I bought a badge for Otakon. The week before, I pored over the schedule and planned to attend concerns by T.M. Revolution and Yoko Kanno. And then, when the time came, I didn’t go.
Why? Because Otakon is a hassle. I realized I didn’t want to put up with it.
All cons are hassles, of course. But Otakon’s tipped the scales into not worth it.
Every year, either the pre-registratoin line is a few hours long, or the reg line is the same. You never know which one. This is not true at other conventions, even large ones. When I went to Anime Expo a few years ago, I stood in pre-reg for 30 minutes on the first day.
The convention space itself is cramped. It’s been cramped for five years. It’s not just busy; getting from one part of the con to the other is often a painful experience to an extent I don’t feel at other cons.
I think this has to do with the number of volunteers. I see con staffers far less frequently at Otakon than at other cons. Heck, PAX Enforcers are everywhere. There’s not enough con staff to direct traffic, so folks congregate and cluster and block up hallways.
Why is this important? At Otakon, when things go badly, the panel is canceled. I attended New York Anime Festival a few years ago, and they moved a main event to an entirely different room 10 minutes before starting, and everyone got there on time and all went perfectly. That’d be unthinkable at Otakon.
But worse are the schedule changes. You can see this on the placards outside each event room. Every year, by Saturday there are at least 2 changes on every placard; often 4 or 5.
Now, things change. Events change. I understand. I’ve caused those changes before!
But event changes happen so often at Otakon that I no longer trust the schedule. I have to put aside 3 days for the convention and attend the entire thing, and hope things will happen where and when they’re supposed to.
Why is this true only at Otakon? Why can other cons–large and small–stick to their schedules? Anime Expo manages this. Why can’t Otakon?