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I really, truly feel that the best way to keep the guests at Otakon fresh and interesting and a big draw is to NOT always go after the big-money guests, but rather to choose guests that further our overall mission, and that keep us unique. So you may start seeing more branching out in terms of guests, though we'll always try to bring in people associated with the anime production, dubbing, and music sides of the house.

The bridges we've built overseas have given us the pull to bring in people nobody else could. Sure, *NOW* Kappei Yamaguchi has been to Sakura Con and Animazement's coming up -- but we had him first, and set the bar. You guys have NO idea how skittish he really was, fearing a bunch of lumbering otaku-zombies or something I suppose, but once he was here had a blast, and it really showed in his interactions with the crowds. (And the number of "holy crap" guests that just didn't work out due to timing is pretty frustrating, when I know that they'd be here if they could. Awesome people tend to be busy people.)

My philosophy for guests is that when you invite these people, you treat them like friends or family coming for a visit. We take good care of them, but we don't need to put on airs. Tidy up the place, make sure you've got what you need to make them comfortable, throw in a few treats. "Come have fun with us" is the message we try to send. Because when you send a guest home with happy memories and a sense of belonging, they'll tell their friends about you. Being seen as a safe, trustworthy organization that honors its promises is *gold* in our line of work.

"We can do it better" was probably the founding statement for Otakon -- and in Relations, that means we keep bringing in a mix of old and new, of the expected and the unexpected. We keep arguing for the industry to take a direct interest, for creators to meet with fans, for cultural experts to share their knowledge.

This year, I'm hoping for an "academic" guest, a fan favorite, and possibly _____ to be confirmed and ready to launch in the next few weeks. A manga-ka is a distinct possibility as well (send positive vibes on that one!), and we'll have a few more dub guests to announce in May. Hopefully we'll know by the end of this month whether the director and seiyuu offers will go through.

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I really, truly feel that the best way to keep the guests at Otakon fresh and interesting and a big draw is to NOT always go after the big-money guests, but rather to choose guests that further our overall mission, and that keep us unique. So you may start seeing more branching out in terms of guests, though we'll always try to bring in people associated with the anime production, dubbing, and music sides of the house.

The bridges we've built overseas have given us the pull to bring in people nobody else could. Sure, *NOW* Kappei Yamaguchi has been to Sakura Con and Animazement's coming up -- but we had him first, and set the bar. You guys have NO idea how skittish he really was, fearing a bunch of lumbering otaku-zombies or something I suppose, but once he was here had a blast, and it really showed in his interactions with the crowds. (And the number of "holy crap" guests that just didn't work out due to timing is pretty frustrating, when I know that they'd be here if they could. Awesome people tend to be busy people.)

My philosophy for guests is that when you invite these people, you treat them like friends or family coming for a visit. We take good care of them, but we don't need to put on airs. Tidy up the place, make sure you've got what you need to make them comfortable, throw in a few treats. "Come have fun with us" is the message we try to send. Because when you send a guest home with happy memories and a sense of belonging, they'll tell their friends about you. Being seen as a safe, trustworthy organization that honors its promises is *gold* in our line of work.

"We can do it better" was probably the founding statement for Otakon -- and in Relations, that means we keep bringing in a mix of old and new, of the expected and the unexpected. We keep arguing for the industry to take a direct interest, for creators to meet with fans, for cultural experts to share their knowledge.

This year, I'm hoping for an "academic" guest, a fan favorite, and possibly _____ to be confirmed and ready to launch in the next few weeks. A manga-ka is a distinct possibility as well (send positive vibes on that one!), and we'll have a few more dub guests to announce in May. Hopefully we'll know by the end of this month whether the director and seiyuu offers will go through.

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I really, truly feel that the best way to keep the guests at Otakon fresh and interesting and a big draw is to NOT always go after the big-money guests, but rather to choose guests that further our overall mission, and that keep us unique. So you may start seeing more branching out in terms of guests, though we'll always try to bring in people associated with the anime production, dubbing, and music sides of the house.

The bridges we've built overseas have given us the pull to bring in people nobody else could. Sure, *NOW* Kappei Yamaguchi has been to Sakura Con and Animazement's coming up -- but we had him first, and set the bar. You guys have NO idea how skittish he really was, fearing a bunch of lumbering otaku-zombies or something I suppose, but once he was here had a blast, and it really showed in his interactions with the crowds. (And the number of "holy crap" guests that just didn't work out due to timing is pretty frustrating, when I know that they'd be here if they could. Awesome people tend to be busy people.)

