn near every single person declined to allow video and audio, and those that did allow it, no one in our outlet was interested in seeing or it conflicted with something else we were doing. Seriously, what the fuck is the point of having a press conference you can't record and share? There just plain flat out isn't one. At best, you'll get written highlights in an article like this one; and if you missed something, well, too bad, right? Can't go back and check and see what it was, nor can anyone else watch and draw their own conclusions. At that point, I liken it to a mutual masturbatory session, and while I'm all for jerking it, I have a better time of it watching porn on my computer...IE, I can be more productive elsewhere. The Fan Panels that the GoH's put on are what that sort thing is for anyway. I'm thinking if we do continue to go to AX in an official capacity, our focus is not going to be on main events or Guests of Honor...we're going to have to make industry and fan presented material our mission, because the rest is just too damn big for its own good.
I suppose that means I should get into the MCZ and Kiss concert, which had nary any Kiss at all. After calming down and reviewing what actually happened, I'll be blunt, what occurred was dirty as fuck, but AX may actually have its ass covered in terms of legalities. Everything I saw billed the concert as being MCZ featuring Kiss, which one would assume would mean Kiss was going to perform with Momoiro Clover Z. Even the volunteers and staff at AX were expecting this. Going over various press releases online, even one here on Dragon's Anime, they only stated that Gene and Paul would do what they wound up doing. Introducing the band, accepting an award, and bailing. Yes, that was the extent of their participation. The problem is, people have been buying tickets for this event for, and I could be wrong on this one, several weeks before any of this info was available. Anyone who went to see Kiss as was initially thought, did not. I'm pretty sure there's enough there to take AX to court for false advertising and even win, but they've probably got enough to fight with to make it hurt for awhile. That being said, as of this Anime Expo, even if we return, Dragon's Anime will never again cover a concert at AX in an official capacity. Individuals can buy their own tickets, but we will not cover it as Dragon's Anime or TFA Cosplay. See, there was more to it than just Kiss being a no show.
If you were an attendee and bought your ticket, you did not see this, and this did not affect you. And this is a good thing. However, this is what happened to several members of the press corps. Many of us were not 'on the list', and I wasn't really clear on how one would get 'on the list' which means we were actually dealing with true Entertainment Business shit, where it's about who you know (and they're welcome to it). This means that quite a number of us were standing by for press tickets. See, if we didn't have these tickets, even if we bought our own, we would not be able to cover this event as press, which forced us to wait. Like most there, we figured Kiss would be performing at least one song with MCZ. We actually managed to get standby tickets, and headed over there. We were also told we would get to record audio and video of the show, but we also knew that since this was a music thing, shit might get weird. It was likely we would get more instructions at the event, and to stand by for that. This was honestly to be expected, and we were fine with that. We then get to the event, and they told us Press would enter from the back. Fine, so we headed on back. At this point we'd made the acquaintance of a San Francisco radio station associate, and was telling him how dealing with Nokia/Microsoft theatre was typically like this, and even throwing out some anecdotes about the Nokia Live staff who are yet another separate organization. A lady then comes out and tells us we're not on the list, and she can't let us in. We note we were on standby and were given these tickets by the AX Press Staff. She'd have to ask Dan about that. Near as we could figure, this 'Dan' dude was more than perfectly happy to let us just sit out there the entire concert, so realizing that, the San Fran radio dude calls up the CEO of AX himself to come and deal with this situation. Marc Perez takes about 20 minutes to get there, and as we're waiting, several more press standbys are showing up. Marc then attempts to enter with a few of us, and is then told he could not by the Microsoft staff. Marc then informs them, most humorously, that this was his show, he's the goddamn CEO, and he can go wherever he damn well wants. They continue arguing about this, until he grabs us and we start heading to another entrance, and we meet someone coming the other way. I'm not sure who this was, but we got in via the back entrance, and I think the other press members came in later, but I can't be certain of this.
I fucking love AX when this kind of shit happens. It's actually so typical it's sadly amusing at this point rather than anger inducing. The anger came later.
