Well I’m done with this particular convention.
I was pretty much done with it before the convention, but the actual con didn’t really deter me from my decision to cut it out of my future convention attending schedules.
The reason why I’m done? Their handling of attendee submitted events/panels prior to the con.
I had no problem running my MADstravaganza event at the con, but getting to that point before the con was like pulling teeth.
For starters, the form to submit them didn’t go up until the end of May. Which is bad, but I think it was still better than previous years. However, it’s then a bit much to not give anyone a human response until four weeks before the convention.
Amecon may not realise it, but attendee submitted events/panels are the last remaining unique selling point of UK residential anime events. Everything else they do you can get elsewhere:
- Anime Industry Guests – you can get the US voice actors at Expo and Japanese industry folk at Expo and film festival events.
- Parties – You’ve regular J-pop events running in London, plus events like the Grand Cosplay Ball and the Cosplay Cruise. And I’m sure similar events elsewhere in the country. Also if you just want to party and don’t require a Japanese or Fancy Dress element, well you do live in “Binge Drinking Britain”.
- Cosplay – Again, Expo has this covered, as do the cosplay based parties I mentioned above. There’s plenty of places to get your cosplay fix that aren’t residential conventions.
- Dealers Room – Expo, of course.
- Anime – Once upon a time we had a sneak preview of Perfect Blue at Minamicon. Nowadays if you want to see the latest anime films before general release, you need to go to film festivals instead.
Rather than treating the attendee run events as an afterthought, conventions should be encouraging them. The final straw was the fact that cosplay events got their own special e-mail sent out to attendees detailing them before the convention and the other events got nothing.
There was a warning sign as to their misplaced priorities early on as they didn’t actually mention anime or manga on their front page for 4-5 months of restarting the site. Combine that with a video programme that you had to hunt down, rather than have given to you in your con bag, and you’re left with the impression of an anime convention that has lost all interest in the reason it existed in the first place. Unless that reason was to import dubbing irritant Monica Rial to the UK every couple of years, in which case JOB WELL DONE!
There is one big downside to fan run events at UK cons, and it was particularly in evidence at this convention. Some people have got it into their heads to treat conventions as some sort of open mic night. So in addition to the open mic abomination that is the “Omake” we also ended up with rip-offs of the BBC radio shows “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” and “Fighting Talk” (luckily missed the first and what I saw of the second made me glad I didn’t see all of it, as at least one person on the panel had seemingly missed the point of the format entirely). I don’t know if it’s an extension of the show-off attitude of cosplayers, or that people see the few talented people who can do this stuff well and think it’s easy.
What we need instead is more panels with the passion and obsession of the folks running things like this year’s Takarzuka panel or Ayacon’s Rocket Scientist’s Guide to Space Anime. I shall be putting my money where my mouth is on this front next year, as Ayacon are accepting submissions for events already. I suggest anime/manga bloggers reading this who are planning on attending Ayacon, Kitacon or any of the other UK cons next year do the same. While the people running conventions might have seemingly lost interest in anime/manga, there will be people attending who haven’t, so you’ll find an audience.
Now, had the Amecon gone swimmingly they might have changed my mind about not attending again, but the lack of signs/internal maps, a Student Union that was grim bordering on squalid (you should not be able to smell urine where food is being served) and buildings that were too far apart did a good job of killing any sort of good vibes the convention might have generated.
So I’m out.