William Chow's Personal Web Page

This is a sub-page outlining Aka-Kon 2000.

Quick Overview

Aka-Kon was really the first attempt at a full scale animation convention in Vancouver. There were a lot of various problems with logistics, planning and staffing but it happened and placed itself into the history books. It, on the outside, was a refreshing change for those anime fans who are just starving for a good convention.

Cosplay! Simply two words (Costume and Play) put together. For a time other than Halloween, anime fans can dress up in anime costumes and act out lines of their characters. And the cool thing would be is, that since you are surrounded by other anime fans, they will actually recognize who the hell you are suppose to be.

Click Here for some Cosplay pictures.

This convention had a small dealers room with various anime goods, which was missing from the city since we have not had anything like a comic convention ever since the decline of the comic and card industry, in the early 90's.

Stories Behind the Con (The Good, that Went Bad, then It Got Ugly)


What A Great Idea, But Good Luck!

I did have ideas of running some kinda of convention in the past but economically speaking, Vancouver didn't have enough people to attend such a convention at such a grand scale. Vancouver traditionally had smaller conventions like the comic cons which were for the 100's of people interested in the comic collecting and card collecting. However, the industry went from the hey days back in the 80's declined in the 90's and settled down in the 2000. We also had an annual SciFi Con in Vancouver which also has attendance in a couple 100's which brings out all the Star Wars and Star Trekkies. So when someone named Amanda Tomsach came from Texas to Vancouver for Art School proposed to put on an anime con, of course I was excited but the business side of me was still wary of whether something of the scale she had in mind was going to work since I consider myself an expert in what and who and where of Japanese Anime in Vancouver. I really questioned whether or not she was able to separate her fan-girl side from her business-sense side. You will read later on, she wasn't able to.

Jerry Chu, Bandai Entertainment
VJAS and Bandai Connection

The Vancouver Japanese Animation Society, was one of the first groups to be approached by Amanda and AkaKon for support for the convention. We agreed to run a video room for them and help spread the word. We already had a good working relationship with Jerry Chu, the relations person at Bandai Entertainment, we were ready to back them up at this con. Well, at least make the Bandai presence look good. VJAS already runs monthly showcases for videos and has done several full day movie rooms.

Jerry was very supportive. He brought up some new and exclusive videoes as well as prizes and promo stuff. Heck, he even did up a time table of what was showing. He was really dedicated!

So, in the end, the Bandai room was big success even if the rest wasn't so great. See below for more what transpired as time went on.

Finding Good Help, Define Good....

Well, word spread quickly that an anime con was in the works. The local clubs in the area pitched in their support in various areas including SFU group volunteering to do registration. Members of the VSWAT took care of the web work and message boards.

Things were looking pretty good., Lots of interest, no shortage of volunteers and looks like a number of people are ready to attend.

I don't know if it was the fact there were lots of people interested in doing things, or whether it was the wrong people doing things, or whether it was Amanda sticking Con Chair nose into everyone else's job, but an internal structural problem occurred which spread to the outside.

We have had the con chair undoing things that the appointed staff were to do. We had appointed staff doing the public relations job and failing miserably. Of course, Amanda stepped in and made the situation worse, you see, she lacks tact and diplomacy. A review over the posts on the Aka-Kon message board has had incident after incident of bad PR work, insults from one staff member to another, even the con chair dissing on staff, other clubs, other conventions; the rumours, the lies, the racial slurs and the list goes on.

After alienating the local clubs, and something just short of insulting some of the veteran convention organizers, they managed to piece meal the convention together. However, that was only a start (not the end) of the mess to follow.

So This Is A Con.... Interesting...

So Sunday rolls around and it is opening day for the Convention, and the mayhem begins. As a casual anime fan, you would seem rather obivious to the chaos behind the scenes. However, like most attendees, you will notice the rather sloppy way some of the events are arranged and done, as well as the lack of things to do. But if this is their first convention they have been to, they would think this is pretty cool, none the less.

They had 13 dealers which is not too bad, since comic conventions at before had around that many dealers. This is of course was too many for the room which was designated as the dealer's room, and not enough to pay the hotel for the space. VJAS did a good job running the Bandai Video room and later in the evening, ended having to run the ADV room too since the ADV videoes never showed up and the volunteer staff suppose to run the room never showed.

Gaming rooms were non-existant. Video game and role playing rooms were closed or nobody showed up to set them up run the games. It got so bad, people were just sitting around in the lobby and on the floor playing with Magic The Gathering Cards.

Most of the convention goers came in looked around the dealers room, looked around the con for some of the other events, only to realize that the video rooms are about the only other things running. There were a couple other events like the Masquerade, a makeshift dance and some randomly spaced panels. After a few hours of wandering, most of the guests left, and didn't return for day 2.

The Best Was Still To Come, But Not This Year

The executive council from Sakura Con showed up to see how our convention was shaping up. Unfortunately, we weren't able to show them what our best was, but at least we were undergoing some growing pains. Some of which we probably could have avoided if a different more experienced set of convention staff were present.


Outrageous Expenditures!

The mascot Aka-Chan. Would you believe this costume cost $10,000 Cdn? Yea, maybe if you include the price to hire the hooker to wear it and the one night stand with her...

There Was Still Hope

Here is Jack, enjoying his cell painting class with Steve Bennett of Iron Cat Studios. This was probably only high point of the entire weekend!

So some people did have fun amongst all the chaos.

Things Future Con's Should Not Repeat

Do NOT alienate the local clubs.

If you don't have to live in the area, it is not a good idea to start poking the bee's nest with a stick or throwing rocks at the bears. Although, they are just sticks and stones, names are really bad for PR for the Con Chair and Con staff to go bashing the local fan community about what they do and how they do it.

Take due care how you word statements and comments about other conventions and guests.

Even though, guys may like to dress up in Sailor Moon costumes; it doesn't give you the right to call them "Raving Homosexuals", especially when you are in an important position like the CON CHAIRPERSON.

Take better care of attendance and registration.

One or two people sort of did registration for most of the day on Sunday. Although the convention is boasting an attendance of 700+, I would have to say a better estimate would be about 400 including volunteers and dealers. That I would believe since Paul's Comic Convention in the past hit about that high before. When talking to the registration girls, they commented the badge numbers were not sequential, they jumped in numbers several times and they also concur that there was no where near 700 badges assigned.

Define the job that the volunteers need to do and let them do it.

The idea behind getting volunteers is to allocate some of the work load off your shoulders. Once someone starts doing their assigned job, higher up staff should not walk all over them and undo what they have done, especially when they are doing a good job. Point in question, the Aka Message board was run by Lorna of VSWAT and she does a good job of that even so much that she was doing it on her own server. If it is working, leave it alone!

Volunteers are people too, they aren't toilet paper. They aren't to be used and thrown away.

Volunteer staff for video rooms, security, and registration were all poorly managed. They were all over worked, under staffed, positions were not filled, replacement shifts not done. Hell, it got to a point where there was almost a coup de ata or mutany. There was also no recognition or even a party or goods for the volunteers. Really sad...

Con Chairperson needs to allocate jobs to the respective departments to do rather than trying to do everything yourself.

Running and setting a convention takes a lot of time and a lot of work. More than what one man can do. That is why you elect a compentant staff. Tell them what to do, and they will do it. That is their purpose. Use them for that...