So we're shuffled in to a room in the back, has a bar and everything, and Doug notes this is where they took backstage photos when they were still doing that for the Masquerade. As an side, they're no longer doing backstage photos for the masquerade in any form, and it's goddamn shame. In fact that's a dying thing at all conventions; it's like suddenly every event quit planning for it, so most photographers just said, 'Fuck it.' Anyway, we hang out there for a bit until the girl from the U.S. PR firm, a firm we're almost entirely certain was created for this event alone, came in and talked with us a bit about where we would be...which is usually where we go when pictures and video are to be taken. She wasn't sure there was enough space for us; turns out there was a fuck ton of space for us.
I set up, begin to record, record a bit, and then she walks on over and tells me we were only allowed to record the final three songs. I told her she didn't tell anyone that before, but she blithely replies that's the rules for everyone, and saunters off. Lady, you didn't tell anyone jack shit. Worse, how am I supposed to know which are the final three? So I kill my camera, and we watch a Kiss-less MCZ concert (no that recorded shit from the music vid does not count) while everyone else takes pictures. First and foremost, if that is to be a rule, that's something you tell all outlets well in advance; this is something that the AX press staff should have known, but they were in as much the dark as we were. Second off, if anyone knows anything about these rules, it's always the FIRST THREE songs you record, and then cut into some sort of promo video (which I would have been more than happy to do...if I were told that to begin with). Very unprofessional. At least she was nice enough to tell us when the last three songs were; I had seriously expected to be completely disregarded. That's for later though, because during the concert I started noticing something very strange.
People were filing in right next to me, and these were press. I couldn't tell if they were press that were 'on the list' or if they were the standbys like the ones behind us outside. One of the dudes started talking to us, and informed us they were getting yanked out of their seats and told to go elsewhere. Let me be clear, these individuals were TICKETED to their seats. No one else had any claim to them; they were for press to be there and cover the event. Yet they were yanked and told to go elsewhere. Not kicked out, just removed from their ticketed location. After a few minutes most of them did a rage quit and left, and rightly so, I might add. I'd say that was at least 2/3rds of the press covering the event. Then it got even more interesting.
Someone from the Japanese PR firm came over and talked to us. Through the noise, his broken ass English, and horribly bad accent we managed to discern that he was saying that we could only record one minute of each of the three final songs. He did not know who the PR lady was for the American firm. At this point I was seeing colors, not from the glow sticks, probably called the man a few made up names, and stated that I was fucking deleting my footage. I started to, but I was convinced not to by Doug and the Radio Associate. So it's sitting here, on my hard drive, but I've reviewed it; there's nothing that's remotely usable. I'll be turning it over to AX in the near future and they can fucking deal with it; it's not my problem anymore.
I've seen some unprofessional shit. DONE some unprofessional shit. How the media was handled in this concert was the most unprofessional shit I do believe I've ever seen by a galactically wide margin. This was horrible in the extreme. I've informed AX of the situation, but I don't even know what they can do. Who do you blame for this? Everyone had a part to play in this fiasco, and several were victims OF it. The only silver lining is that the concert itself was actually pretty good and went off without a hitch. The drama was completely transparent to the concert goers, and I can only thank the gods that this stayed that way. As for me, at the end, I was so out of fucks to give, I couldn't care less about much of anything more at AX that I would not be able to do. I mean, I could have gone to see the AMV's and done something productive. Instead...that.
Which is not to say we didn't do what we normally do. Pictures are a big part of it, and you can find them, as always here on TFA Cosplay (remember to hit back on your browser after you hit enter). Concerning the pictures this year, I enjoyed them all quite a bit, but I have been noticing another trend, which I noticed first at Comic Con. There are always cosplayers that are tired, eating, on break, need to get somewhere, are jerks...basically unavailable for one reason or another. It's not a problem, one doesn't think about that. You just say, “Cool," and continue on. There's a few hundred more where they came from, and maybe you can get them later when their business is done. It's not really all that many that do this. That being said, there was a very noticeable percentage this year that actually caused me to stop and ponder what the fuck was going on. After all, that's why you come to a convention in costume: You wish to be noticed and have your picture taken. If you run into me, I'll give you my card, and you can see it online...even have the originals if you wish. When it gets to a point, like it did with me and Comic Con, where every two or three times I ask to take a photo that I just get a “No," response (there were far more of the 'jerk' category at Comic Con I ran into), I'm going to be reluctant to even ask...after all, what would be the point? The unwritten social contract is broken at that point...something toxic has grown in the attendees. For that alone I'd quit going in an official capacity. We're not there yet in terms of this situation, but it did make me ponder the similarities when I did write Comic Con off.
