J-Popcon 2011

Unlike previous reviews of J-Popcon, this will only be a single post, similar to my previous ‘conclusion’ themed posts, rather than a day-by-day followed by a sum-up. This is because I was mainly working in a booth during the weekend, so what I got to see was fairly limited.

Dealer Room & Artist Alley

Dealer Room
Photo by D. Hansen

Compared to last year, these were placed at far better locations. Last year, the AA broke several fire safety rules, but this year, it was safe and rarely ever congested; people could stop at the various artist booths without blocking traffic.

Likewise, last year, the line to the DR was extremely long, meaning people could wait upwards of two, sometimes even three, hours, before getting in, due to the person limit of the room it was placed in. This year, it was placed in a room with probably 8 times the legal capacity (due to 7 or so extra fire exits), so there was no wait, which was a big bonus.

That being said, they had apparently decided not to have the DR be a free area this year because of, quote, ‘lack of sponsorships’, which dumbfounded me. Making it a free area would have not only freed up labour (2-3 guards keeping watch), but also given dealers a higher potential revenue, meaning the booths could have sold at slightly higher prices. It was a lose-lose decision.

Security

Speaking of guards keeping watch, J-Popcon sprung for a few security guards during the evening, which was comforting. Additionally, the gophers standing watch this year actively asked to see wristbands wherever you went, which is a VAST improvement from last year, so kudos there!

On the downside, it was easy to bullshit your way through, which I did whenever I forgot my dealer badge (I didn’t have a wristband either). As long as you said it with confidence, you could just walk past while they tried to figure out wtf just happened; no one tried to stop me.

Game Room

Photo by J. Andersen

The game room felt a bit empty on the digital side, but to have a Kinect dancing game hooked up to a projector projecting to the far wall was a really good idea. The Sonic tourney, while I don’t really like Sonic games, was a breath of fresh air from all the usual fighting game tourneys.

During packing on the final day, there was apparently a lot of confusion as to what belonged to whom, so for future reference, making ‘lending contracts’ with what items at what value are borrowed from whom might be a good idea. This also works as a safeguard in case something breaks or is stolen during the convention.

This year, the digital game room shared with S.A.R.Z., a Swedish initiative for traditional board and card games. In my opinion, this was a wise decision, as it not only kept the ‘gaming zone’ within the same area, but it also filled out the room so it didn’t look entirely empty.

There was actually a manga lounge in there too, but it was rather small and I only noticed it by accident, so I have no real comments on it.

Con-book and website

There was no con-book this year, which was sucky. Not only is a con-book a great momento, it’s also a legal security blanket for the convention. For instance, J-Popcon had several rules concerning what was and wasn’t allowed in regards to photography at the convention, which they posted on the website. However, when you bought a ticket, there was no “I accept these rules” condition, the rules were not hung up by all entrances, nor were they printed in the con-book since there was none.

What this means, in short terms, is that people can go “screw the rules” and as long as they follow Danish law, they can do whatever the fuck they want with the images and J-Popcon will have no legal right to say anything about it, because there was no explicit consent on the website nor implicit consent from anything that was physically handed to the participant.

That being said, I do fully understand that there just wasn’t enough money for a con-book, so I don’t blame them at all for not having one. However, the lack of having the participants express explicit consent to the rules when they buy a ticket – a tick box with “I have read and understood the rules, terms, and conditions” would do – is just beyond dumb.

Events and schedule

Yamazaki Urita drawing
Photo by R. Kanan

The schedule was a bit stripped of events. That isn’t to say there weren’t any events going on, but rather, half of the events weren’t written on the schedule. That is just beyond me.

Even though the events not mentioned in the schedule were hosted by third party organizations, e.g. Alpha Entertainment, S.A.R.Z., etc., they all take place at J-Popcon, so they should logically be written in the schedule.

Having to search 6 different sites for a full overview of the schedule of events is NOT cool. The very last thing you do before finishing an event schedule is calling up every single damn one of the event makers to make sure nothing has been forgotten or otherwise left out.

On the plus side, the events hosted by J-Popcon were, for the most part, punctual. There was only one cancellation – that I know of – and the biggest delay was 30 minutes, as opposed to the 3-4 hours the past few years.

On the down side, besides an interview they posted online, they didn’t do much to bring attention to their VIP guest from Japan: manga artist Yamazaki Urita. No one really knew who or where she were until they were told, which was a shame.

Conclusion

While there’s still a way to go, J-Popcon has definitely improved over the last year. They would do well in trying to get someone to handle on-site PR, but other than that and a few bumps here and there, I think they did really well considering previous years. For the first time half a decade, assuming they continue progressing this way, I actually look forward to seeing what they come up with next year.

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