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alabaster

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Everything posted by alabaster

  1. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Colleen was on our list last year, but she was busy having a baby last year and he's only a year old or so this year. Amusingly, there is a history of newborns disrupting my guest plans. It's happened with at least four guests in recent memory.
  2. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    In a word, Nope. Not unless it got adapted into an anime or something. The difference between Otakon and our sister events, and events like Awesomecon, NYCC, etc. is that our purpose is clearly defined as educational and cultural, rather than simply to have a fun event where celebrities will sign your stuff. Our guests need to be demonstrably relevant to our Asian pop-culture focus. If he wants to come and check it out on his own, however, you know he's welcome.
  3. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    WELL... looks like next Tuesday and Thursday will see some guest announcements. Tuesday will be a very popular US voice actor. Thursday will be two Japanese guests: the director and producer from a popular current show. Current lineup in various stages of readiness: - 1 seiyu tied to a hot current show. Awaiting bio and photo. - 1 pretty big name seiyu (possibly a limited appearance due to schedule) - 1 manga-ka - 1 anime director - 2 producers - 3 more US voice actors - Friday musical act With luck, these will be in the next 3-4 weeks. Still working on Sunday musical act and another US voice, another seiyu, as well as some other folks...
  4. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Heh. Well, assuming I can get the contract finalized soon, with any luck we'll be announcing that toward the end of the month. Meanwhile.... look for at least one US voice soon...
  5. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    There are two ways that we get guests. There's guests that we get directly, through connections we already have, and guests that are brought to us in collaboration with Aniplex, Funimation, Viz, Sentai, etc. Those guests are often tied to premieres and screenings and other promotional work, so they are often at least partly supported by marketing budgets. For example, you may notice "appears courtesy of ___" or "thanks to ___ for assistance with this guest" when we announce some guests. That usually indicates that our industry partner has contributed toward the cost of bringing the guest, usually in exchange for the guest doing some stuff to promote a specific show. Though sometimes it's just about putting us in contact with the right people. This year we're getting suggestions from quite a few of our industry friends, and in particular on the Japanese side, and we've had to decline a few simply because there isn't budget to support them, or an endless supply of interpreters to help out with them. (In some cases, the company decides to foot the bill and provide the interpreter help themselves.) On the US side, I have to decline direct approaches from big name guests every single year, as well as tons of offers for less well known names. My own contact list includes enough folks to comfortably stock the event for several years with no repeats, and probably a decade if you factor in just our immediate staff. (And then there's Maruyama-san, who seems to know everyone in the industry.) Getting guests isn't hte problem; getting the right mix of guests, and affording them, and not just becoming an autograph-a-palooza, is the goal. We don't have endless resources. Oooh neat, eagerly waiting! Also good question Coco. I also wonder if like whether people potentially getting offended at being snubbed in such a situation is an issue. Nope, I don't see it as snubbing. We deliberately vary the mix every year to have something for everyone, and we rarely have repeats without several years between visits. This is known, and explained every year, to our potential guests. For me, I'm flattered that so many of them want to come back. Oh, one little thing. Should I do a contest to tease the first musical guest?
  6. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Well now, I am just waiting for bio and photo on a couple of japanese guests.... one of whom is a seiyu that I think will make people pretty happy.
  7. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Honestly, Joe, I think the audience for that would be extremely narrow. The attendance at Jaoanese guest panels is all over the map anyway but frequently lower than it should be, and that's for folks whose work is right in our sweet spot. However, we have just come back from Japan, and meetings were pretty productive. I have more guests on offer than I can afford, so the question is down to the usual attempt to build the best mix of folks who cover the spectrum: artists, directors, producers, performers.
  8. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Yeah, that's about right. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but in reality for many of our artist guests, this is a rare chance to spend 3-4 days NOT hunched over a drawing board for 12 hours a day. In other news, you folk who watch this space? Might wanna check out our website and social media today. You know, just in case you are looking for something to do around lunchtime.... No reason.....
  9. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Manga-ka nearly always come with strings attached -- they are usually accompanied by their editor, whose job it is to protect the guest, and by extension, the jobs and income that derive from a successful creator. That is to some extent true of light novel authors as well. Here are reasons why getting sketches from manga-ka (or other "name" artists) can be tricky. - Some folks have a personal policy that they don't draw for free. - Some worry that quick sketches in less-than-ideal circumstances might diminish their image. - Some may depend more heavily on their team than is commonly known, or have a pretty involved process to get to the art people expect from them. - A weekend "off", for them, means a temporary respite from grueling nonstop drawing that is their daily routine -- and they simply need to rest their hand. (Yoshiki was in similar mode last year, worried about stressing his hand when the concert of a lifetime lay ahead.) - They may simply not want to do it. - There simply isn't time or room in our schedule to accommodate a decent amount of people if they were to do so. (Kouta Hirano decided to sketch, but that meant that only half as many people got to meet him as we'd estimated.) We typically DO ask if the guest wants to or is willing to do do sketches, and if possible we'd accommodate them. Much of this simply depends on the individual guest agreement. Parking Obata in the exhibit hall would generate an endless line from hell, and the folks who run the Art and Exhibitions sections would murder me several times over. One thing we're HOPING to get from the move is a bit more flexibility for autographs. That would open up options for longer sessions and potentially allow earlier lineups -- right now the biggest problem is we simply don't have space for it.