My philosophy for guests is that when you invite these people, you treat them like friends or family coming for a visit. We take good care of them, but we don't need to put on airs. Tidy up the place, make sure you've got what you need to make them comfortable, throw in a few treats. "Come have fun with us" is the message we try to send. Because when you send a guest home with happy memories and a sense of belonging, they'll tell their friends about you. Being seen as a safe, trustworthy organization that honors its promises is *gold* in our line of work.

"We can do it better" was probably the founding statement for Otakon -- and in Relations, that means we keep bringing in a mix of old and new, of the expected and the unexpected. We keep arguing for the industry to take a direct interest, for creators to meet with fans, for cultural experts to share their knowledge.

This year, I'm hoping for an "academic" guest, a fan favorite, and possibly _____ to be confirmed and ready to launch in the next few weeks. A manga-ka is a distinct possibility as well (send positive vibes on that one!), and we'll have a few more dub guests to announce in May. Hopefully we'll know by the end of this month whether the director and seiyuu offers will go through.

...and that's what I love about this con.

Jim's cryptic clues? In all seriousness though I'm very happy to hear this myself. I love the new and interesting variety every year.

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I really, truly feel that the best way to keep the guests at Otakon fresh and interesting and a big draw is to NOT always go after the big-money guests, but rather to choose guests that further our overall mission, and that keep us unique. So you may start seeing more branching out in terms of guests, though we'll always try to bring in people associated with the anime production, dubbing, and music sides of the house.

The bridges we've built overseas have given us the pull to bring in people nobody else could. Sure, *NOW* Kappei Yamaguchi has been to Sakura Con and Animazement's coming up -- but we had him first, and set the bar. You guys have NO idea how skittish he really was, fearing a bunch of lumbering otaku-zombies or something I suppose, but once he was here had a blast, and it really showed in his interactions with the crowds. (And the number of "holy crap" guests that just didn't work out due to timing is pretty frustrating, when I know that they'd be here if they could. Awesome people tend to be busy people.)

My philosophy for guests is that when you invite these people, you treat them like friends or family coming for a visit. We take good care of them, but we don't need to put on airs. Tidy up the place, make sure you've got what you need to make them comfortable, throw in a few treats. "Come have fun with us" is the message we try to send. Because when you send a guest home with happy memories and a sense of belonging, they'll tell their friends about you. Being seen as a safe, trustworthy organization that honors its promises is *gold* in our line of work.

"We can do it better" was probably the founding statement for Otakon -- and in Relations, that means we keep bringing in a mix of old and new, of the expected and the unexpected. We keep arguing for the industry to take a direct interest, for creators to meet with fans, for cultural experts to share their knowledge.

This year, I'm hoping for an "academic" guest, a fan favorite, and possibly _____ to be confirmed and ready to launch in the next few weeks. A manga-ka is a distinct possibility as well (send positive vibes on that one!), and we'll have a few more dub guests to announce in May. Hopefully we'll know by the end of this month whether the director and seiyuu offers will go through.

...and that's what I love about this con.

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I really, truly feel that the best way to keep the guests at Otakon fresh and interesting and a big draw is to NOT always go after the big-money guests, but rather to choose guests that further our overall mission, and that keep us unique. So you may start seeing more branching out in terms of guests, though we'll always try to bring in people associated with the anime production, dubbing, and music sides of the house.

The bridges we've built overseas have given us the pull to bring in people nobody else could. Sure, *NOW* Kappei Yamaguchi has been to Sakura Con and Animazement's coming up -- but we had him first, and set the bar. You guys have NO idea how skittish he really was, fearing a bunch of lumbering otaku-zombies or something I suppose, but once he was here had a blast, and it really showed in his interactions with the crowds. (And the number of "holy crap" guests that just didn't work out due to timing is pretty frustrating, when I know that they'd be here if they could. Awesome people tend to be busy people.)

My philosophy for guests is that when you invite these people, you treat them like friends or family coming for a visit. We take good care of them, but we don't need to put on airs. Tidy up the place, make sure you've got what you need to make them comfortable, throw in a few treats. "Come have fun with us" is the message we try to send. Because when you send a guest home with happy memories and a sense of belonging, they'll tell their friends about you. Being seen as a safe, trustworthy organization that honors its promises is *gold* in our line of work.

"We can do it better" was probably the founding statement for Otakon -- and in Relations, that means we keep bringing in a mix of old and new, of the expected and the unexpected. We keep arguing for the industry to take a direct interest, for creators to meet with fans, for cultural experts to share their knowledge.

This year, I'm hoping for an "academic" guest, a fan favorite, and possibly _____ to be confirmed and ready to launch in the next few weeks. A manga-ka is a distinct possibility as well (send positive vibes on that one!), and we'll have a few more dub guests to announce in May. Hopefully we'll know by the end of this month whether the director and seiyuu offers will go through.

