AX 2009 Day Zero: Press Junket

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Mein Kaiser Reinhard was sorely disappointed at how they had four different places to hold the press people.

My apologies for having fallen off the face of the Earth, but I was seconded as a vehicle driver and general purpose mule for T-ono.net who generously offered me a chance to go to Anime Expo 2009 for free and gave me a place to sleep free of charge in exchange for my services and vehicle. It was a great experience for me and hopefully this will be the first part in a short series about my own experience and misadventures at AX. I skipped Icystorm’s tweet up and meeting and had to decline AnimeDiet’s offer to chill, but my taskmaster certainly made my lazy ass work. Day Zero was the AX Press Junket that sadly did not go over too well. While it is inevitable that guests would be late there were some galling mistakes that I noticed with the Press Junket. I am not sure if Mike and Jeremy from Anime Diet or if Dancing Queen of How a Girl Figures experienced the same thing, but I am sure they noticed some problems as well.

From my understanding, limited though it may be, one on one interviews have been replaced with this junket and in all fairness the principle is sound. The problem is not one of strategy, it is one of implementation. This year there were four holding pens for the press groups which was a huge mistake to begin with as the staff had to go between the 3rd and 31st floors looking for press groups. More than once some groups simply fell off the radar and the nominal head of the junket, Mr. Chase Wang, was sweating bullets going between the two towers and the 3rd floor. Since I am interested in scuttlebutt I even heard that Seiji Mizushima, Youske Kuroda, and Yun Kouga had a period of grace where no one interviewed them, despite there being press groups who were idle that did want to have an interview, my hosts being one of them. To remedy this I think they seriously need to consider just emulating the command structure of a Fire Direction Center where by everything goes to one central command post where the lists are kept and a plotting board for the locations of each press group and the status of each of the guests of honor are maintained. If it had gone well then the nominal head should not be running about with his head cut off (probably from being overwhelmed), and instead coordinating everything from a single location from which periodic status can be obtained to update a plotting board, similar to the miniatures they use coordinating the aircraft on a carrier. You simply cannot have four holding pens and expect a good level of coordination without a central command post.

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It seems that Lady Cima was the one in charge of Morning Musme…

Then there was the issue of a bathroom on the 31st floor…having to go down to the second floor was bad enough (third floor bathroom was closed), but having to commandeer Toshiyuki Morikawa’s (a.k.a. Sephiroth) bathroom on occasion is not a sign of proper planning. We got the opportunity to interview Mana of Moi Dix Mois fame (who by the way can speak, because I heard it, and he doesn’t always walk around in costume, also that makes me his prophet so bow down mortals!), but the interview was pretty much sunk by the fact that the translator was simply tired (perhaps there was sufficient reason, but not in my mind a mark of professionalism on her part). I am not clear on the specifics but if a new translator is paired up with a rock star then there will be trouble, as any rock star is almost certainly too much for a rookie to handle. If Mana could deny all recording devices and photography and get away with it then he certainly is a big fish, and all big fish eat little fish of one sort or another. Also another interesting thing was that the Morning Musume translator/leash essentially dictated who could get an interview, whether or not it was because the first two groups were EPIC FAIL or that the leash was simply walking over the AX staff is something I don’t know. Nevertheless it probably did not go JUST AS KEIKAKU.

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Not all members of the press met Lady Cima’s approval for interviewing her charges…

In short AX09 Press Junket is still a wonderful idea in principle, the problem this year was one of implementation. It wasn’t controlled confusion it was confusion, not because the staff weren’t trying hard enough, but just because every one had a radio did not mean everyone knew what was going on. If anything the staff was go above and beyond more than they needed to instead of simply what they were supposed to be doing and that is not right. Had Clausewitz witnessed this he would berate (and fire) those in charge for not taking fog and friction into consideration and above all having no distinguishable command structure at all. However I am willing to offer methods and proposals for a more efficient way of managing their problems of controlled confusion, a sailor method but I am confident it would invariably be better than what they used this year.

Still I learned a few things such as the iPhone voice memo app is a superior than some dedicated voice recorders, Nightow-san and Nishimura-san were quite curious about it when I popped it out.  Lastly Cool shit that happened were that Nightow-san and Nishimura-san did the fusion dance pose, some dude I met pissed in Sephiroths’ bathroom, and Imaishi-san and Nishigori-san were laughing when Morning Musume (who were next door) started singing.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2009 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    You sadden me :[ I stopped reading after your mention of me in protest.

  2. Posted July 8, 2009 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I would have if I could have, but I had been tasked…maybe next year. I am sure you met more interesting people any way.

  3. Posted July 8, 2009 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Someday I’m going to be able to go to one of these things. Gonna space fold right in the middle of something.

  4. Posted July 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    If so it would be a pleasure to meet you in person, though the only chance you’d pull out all the stops was if Kawamori himself made his way to the states….

  5. Posted July 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    i actually skipped the press junket, but i heard tons of people had problems getting interviews

  6. Posted July 8, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    It’s worth going to I think, my hosts got a sweet sketch of Yoko that the gave us the next day. If nothing else I learned how essential a 24x27cm board is at these sorts of events.

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