William Draven, Vixen Deville, and all the magicians and burlesque performers are gods and goddesses, and proved it once again at this year's Myth: Legends of Burlesque and Magic. I'll say it again, I've never seen an event gain this level of popularity as fast as this one has. In its first year, it caused us to break the DA team into two so that we could cover both it and the Masquerade. In its second year, it was promoted to main event on its own night. In its third year...you know, I think it needed more blood. Apparently this year's theme was Mentalist Tricks, Vampires, Vampire Slayers, Monsters, and lots and lots and lots of blood. It started with William Draven in Richter Bellmont cosplay coming out and wowing the audience with his whip skills. If you've never seen this, the video you'll see at the end of this section of the AX review is a pale shadow of what it's like to see it in person. Also, it appears Steve the Chair is letting his new found fame go to his head what with him having to be at the center of everyone's act and his booty addiction. He keeps this up, and he's going to wear out, and pave the way for his stand-in which made an appearance this year, Mildred.
You know, if this keeps up, Vixen will have named every single goddamn chair at Anime Expo. You realize we're going to have put fucking name tags on all of them, and if we fuck up who they are she'll be drinking our soul or something equally messed up. ...not entirely sure that would be unpleasant.
Anyway, Vixen herself got in on the festivities, with her Castlevania Dracula costume. It is true we brought her back to pay her tribute. Some might claim we ill needed a Saviour such as her, but what sort of person would that be? A miserable little pile to be sure, but enough talking, we came to have at the entertainment that is burlesque and magic. Or did we all just come to be charmed by this evil British woman once again? At this show...they are not mutually exclusive.
First up was Paul Draper guessing what people were drawing after being completely blind folded. It was pretty interesting to see how little he needed to ask about in order to figure out what each individual drew. That being said, this particular trick is a dangerous one to try at this convention. Do you know how many actual artists are out there at this con? I would love to see how he handled one of those coming up and speed drawing something for him. I did notice between acts we now had two Stage Kittens who...were...bouncy and energetic. It was about as much fun watching them prance around playing with each other as it was to watch the actual acts. Rynie Das Wreckless popped in next for her Burlesque performance of Ryuko from Kill La Kill. This one was just a blast, and it's obvious she was having way too much fun with her Scissor Blade prop. Also, thanks a lot...it's been years since I heard that song and it took days to get out of my head again. In any event, I think she walked off with more clothes on than your average episode of Kill La Kill, so there's some irony in that. William Draven popped in after that to shill for time with a finger cuffs trick that...honestly, I sometimes wish I wasn't filming so I could laugh my ass off, because that was brilliant. Even if he did almost get shown up by Deadpool. Nathan Phan popped in on stage and just started tossing out cards and...the hell did those birds come from? There was like four of those little cluckers! No, where the fuck did those come from?! Anyway, the next trick he did continued the theme of mind tricks whereby he was blind folded and had to guess what celebrity the lady from the audience picked in this large group of pictures he gave her. And then make a silly impression of the voice(s). Seemed to be based on both her reactions and audience reactions which was fun. William Draven popped in again and told a humorous and somewhat cruel little story based on the cards he drew and the rhymes he almost told...you'd have to watch that one yourself. Not so much a trick as it was straight comical entertainment; quite fun regardless. At this point we get to the part of the show where Vixen does her glass walking demonstration. I had stated last year that she might want to change the song or presentation on it, and it appears she did just that when she drew upon the powers of darkness and midnight to bewitch the audience as she bathed in glass and blood...so much blood. At the end of which I was both kinda horrified and kinda turned on, so good job there. Paul Draper came back on stage after they cleaned it of glass and blood, and noted that she may need cleaned of blood by licking it off. I swear to God, I saw a shit ton of women raising their hands in conjunction with nearly the entire male portion of the audience, so she certainly succeeded in enslaving the population once again. Regardless, Paul proceeded to perform the concentric rings trick. That's a fairly standard magic trick, but I still don't get how it works, so it was fun to see again. I would say that Olivia Bellafontaine's Burlesque rendition of Lust from Full Metal Alchemist had a certain irony, but rather than irony, it was far more...fitting shall we say. Even dramatic. With a little bit of blood.
