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The Anime Detour vision thing

This is sort of a follow-on to my previous post about anime fandom. You may want to go back and read that; it might make this more understandable.

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.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2005 11:20 pm (UTC)
The one thing I don't like about AD is the lack of room parties. I mean, I think we were one of two both-night parties, and lots of attendees still yell out "POTATO GUY!" when they see me, but there needs to be more.
Mar. 23rd, 2005 03:53 am (UTC)
I agree completely. One of the many things we're working on...someday the Non-Detachable Party Saucer Section will be rocking on both floors, but that day is not today. :(
Mar. 23rd, 2005 12:45 pm (UTC)
I think it might be the age thing - there's a bunch of kids that are splitting the rooms 7-8 ways to save money for the Dealers Room and they don't want to "waste" money on a party.

Are there lots of parties at other anime cons?
Mar. 23rd, 2005 02:14 pm (UTC)
That could well be. Seemed to me that most of the room parties this year were by other conventions...and as for other anime conventions, I don't really know. The only other anime convention I've been to is Anime Iowa, which doesn't have too many room parties either as far as I can tell. I'll have to ask around.
Mar. 24th, 2005 12:02 am (UTC)
I've been to Anime Iowa and Anime Central. There were some room parties at both but not to the extent on MarsCon, or CONvergence. The room parties at CONvergence are one of the things I love the most about that con. It's such a great atmosphere of people being social and having a good time. I'd love to see that develop at Anime Detour as well. I think we need to do more to promote room parties.
Mar. 24th, 2005 05:28 am (UTC)
I'd love to see that develop at Anime Detour as well. I think we need to do more to promote room parties.

Mar. 23rd, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
For What It's Worth...
From somewhere (maybe when I was at Dreamhaven yesterday after work, but I'm not really sure...)I've this memory of recently overhearing Greg Ketter say that attendance at Minicon this year would be about 800. It could have that he was talking about pre-reg, but, again, I just don't know.
Mar. 23rd, 2005 04:01 am (UTC)
Re: For What It's Worth...
I'd be surprised if there was a pre-reg of 800, but then I'm no good at guessing that sort of thing. I thought AD would draw 500, maybe 600 last year and we got 1200; this year I thought we'd get 2000 and we got ~1600. I guess we'll see, won't we?
Mar. 23rd, 2005 04:05 am (UTC)
Re: For What It's Worth...
Well, you will, anyway ;-)

(At least firsthand, eh?)
Mar. 23rd, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)
Re: For What It's Worth...
Eh. I am told by your "niece" the Gothlet that her mother thinks it'll be "interesting" to see me at Minicon. I don't know what's so interesting about a guy running an anime room, but then there are a lot of things I don't understand about my ex. *shrugs*
Mar. 23rd, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC)
Re: For What It's Worth...
I just think she's worried you're gonna give off "Kevin rays".
Mar. 24th, 2005 05:29 am (UTC)
Re: For What It's Worth...
Hmmm, I haven't noticed myself giving off rays lately. Gases, yes, but no rays. >.>
Mar. 23rd, 2005 12:48 pm (UTC)
Re: For What It's Worth...
I believe he's just thinking that will be total. Last I heard, they had passed up last year's reg total in pre-reg, which would mean they would get total reg of about 600 and change. However, there's a lot of people who don't know that Terry Pratchett is going to be one of the GoHs, which will be good for their ATD.
Mar. 23rd, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC)
Have you gone over this with your vice-chairman??? ;)
Mar. 23rd, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC)
I did ask for comments, didn't I? ~_^

Seriously...this is one of the things I keep trying to bring up to the Board, but this last year it largely got pushed aside in favor of convention oversight. drunkenphlower have discussed some of this, as well as parts that didn't make it into this essay such as scholarships and other non-profit-like stuff we ought to be doing more of.
Mar. 24th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC)
Some of the promotion of room parties and other things can be handled better in our fliers and doccuments we put out. I did promote it a bit on the last brochure that we sent out. We need to do that again, much earlier this time. We need to send out mailings several times during the year to get people thinking about registering and hosting room parties ahead of time so they can budget for it. This year the brochure to returning members was sent out far too late in the game.
Mar. 24th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC)
Yeah, the progress report wound up being converted into a mailer to last year's walk-up registrants, which didn't bring in a lot of pre-registrations. I do want to do a quarterly newsletter, but I think it's going to wind up going out via e-mail to save printing and postage costs.
Mar. 24th, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC)
Already have a name for it: Anime Detour Traffic Report
Mar. 29th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC)
I like it!
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )



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