I even feel old as I type the year 2010. It's impossible that we've gotten that far, isn't it? It's also shocking that my friends at Poly have been running their small one-day con for as long as they have. It's triply shocking that anybody showed up: we had torrential rains all day, almost nothing about the con has changed, there's still close to zero promotion, but the guys doubled their attendance from 300 to 600 this year. Nobody has any idea what happened, and I'm calling it a fluke.
I wasn't really around the con so much: a couple of times I came out and it wouldn't be thirty seconds before I'd have to turn tail back into the staff room. Given that the con is free, the crowd was really, really young-- I'm going to say the median age was lower high school-- and the whole school was a running, screaming, glomping, Caramelldansening battlefield. I usually feel a little out of place at anime cons: here I felt entirely disconnected from everything going on around me.
My advice to the staff (not that they don't know): the coat check was a terrible idea from the start, probably should have been scrapped outright. There was an alleged unsavory incident that calls for an explicit ban on "hug me" signs and yaoi paddles.
Since there wasn't really any other promotion of events going on, I stuck my flyer anywhere I could: major tables, message boards, outside the room. Once my panel room cleared out and I had access to a projector, I just stayed around there for the duration. The hour before the panel, the guys and I just watched stuff on the projector since nobody was around. The closer it got to the panel, the more worried I was that absolutely nobody would show up at all. Certainly past Poly showings have ended up as "Dave and three friends' private screening of Mazinger Z vs. Devilman."
So here's how it actually ended up going. A few minutes before we were to actually start, two visitors read the flyer outside and asked exactly what anime I'd be showing. "What if I've seen it before?", the girl asked. Obviously I insisted that she had not, and considering there was still some time before we got going, I figured I could roll this to give her an idea. Black Lion stopped onlookers and forced them into the room. Of course, there was a lot of turnover and people walking out during this clip alone. But by the time the clip was over, I had an audience.
It was still early, and I'd promised ninjas, but Black Lion didn't contain the same ninjas as I'd promised. I'm an awful man, so I ran some real ninjas and a few more people looked at each other and walked out. When the lights went up on this one, I had an audience that fully understood the kind of material I wanted to share with them. It wasn't long until this stuff was again playing to a packed room. It's powerful material!
I started with bad dub montages, went to Musashi Gundoh and Zaizen Jotaro, and for the last half I just ran the Baoh dub all the way through. I had expected to have just an hour-- I was going to walk in, press "play" on Baoh and call it a day-- but I got another at the last minute and decided to tag other features on and actually talk about the material. It was a little bit like a real panel, even! I know my job is well done when somebody comes up and asks me where to buy everything I just showed: too bad so much of this stuff is out of print, huh?
We loitered after the panel until events on that floor ended and we had to come back down to the staff room. Unfortunately the staff room was now a walk-in closet open to anybody who wanted to be there, on account of it doubling as the ridiculous, half-baked coat check idea that I talked about earlier. After this our musical guests took over and backstage I got the guys in on some multi-player Mahjong Fight Club. Hell yeah. I came out for the punk band at the end: they were a lot of fun.
Spring Fest has really not changed or grown at all: it's still a tiny, one-day business that tends to target kids and people who haven't been to a con before. That said, I think the guys have finally found their audience after a couple years of looking like a ghost town, and I'm happy for them. As for myself, I have to sort through this pile of dangerous anime and put together my I-Con presentations!
In closing, if 30 convention staffers all make reservations to go to a small restaurant at the same time, say no. Your food will take two hours, it will be mediocre, and it will basically be your own fault.