Triangulating Con Guests, 2011

Jim Vowles used to run the guest relations for Otakon for the past, I don’t know, 10 or so years. He stepped down this year and is just helping the new guys taking over. I bring him up because he used to play this guessing game over at Otakon’s forums, teasing us who is lined up as guests every single year. I think it’s a lot of fun, both to guess and to be teased. I think he enjoys this inequality in information too, so it’s win-win for everyone.

Unfortunately this can backfire. It doesn’t happen in a way you think it does. What has happened was that he trains people to think very, shall we say, resourcefully. Arguably there’s nothing “backfiring” about that either. What has happened in the past couple days is a little more complicated, but I’m going to attempt to explain because it’s very amusing.

And let me just say this right off the bat: it’s entirely speculation. Totally guessing. Nothing I’m going to postulate is true.

The point isn’t who we think will line up Otakon’s “star-studded” import guest list (and their domestic list, for that matter). It’s more like because it points to certain things, it adds a lot of urgency and excitement to the people who are still kept in the dark.

The situation begins at some point several weeks ago when Otakon basically confirmed they have a horde of Japanese guests lined up, booked, and all that is left is to announce them. That’s actually unusual for Otakon, and perhaps first time ever once taking into account the number of them. When something like this happened (as it has before), it’s usually because of some third-party stipulation. Usually what you want to do is have all involved parties announce their participation at the event at the same time.

It gets trickier when the guests are a tie-in with a product announcement. Naturally, that means not only the parties have to sync up their release notes, but the date will hinge on some kind of contract talk about the product. And by product usually I mean either a premiere of some sort (so we’re talking about some dubbed anime or a film or something), or a license announcement.

Why would anyone do this? Because some companies want to use cons to promote their shows, of course. By hyping up some event via “world premiere” or “we’re bringing all the voice actors and directors and whatever to the con that we’re announcing this at” it would be pretty cool. Of course, I don’t think serious cons like AX or Otakon would let someone pull that off entirely (I think Bandai did it last Otakon for Christina Vee?), let alone Japanese guests which will need con help in accomodating, so it’s much more likely that you’ll get an announcement at one con, and the staff support and more hype at the next one.

So tell me how people would feel when there are 5 seiyuu spots lined up and locked? And 5 american voice actor spots lined up and locked? All on the morning when Aniplex’s lock on Madoka’s domain came up in the news (ie., it all happened yesterday)?

I have no idea, honestly. It was just a lot of fun to kind of push the point that Otakon is about a month away, or right around the time when the biggest announcements are due.

As of right now, we know 2 of the 5 are for one show and 3 of the 5 are for another, so crisis partly avoided. So exciting!

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4 responses to “Triangulating Con Guests, 2011

  • ubiquitial

    God I want to go…

  • gaudy6523

    Aniplex is likely to announce Madoka’s licensing at AX.

    As it stands now, Otakon has hit sort of a soft cap for its attendance and its status as a non-profit will keep it perpetually at the mercy of the for-profit AX. Otakon has, for a while now, tried to promote itself as the indy, artsy con, with guests like the Yoshida Brothers the year before or Yamakan the year before that, and regular appearances by Madhouse’s Maruyama. I wouldn’t be surprised if their ultimate goal would be to get Miyazaki or to premier a new Ghibli film, I know most of the staff have a raging hard-on for the man. Assuming this is their agenda, then they are tacitly alienating much of the rest of the anime industry since the two might as well be polar opposites.

    This year, Otakon likely spent everything getting Shinkai Makoto (for which I am grateful for). They might have one or two announcements left, but Shinkai is without a doubt their highlight this year.

  • omo

    Otakon has a soft cap because, honestly? It’s in Baltimore. Has nothing to do with pro or non-pro nature. The city is just, sad to say, a second-rate city (to put it kindly) located at the outskirts of a growing metro area that is still much smaller than the NY or LA metro areas (8.4 million according to Wiki, which is much less than the 18+ million people in the LA metro area).

    Otakon has tried to promote itself as the indy/artsy con, which is partly why they could land acts like Yoshida Bros or JAM Project, or, heh, Chemistry. Otakon is by far ahead of AX or any other US con in terms of the type of musical guests it brings for their top musical act. So to be fair, they have successfully promoted itself as an artsy/indy/it-has-cred con, with results to show.

    You are right–Miyazaki would make a killer guest, and I’m sure Otakon would love the opportunity (which convention wouldn’t?) to have him as a guest. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    As for your Otakon guests, try reading my previous post on the matter: they still have 5 more seiyuu to announce, and 2 more directors.

  • ubiquitial

    Shinkai Makoto? Holy crap. Well worth the money, I’d say.

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