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Exciting XD

1. How do you feel about cons that bring over repeated oversea guests? Looking at Animazement and Fanime for example, they've been able to build relationships with some key industry folks (like how Otakon is buddy with Maruyama-san I suppose) and use that connection to bring guests over? And even so they all do it slightly differently. I know invariably that's just how it works, but let me just say that I appreciate how Otakon tries to mix it up when it can, and not mix it up too much to deviate from being a con about anime.

2. I think Yamaguchi is not far off the mark. "Lumbering otaku-zombies" is kind of what a con could be! But I'm glad Otakon is pro enough to pop his con cherry the right way, so to speak.

3. I think an "academic" guest would be great in the same vein that Yamakan was last year. He is a productions guy, but he is also outspoken and has a lot to say about the things fans want to know. I hope you can get some Japanese academics, as it can really facilitate that cultural exchange aspect.

4. Crossing my fingers on the director and seiyuu offers XD

1. re: repeat guests: Every con is different, and part of Animazement's charm is that they have a "family" of guests who come every year. It's not for me to pass judgement on their approach. All I know is, that wouldn't work for us -- or at least, it's at odds with my vision for guests at Otakon. Remember, we aren't just a fan event, we have a cultural and educational mission to fulfill, and I have to justify the guests I bring against that mandate. That's why we don't bring webcomics guests of honor anymore -- it's not personal preference (I read about 40-50 comics regularly and count several creators amongst my own friends), but that it's much harder to justify them against the whole Asian Culture thing. If we were ONLY a fan event, then my mandate would be to bring people based on whether they put butts in seats, and their relevance wouldn't matter as much.

2. Er... thanks? ^_^

3. We've had folks like Dr Susan Napier, Fred Schodt, Matt Thorn, and other folks of that ilk because they're relevant to our cultural mission. People who study the cultural significance of anime make interesting speakers because they're interested in the same things we are, but from a different perspective.

4. I'm sorry, I said "director", but I actually meant manga-ka. Though a director's in the works, too.

One thing people often forget is there is significant cost in bringing guests over, and I have to stay within my budget. And Japanese guests cost quite a bit more simply because of airfare and typically at least one more day in a hotel (due to flight schedule): even a cheap flight is about $1500, versus less than half that for a domestic flight. And many of the bigger guests might be biz class, and have a manager or spouse or something to factor in.

-Jim

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4. I'm sorry, I said "director", but I actually meant manga-ka. Though a director's in the works, too.

One thing people often forget is there is significant cost in bringing guests over, and I have to stay within my budget. And Japanese guests cost quite a bit more simply because of airfare and typically at least one more day in a hotel (due to flight schedule): even a cheap flight is about $1500, versus less than half that for a domestic flight. And many of the bigger guests might be biz class, and have a manager or spouse or something to factor in.

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4. I'm sorry, I said "director", but I actually meant manga-ka. Though a director's in the works, too.

One thing people often forget is there is significant cost in bringing guests over, and I have to stay within my budget. And Japanese guests cost quite a bit more simply because of airfare and typically at least one more day in a hotel (due to flight schedule): even a cheap flight is about $1500, versus less than half that for a domestic flight. And many of the bigger guests might be biz class, and have a manager or spouse or something to factor in.

I can definitely understand that, since I did remember hearing that one of the seiyuu guests at one of the more recent Otakons bringing her father to the convention.

You may be referring to Kikuko Inoue, whose sister is also her manager.

I miss Inoue-san -- she's delightful!

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1. re: repeat guests: Every con is different, and part of Animazement's charm is that they have a "family" of guests who come every year. It's not for me to pass judgement on their approach. All I know is, that wouldn't work for us -- or at least, it's at odds with my vision for guests at Otakon. Remember, we aren't just a fan event, we have a cultural and educational mission to fulfill, and I have to justify the guests I bring against that mandate. That's why we don't bring webcomics guests of honor anymore -- it's not personal preference (I read about 40-50 comics regularly and count several creators amongst my own friends), but that it's much harder to justify them against the whole Asian Culture thing. If we were ONLY a fan event, then my mandate would be to bring people based on whether they put butts in seats, and their relevance wouldn't matter as much.

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4. I'm sorry, I said "director", but I actually meant manga-ka. Though a director's in the works, too.

One thing people often forget is there is significant cost in bringing guests over, and I have to stay within my budget. And Japanese guests cost quite a bit more simply because of airfare and typically at least one more day in a hotel (due to flight schedule): even a cheap flight is about $1500, versus less than half that for a domestic flight. And many of the bigger guests might be biz class, and have a manager or spouse or something to factor in.

