Oh boy, did Acen blow it up this year with guests. As a typical weekend American anime con, 72 hours did not seem long enough. There were too many things I wanted to see and do. Unavoidably I had to pick and choose, and cut my losses.
For one I did not land until Friday. I had barely any sleep. And Friday was loaded. The weekend would unfurl more sanely, given I stayed at a hotel about a 10-minute uber ride away, that made late partying difficult but sleeping in pretty attractive. Not like I really did that anyways.
As a result of that I did not see any m-flo at all this weeked. The DJ-rapper unit even had an autograph session. I did not do this at all and I feel kind of bad about this in hindsight.
But I felt pretty good about the rest of the con, almost. Seeing Ayappe in person, in this environment, was a lot of fun. I did enjoy a lot about her panels. I enjoyed a lot about her autograph session. I even got a photo op at the end of her last one. I didn’t enjoy so much having to ditch part of one (to get autograph tickets) and part of the other (to get autographs). Thus the almost.
At some point, having so much power guests in this chronologically cramped con is going to blow up that almost into something worse and much bigger. Part of what ails is, some of the lining up and management just is too time consuming, and some of it is inconsistent. Let me try to briefly explain.
In prior years (like 2018) Acen autographs are ticketed, and the tickets are given out twice a day. Morning autographs (1:30p or earlier) are given out the night before (6:30p), and later-PM/evening autographs are given out the morning the day of (11a). The autograph ticketing actually overlapped with the Friday night concert, and some of the ticketing overlapped with the guests own panels. This was kind of hastily fixed by the con a bit last-minute.
The worse thing was the enforcement of ticket-use. There were a lot of tickets given out but somehow people who had tickets still had to camp, because too many tickets were given out for Fri and Sat. This was kind of fixed on Sun, so people who had tickets generally got it. But the over-ticketing was a pain point and a point of confusion. Also, it was retarded that they did not match the number of tickets given out to people allowed to queue. In essence, there was a queue at the autograph area by each autograph table, but for each session there was 1) a standby queue and 2) a standby ticketed queue. This is just really poor planning. Good thing Acen this year got more space in the entertainment hall so Autographing had plenty of space for these extra queues.
The worst thing is how these factors made sure that we had to skip a lot of things to try for autographs. I skipped half of the concert to line up for Maisan’s autograph Friday, although I could have gotten it later just due to how the lines and ticketing shaked out later–not that anyone could really have known ahead of time.
Oh the autograph ticket pickup times were also terrible, plus there was still the Big Squeeze with people trying to line up 30 minutes before.
I think those were not all too bad, especially each issue on its own, but in conjunction that all made this con a bit of a waste time-wise. I could have done a lot more if I just gave up some of it. Actually all Acen had to fix were two things:
- Distribute tickets earlier in the day and once a day only
- Distribute the right number of autograph tickets
- (and maybe let more people line up at first, this “not pressuring the guest” thing is fine but you could have added more in line anyway)
What is the point of ticket distribution if you have to camp both that and the autograph session! Com’on man.
It is kind of telling that 3 weeks after the con, this is still my most memorable thing from Acen. I guess that is also because I do a lot of cons, and this is the important information people want to know for 2020.
What I really want to say to folks about Acen for their first trip to Acen is that Acen, despite being a huge con, is a laid back con where you can chill and still get your avocado toast in. I think this con still is chill at heart, but the overloading of great guests and events made that not so much this year. You can tell how the con tried to deal with it, and it’s not gonna work as a growing pain kind of a thing. But why even go there when we didn’t have to… Well, it probably is great if you didn’t try as hard as I did.