I see Anime Detour as the child of Anime Iowa out of CONvergence, trying to combine the best of both these conventions while creating an identity of its own. Anime Detour is a fan-run convention that focuses on anime and manga but is also concerned with cosplay, fanfic/fandubs/fansubs and all other forms of fan art. I want our members to develop their interest in anime and manga into a wider interest in SF and fantasy, and I encourage them to unleash their creativity. I think they have much to gain by checking out Diversicon and CONvergence.
So what does all that mean? Well...Our staff has people who have worked as volunteers or as staff on both of its parent conventions, and at other local conventions such as Arcana, Diversicon, Marscon and Minicon, back in the days of the Big Minicon. Some of us still do that, although we find that trying to work on more than one convention while maintaining some semblance of a life is pretty draining. I don't think Anime Detour should become really huge like Anime Central or Otakon. If AD gets that big (more than 2500 people showing up) I think we'll have a problem not only with facilities but with the actual operation of the convention. We definitely don't want to be trying to handle three thousand (or more) people, even if we relocate to the Bloomington Sheraton, because we feel at that point the local anime fandom will have grown too big for one convention to contain it all.
How do we fit into the world of anime fandom and Twin Cities fandom? Well, we're the new kid on the block here in the Upper Midwest. Anime Iowa has been going for about eight years in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, NoBrandCon has been in Eau Claire for three, and ScorchCon debuted in Moorhead last fall. Aside from that, there really haven't been any other anime conventions in these parts. SogenCon in Marshall is new this year and looks pretty ambitious; we're looking to see how they do. While we're new, we've rapidly expanded to the same size as Anime Iowa and dwarfed NoBrandCon; I don't have any figures for ScorchCon, but that was a one-day convention so it's not really comparable to us or the other two conventions. WRT Twin Cities fandom, we're sandwiched between Marscon (~750) at the beginning of March and Minicon (~500) over Easter weekend. CONvergence on the 4th of July weekend is the successor to the Big Minicons of yore, drawing ~2000 to the Sheraton; it's followed by Diversicon (~100) in August, Fallcon/Relaxicon/Consume (~50) in September/October, and Arcana (~50) at about the same time of year. A lot of our fans don't know about the other conventions, even though they almost all have some anime content; Diversicon has had panels on anime and some screenings for the last three-four years, CONvergence has had Theater Nippon as long as I can remember, Marscon likewise has always had anime screenings, and Minicon will have some this year as they bring back the movie room. Still, most of our members showed up because we were an anime convention and not an SF/fantasy convention that happened to be showing anime.
The convention itself meets a number of different needs. While ATC's underlying purpose is to educate the community in Japanese culture and language through the media of anime and manga, we're realistic enough to realize that a convention consisting solely of lectures, panels, and anime wouldn't draw too many people and would probably fail in short order. So, we also have a dealer's room, guests (who are mostly voice actors and actresses who do the English dub tracks for anime), workshops, demonstrations, a consuite, art show and artists' alley...pretty much the same things Anime Iowa features, though I would hope we're different enough so that people don't endure the same programming at both conventions. We also have some gaming, because there's quite a bit of overlap between console gaming and anime (and I'm referring to both the games and the gamers) and of course Dance Dance Revolution has a fandom all its own. We don't have a coffee bar, an acoustic music lounge, or a pool area full of room parties, but we're working on that last part. We want people to be social!
All this is prelude, though. What I would like to do with Anime Detour is build it into the annual meeting for the anime fans of Minnesota and the surrounding states, but I don't want that annual rendezvous to be an end in itself. Anime Detour should be the kickoff for other meetings and conventions all through the summer and, if possible, year-round. The parent organization of Anime Detour should be fostering communication among the hundreds of fans who attend the convention so that they can more easily get together in Duluth, Moorhead, Rochester, St. Cloud and all the other cities throughout Minnesota. Maybe, just maybe, we can build an anime fandom of extraordinary magnitude, even better than the traditions of our ancestors. It's something to shoot for. ^^
Comments solicited and appreciated.