  10. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    First, good news. Our first batch of guest announcements is on the dock for next week. At some point after that, there will be an announcement of a cool industry event. Second, about CLAMP: CLAMP comes with a LOT of restrictions and demands -- and while of course we'd love to see them at some point, not only do all the usual difficulties (brutal production schedules, overprotective editors, the need for motivated US publishers to get involved) apply, but from what I've been told, CLAMP cranks those up a few notches. "Come to Paris" (when half the characters are obsessed with that town) is not a terribly hard sell. "Come and you can visit Disneyland" is similarly attractive. We, sadly, do not have quite the same draw. Things may change in DC. But that said, we know you want manga-ka....
  11. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    At present the plan is to announce our first two guests around the same time as we open pre reg.
  12. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Time, I guess, to trot out the usual explanation for why it is so difficult for manga-ka to make it to US conventions. First, they tend to have truly brutal production schedules, leaving few opportunities for a week away -- if they come to Otakon, that's effectively 2 days lost to travel, plus 3 days here. Second, many are accurately described as shy and reclusive; not all, of course, but it seems to be a pretty common trait. Third, most manga ka are very tightly controlled by their editors, and they are very protective. It usually takes some effort by the U.S. distributor to help lure them out. We have had Viz, Kodansha, Vertical, and other folks keeping an eye out for us for some time now, and a number of near misses. We are constantly looking for opportunities, but the chances of getting a manga KA for an active, in production series are pretty minuscule, and even when we have a good relationship and a willing party, other factors get in the way. I have hopes, however, and as I said, we have good working relationships with many of the right people, so it is like many things -- a question of timing.
  13. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    As you may know, we've been working on Vegas guests. Here's that list: Japanese: SUSHIO, Toshio Furukawa US: Lisa Ortiz, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Steve Blum, Wendee Lee So... moving on to Otakon proper for 2015: ... Hoping to confirm a musical act in coming month ... Hoping to confirm two well-known US voice actors in coming month Rest assured there are guests underway. With luck, we'll be ready to announce in January.
  14. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    It's a reasonably safe bet we'll be working closely with our industry partners on particular guests. However, much of that is driven by timing. We'd originally been planning to have guests tied to another property due to launch roughly around Otakon's timeframe, but that project got delayed and so things shifted. In previous years, it's gone the other way. One thing we all try to avoid is too much repetition at the bigger events. It is rarely worth the expense for the same property to be pushed at Otakon as at AX, since we're usually a month apart, because even though they're reaching different crowds in person, the media impact (via press) is lessened with each repeat. But FAR more of it has to do with timing and budgets than anything else.
  15. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    I'm sure it would -- but it doesn't add anything new to Otakon. Our job is not to promote the acts; it's to bring something new and different from Asia to the US audience. Especially when it comes to music, it is critical for us to continue to try things that haven't been done. By that I mean artists and music and styles that haven't yet captured the attention of fandom, or that haven't appeared in the US, or that represent new ground in some significant way. So if they've appeared at other conventions, or are actively touring the US, that makes them far less attractive because unless we do something different, we're just following others' success. It is firsts and innovations that help us continue to push the envelope with musical acts; they bring positive PR, increase our reach, and enhance our reputation. Without our history of doing just that, we'd never have scored most of the big names and cool acts we've garnered in the past.
  16. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Oh, you're adorable. Yes, I'm aware of his anime (and Trek) connections.
  17. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Love those guys. Yes, Shinkai and JAM Project were long on the wish list -- we'd had Watanabe and Kanno before but that was before they really got big. But as longtime forum-dwellers will tell you, Kanno in particular was a long pursuit; she's one of the few guests I admitted we'd tried to snag a few times.
  18. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    There is a not-too-secret short list of guests that, should the option appear, I am authorized to pursue with maximum effort. I refer to them as "Holy SH**" guests. The list includes (but isn't limited to): Hayao Miyazaki Rumiko Takahashi Megumi Hayashibara Leiji Matsumoto So no worries -- if the opportunity happens, there will be no hesitation about snapping one of them up. In fact that list is shorter than it used to be... because we've snagged a few over the years.