Wonder if all this blood had something to do with the Blood Moon back in April. I almost fear what we'd see if this were done on All Hallows Eve. Fear and welcome. Moving on though....
How the fuck did you do that with the lemon and the card Jeff Favor? How the fuck? Welcome to Anime Expo where they fuck your mind with card tricks and mentalist games. Never had sex? The fuck you haven't; you went to that show where they bent your brain over the table and your meat computer LOVED it. Nova Nyx pranced out on stage in her Yuuno performance set to Cosmic Love this time around. She seems to rather love that character from Future Diaries, and she does resemble our beloved yandere quite a bit...especially with that pink hair. It's also nice to see she's gotten a bit more daring since her debut at the first Myth show; though not as daring a some I've seen. That being said, her dancing has improved tremendously...especially what she did with that sword, and it's a great thing to watch talent improve into excellence. Nathan Gibson then shows us it is possible to fondle a girl's boobs without actually touching them, which is useful for card tricks whereby one girl has the set of cards...then the other girl has the set of cards, and how the fuck that happened is anyone's guess. That number trick was interesting; I'd love to see how the math on that really works. Oh, and don't lend him money. Well, you will get it back. Eventually. Somehow. Somehow that dude got it back, but don't ask me how that worked. Mia Morte's at it again with the rather strange, disturbing, bloody, and exciting Burlesque performance of...I'm not sure, but I'll be damned if it isn't burned in my brain. Dyno Staats then gave us all a science lesson with knot reduction and mind reading/word guessing with a new brain reading device. Apparently this man has whipped a lot of problems that came along, though I'm not sure he's thought through the long term effects of deknotting cloth in that manner, heh. For the final acts, William Draven came back on stage, and though his mind reading trick was thwarted by the cameraman and the really huge fuckin' screen in the background, he was a decent sport about it, and his final trick with the bed of nails, the big dude standing on him, and the eventual breaking a brick on him as he was laying on it more than made up for it.
All in all, another fantastic performance that was over far too quickly it seemed. Though if you missed it here's a bunch of pictures of the event. ...oh, alright, here's the video too.
If we manage to make it back to AX, Myth will be one of the biggest reasons why. Their devotion to making sure the attendees have a good time is a breath of fresh air from what happens at other events some times where they treat the attendees and event more as a nuisance to deal with rather than their enjoyment being the job they're there to do. I thank you all for another year of fun. Finally, I'm sorry Doug, but your cherry can only be popped once. You're just going to have to deal with that on your own.
Before I headed over to Myth the plan was to either hit Little Witch Academia or the Fashion Show. We pondered that one, and was going to go to the fashion show, but there was a Guest of Honor supposedly going to premiere some stuff there. Trying to get any information from the press personnel about what would be allowed was futile...they couldn't get a yay or nay on anything. So we thought for a bit as we were getting a little drunk in the middle of the day at The Yard House. Did we want a potential repeat of the previous night with the MCZ concert? Uh huh, yeah, right, sure. So Doug asked what Little Witch Academia was. Glad you asked, Doug. The original story was done in 2013 produced by Studio Trigger for Anime Mirai 2013, which is an animation student project showcase. It had such a following that its sequel Little Witch Academia: Enchanted Parade was then scripted out, and funded through crowd funding Kickstarter, and was a full 30 minutes long. So, discussing the pros and cons, we went there. What can I say about it? A very simplistic, but fun little story for all ages. It was like all those old OVAs from the early 90s that we would watch when anime was first becoming popular. There was also the little witch with a mushroom fetish, which paved the way for all sorts of jokes that they only briefly touched on for the older audience. Actually, there were a lot of those kinds of jokes and situations. All innocent in the context of the story, but most everyone there got the subtext. Kinda like watching Looney Toons at times, only a little less anthropomorphized There was even a showcase of the key frame animation and artwork in the gaming room area, which was very nice to check out. All in all, we watched anime at Anime Expo. Haven't done that in awhile.
