Oh, look, it’s another anime convention post. Whoop-dee-do. But the standard anime convention posts are so boring. I’m gonna look at three things: the good, the bad, and the weeb. First up? Anime Revolution 2014.
Disclaimer: I went to Anime Revolution via a press pass that was given to me by the organizers of the event. Not like they paid me money to be there: they just let me not pay them money instead. Instead they’re asking me to write this article for them, so take that for what you will.
Okay, so maybe the name “Convention Intervention” is a misnomer for this one, because it implies that there’s something horribly wrong with the convention. But that’s not entirely true with Anime Revolution. Let’s just get this out there: AniRevo 2014 was pretty damn awesome. Probably the second-best convention that I went to this year. And that’s saying a lot – I went to literal ones of cons! But let’s be honest. No convention is going to be perfect. Let’s knock out the good before we head to the bad and the weeb, because boy, there’s a hell of a lot of good to get through.
Off to a great start.
Let’s get this one straight. AniRevo’s in Vancouver, Canada. I hadn’t been to Canada in ten years. I could only remember Canada being a) really cold and b) no, seriously, we were like somewhere in the mountains in the middle of fucking December for a wedding and it was cold as hell. But as I met up with @shcboomer, whom I’d be staying with for the weekend, and as I walked around downtown Vancouver and talk to people, it started to dawn on me.
People in Canada are actually really nice.
And let me tell you, this is actually a big one. You go to an anime convention, and everyone attending falls into one of four categories:
- the person who actually has a somewhat legitimate reason to be there
- the otherkin from tumblr
- the weeaboo
- the 40-year-old who can’t let go of what anime “used to be”
You don’t want to socialize with the latter three, because the overlap of those people and people who are human beings worth socializing with is pretty low. But when everyone’s a nice person? Well, you can bend a couple of rules a bit, and that brings up the con experience a whole lot.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that identity doesn’t matter. Identity and branding of your product speaks so much about it, even before a user even starts interacting with and starts using it. And most cons forego this. We’re talking shitty, Basket Ballmer level design and branding – no thought put into the visual design that the attendees experience.
But AniRevo did something different. You can tell the amount of thought and effort that went into creating that brand identity. They’ve focused on the colors, the fonts, the visual appeal of every single piece of media that you see at the convention. From the booths to the pamphlets that they hand out, everything breathes AniRevo – and that’s something that’s really hard to do, and even harder to do right. (if you want to see an example of this, head to the “Maid Cafe” bit, two sections down)
Also worth mentioning is how everyone there is in an AniRevo uniform. I recognize that it’s like, an actual Canadian thing to do, but that just adds to the brand identity that AniRevo creates. There’s a difference between a person wearing a vest that says “Volunteer” over a t-shirt, and a person wearing an AniRevo polo shirt.
(You want to see an example of BAD convention design? “Convention Intervention – AkiCon 2014” might be up your alley. When’s that coming out? Hell if I know, dude.)
They had Marina Inoue at AniRevo.
Marina. Fucking. Inoue.
and Jessica Nigiri and Megumi Ogata and staff members from Production I.G. and Vic Mignogna and
Anime Expo gets some really sweet guests. Sakuracon, too. But for a convention of this size to get some awesome guests like that? Hot damn, son. Plus, all the guests had interview sessions with members of the press, which gets me to my next point…
The Press/VIP Badge
Okay, now here’s where things get a little bit tricky. It’s weird talking about press privileges and marking those as a pro-AniRevo thing when I expect the average reader/attendee to not be able to obtain such access (yeah, watch your privilege!). But you have the ability to buy a VIP badge, which is basically the same thing (sans the interviews), so that’s why I’m bringing it up here.
The badge that I had basically allowed me to cut any line. Like, any line. Panel about to fill up? Don’t want to wait in line for an hour beforehand to secure a spot? Boom, flash your press badge, and you’re in. The first two rows are actually reserved for members of the press/VIP badge-holders, so you’re practically guaranteed a spot. And that makes the con experience that much better. No waiting in line. It’s like Disney’s weird FastPass thing that they do for all of their theme parks, except that instead of supporting the old and outdated system that is legacy copyright law, you’re supporting crude overgeneralizations of Japanese culture. #SWAG.
The kicker was the interviews. Marina Inoue had to cancel hers (i know, right?), but I managed to snag a couple of minutes with Megumi Ogata and Jessica Nigiri, as well as a production manager from Production I.G. I won’t bore you with the details of the questions I asked them, but just getting the chance to talk to them one-on-one was pretty rad.
