Hitomi and I attended a new anime convention in Everett, Washingon: Aki-con. A first year convention is not without problems, but mostly it went okay.
Unlike most anime conventions it was put on (so I hear) by a number of dealers, meaning it was a for-profit venture. With a handful of staff and many volunteers, they managed to hold a convention that was fairly well attended. Maybe 500 people came? Ironically, for a for-profit venture, the oddest thing was door security was non-existent as it seemed nobody cared if you had a badge or not to enter any room. Further, none of the video rooms or panel rooms had security or staff in them. Video equipment was attached using plastic zip ties to wire cages. My 18 year old+ panel on erotic comics had no door security.
Yes, I did put together an hour panel–really a presentation–on ero-manga. Hitomi helped out, though she pretty much hates ero stuff, by putting together a "mix" of j-pop music on her iPod to liven things up. I can't say it was well attended, though a few people did wonder in and some stuck around. It was an introduction to some of the styles, authors, and common stories of adult Japanese comics. I brought out some of my "bizzare" books, which stories range from off-the-wall funny to cruel and unpleasant. Since I had no projector, I simply talked about each title, then passed them out for people to look through. I was a little worried about books disappearing, but Hitomi was my little helper.
Since it was a for-profit convention, I guess that none of the Sakura-con staff really wanted to help. They usually help with local events and the smaller Kumori-con in Portland. I didn't see many familar faces working staff or volunteering, except for "Big Chris", a big black guy who was working security, and who we run into regularly at local conventions. (He gets lots of hugs from everyone it seems.) And Hitomi and I met Roy and "Yuki". Yuki, who works in Japanese Guest Relations, got herself involved with helping this local band, "Soul Candy".
Actually, one of Yuki's friends was performing with a band "Soul Candy". Her friend sure had had a lot of gripes about Aki-con, since that's all she did. I tried pointing out that pretty much every convention I've been to since Anime Expo 1997 has had its share of disorganization and troubles. It was her opinion that attendees having a bad experience at one local convention will discourage attendees from going to another convention, but it seemed most people were having a good time anyway.
Will I attend next year? I suppose so, especially if Hitomi's wearing some of the great outfits she had this year.