The following day we went into the press lounge to acquire Masquerade tickets, but they'd already been given out. I simply stated that I guess they didn't want it recorded or photographed by us. You'd think they'd have a better system than this first come first serve shit, like oh, I dunno...an advance reserve system of some sort. Two per venue, that sort of thing. That sort of thing would work for all events, and if people knew what they were doing in advance, we could plan a far better coverage system for the convention. Alas, for the first time in twelve years, the masquerade was not filmed by us, and I was out of fucks to give at that point. We were offered something for the Unlimited Blade Works event, but given what went on the MCZ, and the fact that the series didn't really do anything different than the movie a few years back did (seriously, folks? DOLPHIN SEX AGAIN?!) and the epilogue treated Rin and Shiro like a little kid in the corner laughing when hears the word sex...the fuck would be the point? Let the fans have that event; it's really for them anyway.
So, that pretty much set our course on what we'd wind up doing on Saturday. I went ahead and hit up the Midnight Shinigami concert at Lounge 21, which is something I didn't think I might be able to do. If you don't know who they are, this band showed up in the Anime Expo Battle of the Bands back in 2011, and was formed to actually win that competition...which they did. Since then, they've played all over the place as an anime music cover band, at clubs and conventions all over California. They're pretty good, all things being equal, and if we continue going to AX in an official capacity, it will be almost certainly focused on the fan produced events like this. It's far more fun to be around people that just want to have fun and can rock the joint, like Midnight Shinigami did, than have to deal with all the Hollywood PR nonsense and begging for scraps at a table that's become less and less appealing to eat at.
So next up was the FAKKU Presents: Bosshi and Toshio Maeda Q&A panel. However, before we went to that one we had a nice, but short dinner with a fellow photographer, Kris Ling where we ate some really good Mexican food and talked about photography and the differences between Japanese Sentai and American Power Rangers. It was kinda off the cuff, so, as already noted, it was shorter than I'd have liked, but that's how a lot of stuff goes at conventions like this. Sometimes that's all we get, unfortunately. Still, we made it to the FAKKU panel, and wound up having to wait in line with the Premiere badge holders (pay an extra $30 or so, and you too can get preferential treatment of a sort). This shouldn't even be an issue for press holding goddamn camera gear, they should just be let in so they can set up, as long as they're not in anyone's way. Sure we like what we're going to, but we're also doing a job. I suppose getting into the line at front is the most that anyone is willing to allow people doing a job, but get in and set up in enough time we did.
The panel itself was, well, like I told Doug, "Chewie. We're home." And we were home, amongst the perverts and the hentai and all manner of deviants to of which we certainly qualified. Toshio Maeda is the creator of the likes of Legend of the Overfiend, Demon Beast Invasion, La Blue Girl and a few others. The man has an absolutely diabolical sense of humor and the shit that came out of his mouth had the audience laughing so hard that they could barely see straight. If he ever comes back, I think I'd like to go to his panel and check out what he might do there. Bosshi is the author of such titles as Peachy-Butt Girls and Childhood Best Friend both of which are for sale at FAKKU, uncut, uncensored. Bosshi himself seemed a little overwhelmed by what he saw in the fans and with the company he was with, but he remained in good spirits through the whole thing, and even got into the game of rock-paper-scizzors there at the end to give away the T-shirts he drew on. The skateboard on the other hand was Toshio Maeda's, and well...hope that guy really didn't have to do that after the panel, hehehehe.
