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Anime Expo 2003 Griping / August 7, 2003

While attending AX2003, I noticed that it seemed like there was less and less stuff for me to do for fun. A majority of the time, I spent walking around or sitting in my room wondering what to do. I suppose I could've went to the panels, but a lot of them seemed pretty boring. I only attended two panels: the ANN panel to match faces to names on the forum, and the ADV Panel because Matt Greenfield and Friend were rather entertaining. Unfortunately, two rather annoying fanboys were sitting in front of me (one of which was a fellow from the ANN panel who walked off with a "Hand Maid May" DVD box, an "Ai Yori Aoshi" DVD, and a third one - the handing out of prizes at the ANN Panel was hardly fair, but that's another story).

Gripes About AX2003:

I was unable to attend the "Con Gripe Panel" since I was waiting in line for the exhibition hall to be first in line for the Yuki Kajiura signing at the Pioneer booth. I helped some poor sap sitting behind me realize that he bought a bootleg copy of the ".hack//SIGN OST 1", since I had my legitimate copy on hand to be signed (I think cyrax777 was sitting next to him - it's hard to mistake a guy in a sailor fuku carrying a bokken). It's a good thing we noticed or there would've been hell to pay...

Anecdotes aside, there were a few issues that I wanted to address at the "Con Gripe Panel":

1) The Schedule in the Bag - When you went to pick up your badge from registration, they gave you a schedule of events. Unfortunately, it was a very poorly organized booklet in terms of finding stuff to do and noticing conflicts. One had to search through the booklet to find events to go to, but you had to do a lot of searching for other things that happened at the same time. They used to have a format similar to the newsletters - a row at the top of the page that listed Day/Time, then the Rooms with the columns running down the page to show what events happened at the same time so you could pick and choose between conflicting events. I have no idea why they got rid of this previous spreadsheet styled program guide.

2) Anime Trivia Contest - This debacle was very poorly run in many aspects. The first of which is the selection process. Several people would raise their hands, and then the person in charge would pick people. This was very flawed since it turned out that the same people ended up getting picked! One person who won first place on Friday, ended up being a contestant again on Saturday (he was easy to remember since he would always say "Gundam" as an answer if he didn't know)! I also remember him being a contestant last year! They should've just given out tickets with numbers on them to people who entered who wished to participate. Simply draw 5 random tickets from a hat. What's so hard about that? To prevent people from being contestants again, just write down their names on a list. This isn't rocket science people!! Finally, they should at least have a buzzer system. It really doesn't cost that much, and you can always use it for the next year. At one point, they had technical difficulties running the computer which was to show clips to the next 5 contestants. After 10 minutes of screwing around, they gave up and had the contestants do some impromptu voice acting and singing. While it was somewhat entertaining, I came for a trivia contest, not "American Idol." Some of the contestants had much, much more personality than either of the hosts. I know that they tried hard, but they were a bit timid when it came to crowd control. If you're afraid of large groups of rabid anime fanboys and fangirls, you might want to reconsider being a host. I should've lent them the use of my halisen...

3) Anime Music Videos - It seemed a bit silly that people lined up for this event to get tickets. There is an MC, but who needs a good seat to watch her read off the titles of the AMVs when you're going to end up watching the stuff on a screen anyway! This is where assigned seating is nearly useless. My friends and I simply walked in after everyone was seated. There were parts of the room where there were several rows of seats empty, and the funniest part was the fact that there were several rows of seats of people sitting behind us! I am sure that the people in the back didn't appreciate us strolling in casually and stretching out over several seats when they were packed in like sardines everywhere else. Ah, the power of numbered seating over the minds of fans.

4) Anime Masquerade - I thought I would play the role of obedient otaku for this event and we decided to register for a voucher for this event through the hotel room in which we stayed. As a favor to my friends who wanted to sleep in, I lined up 2 hours early and was luckily at the front of the line with 8 vouchers in hand. Unfortunately, they told me that each individual with a badge had to be present to exchange the ticket for the masquerade. Grumbling obscenities, I called up my friends who jumped in line to exchange their tickets. Several people were rather upset at the fact that they jumped the line, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway, since I had all eight of the vouchers and was going to exchange them simultaneously. I suppose she was just pissed that actual people were there. Our names were supposed to be on some list to make sure that the voucher belonged to the person holding it (I suppose it was to prevent people from mugging someone for their voucher), but only 4 out of eight of our group had their names on the list, so that caused a bit of a problem. The solution? Just write your name down on a sheet of paper they had, and everything was good. So much for security...

