Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Anime Expo 2006 gripes

As with any big convention, things were not perfect at Anime Expo 2006. The convention was well run overall (especially considering it's largely staffed by volunteers), but in the spirit of hoping that things can improve in future years, here are a few of our con gripes:
  • Lack of descriptions for panels and workshops. Anime Expo had dozens of panels featuring hundreds of panelists. Unfortunately, there were no detailed descriptions of any of these panels in the printed schedule, and thus attendees were left to guess what was going to occur in such panels as "How to learn by 'Moe'", "Azumi Panel", "Environment Design Altair", "JET Program", and "AMV workshop." While people familiar with these topics would clearly know what they were, novices (who may very well be interested) would have no idea. Even the producer/publisher panels were described solely by the company names. Were they going to invite some of their actors or writers? Would they be announcing information on our favorite shows? Were they going to talk about how they are improving their translations / dubs? Were they just going to blabber on about corporate politics? Who knows? Including a short abstract for each panel in the program guide (or as a separate, cheaply printed supplement), would have helped attendees tremendously.
  • Lack of a manga library. One of our favorite features of Anime Expo 2005 was its manga library, a room where attendees could go in, select a few volumes of manga, and just sit and read for hours. We were looking forward to being able to spend hours in the library, only to find that this year's con had no manga library. This was a huge disappointment; we hope that the library returns in 2007.
  • Lines and delays. Every major event had huge lines for it, and getting into some events required waiting for hours in lines. This wouldn't have been too bad by itself, but every major event we went to had a delayed start. The CLAMP panel was especially bad; seating was supposed to start at 1pm, and the panel was supposed to start at 2pm. People started lining up well before noon, weren't seated until after 2pm, and the panel didn't start until after 4pm.
  • Schedule changes. One of the neat features of Anime Expo is that they have six rooms dedicated to showing anime TV and movies throughout the day. We went through the schedule and figured out four different things we wanted to see; none of them were shown at their scheduled times (we don't know if they were shown at other times). Our only way of finding this out was reading notices posted in a few areas.
  • Dubs. It seemed as though at least half of the anime shown in the video rooms was shown in a dubbed version. My SO and I (along with many other anime fans) find dubs to be far inferior to listening to the original Japanese audio with subtitles (see my post on the topic here). Thus, about half of the anime shown was uninteresting to us (we don't want to get introduced to a series by watching the inferior dub). This was made worse by the schedule not stating whether some of the videos were going to be shown subbed or dubbed. We tried to watch a couple of dubs, but found them too bad to listen to.
  • Parking. When we got to the convention on Sunday we discovered that all of the convention center's parking lots were filled. How did we discover this? Why, by being directed by parking attendants from one closed parking lot to the next in a giant circle around the convention center. After making this traffic-filled circuit at least three times, and asking many parking attendants, "Where can we park?" we finally found out that one of the hotel lots was open to convention attendees and had spots. There was no sign saying this, and the lot's entrance was on a minor side street (that nobody directed us to; we found it only because we had the program guide's map of the convention center). Clearly Anime Expo can't be held accountable for the Anaheim Convention Center's bad parking administration, but driving around for about an hour trying to find a parking space was not fun.
[Update: Hey, it wasn't all bad. Read my other Anime Expo 2006 post to see all the fun stuff we did, complete with pictures.]

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