Long Awaited Return

I've really ben out of the loop lately. The internet at my home has been fritzy lately, coupled with outside life and the end of Fiscal Year at work on its way, I've just been monsterously busy.

Anime Weekend Atlanta came in like a hurricane and left this year just as fast. I was kinda disappointed because of weather (as well as market saturation factors), most of the industry panels concerning new releases and updated projects were all canceled. Despite that, I had a blast; probably the most fun I've had at a con in the past four years and definately the best con we've had at this hotel (it was out third year at this location). This con wasn't a typical con, where I feel like I am working for material for the blog here or trying to panhandle/lobby licenses of older titles that I believe would sell well. No, this con was more like a two and a half day party.

In a way, it was nice to not feel like I have to work for a change; after all, I took a long lunch and left the real job early on Friday and just began hanging around with friends as soon as I got to the con. But even though doing things for the blog are something I enjoy, especially if it is something that could possibly give me an edge that someone else may not have in thier blog/website, but it's truly liberating to have absoluetely no commitments other than the one I made to destroying my liver. Sorry, everybody.

I would say that the highlight event of the weekend was partying with a lot of the gang from the image board 4chan [4chan.org] (NSFW) and meeting the infamous "moot". It was great to sit around and just BS over a few drinks into the wee hours of the night. Sadly though, that's about all there is to the story, even if it was the highlight of the weekend.

Speaking of conventions, it has been reported by Anime News Network [animenewsnetwork.com] and Anime Cons [anime-cons.com] that KuniCon is officially closing up shop. I suppose cons start and close in nearly equal numbers every year, just like a business venture in any economy. However, I especially noticed this for a couple of reasons; 1) I liked KuniCon's business model and 2)KuniCon was another con that came to Atlanta, in which Anime Weekend Atlanta has been the only anime-only show in town for the past 11 years.

First off, I really liked the business model, primarily because I figured that if anime fandom did not specifically drive me insane, it was/is a model I was willing to pursue and had thought of doing on my own. Looking at what other cons take in numbers and cash, multiply that by doing three or four shows a year, and with good price control and regulation, one could definately bring in a decent amount of income over it. Not to mention that most of the work can be done in jeans and t-shirt over the internet and in a home office. Routinely driving into the city for work everyday has really made the idea of "work from home" sound all the much better.

However, I don't think that KuniCon's fatal flaw lay in its business model, more so in its planning. After all, even with AWA being the one-horse in the one horse town, the second horse to come into town was weaker and more confused that the original. I mean, AWA has been going on for 11 years; for the longest time, they've been the only con in town, yet, despite all of the competition, they continue to grow every year and are still the largest anime con in the Southeastern US.

No, the reason KuniCon Atlanta failed because they failed to do research. While many large cons can be held in downtown settings, like Otakon in Baltimore or AnimeExpo in Long Beach, Atlanta is not and was not designed to handle that sort of event. Hotel lots in the city are small, I know because I park in an old one for work everyday. Navigating to find downtown parking and navigating the surface streets is more hassle than anyone who has not driven in the Atlanta area can realize it. Plus, once you leave your car, there are many places within the city that leave you wondering whether or not your car is going to be there when you get back.

But DragonCon manages to pull in huge numbers every year and it was held only a couple of blocks away! is something one might shout. DragonCon, as the name implies, is for practically everything nerdy. It's SciFi, Fanatsy, Video Gaming, Role Playing, and transvestite freaks all rolled into a Labor Day Weekend clusterfuck. Yeah, anime fans and junkies go to DragonCon; even some DragonCon people, to my cahgrin, go to Anime Weekend Atlanta (and conversely, KuniCon). Not only is the main contingency of the DragonCon fanbase not into anime, many of the attendees of DragonCon are in thier late teens though various adulthood ages. In short, they provide thier own transportation and their own cash flows.

Now, let's compare that to the average age of the anime fans. As I get older (and granted, old is only used as a reletive term), the anime fanbase gets younger. Where as it used to be geeks in their mid-late teens through adults, more and more of the adult fans are vanishing and they are being replaced by all variances of the teenager. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. It's actually far from it. However, teenagers are generally not responsible for thier own money, transportation, and lodging. Which now means that they have to rely upon others to make it to the event. Parents are less than enthused about making the trip downtown, especially to the type of thing that lasts three days from early morning to the wee hours of the next morning.

So, working with this type of audience, how does AWA do it? Simple. Stay out of the city. I don't believe AWA has ever had a convention within the city it's is named after. It has always been in an easy to access suburb of the city located near other means of interest. Also, the con has generally been planted in areas surrounded by hotels, allowing travellers to have many choices in lodging. This is also better for the out-of-city appeal becuase it is generally cheaper. Because it is in the easy-access burbs, there is plenty of parking, its generally safe, and more things for parents to do than be stranded at an anime con. (That's right, no matter how much fun we have, they're generally bored to tears)

That, coupled with what could be said as a poorly planned con internally as well (nothing was up and running before 1:00 PM on Friday) and some programming that looked to be nothing original or even having unique personalities to add to the feel of the con. Honestly, it just had a dead, hollow feeling about all of it.

Now, there's my latest take on Con Economics, hopefully more to come in the future. I may even get around this weekend to writing up something on it almost scholarly.

Getting back to the anime ... who am I kidding? You've read enough already, I've written enough already, and I've not had time to really write something worth mentioning right now. I'll leave with noting that I am working on picking up Legend of Galactic Heroes, trying to plow through my to-watch pile of DVDs and anime listings, and finally finsihed Bubblegum Crash after starting it in 1997.


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