At the end of the panel, we were treated to one of those other really fucked up situations with AX that coincided with not giving press an in when they needed to set up video equipment or get situated to take photos or what-have-you. We had to leave the room and enter the line getting in for the next FAKKU panel. This amounted to, and I shit you not, us folding up the tripod, camera still attached, walking out of the room through the exit and walking right back in through the line in exactly thirty seconds. This quite literally accomplished dick all except to keep the staff of AX from having to think beyond their programming and having a fucking aneurysm. Regardless, back we were and set up to record the second FAKKU panel: FAKKU Presents: Hentai Manga & Doujinshi. This one was far more informative in terms of what their business plans were, and what the overall goal was. Not only are they looking to go almost fully legitimate, they're making deals with Japanese companies to publish their works fully uncut and uncensored. Which they've already done, and even started getting works that were made for FAKKU to initially distribute. Several of the books were by their two guests of honor, which means we'll see all of Legend of the Overfiend uncut and uncensored (as well as Toshio Maeda's other works), and several of Bosshi's works are already up for sale like that with more on the way. And like I said, they weren't the only ones nor was that the only part of the plan. For full coverage and disclosure, check out the video below.
Sunday was, of course, the day for getting some final stuff from the dealer's hall (which is rivaling Comic Con's at this point), last minute picture taking, and whatever i's needed to be dotted and t's crossed. For us it was checking out and heading over to the convention center proper. In our haste, we lost the Naga UFO Catcher plushie that an old friend had given Doug near on 14 years ago. That stung more than I'd like to say to be honest. At the dealer's hall I picked up an import Unite Warriors Superion. Yes, the one with Slingshot and not Alpha Bravo. Nearly picked up the third party upgrade kit that they had, but I wanted the white version which they didn't have yet. I was planning on picking up some Blu Rays, but nothing really appealed to me, was out of stock, or I balked at the price (Goddamn Aniplex...seriously, $40 for three eps of Kill La Kill? This is not 1995 people.) After that, it was pretty much grab a final meal together and bail.
Concerning the miscellaneous anecdotes, we did manage to catch the AMV Contest Encore on Saturday, but since we weren't there to help with the judging, it was really only there to check out what was shown. I was truly surprised, there was a lot there that I had not seen at other cons this year. Granted, I hadn't been to too many. That said, we did agree that the one I'd seen at Anime Conji called 'Maybe' using Inu x Boku footage deserved some special award for giving us diabetes. For a list of what played and who won, I'll direct you to this nice playlist that someone put together on youtube. The ones missing are X13 - "Ok Google" by Kayn and X7 - "It's Happening" by Gaki, and they don't appear to be anywhere on the 'net that I can find. The overall competition was actually fairly good, though Comedy was pretty weak, I'll admit. It was dedicated to Monty Oum, and I'd think he'd have really loved that. He was an inspiration to many, his life cut short far too early...our lives that much richer for having known him or even seen his works...he will be missed. The press coordinator for the past couple of years was promoted this year, which is cool for her. I met her briefly, but she seemed rather busy, so I only got a couple of words in. Got the distinct impression she really didn't want to talk with me anyway, and hey, that's fine. No one is required to associate with me for any reason whatsoever if they don't wish to. I did talk with the current press coordinator, at least, I think that was him, during day 0's registration. He was very excited that Kiss was going to perform with MCZ. Yeah, we both were. Shame how that turned out. I had wanted to go to the IA concert, as she's the Vocaloid based on Lia, an artist I would love to go see one of these years. However, given what had already happened, to say I just couldn't bring myself to want to go through that again, even as an attendee, is an understatement from Hell.
Overall, this was not as bad as 2007, though you've gotta work to be that bad. What was good was damn good (shit, getting rid of the reg line was a miracle in and of itself), but the bad seemed to snowball into worse and finally a sort of darkness induced apathy. It wasn't quite work; things like the FAKKU panels, Little Witch Academia, hanging out in Lounge 21 with the live bands like Midnight Shinigami, and that awesome performance of Myth: Legends o Burlesque and Magic do not make this work. Those were shear joys. However with the way it seemed a lot of cosplayers were this year, the completely unprepared press personnel of AX, the lack of information, inability to get into certain events and minor to major mismanagement when one did....
