News and Hearsay
If you're anything like us, the convention season has been over for a while, and you're anxiously counting down the days till you're in one again. You have your cosplay waiting to blow people's minds, you're keeping up with all the guest announcements, and of course you're recharging your funds after the last con. Anime cons are almost as much part of the game as the shows themselves, and thankfully Boomslank needs only wait till this December 6 for our next one. We attended Aniwave (http://www.aniwaveinc.org/) in Wilmington, NC for the first time last year. Some of you might remember our blog about our very positive experience at this small, young, one-day con. This time around, I had the pleasure to talk to Adachi Trieu, President and Director of Aniwave Inc., and she has been generous enough to give me a picture of what it takes to make an anime convention happen. Suffice it to say, I couldn't appreciate this opportunity enough.
The first thing you will notice about Adachi if you met her in person is that she is super young! At 21 she has been president of Aniwave Inc. for 3 years! I asked if her age has posed any challenges:
“Usually when I introduced myself as president I get a funny or surprised look but it doesn't bother me one bit…...I understand being young can cause people to think negatively but once they have a chance to see and enjoy it for themselves they usually have a change of heart.”
It is an unfortunate yet very real situation, but Adachi and her staff have remained unwavering in their courage and dedication to Aniwave, which is a good thing for the rest of us. I also can't help believing that their youth has helped them build the con into what it is today.
Adachi and her staff
When asked what the biggest challenges were for bringing a con to life, she mentioned staffing as one of the most critical. The actual Aniwave staff is just 5 including Adachi, with the rest being volunteers. As much as Adachi would appreciate a larger staff, I got the feeling from talking to her that her interest is more in quality than quantity.
“We prefer the smaller number because it's easier to communicate…...It's always great that our artists and vendors know who the workers are. It makes them feel comfortable and know that they can count on our volunteers. Even if it's just the bond for that day, it makes for a great atmosphere.”
In my opinion, customer service has been lacking in some of the bigger conventions, and that unfortunately makes for an unpleasant experience especially for vendors. Boomslank’s experience at Aniwave 2014 was a perfect example of the difference a positive and friendly staff can make. Adachi also pointed out that word-of-mouth is very vital for small young cons such as hers. As a result it is so much more important for things to go as well as they can, which is why she takes special care in selecting her staff.
Even more important than the experience for the vendors is the experience for the regular attendee. Adachi was quick to point out a very important policy for not just Aniwave, but cons all over.
“The most important policies we've been keeping an eye on is definitely ‘Cosplay is not consent’ and ‘cosplay positivity’. We are a very family friendly convention so when it comes to harassment of any kind it is taken very seriously..... Aniwave is the place for people to make friends and respect one another. So many kids are being bullied in schools for loving anime or for being different. I don't want them to feel that way at Aniwave too. I want them to find people that can become their friends and a support network for one another.”
There have been unfortunately many instances of cosplayers being harassed in one form or another at cons, and it is truly a shame that this is happening at all. On the other hand, it is important to choose your cosplay wisely as to not create an offensive atmosphere for other attendees. A healthy cosplay environment is vital for a positive con experience, and Boomslank is fully supportive of the work Aniwave and cons everywhere do to create policy that promotes this.
As most of you probably could guess, the all important funding is definitely one of Adachi's biggest challenges. In spite of what you may have heard, anime cons don't just happen. Everything has to be paid for. The venue has to be locked down, the guests have to be taken care of, it all adds up. This is one of the first things Adachi has to figure out before she does much else. Throughout the year she holds various fundraising events, but even that has its challenges.
“Aniwave is possible through fundraisers we hold with additional funding from staff. It's also so difficult to get a venue to hold fundraisers because not everyone is open minded to working with us because we are seen as ‘different’. Despite that we do the best we can to have maid cafes and just fun events to help raise money for Aniwave.”
Though the situation is greatly improving, the appreciation for Japanese culture is still not as widely understood as we'd like. Anime Conventions are an important part of spreading that awareness, as well as giving people a place to practice their love for all things Japan. Throughout the year Adachi and her staff have had several events including maid cafes, and even a crowdfunding campaign. We encourage you to check out any fundraising event being run by cons around you. Trust me, you'll be sad if they were gone.
It was a lot of fun getting this unique insight into the inner workings of an anime convention from Adachi, whose favorite shows include YuYu Hakusho, Chobits, and Heaven’s Lost Property. Aniwave will be held on December 6 at the Wilmington Convention Center, and more information can be found at http://www.aniwaveinc.org/. If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend you stop by and check it out. Boomslank is looking forward to our second trip, and hope to make many many trips to Aniwave in the future. We thank Adachi and the rest of the Aniwave organization for all their hard work.
It’s that time again! Boomslank goes to another con, weeee! More and more we are finding that we actually love going to cons, like really love it! So we are now making an active effort to get out to more of these, see more of you beautiful fans, and just generally have an awesome time breathing in the anime culture awesomeness! This time around, we were checking out Aniwave (http://aniwave.org/) in Wilmington, NC. A young one-day con in it’s seventh year, we were not sure what to expect. That said we were approached by a super cool representative of theirs in Animazement back in the summer, and it was in our backyard-ish, and yada yada yada we woke up at 4 a.m. and drove the 2 hours to get there (that part sucked)!
We usually go to small cons with a slight bit of reservation. We never know what to expect revenue wise, attendance wise, so on and so forth. I will admit I walked through the doors a little guarded. I was however, instantaneously put at ease by the super friendly staff. They did everything to accomodate us and our unreasonable requests. When we thought we had a problem with our space, they weren’t even phased. Before I could even blink, the issue was resolved seamlessly. It was beautiful! It was super well run, super organized, and super staffed. A+ operation indeed.