I can definitely understand that, since I did remember hearing that one of the seiyuu guests at one of the more recent Otakons bringing her father to the convention.

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3. We've had folks like Dr Susan Napier, Fred Schodt, Matt Thorn, and other folks of that ilk because they're relevant to our cultural mission. People who study the cultural significance of anime make interesting speakers because they're interested in the same things we are, but from a different perspective.

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Interesting. The problem there is that you'd need someone who is already fluent enough in English to be able to get his or her thoughts across successfully. It would be a nightmare trying to interpret for an academic in that fashion, unless the interpreter was already not only fluent in the language, but also in the terminology and nuance of a particular subject.

At a party in Tokyo a few years ago, I was introduced to an academic from a major university; he specialized in studying Otaku culture and how it had grown, evolved, and influenced other cultures. Unfortunately he spoke very little English and the person who was interpreting for him could barely keep up. Interesting discussion. I'll definitely keep my eyes open. (The nice thing about staying in touch with the Fred Schodts and Susan Napiers and Matt Thornes of the world is that they might be able to recommend someone to me.)

In other news, I fear we may have had a "very likely" guest drop down to "unlikely" status. Still waiting on others. Next round of J-guests responses are due by next week, though I'm hoping to hear from at least one of them sooner.

However, after this week I expect a pretty solid list of US dub actors to start hitting the public eye.

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Interesting. The problem there is that you'd need someone who is already fluent enough in English to be able to get his or her thoughts across successfully. It would be a nightmare trying to interpret for an academic in that fashion, unless the interpreter was already not only fluent in the language, but also in the terminology and nuance of a particular subject.

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In other news, I fear we may have had a "very likely" guest drop down to "unlikely" status.

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In other news, I fear we may have had a "very likely" guest drop down to "unlikely" status.

Uh-oh. :( Does that mean there isn't much of a chance at all of that particular guest coming? May we at least know the reason behind it? Or, might that deal with something that you can't disclose? :o

I'm revealing all I can. I just made a counter-offer: with luck, it'll go through, and jaws will drop, etc. But I'd say it's only about 50/50 right now.

Sometimes everything *ought* to work -- a willing, enthusiastic guest, most of the stuff lined up on our side to make it happen, etc. -- but then something completely out of our control gets in the way. Usually that something is schedule-related -- making a living is high on everyone's list, after all, and it is the primary reason why certain guests haven't made it yet. You have no idea how many near-misses we've had with some very big names, simply because of scheduling problems. This is why I don't announce folks until I have it in writing -- and why Otakon has had relatively few cancellations.

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Counter offer was successful! This weekend I'm drafting a contract that will result in a pretty big announcement, and will probably cause a few jaws to drop. Meanwhile, I was approached with a couple more japanese guests that we could get for a very reasonable cost sharing deal, but I have to wait for answers on the offers already in play. Can't risk going too far over budget.

At this point I have a whopping TEN guests in the "agreed but awaiting written confirmation, bio, and headshot" stage, plus the contract I'm drawing up, plus 2-3 more J-guests. My main concerns right now are hotel space and interpreters, and of the two, hotel space is the trickier one to crack. Sounds like I may have gained at least one more interpreter, but in a perfect world I'd have at least three more.

Interpreters are a tough situation, because there are basically two tiers: escort interpreters, who basically stick with the guest throughout the weekend, and panel interpreters, who handle panels and interviews and thus need more robust skills. Merely speaking Japanese isn't enough for panel interpreters; you need to be comfortable switching gears and being entertaining in front of a crowd, and you need to be able to establish a god rhythm and rapport with the guest, as well as have sufficient vocabulary to get complex thoughts across the language barrier.

Escort interpreters can and often do "level up" to handle panels, but I don't want to belittle the job of a good escort interpreter. We try to assign each guest a handler---dub actor guests tend to share them, because they're pretty independent and less likely to get lost or need help, but j-guests and musical guests often need a dedicated staffer or two to keep them on track. For most j-guests, their interpreter is also their handler. Musical guests can require some specialized vocabulary and a lot of patience...as well as the ability to party just hard enough without impairing judgement. That means nursing a drink for hours and resisting the guests attempts to test your drinking prowess, in many cases. You have to keep a clear head and make sure the guest is looked after.

And of course, like all my guests staff, interpreters need to be able to switch off their inner fanboy, which is harder than people think, especially with the level of guest that otakon tends toil draw. After nearly a decade, I still occasionally get a little starstruck, but I hide it well and it doesn't get in the way. Anyone can feel a bit overwhelmed when in the presence of people with such raw talent or personal charisma. And frankly at a certain point you get used to hanging out with rock stars and actors and big time producers and directors...though I try not to take it for granted. I really appreciate that these people consider my event worthy of their time, and me and my staff trustworthy friends.

