Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Anime Punch : Post-Armageddicon


I made it back from Anime Punch this last weekend, and spent most of Monday making up the sleep deficit.

As one of the invited guests of the con, I signed up to participate on a number of panels, so while Friday and Sunday were spent relaxing and enjoying the convention atmosphere, I was really busy on Saturday. Here are the Saturday panels I sat on:
  • Anime, Manga, and Fandom in Academia (I was also the moderator)
  • Gainax (from Daicon to Evangelion and beyond)
    Gainax characters
  • Shounen Manga (I hosted a conversation with my friend Lillian Olsen, a veteran translator for Viz)
  • Otaku Studies (I gave a talk, "The Importance of Being Otaku", followed by discussion)
Lillian OlsenI was also supposed to be on the Anime Roundtable (discussing various issues relevant to anime fans), but that was cancelled (maybe next year). Also on Saturday, Lillian and I had a nice dinner with fellow guest Crispin Freeman (who went to the same high school as Lillian). On Friday, I helped Lillian during her kimono panel, but I was more of an audience member than a panelist. (see image on the right) Even though Saturday was hectic, I really enjoyed myself at the con. Anime Punch, put on by members of the OSU anime club, was open to the public for the first time last year. This year, to accomodate larger numbers, they decided to expand to a hotel. What the con staff lacked in experience, they made up for in enthusiasm. The attendees, knowing it was a new and small convention, were generally forgiving of minor hiccups and made the best of things. If the convention web forums are any indication, people had a lot of fun, and even the con staff seemed to be in better spirits as the weekend progressed and things fell more squarely into place. On Friday, I arrived before the con officially started, and my hotel room wasn't ready for me yet (nobody's fault; I just got there early), so I had nothing to do, and the con staff was scrambling to get things started on time. As such, I volunteered to help out. As a last minute volunteer (for about an hour), I helped move stuff around and put together registration packets. It was only a tiny fraction of work compared to the herculean effort shown by the real con staff (who were seriously sleep deprived), but it felt nice to help out, and it reminded me of the good old days of being part of an active anime club. Anime Punch was small, but it had a lot of good things going for it, things you don't always see at bigger and higher profile cons. The schedule was packed with things to do, even in the very early hours of the morning, so one had to prioritize carefully in order to make the most of their con experience. Different fans do different things at cons. For convention planners, the trick is to offer a wide variety of programming so fans of all stripes will always have something to do. Here are some of the many things I liked about the con:
  • Unique video programming that featured cult classics, rare titles, staff picks, and documentaries. At most anime cons I attend, the video rooms are totally uninteresting, but Anime Punch had me repeatedly looking at the video schedule to make sure I wasn't missing anything special.
  • The con was very open to panel suggestions, and as such, there were a ton of panels covering a wide range of subjects.
  • Con Suite! The last time I was at an anime con that had a con suite was Otakon '97! Free soda and snacks are always a plus.
  • In addition, there were great local food options. Usually, I spend more money in the dealers' room than I do on food, but this con had plenty of good restaurants nearby, whether you wanted fast food, casual dining, or really expensive steaks. Next year, even if the hotel changes, I hope the con stays in the same general area.
  • Really nice con staff. As a guest, I was treated very well, and from the looks of it, the staff was just nice in general. I've been to too many cons where the con staff (volunteer or otherwise) were rude to attendees. Even when they were spread thin and lacking sleep, the Anime Punch staffers managed to stay friendly all throughout the weekend.
I'd like to thank Anime Punch (especially Michael Beuerlein and Chris Johnson) for inviting me and putting on an excellent event (I'm already looking forward to next year). Thanks to everyone who attended my panels, and for those of you who I met for the first time, I hope we can keep in touch!

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