Look, Dragon's Anime and TFA cosplay barely counts as small press, we get that. We're not even really a company, but an association of individuals that came together to fill a role that we felt was lacking at the conventions we went to and to do certain things we saw some others doing, but figured we could do better, and then share our work with everyone, up to and including those who were putting the shows and events, be they staff or attendee of any stripe. The problem is, that while we started out doing some damn good work for ourselves and everyone else with the active participation of the venue, once the venue gets to a certain size, it just breaks down. Lack of communication, poor planning, not enough of anything, being treated like a red headed step child, and still expected to provide content. It wasn't all bad, and not everything was a fight, but there was enough of one at Anime Expo this year that, when taken with the drama, little and big, of past years with all the other conventions that have the same goddamn issues in the same way (to varying degrees), it's...it just makes one question why the fuck we do this. We started taking pictures because those taking them didn't seem to be sharing them or taking them as well as we thought we could, and now we have people who make music videos out of these things and set up their own mini studios in the parking lots for photoshoots (and good on both). Hell, everyone with an Android or iPhone seems to consider themselves a photographer now, and everyone's taking pictures (good and bad)...and that's not counting the people going to Walmart and buying a D3200 at $300, setting it to auto, and thinking they're photographers. Then there's that noticeable problem of cosplayers not wanting to get their picture taken for whatever reason...never mind I hear that some of the hall cosplayers at Comic Con were trying to actually CHARGE for a picture. I started recording the live events, because no one else would, and those that did, didn't share until Anime Cosplay Paradise started (and even they don't share the full event like we do). Now though, with hyperagressive rights management; Guests of Honor that run their press conferences like they're afraid of light itself, either an apathetic, powerless, or completely in the dark Press Department (and not just at AX); and rules that change on a dime, it's become a goddamn fight in a lot of events to even just figure out what the fuck we're allowed to do. I didn't come here to fight. This is not a fucking war. This is an anime convention. We're supposed to be having fun and being entertained, even if we're doing work.
I enjoy what I do. I enjoy what I do for those who otherwise would not be able to see the excellence they have given to others and those who'd like to see it again. I enjoy showing the convention itself what a wonder they've created. I love playing with my toys and seeing how well I can make them do what I want them to do. I'm just so very tired of the rest. It's not supposed to be like this. Seriously, what's the point of a convention that turns shit into a rights management nightmare and a staff that can't decide if they're going to let you work or not, or a convention that plays handing out the scraps to things that should be a given? And there's never enough scraps. Ever. I'm certainly not here to compete over scraps.
As an association we're all pretty much free to do whatever we feel is best for what we individually wish to cover, within the confines of whatever agreement with have with the venue and each other in that we don't get us all kicked out. That being said, if we do go back, my own personal plan is going to undergo radical alteration. I'm not dealing with Press Conferences that relegate us to the equivalent of a mutual masturbatory session; which was practically all of them this time around. I personally won't be going to a concert as a member of Dragon's Anime without some written guarantees, and I will strongly advise any of our members to do the same. Buy a ticket and go as an attendee, but don't expect anything else. That being said, my ticket buying will be relegated to personal matters (unless, again, I have some guarantees), and will likely not be very much if at all...I got burned a bit this convention over that. T'was my own fault concerning what I bought, but the pain still lingers. I will not beg for scraps any longer; my focus will be on the panels, the smaller stuff, the fan produced events. Events like Myth which I was invited to, I will go to and do what I do. If they ever bring back Battle of the Bands or Anime Expo Idol...I'll go to them if they're not ticketed (unless the ticket is free and they're just handing them out, but that's another issue).
I always knew that I'd not be able to do this forever. Fanime's getting weird, ACEN made it impossible to work there, and Anime Expo is...well, I described that enough, I think. The smaller cons are still fine, but as they get bigger they all go down the same road; it's sadly predictable at this point. I may not actually be completely done, but I think I can see the end from here. When that day comes I'll have to find other things to do with the toys I have. Like Tenchi Muyo, it was fun while it lasted. But like Tenchi Muyo, I see the time when the costs outweigh the rewards, and so I'll have to make the sacrifice. I'm not sure that time is here yet though, and we'll see how things go again next year. Until then, shit, I've got my eye on a 4K camcorder and I just compiled up the x265 codec which is going to need more power than my current rig can put out to work effectively. So, there's still work to be done, and now it's time to get to it.