Gnashing Teeth on North American Anime Con Guests Announcing

It’s about three weeks to Otakon, and Otakon still has one guest to announce for their Sunday music showcase. For those of you unfamiliar with North America’s second largest anime convention (boasting probably close to 35000 unique attendees for this year), in recent years Otakon employed their main events each day in this way: Friday night features a concert, Saturday night features the masquerade, and Sunday afternoon the second concert. For the 20th Otakon they did things differently by doing a concert on Saturday instead of Friday so they can reinstate the MST3K event that Otakon used to do, but that was just for last year. Also, it made renting the Baltimore’s First Mariner Arena more feasible.

Again, it’s about three weeks to Otakon. As mentioned before ALTIMA is Otakon’s Friday guest. We have no idea who will be for Sunday yet. Three weeks is a magical period of time because of how the airline industry works. Booking too close to the date of the event and you will be paying out of your nose, and there are rarely any deals closer than 21 days prior. That’s not to mention availability of flights. So yeah, good luck, west coast bros.

The great thing about Otakon is that the management knows this. In fact it’s not just them. Knowing however is only half the battle. It is all too common with multi-party negotiations though, that if working with these third parties things invariably can get drawn out and delayed. Japan will take its time. There might be something unexpected that delay the process, who knows. What makes Otakon slightly better, in my estimates, compared to others, is how they work to avoid these issues that comes with the process. Because knowing means you can try to mitigate these external factors. Emphasis here is try.

Because, let’s face it, these things happen all the time. I’m grateful for the opportunities these large or mid-size cons provide, to make a concerted effort and bring over Japanese guests who worked on anime or what not. But in the end it’s these little things that distinguishes a great con from just a good con. It’s the difference between being able to meet one hardcore JP fan at the con versus a dozen of them. It’s the difference between going to a con or not going to a con for me, if it’s not a con already on my agenda that year.

As someone who had a jolly time hanging out with said JP fans at AN and Acen this year, it makes a difference to me. I guess it’s just something that can’t be helped. But is it? I think it can, even if it is very difficult. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the enjoyment of fans going to a con directly hinges on the competencies of the con management. I’m just numerating a clear example of it. Some things might matter more or less to some people. Some might not matter at all to just about no one. I wonder if you’ve got a group of experienced con managers (like Otakon has in the past few years), this is one way they can iteratively level-up how they run a con and squeeze that last drop of enjoyment from the whole endeavor. And since JP guests cost so much resources to bring over, why not maximize the experience for the fans who enjoy the guests? Go all the way.

But then again you still have the situation we’re seeing today. It’s three weeks till Otakon. Do you know where your guests are?

PS. On the flip side, Otakon hotel cancellation deadline is Friday, so if they announce the music guest Thursday and it’s a hit for you, you might have a shot at getting hotel space. Hotel space is likely not the most important item for attendees, but it’s probably second most important for a lot of people.

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