Party at Home Is the Way to Go

Just to follow up on the making-of of the ANorth Offkai promise, but I wanted to draw out the bigger picture too. Maybe this post can be of a lesson to some of you.

As of this writing the Teespring I’m running is about to end. The t-shirt designs came from long-time fellow blogger and otaku Momotato. The dude has an eye for this stuff, so I asked him if he wanted to help. In reality the money will always going to be handy, but it’s more about the fun in the process. I mean, can he update his blog post? LOL.

In 2014 we did a similar thing, if you recalled. This year we are kind of retracing the same steps for IM@S 10th, and instead of carefully planting one foot in one footprint, as the figure of speech goes, we’re sprinting at mach speed.

Even back in the early months of 2014, the bunch of us had IM@S 10th in the back of our minds already. Maybe it is a true testament to the “international lag” that happens, but what Anim@s did hasn’t really quite catch on over here until the more recent idol bloom that coincided with Moviem@s, Love Live, what have you. That’s almost 4 years ago. The older and more experienced of us are already thinking (and some worried even) about the future of IM@S. After all, nobody’s getting any younger.

The reality was that as long as there is a will, and a way, it’ll continue. I don’t see either of those things dry up, so it comes down to luck and accidents and making mistakes. But even then, IM@S as a franchise has made lots of mistakes. I can’t really see it go terribly wrong–at least no worse than it has repeatedly before.

It’s with this attitude that I approach these fund-raising or fan organization stuff. Try and you may fail, but with enough experience you will fail less? With home-field advantage and repetition things will roll out better. Anime North 2015’s offkai is a prime example of such a thing.

With Asapon being green-lit, the Ami-Mami birthday bash idea also was greenlit. We had about 3-plus months of time to prepare. In reality we had a year to prepare since the possibility loomed overhead even when we were with Haramii in a literal sense. We knew that some JP Ps were coming just to party with those who were going to go–assuming the right guests were announced–and the rest of the dominos fell in place from the con’s end. It was just a matter of doing things on our end, by February.

The hardest part of that, in retrospect, was coming up with the ideas that we did, from the cake to the shape the offkai will take. It wasn’t hard to advertise the offkai, since Producer-hivemind turned 2014’s Anime North into just that already. The human network was in place. Lots of the new kids spoke Japanese and can perapera on twitter just fine. That amused not only the JP Ps but also made my life easier. The network also took cared of funding certain things, thanks, crowdfunding culture.

The ideas came slowly, but it tend to move in bursts. Once the plan formed in shape, it was just execution. On that front, it was only challenging because life have so many other distractions. 10th, for example. I’m pretty sure because of ANorth planning I fell behind on 10th planning, and am currently suffering for it.

I forget who exactly came up with the idea, but using the Koami and Komami Grafigs as the basis of the cakes felt natural and it took the design aspect out of our hands. One less thing to worry about, at least, was what I thought. We sort of just threw ideas on the wall and I think this one stuck, too, because the boxy shapes made the cake more 3D, and we were gunning for a 3D cake with this anyway. In retrospect the cake looked less boss than it could have been, but it still felt like it was worth every Canadian penny.

Having attended at least one offkai last year helped with planning this one. Booking the hotel hall was actually the easy part, despite weeks of back-and-forth. The hard part was estimating if what we paid was worth what we got. The room we were in was not that great–pretty average for what it was. We also didn’t pay out of our noses. It also worked out well because this party turned out not too different than a wedding. It was in a lot of ways just like one, so what applied to one was often used on the other. That gave it feel and form, and a handle for non-Ps to work with.

The real heroes at the offkai had to be the people who helped out. A lot of people helped out in some ways, some might be intangible in terms of their ideas or vetting there of. A lot of people put in some elbow grease helping setup or run the front desk. The panel presentation, the guys running sound and providing the equipment, the cheki printer trick with engraving on the business card holder, and so many others… It’s all the usual stone soup magic. And in that sense it’s the individuals that are still ultimately pushing this forward. We just made it easier to do so, to put it in different, less corporate-y terms.

The election board was a last minute thing, relatively. It worked out much better than expected. Same with Japanese Ps providing freebies, as this seems to be a very common thing with oversea otaku coming to the west, and also the vulturing that happens. Calm down guys! I had no clue what Chuck’s “panel” was going to be like, but I think it worked well. HPT is no A-Team but there are enough wiseguys in there to make something out of not a lot.

Anyways, I had a lot of fun at the ANorth offkai. And it wasn’t even that much work… Sort of like the point behind a fan-run con, where you work hard to bring fans and creators together in the right context, so they can party freely and within acceptable bounds. That’s really what good cons do, and ANorth on that regard gets good marks. Running a con unfortunately is a lot more work though… Certainly it’s a challenge that needs the home field advantage. There will always be a will and usually there will be at least one way, but sometimes it’s good to be shown a more excellent way.

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