  19. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Lots of reasons. I know you've been around this forum for a while and kinda know this stuff already, but I'll spell it out again for others. Among the factors affecting guest invites: availability, exposure in the area in a given year or season, participation in high-visibility roles in big shows, strategic value in reaching other guests, etc. And as you know, many dub guests are driven by whatever shows industry is promoting. I don't have unlimited budget, after all, and when they pick up part of the tab it helps everyone. There are usually a few guests that are entirely driven by us. I typically aim for 1-2 guests in the "long career, big roles" category as a starting point -- folks like Wendee Lee and Tony Oliver, for example -- or who may be rare for various reasons. Then it's often a matter of who's cast in big shows that will be tied to premieres at Otakon. That usually brings up another 4-6, minimum. So I typically hold onto sufficient budget to bring them. We'd never have had Stephanie and Robbie this year if I hadn't had some reserve for last-minute opportunities. Caitlin and Monica are appearing at a dozen cons each in 2014; that's pretty typical for them. By contrast, Wendee Lee appears at 3-5 per year on average. Vic Mignona? 20-30 per year. I strongly believe that Otakon should, by default, attempt to bring rare guests when we can, because often the guests are rare for a reason. They may be very busy, or have tricky requirements, or simply higher fees. Sometimes it's just a matter of trust, where Otakon's reputation carries more weight and can reassure reluctant guests. At the same time, for up-and-comers, we represent an amazing way to make a big splash and establish a fan base. Don't get me wrong, I think the world of both of them and expect both of them to come back sometime. And sooner or later, the right timing will drive it. But it's never, EVER, purely about popularity.
  20. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Let's see... who has Ga of Ga snagged recently that is part of Asian Culture? Hatsune Miku? Nope... Momoiro Clover Z was high on my list but due to the Gaga tour their timing didn't quite work. Would have been perfect for the Sailor Moon stuff.
  21. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    I think we've been pretty successful in our mission, honestly. Which, as you note, is broader than just "anime convention" -- it's using anime, manga, music, cinema, video games, and other pop culture as a gateway to broader cultural understanding. Or, as I sometimes put it, we use anime and other pop culture from Asia as a gateway drug. Since I took over GR in 2007, we've had a cultural or academic guest every year, but even before that we frequently had folks known for their writing and speaking about anime and Asian culture. We've also had guests connected with live action (the director of HERO and action star Simon Yam), speakers from the Smithsonian and the AFI, etc. And our Programming department has shouldered some of that as well, prioritizing good, real, meaningful "fan" content over stuff that is merely crowd-pleasing. We do take risks (for all the bitching about bringing Ray Villard, I couldn't be happier that his panel was packed and people went out of their way to comment about how good it was at the feedback panel), and while we don't always get what we want (I really wanted an astronaut to talk about the international cooperation aspects of the space program, but we just couldn't make it work), we do try to make sure that our guests and programming reflect our mission. This past year, I'd say our big win was the sumo demonstrations -- exactly the sort of engaging and informative stuff that we hope to bring -- and my only regret there is I wish we could have used them more throughout the weekend, but there just isn't space. The big loss -- though with a really good surviving component -- was the content related to our "space" theme that would have, at one stage, involved SPACE BROTHERS and folks from the US and Japan space programs. But we've proven a real appetite for that stuff exists, and guess what? People came for the anime and stayed to be educated by the man from Hubble, which is exactly why we're here. Win! As long as I'm involved, we will always try for the rare and hard-to-get guests. *AND* we will always try for off-the-wall guests, including some who might be seen as risky or whose connection to anime isn't particularly clear.
  22. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    We've worked with both groups -- VAMPS did a special appearance at Otakon and had a Thursday night performance nearby, and of course I remember The Underneath. (Somehow I'd missed that they renamed and rebuilt.) Keep the ideas coming, folks. I have some stuff in motion for next year, but it's still early days. Hopefully this year Lady Gaga won't snag my first wave of hopefuls...
  23. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Well THAT didn't take long! If only wanting made it so! Here are the general rules I follow when choosing guests: 1. Relevant to the mission of cultural education through Asian popular culture. (I'm not bringing youtube celebs, fan artists, webcomics creators, cover bands, super-fans or cosplay guests; many of them come already anyway, and few of them have anything much to do with our mission. That doesn't mean they aren't welcome, but they come in as featured panelists typically.) 2. Few, if any repeats from the year before. (When this happens it tends to be at industry's request, or on their dime.) 3. A mix of old and new guests. (I got a little annoyed hearing that there wasn't anything for "older" fans when I had Tony Oliver and Wendee Lee here, and when the "older" voices they had in mind were really big about five years ago....) 4. A mix of roles from the production side. That means I aim for a director, a seiyu, a character designer or manga-ka, etc.
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