Anime Expo 2013 Recap

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Photo by Anime Expo®

Hey guys! Happy Wednesday!

So I know I haven’t put out a post in about 2 weeks now. Sorry! BUT! The reason being is because I’ve been super busy working for the best anime convention in the country… Anime Expo!

So let’s be real for a sec. This isn’t gonna be some critique like most blogs do. I’m not going to rate my experience or anything. For one, I personally work for the SPJA so I wouldn’t be voicing out those kinds of opinions on here. (My soapbox only has so much limit.) I know I normally rant about other geeky topics, but for this post, I’d like to give you more of a personal inside look at what I do.

So this was my first year as manager and boy was I in for a treat. I was an assistant manager last year and there is a definite difference between the two jobs. For one, I never truly understood the operational aspect to Maid Cafe until now. But hey, you gotta fck up a couple times until you learn, right? I honestly was already anticipating some mistakes on my behalf just because I was kinda going into this blindly, but by Day 2 of the convention, I really felt like I got the hang of things.

Now I’m obviously not gonna release any top secret information here. (Um, duh?) But I will take a moment to gloat about my staff. You see, I have a pretty big department compared to others and that’s because my department puts on a show and we’re the performers. I need a large staff in order to make every guest feel special and appreciated. Not only do my Maids/Hosts dance on stage, they interact and play games with the guests. I know in theory it seems like an easy job, but it actually takes more work than you think. We practice months and months in advanced to be performance ready by con. I would know; I was there coordinating all the rehearsals for BOTH maids and hosts. My staff works hard and it paid off. We sold out 8 out of 9 shows. Booyah.

Ew, I can’t believe I just said “booyah.” That’s so 2004. 

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See? Aren’t we just a bunch of cutie patooties?

To wrap up this corny-ness, I just wanna say that without this group of hardworking people, we wouldn’t have been able to produce such an amazing experience for our guests. These ladies and gents work extremely hard and I wish I can give them something super duper awesome as my token of appreciation. Ah, the life of a college student. I hope booze will suffice? Just kidding. But seriously.

So what’s it like to be a maid or a host? Well, for starters, it’s a lot of work. I can’t even begin to explain how many rehearsals we had and how LONG the rehearsals were. We pretty much work 7-8 hour shifts each day of con and our ultimate goal is to put on a great show and keep our guests happy. Something new that my maids and hosts did this year was add “punishments.” You see, we have an interaction period where we play games with our guests, such as jenga, apples to apples, pop-up pirate, etc. If you lost, you had to do a punishment of the Maid or Host’s choosing. Don’t worry, it’s not anything bad. Most of the time, it had to do with yelling “I love Justin Bieber!” or dancing to Gangnam Style on our stage. Because everyone was doing it, punishments were… well… fun. I know, weird, right? I remember when I was just a maid back in 2011 and 2012, I don’t know if I had the guts to do any sorts of punishments. But surprisingly, guests really had fun with it. Soo… yay! Brownie points for Ally and her staff!

My department is such a silly, fun group of people. Like most departments, we have a ton of random inside jokes and because we’ve been working together for months prior to con, we already had a tight bond by the time AX rolled around. That’s honestly one of the best things about working for AX. It’s not everyday that you get to immerse yourself with so many amazing people in this nerdy community of ours. Not only did my awesome staff make my experience awesome, but my fellow managers from other departments are also just amazing people in general. I can’t help but feel nostalgic and so very grateful for what Anime Expo has done for me. I’ve been attending AX since 2002 and I never even imagined I’d be working for it, let alone managing a department. This is definitely not the end for me and I will be back! *insert Terminator voice here*

And so I lied… the corny-ness continues. I just really really really love where my life is right now and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have to admit, I’ve been in a huge funk in the last couple months and I’ve been very confused and slightly depressed, but thank god for this past weekend and thank god I’m now surrounded by people who believe in me and want to see me do well. (Have I made you cry yet? Ew, stop that.)

So to end on a fabulous note, I got this drank in my cup. (Literally… drinking some wine right now. Heyyyy.) And I’m raising my glass to you. So you better have a glass too or something or else this shit’s not cute anymore. 

There’s a reason I love doing this. There’s a reason I will work super hard to produce an amazing show with little benefits for myself. And I know every otaku and staffer reading this will agree with me – we do it because we love the fandom. I’m going to leave you with this awesome quote that my amazing div head shared with me:

“Fandom is focus. Fandom is obsession. Fandom is insatiable consumption. Fandom is sitting for hours in front of a TV screen a movie screen a computer screen with a comic book a novel on your lap. Fandom is eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome and not enough exercise and staying up way, way past your bedtime.
Fandom is people you don’t tell your mother you’re meeting. Fandom is people in the closet, people out and proud, people in costumes, people in T-shirts with slogans only fifty others would understand. Fandom is a loud dinner conversation scaring the waiter and every table nearby.
Fandom is you in Germany and me in the US and him in Australia and her in Japan. Fandom is a sofabed in New York, a roadtrip to Oxnard, a friend behind a face in London. Fandom talks past timezones and accents and backgrounds. Fandom is conversation. Communication. Contact.
Fandom is drama. Fandom is melodrama. Fandom is high school. Fandom is Snacky’s law and Godwin’s law and Murphy’s law. Fandom is smarter than you. Fandom is stupider than you. Fandom is five arguments over and over and over again. Fandom is the first time you’ve ever had them.
Fandom is female. Fandom is male. Fandom lets female play at being male. Fandom bends gender, straight, gay, prude, promiscuous. Fandom is fantasy. Fandom doesn’t care about norms or taboos or boundaries. Fandom cares too much about norms and taboos and boundaries. Fandom is not real life. Fandom is closer than real life. Fandom knows what you’re really like in the bedroom. Fandom is how you would never, could never be in the bedroom.
Fandom is shipping, never shipping, het, slash, gen, none of the above, more than the above. Fandom is love for characters you didn’t create. Fandom is recreating the characters you didn’t create. Fandom is appropriation, subversion, dissention. Fandom is adoration, extrapolation, imitation. Fandom is dissection, criticism, interpretation. Fandom is changing, experimenting, attempting.
Fandom is creating. Fandom is drawing, painting, vidding: nine seasons in four minutes of love. Fandom is words, language, authoring. Fandom is essays, stories, betas, parodies, filks, zines, usenet posts, blog posts, message board posts, emails, chats, petitions, wank, concrit, feedback, recs. Fandom is writing for the first time since you were twelve. Fandom is finally calling yourself a writer.
Fandom is signal and response. Fandom is a stranger moving you to tears, anger, laughter. Fandom is you moving a stranger to speak.
Fandom is distraction. Fandom is endangering your job, your grades, your relationships, your bank account. Fandom gets no work done. Fandom is too much work. Fandom was/is just a phase. Fandom could never be just a phase. Fandom is where you found a friend, a sister, a kindred spirit. Fandom is where you found a talent, a love, a reason.
Fandom is where you found yourself.”

On a separate note, are you planning on attending Comic Con? How about Vid Con or KCON in August? The life of a convention goer doesn’t stop here at AX! The feels continue as long as you keep attending conventions and network. So, hope to see some of you in the near future!

-Alice

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