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Effects of Forum Participation in Con Guest Pulls

I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. I guess if the saying goes that American “anime fans” attend conventions, that there are a lot of conventions (anime or not) throughout the US and Canada, all year round, and attending these things cost a lot of money, then it pays (in more ways than one) to think about it. Given that I go to these things regularly nowadays, I think about them naturally.

One aspect of this is that many conventions are run by fans. They may or may not be for profit (eg., making money is the bottom line of the operation) but in general people typically don’t get into this business just to make a buck. More over, the cons that have a real draw (eg., guests and special events) tend to have a need to build up beyond just the usual convention alley-exhibit-screening complex. After all I think the tendency in convention attendance is that the big cons only get bigger, and attendees typically don’t go to more cons per year on average. Of course, the cost of having oversea or big-name guests means having a big enough presence in terms of size to afford it, and thus those cons are more feature-rich and better value for more attendees. It’s like a rolling snowball.

TL;DR, I wanted to know why this tweet is relevant:

The angle I want to take is to compare this with that and that.

Here are the 16 North American anime cons last year that went over 10,000 attendees, in order of total attendance:

  1. Anime Expo – 61,000 estimated total attendance
  2. Otakon – 34,892 paid attendees
  3. Anime Central – 28,692 total attendance
  4. Anime North – 23,952 paid attendees
  5. FanimeCon – 25,542 total attendance (23,430 paid)
  6. A-Kon – 22,366 total attendance
  7. Anime Boston – 21825 total attendance (21,200 paid)
  8. Sakura-Con – 21,000 estimated paid attendees
  9. Anime Weekend Atlanta – 18,363 total attendance
  10. Anime Matsuri – 14,989 total attendance
  11. Youmacon (14,496 total attendance)
  12. Otakuthon (13,357 total attendance)
  13. MomoCon (12,200 total attendance)
  14. San Japan (11,077 total attendance)
  15. Katsucon (10,686 total attendance)
  16. AnimeNEXT (10,283 paid attendance)

I italicized the 3 cons whose forum threads I linked to just above. They are the guest request threads. Give it a scan.

So some background: voice actress and talent Hara Yumi has been announced as a guest for Anime North 2014. Last year, voice actress and talent Nakamura Eriko has been announced as a guest for Anime North 2013. The pattern is that what kind of con invite people like these unless they are on an Arts Vision kick or someone on their GR team really loves IM@S?

I think the answer is obvious.

Rather just stopping there, I looked in the guest forums for a few of these cons (this is just how I roll, actually) and I didn’t realize after “ErikoNorth” (aka., AN 2013) the Arts Vision thing is … a thing. And if you didn’t know both Nakamura and Hara are represented by Arts Vision. The differences in the three forum threads I linked might not be obvious at a glance, and I’m too pressed for time to do any kind of request analysis, but let’s just say as someone who reads this regularly, the differences are there. It’s like AN’s offering is very min-maxed, where as the other two are balanced in contrast of their forum reuqests. As far as guest powers go, the top 16 biggest NA cons all do pretty well. Sakura Con, AB, and Otakon are all solid as far as forum-to-reality representation. AX is trickier because there’s a lot more industry influence, not that it isn’t a regular factor, but we can probably remove it as an outlier. Anime Central is actually a good example of what the average big con forum thread for guest requests look like. Once you hit below AWA, though, things are different. It’s like California and Texas cons just do things differently, so feel free to use them as a different sort of “norm.”

Because they look kind of like cons that are much smaller:  What forums? Facebook!

Maybe that’s just because most of the big cons today have been around for a long time (10+ years for pretty much most of that list, Anime Matsuri being the biggest <10yr con), but that sort of community, I think, reflect on the type of con they become in certain details. A-Kon being one of the oldest anime cons in America but no forums…another exception I guess.

It just goes back to say, when cons say “by fans for fans” sometimes it does actually mean that. And you don’t even need to staff to make a difference, just speak up.

PS. That all said and done, I think AnimeNEXT forum request is ripe for astroturfing. Of course I mean that by if that’s a con you will attend if the right guest shows up, go ahead and request it. Vince is a nice guy on the internets and he demonstrates that, at least, will listen.


Wizard Barristers Is a Great Procedural, But Just Okay for Anime

Procedural as a genre is a little less vague than slice-of-life as a genre, I concede, but I think Wizard Barrister is a pretty solid example of a procedural.

Cecil & naughty frog?