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Counter offer was successful! This weekend I'm drafting a contract that will result in a pretty big announcement, and will probably cause a few jaws to drop. Meanwhile, I was approached with a couple more japanese guests that we could get for a very reasonable cost sharing deal, but I have to wait for answers on the offers already in play. Can't risk going too far over budget.

At this point I have a whopping TEN guests in the "agreed but awaiting written confirmation, bio, and headshot" stage, plus the contract I'm drawing up, plus 2-3 more J-guests. My main concerns right now are hotel space and interpreters, and of the two, hotel space is the trickier one to crack. Sounds like I may have gained at least one more interpreter, but in a perfect world I'd have at least three more.

Interpreters are a tough situation, because there are basically two tiers: escort interpreters, who basically stick with the guest throughout the weekend, and panel interpreters, who handle panels and interviews and thus need more robust skills. Merely speaking Japanese isn't enough for panel interpreters; you need to be comfortable switching gears and being entertaining in front of a crowd, and you need to be able to establish a god rhythm and rapport with the guest, as well as have sufficient vocabulary to get complex thoughts across the language barrier.

Escort interpreters can and often do "level up" to handle panels, but I don't want to belittle the job of a good escort interpreter. We try to assign each guest a handler---dub actor guests tend to share them, because they're pretty independent and less likely to get lost or need help, but j-guests and musical guests often need a dedicated staffer or two to keep them on track. For most j-guests, their interpreter is also their handler. Musical guests can require some specialized vocabulary and a lot of patience...as well as the ability to party just hard enough without impairing judgement. That means nursing a drink for hours and resisting the guests attempts to test your drinking prowess, in many cases. You have to keep a clear head and make sure the guest is looked after.

And of course, like all my guests staff, interpreters need to be able to switch off their inner fanboy, which is harder than people think, especially with the level of guest that otakon tends toil draw. After nearly a decade, I still occasionally get a little starstruck, but I hide it well and it doesn't get in the way. Anyone can feel a bit overwhelmed when in the presence of people with such raw talent or personal charisma. And frankly at a certain point you get used to hanging out with rock stars and actors and big time producers and directors...though I try not to take it for granted. I really appreciate that these people consider my event worthy of their time, and me and my staff trustworthy friends.

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Many Japanese under 30 speak at least a little English -- many (even older Japanese) understand far more than they actually speak. Mr Maruyama, for example, speaks a little bit of English, but not enough to really carry on a conversation of any real depth with a stranger. Some of Home Made Kazoku speaks decent English, but having an interpreter makes things go much more smoothly.

The ten guests are all Americans. At least two of them are returning guests, one fairly recent and the other from a LONG time ago. The others..well...you'll see. I'm hoping they'll start trickling out in batches in the next bit. And with a bit of luck I'll hear back on the other guests and FINALLY be able to start getting things finalized.

The big surprise is definitely Japanese, but I don't want to say more just yet....there will be an associated contest, with EPIC prizes. :(

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Any chance of hints?

That second returning guest -- how far back are we talking, here? XD Or is this one of those "our lips are sealed" things? o.o?

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Many Japanese under 30 speak at least a little English -- many (even older Japanese) understand far more than they actually speak. Mr Maruyama, for example, speaks a little bit of English, but not enough to really carry on a conversation of any real depth with a stranger. Some of Home Made Kazoku speaks decent English, but having an interpreter makes things go much more smoothly.

The ten guests are all Americans. At least two of them are returning guests, one fairly recent and the other from a LONG time ago. The others..well...you'll see. I'm hoping they'll start trickling out in batches in the next bit. And with a bit of luck I'll hear back on the other guests and FINALLY be able to start getting things finalized.

The big surprise is definitely Japanese, but I don't want to say more just yet....there will be an associated contest, with EPIC prizes. :)

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Many Japanese under 30 speak at least a little English -- many (even older Japanese) understand far more than they actually speak. Mr Maruyama, for example, speaks a little bit of English, but not enough to really carry on a conversation of any real depth with a stranger. Some of Home Made Kazoku speaks decent English, but having an interpreter makes things go much more smoothly.

The ten guests are all Americans. At least two of them are returning guests, one fairly recent and the other from a LONG time ago. The others..well...you'll see. I'm hoping they'll start trickling out in batches in the next bit. And with a bit of luck I'll hear back on the other guests and FINALLY be able to start getting things finalized.