Unfortunately, we needed a couple more tickets for our group, so we lined up at 10am for tickets at 1pm. There were only 20 people in front of us, but we STILL ended up getting seats that were at the very back of the room! We were definitely pissed about THAT!! People who were in line behind us got better seats! I wanted to break something at that point. How hard is it to have a spreadsheet listing the location of all the seats on a grid of some sort so you know what seats you're getting before hand? Cross out all the seats that are already taken by those who had vouchers and let the people who lined up look at what's left and then choose from there. Just keep the tickets in order so they're easy to hand out.

Seating at the masquerade was pretty hectic too. For some reason, they had people line up single file to get into the room. I didn't want to stand in line so I decided to hang out with some friends on the third floor at around 7pm (the schedule says that they would let people in at 7pm); however, some random staffer told us that we couldn't be there for "security reasons." I asked what that meant to which he replied, "Don't you understand English?" Needless to say, I was rather pissed off at that and decided to leave instead of giving in to my urge to toss him off the building. I suppose they were scared that I would somehow manage to jump the line and sit in my ASSIGNED seat before everyone else. THE HORROR!!! Why couldn't they have just opened all the doors to the room and have staffers at each of the entrances checking badges and masquerade tickets? Why go through all the trouble of having staff members line people up and making lines with tape? Just let people know they could only go in and out if they kept a hold of their ticket. They obviously don't subscribe to KISS theory (Keep It Simple Stupid).

A woman was complaining about how she got there at 6:30, and that she was pissed when people were still coming in to sit down at 8:20 when the masquerade had already started. I mentioned that we couldn't get in and we arrived at 7pm to which she replied, "That's a load of crap! I got here at 6:30 with some friends and we made it in all right!" I retorted that we couldn't even get past the 2nd floor because the line from the 3rd floor was so long it overflowed down that far. That ended that argument quickly. ^_^ Staff was adamant about not letting anyone past the 2nd floor due to a huge line they created, despite the fact that masquerade seating was scheduled from 7pm-8pm. We showed up on time, but were still late - ironic, eh?

Next year, I think I'll skip lining up for masquerade stuff, do some other fun stuff, and then hop in the simulcast room. The camera operators are hardly pros, but I don't like all the hassle to get the best seats. After 6 Expos of waiting in lines for several hours at a time, I'm starting to get sick of it.

5) Exhibit Hall - First off, I would like to say that the Exhibit Hall was actually one of the more pleasant experiences at the con. There was so much freaking space! It was awesome!!! No crowds. No waiting in line to get in like last year. Amazing!! Despite my initial love of not having to squeeze next to rabid fanboys and fangirls in order to make my way around, I was a bit disturbed about the huge amount of pirated anime music CDs and DVDs that were being sold at practically every booth. You'd think that with the Pioneer, Bandai, ADV, and Tokyopop booths in the same room, that they would try to force people to not sell pirated CDs. You might as well just make a couple of audio CDRs of anime music and sell them for $1 each - I'm sure THAT would get a reaction.

Pioneer: I see you're selling burned copies of our "Chobits" soundtrack. We're going to have to ask you to stop.
The Spatula: I don't see why it's any different from any of the dealers around here who are selling SM versions of this...

I would never do that, but some people fail to see the irony of it all... I only found a handful of legitimate Japanese imported CDs, and even those were a bit overpriced. I could get the same thing at my local Asahiya and Kinokuniya for a couple of bucks cheaper, so I had no inclination to buy any CDs from the dealers room. I was looking for some new CD singles or really old ones, but I couldn't find them. Oh well, I wasn't expecting to anyway.

Hmm... my rant is a bit long, and I have much more to say, but I'll just cut it off here; although, I doubt people got this far... ^_^

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