Our fellow artists and vendors were super awesome as well. It really adds to the con experience that you have cool, talented, and passionate people to talk to during the rare breaks from the booth. We met up with some old friends, made some new ones, swapped war stories, swapped art, it was fantastic. I am most excited about the canvas I got from the wonderful Chelsea Champion (www.luckyblaccat.com), which I have already hung up in my living room for a much needed splash of color, as well as some Mighty Morphing Power Rangers posters obtained from the talented Joseph Bayer (https://www.etsy.com/shop/SpiderStopShop). Can’t wait to put those up! We also got to chat with the delightful Animetalchick (https://www.youtube.com/user/Animetalchick/), who also happened to be a volunteer at the con, making sure we were taken care of when we got there. You’re all alright in our book!
Last but not the least (really more like the mostest) has to be the attendees. There was some concern that the crowd would not be as healthy as we’d like, but within about 10 minutes of the doors being open, we were proven wrong. The anime lovers of Wilmington and the surrounding areas have clearly come to love this young con over the years. People came in from all over (one family I spoke with had come in from Texas!) and the atmosphere was great. Of course brilliant cosplays abounded. My favorite had to be the Journey piece donned by the afore mentioned Chelsea Champion. There was also an awesome nine-tailed fox that you couldn't miss.
And then there were the fans in Boomslank merch, those are by far our favorite. It cannot be overstated the warm feeling that comes from seeing someone in one of our shirts, or talking on one of our phone cases. You guys are the best.
In conclusion, kudos to the organizers of Aniwave. From a vendor point of view, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Well I take that back; I would have been more pleased if it was two days instead of one :p. Something that good should be twice as long, that’s just math. I would also suggest that the dealers be separated from the artist alley. I personally have always been a proponent of a clearly defined artist alley, just a personal preference. This con had the two in the same area. That aside, I haven’t much to say against my experience at the con. We are glad we went, and certainly plan to be there next year.
As most of you know, this past weekend Boomslank was at our very first convention. Don't get me wrong, as individuals, we have been to conventions. This time though, we went not as individuals, but as Boomslank, so yea, kind of a big deal. We always knew we would have to do a con sooner or later, but we've been to Animazement in Raleigh, NC and have seen how overwhelming they can be. In other words, we were.....kinda scared. So we decided to start small at the artist alley at IchibanCon in Charlotte instead. Great idea, I thought.
Going as a regular person, I kinda know what to expect from a con. Walk around a lot, look at some awesome costumes, take a break by watching one of the many anime showings, check out the dealers, etc. Going as an artist/dealer, it is completely different. For starters, you have no time to actually "go" to the convention. You have to man your table at all times, lest your wares be pilfered. As a result, you come to the end of 13 hours, and find that you have sat in the same place for 9 of those hours. Very sad thought. And then there is the preparation, oh the horrible preparation. Did we forget anything, how are we setting up our table, who do we talk to about this, who do we talk to about that, just so much to think about. Add to that the fact that we were going as sponsors, so there were certain obligations we had to meet. Stress levels were a little high. But all in all, it was a fantastic experience. We have been to two conventions earlier, and we have to say this was the first authentic con experience we have ever had. Since we were sponsoring the con, we were given a pretty rocking spot for out table. Our neighbors were pretty awesome too. We sat next to the SpacePod club wear table, and those guys were great fun. All in all, this was a major learning experience. We gained some tips on how to run a successful artist alley table. Here are some of the main observations we made though: Celebrity guests at the con rock!
With all the anime we watch, we had never given a passing though to how it would feel to meet the voices behind our favorite characters. But when Vic Mignogna (Full Metal Alchemist, Dragonball Z, Bleach) came by our table to redeem his gift card, we have to admit that was a pretty special moment. Apparently he likes mechs, as you can tell from the picture. He is one of the funniest guys you will ever meet. Lisa Ortiz (Pokemon, Slayers, Yu-Gi-Oh) was another hilarious one. She was super nice and was a huge fan of Airport. She even tried one on! Looking good Lisa! Our artist was absolutely ecstatic to hear their kind words for his work. We love them all and hope to see them in more cons. There is way more anime out there than one could watch in a lifetime, and that makes me sad.
We can't even count how many cosplays we saw. It is just mind-boggling how much anime there is to see. In some ways it's a good thing, 'cause you will never be without something new. In other ways it sucks because you could never see all that you want to. I have made this pledge to myself though: I am going to watch Hetalia this weekend, because I am pretty sure I was the only one there that didn't know what it was. Get plenty of sleep!
I can't stress this enough. On the last night I probably got about 3 hours of sleep, and there aren't many things I have regretted more. Our artist P-Shinobi was smart about it, and got his 7+ hours. Thankfully he was there to pick up my slack 0:D. Working a busy artist alley table is hard work. Do not take it lightly. We would like to thank Nostalgia Conventions for throwing one bangin' con. We thought it was well-organized, and we cannot wait for next year. They were willing to give us a chance, and as a result, they are good in our book. We would also like to thank the celebrities (Vic Mignogna, Lisa Ortiz, Veronica Taylor, and Eric Stuart) for being super awesome! I mean, if they were any more awesome........man they were awesome. Last of all, we would like to thank everyone that attended the con, especially everyone that visited our table. Boomslank will be nowhere without its wonderful fans, and we are absolutely thrilled by the new friends we made over the weekend. We will be trying to make it to more cons, and will keep you posted. Till then..... See all the pictures from the convention on our Facebook page