The big surprise is definitely Japanese, but I don't want to say more just yet....there will be an associated contest, with EPIC prizes. :)

Well, I didn't think that meant that they spoke NO English. I figure that they would have to at least understand English, whether they could speak it well or not. That's how I've seen (or heard) other Japanese guests at other conventions; they understand, but still need an interpreter for speaking purposes. ^_^

Any chance of hints?

That second returning guest -- how far back are we talking, here? XD Or is this one of those "our lips are sealed" things? o.o?

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Wow, even though I wasn't lucky enough to score some $$$ in the Preakness today, this is great to hear. Another "big" JP guest is perfectly fine with me given what some other cons have announced recently. As for the currently 10 domestic guests, that sounds quite big to me in itself, and here's hoping my request comes through, hehe. I'm guessing we're going to get these heard in one serving...no guest guesses at this time.

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Got bio and image from a guest who'll be announced on Weds. Also, the contract on Guest __ will go to management tonight. With luck there will be minimal changes and we can move on with the next phase. We've already hashed out the details, but getting them all down in writing takes time.

Contracts are critical for certain guests (and to some extent for ALL guests) because they let each party know what to expect. Anytime we're dealing with management or agents and fees rather than directly with the guest, we have a formal contract. For most guests, we simply have a written agreement email that they respond to.

The contract needs to spell out:

1. Who's involved

2. What we expect the guest to do (events, performances, autographings) or provide (swag, bio, publicity photo).

3. What we provide (travel, food, lodging, etc.)

4. Dates for everything

5. Other information such as requested backline.

...plus some standard boilerplate text cooked up by legal.

Contracts can be scary to some folks, but we try to make ours as simple as we can -- this is about making sure everyone has a common understanding of what's going to happen, and it protects both the guest and the con -- and all the individuals like the promoters and managers and, well, ME.

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Awesome~! It will certainly be nice to see a new addition to the roster of guests after all this time of waiting. I know it's only been a month of so since h.Naoto's announcement, but it feels like it's been a year or so since there had been news of an upcoming guest. At this point, it's just the suspense that's killing me. :lol:

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Awesome~! It will certainly be nice to see a new addition to the roster of guests after all this time of waiting. I know it's only been a month of so since h.Naoto's announcement, but it feels like it's been a year or so since there had been news of an upcoming guest. At this point, it's just the suspense that's killing me. :lol:

What's annoying is that there are about a dozen guests that *I* know about, but aren't quite ready to announce -- and probably 2-3 more beyond that that I'm still waiting to hear back from.

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Awesome~! It will certainly be nice to see a new addition to the roster of guests after all this time of waiting. I know it's only been a month of so since h.Naoto's announcement, but it feels like it's been a year or so since there had been news of an upcoming guest. At this point, it's just the suspense that's killing me. :lol:

What's annoying is that there are about a dozen guests that *I* know about, but aren't quite ready to announce -- and probably 2-3 more beyond that that I'm still waiting to hear back from.

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Got bio and image from a guest who'll be announced on Weds.

That means, today, right? *excited*

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Got bio and image from a guest who'll be announced on Weds.

That means, today, right? *excited*

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Well, this one's a bit of a gift to the old school fans -- quite a few folks got their first big anime fix with STAR BLAZERS (aka Space Battleship Yamato), and Amy's a pretty popular guest among the smaller cons. It's been ages since we've had her at Otakon, and with all the new Yamato stuff it felt like the right time to bring her back.

To continue with the journal a bit: I'm currently dealing with two big problems.

Problem One: Airfare suddenly jumped by about 40%. My usual economy class direct flight from Tokyo to DC runs about $1500. Suddenly (apparently about 10 days ago) that rate jumped to about $2500.

Problem Two: I'm short on hotel space. By about 10-15 rooms. Even packing my staff in like cordwood won't cut it.

I've dispatched minions to address both issues. For the hotel issue, I have made some personal appeals to managers I've worked with for several years running, and we're leveraging other resources, but it's going to be a problem no matter what I do. At this point I have at least *something* in place, but I'm hoping for a more convenient solution. I don't like splitting the party -- too many years of D&D, I guess -- but sometimes you have little choice. At least I'm likely to be in budget for that stuff.

The tougher nut to crack is the near doubling of the flight costs. There are a few guests we have to bring business class, but those fares weren't hit quite so hard. In fact I may be able to save a few grand by booking early. But for a variety of reasons, not only are the flights I need *packed*, they're horribly expensive. We're hoping ANA will cut us a break, and we're looking to our industry friends to see if we can get their corporate rates. Either way, it's going to hurt, and I may need to cannibalize other plans.