THEY GAVE YOU LOYALTY POINT CARDS FOR ATTENDING THE MAID CAFE
ONLY NINE MORE VISITS UNTIL I’M A RANK S MASTER
ANIREVO 2023 HERE I COME
Nothing’s perfect, of course. And AniRevo was no different. If anything stuck out like a thorn in the convention’s side, it’s the content – or real lack thereof. You go to a convention like Sakuracon, and there’s a series of some panels or events that you can probably tolerate for a couple of hours before you’re off to your next must-see topic. There was no such luxury at AniRevo. You have the dealers’ hall (real talk? why does everyone write it as dealer’s hall, when there’s multiple dealers?), the screening room, the four stages for panels, the gaming room… and that’s about it.
The panels weren’t that great, either. You can check out the schedule here, and I think you’ll find that there ain’t a whole lot of eye-catching, must-see events/panels.
For what it’s worth, I really tried to open up my tastes in panels! I went to the “Go! Go! Nihon! – Live and Study Japanese in Japan” panel on Saturday, but I had to bail once I realized that the panel wasn’t about the best visual novel of all time.
you know, i paid ten dollars for that game
i played it with a group of five other friends
with a fightstick as our only controller
The Vancouver Convention Center is a pretty cool place. It’s by the water, so there’s boats coming in and out and in and out all the time. It’s also very pretty. But boy is the layout of that place bland. The entire convention literally takes place along a single hallway. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.
You see how long down that shit goes? It’s a cool design at first, but after a while it gets boring and bland. You know what’s more exciting than walking down a hallway for five minutes to get from room A to room C?
“Enjoy Anime X Japan Culture”? Is that the best you could do? Come on, man. I expect some “Kawaii on the Streets, Senpai in the Sheets”-level slogans.
This may sound slightly hypocritical in that I’m talking about the lines at a convention after I just said that the badge I had allowed me to skip the lines, but this is a real thing that I feel needs more talking about. Why the hell are anime con registration lines so long? Like, seriously, look at this.
That’s only the people waiting outside on Thursday, the day before the con even started! There were plenty more people waiting inside in a orderly fashion (because this is Canada we’re talking about), but why has this become the norm? Think about PAX – they have the decency to mail out your badges two weeks prior! But both here and at Anime Expo, we see people lining up for hours on end for their badges on Day 0. Do anime enthusiasts really have nothing better to do with their time, so they’re okay with waiting?
The 18+ Swimsuit Contest
I really wish I knew what to think about this. Is this tradition at anime conventions? To have some weird risque 18+ swimsuit contests in which some cosplayers decide they have nothing better to do but to flout their bodies at an unidentifiable mass of strangers? To have the MC of your competition be a dude wearing nothing but boxers and an elephant dongle (ha ha dong yes that’s a nice joke) around his waist?
Because that wasn’t even the bad part.
The bad part was the audience. Dear god, the fucking audience. Some 50-year-old guy thought that he was the most funny guy in the world, yelling lines like “Work it, girl!” and “Show us your booty!” whenever a girl started doing her “routine”
And ladies, you aren’t all that better, either. Some middle-aged woman thought it’d be smart to scream when the Haruka Nanase cosplayer came on stage, burning the eardrums of everyone around them, mine included. Thanks, nameless person. I tried to get a selfie with her afterwards but she was NOWHERE to be found.
I mean I could turn this into a “cosplay is not consent!” rant right here but instead I’ll just leave you with an image from twintails
You missed out on a perfect chance, Xythar. Top-level disappointment.
Marina Inoue’s Q&A Session
There were two types of questions asked at the Q&A sessions, and there were two styles in which they were asked. Here’s a handy guide.
Nothing is more beautiful than a 20-year-old boy trying to speak Japanese and expressing his love for Laura Bodewig, only to stumble on his own words and unable to properly ask Marina to say a line from the show.
She kept up with it, though.
It takes a lot to be a celebrity these days.
Singing “Let It Go” at the Opening Ceremonies
The MMD Intro Video That Was Shown at the Opening Ceremonies
I’ll let y’all judge this one for yourselves. We MMD now.
Anime Revolution is by no means a bad convention. By all measures, it was one of the better conventions that I’ve ever been to. It’s got style, it’s got organization, and it was a really enjoyable experience. The problem? It was too empty. Not enough content, not a whole lot going on in dealers’, etc. But that’ll solve itself with time.
It’s got the foundation all set – it just needs to grow. And grow it will. If you ever get the chance to go to Anime Revolution, I highly recommend it.