The one biggest issue about procedural as a general category is that it’s too “monster of the week.” I think this is actually one of the biggest problem that anime and manga narratives have overcome since the early ’00s. A good procedurals doesn’t mess with that stuff. In that sense Wizard Barristers go the other end–it doesn’t mess with that stuff (much), but at the same time it feels very much not-quite-a-procedural. Far majority of the episodic plot lines follow the “incident-investigation-trial” pattern to discount Wizard Barrister on a technical level, but you have people complaining that it doesn’t? Except it’s totally like that. Even the finale … is just like that.

So we have a procedural that is by the book, but it feels like a bunch of giggling school girls talking on a school trip. In this sense, Wizard Barristers play with another little often-seen complaint about anime characters not being adults. Except they act like not-adults?

I mean, yeah, what a great representation of adults in a professional environment! Or I should say, all the fun stuff people like about procedural shows, where is it in Wizard Barristers?

Speaking as someone who is interested in the actual procedures of criminal prosecution in this context, I have mixed feelings about the show, to say the least. But let me just say this: most, far most, people do not have any kind of a clue or interest in that, so maybe I come out ahead on Wizard Barristers because I actually do have some interests in the more arcane, and how different elements in the show try to evoke those details.

Today’s audience is pretty demanding, lacking of a better phrase, in terms of what they want out of a procedural. So in that sense there’s little you can do for a procedural as anime. I mean, what, Witch Hunter Robin and Conan are really the two shining examples of this genre, and neither are really all that great for what it’s worth in this context. It’s definitely a gap–the question is just that if this gap is too small to bother to fill.


Nagi no Asukara: Modern Fairytales

Every now and then while watching NagiAsu, something in the show pops out to me as “hey, I think someone took this motif from The Little Mermaid.” It’s as if you boil down that fairy tale based on proto-tropes, or better put, plot ideas, and redeploy them differently. If you think of the stereotypical fairytale as the story of a mermaid who falls in love with a prince on land, and trades her voices to the witch in order to gain a chance to live on land and make him fall in love with her, lest melt into the sea as foam… I think NagiAsu is pretty much Onegai Little Mermaid in a fairly literal sense.

That being said, I’m really enjoying this series, and can’t wait for its finale in another 12 hours!

cutestTP

I’m just hoping the Okada-ness of all of this will not be overpowering. I’m ready to be surprised; it’s like after the nth plot twist of Samurai Flamenco, you kind of just give it up in a way that still makes you care, but you no longer try to head things off. Kind of like Dr. Strangelove and bombs. It’s quite the treat to have two shows like that in the same season.


Does Good Writing in Anime Matter?

It’s hard to say.

Aila

I personally enjoy good writing, especially when its the simple, subtle, clever and not outstanding. I also like it when it’s all over the top and you know what they’re doing a mile away. I also like it when in general it displays competence.

In that sense, most anime are written pretty well, but very few are great, and fewer still outstanding. If I want to nitpick from this season’s shows, it might be something like NagiAsu as a good example, and Wizard Barristers as one that could use a lot of work.

On that level, it does seem writing makes a difference. But I’m not sure if it goes any further than the extremes. In the middle,  you have a sea of adaptations of varying quality, and the execution matters a lot more than what the script says. On the other hand, original works tend to vary greatly. Zvezda, for example, is a really high concept but if the execution was not even 80% of what we had, it would have been a very hard sell. WUG is the opposite case, where the writing is clean and simple but it’s got all these difficulties in executing it.

If we bypass all these nuances and just look at their MAL ranking or some silly nonsense, it might paint a different picture. It’s partly why I said it doesn’t matter a whole lot in the middle. I suspect this is also a big reason why people complain about the overabundance of moe-type anime, or anime that relies heavily on canned, episodic slicing of some sort of atmospheric depiction of a scene. Because those shows do just fine. It’s kind of like when you read Ben from Anipages on Telecom animator’s layouts or some such. Because that stuff, when it’s well-executed, is beautiful. The writing can be just icing on the cake.

In that sense, writing is like playing a strategy game: there’s micro and there’s macro. With this artificial distinction, I think strong macro will typically lead to success, but of course all I’ve been saying just now is that the trend has been the opposite.

I wonder if it’s just an otaku thing? Is this why Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere has fans?

But to circle back, if we look at a straightforward kiddy show like Gundam BF, it’s got that same rhyme and reason, that smart macro formula for success. Even if the writing is just sort of average. So I guess there’s not much conclusive that we can say about writing other than that even before you start laying words on paper, you need to know what you’re doing already.


Kill la Kill

Spoilers. Spoilers everywhere.

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