I officially sent the word to withdraw an offer for a particular guest; we'll try again next year. Going into details would give away the guest, so I will only say that it had nothing to do with us or the guest, and everything to do with stuff going on at home that rendered commitment increasingly unlikely. Not everything pans out, but I was really hoping to make it happen.

Sidebar: It is rather irritating to have such good contacts and good will, but be unable to "cash in" as it were. Circumstances have robbed me of about five potential guests this year -- just bad timing, and not much we can do about it.

As I type this, worried about this stuff, I remembered a bright side, but can't talk about it yet. Soon, though!

Oh! Another reminder -- it's time to start locking down the commercial and the TV ad buy.

Sometimes the stress of this job gets to me. Right now, I want nothing more than to go up to Atlantic City and throw everything on 14 Red. At least then I'd be able to solve the budget issues....

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NO. WAY. :blink: That's just WAY too awesome. *points to returning guest* My dad had shown me Star Blazers a while back; this is going to be incredible to see this woman in-person.

I always tend to find older anime interesting, so I consider this as going to be an educational experience as well. This year's Otakon really IS going to be different, and in the best sort of way. ^_^

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Coming this week (by Thursday, at least): three more guests to be announced!

Two more coming next week, I believe (possibly 3)....

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just bad timing, and not much we can do about it.

So Japanese!

Ain't it just!

If you don't mind answering, over the years how many times did you have to retract an offer? I'm guessing despite best intention and efforts guests fall through for some reason, on a regular basis. But this sounds kind of :lol:;):(

We usually give a guest a couple of weeks to decide, and I never have more offers outstanding than I can afford to bring. So this means guest invites go out in waves, and usually we net at least one guest per every 3 we look into. We have looked into more difficult-to-get guests this year, so the ratio hasn't been as high, despite pledges of support from industry friends. The guests people would LOVE us to get remain terribly busy. They're hard to get for a reason!

Anyway, it's rare that we actually retract an offer once given -- in this particular case, we were expecting an answer by the 15th, but had extended due to circumstances. It's less a case of withdrawing the offer, but rather confirming that since we were past the deadline, we'd prefer to try again next year.

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Dealing with ANA, huh? I'm flying them next week. Even in economy I noticed that if I were to book now for later in the summer I'd be a few hundred bucks poorer. State of the business, I guess.

And I think I can guess what killed the rest of the hotel space.

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Dealing with ANA, huh? I'm flying them next week. Even in economy I noticed that if I were to book now for later in the summer I'd be a few hundred bucks poorer. State of the business, I guess.

And I think I can guess what killed the rest of the hotel space.

Nah, we had the hotels sewn up ages ago.

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Oh, so it's just a case of finding the room in what you already have.

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Oh, so it's just a case of finding the room in what you already have.

There's a couple of things going on.

1. The soccer fans will have a rough time finding space, because our members have most hotels pretty much booked out solid.

2. We're still adding hotels and extending space where we can.

3. I wound up with more entourage than I'd planned for in my guests block, and also increased my staff just a bit this year. Many of my held rooms get transferred to industry partners (ie, about 8 rooms are nabbed by Sony outside of what I actually pay for for my guests and support staff) --- they still come out of my held allotment. By the time I knew I'd need more, I was unable to get them because the hotel's fully booked.

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I just pictured a bunch of angry soccer hooligans camping outside M&T Bank Stadium out of lack of anywhere better to go.

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This weekend was filled with Otakon stuff. I had a pretty excruciating week up through Friday, when I pretty much burned out by the time I got home. I put out a few fires, then completely vegetated with some TV and early bedtime.

Saturday we had a big staff planning meeting, followed by a picnic. There's so much going on right now, and of course in the middle of all the urgent issues, we also have been wrangling for months with a revised disciplinary policy for our staff. It wasn't particularly contentious, just hard wordsmithing to make the policy clear and understandable, and that takes time.

The picnic was a highlight. Most of my key staffers were there, which is great (but rare). We got a LOT done just because we were able to talk in person -- sometimes when you live most of your life online you can forget how valuable face time can be. Afterwards, a few of us ended up at my place to chat and play poker, which is always fun, and then the next morning I had brunch with still MORE staff and dinner with others! The feeling of progress was nice, but nicer still is being reminded that my friends on staff are people I enjoy hanging out with.

Hanging over everything is a sense that things are just about to happen. My press chief, Alyce Wilson, is pregnant, and her baby was due on Saturday. We're still waiting for that bit of good news, but meanwhile her assistant is stepping up and keeping things moving. Meanwhile, one of my other staffers is ALSO pregnant, and due in the next few weeks. (My sister's also pregnant -- thankfully long after the con!)

Several of our industry contacts have been in touch about premiers and screenings, as well as guest offerings. I think you'll be pleased. We've had quite a few misses this year with people due to scheduling, but any fears I had about being forgotten quickly fell by the wayside.

There was interesting news regarding the guest I mentioned earlier -- the one we pulled back on for reasons unrelated to Otakon. Hopefully things will be on even keel next year because I still think that guest is worth getting. A certain as-yet-unannounced-because-his-bio-needs-updating guest may have finally got us the "in" we have long sought at a particular company, and if that finally happens, it should lead to very good things. I still want his bio updated though! Meanwhile, i am in talks regarding three possible seiyuu guests and a director. All of them have a touch of the WOW factor. There's also a manga-ka that SHOULD be announced in the next two weeks, though a staggeringly HUGE manga-ka finally confirmed what I'd feared (he's not able to this year, but we should ask again next year). Ah well. The perils of aiming high.

We're also plugging away on something kinda awesome behind the scenes. We're going to announce some details about our opening animation, which may involve a guest in a roundabout way.

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This sounds like some exciting stuff... I'm worried I might have to spend too much time out of the Artist Alley trying to meet guests!

*crosses fingers for certain seiyuu* Even though I'm mostly a dub fan, because dub actors go to a lot of cons... Otakon is where I get the chance to meet more Japanese guests than just about anywhere else! I'm excited.

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I feel like I'm on pins and needles whenever you say that you lost a potentially AWESOME guest. I don't know why, but I guess it's because I have no idea who that guest or those guests could have been. ;)

Nonetheless, the guest line-up thus far has been pretty epic on many counts, so I'm certainly excited to see who else is up next. :D

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From time to time, friends will say to me "you look a little stressed. Is something going on?"

Yeah, kinda.

Messages that have come to me in the last two days (paraphrased):

" _____ is very interested and is checking his calendar. Looks good, should know in a few days!"

" _____'s management is concerned because she had canceled an appearance in Tokyo on that date, and doesn't want it to look like ____ blew off work to go to Otakon as that would look bad for both of us, even though that isn't why she did it. Can we do this next year instead?"

" Here is the contract for ____, which has been signed by our president. If you would countersign and send back, we can work on announcing it."

" _____ is traveling and won't be able to sign the agreement for a couple of days, but all the terms are acceptable. We should draft the announcement so we aren't waiting too long for that."

" Thanks so much! Just a clarification, we will need TWO rooms for the editor and myself, plus the one for the guest. Is that okay?"

...plus about half a dozen industry requests (which thankfully I can hand off to my Industry guy), updates here, review of some press releases, a discussion about technical requirements with our tech ops guy, booking the travel to Anime Expo, an update to the con chair, and a meeting with my assistant. Tonight it's guest announcements, hotel lists, official answers to a few things still pending, drafting an announcement about this year's opening animation, and hopefully reviewing the next guest announcement. I'm shifting some of this stuff to my assistant as soon as it can be done safely...

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Crap, I've just remembered, I've got to put together some prize packs for a membership give-away contest, and follow up on the status of the tv commercial....

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" _____ is very interested and is checking his calendar. Looks good, should know in a few days!"

" _____'s management is concerned because she had canceled an appearance in Tokyo on that date, and doesn't want it to look like ____ blew off work to go to Otakon as that would look bad for both of us, even though that isn't why she did it. Can we do this next year instead?"

" Here is the contract for ____, which has been signed by our president. If you would countersign and send back, we can work on announcing it."

" _____ is traveling and won't be able to sign the agreement for a couple of days, but all the terms are acceptable. We should draft the announcement so we aren't waiting too long for that."

" Thanks so much! Just a clarification, we will need TWO rooms for the editor and myself, plus the one for the guest. Is that okay?"

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...and the roller coaster continues.

A rather "Holy Crap" guest is confirmed and I've now gone through two rounds of the press release. When we announce, you'll see why I've been rather cagey about certain responses.

Hit a dead end with a particular director who apparently was all gung ho to come but was told "no, you need to finish up your work for the show first"....

Got a confirmation on the manga-ka.

Got confirmation on another guest.

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Jim, sometimes your job reminds me an awful lot of this. With the added difficulty of replacing some on the fly when they aren't working out.

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Jim, sometimes your job reminds me an awful lot of this. With the added difficulty of replacing some on the fly when they aren't working out.

That's fair. Pre-con is all about spinning plates, battering down walls, building bridges, and making friends. At-con, it's all about herding cats. ^_^

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Jim, sometimes your job reminds me an awful lot of this. With the added difficulty of replacing some on the fly when they aren't working out.

That's fair. Pre-con is all about spinning plates, battering down walls, building bridges, and making friends. At-con, it's all about herding cats. ^_^

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