Our con-man, Zach, brings us more anime convention coverage with Ohayocon! This time, it was not all fun and games, unfortunately…
On January 18th-20th, I attended Ohayocon 2013 with my group of friends. As usual with everything, there’s both good and bad. Please read the disclaimer before reading my actual coverage.
Disclaimer: To the owner of the Gundam parked in row 4A, you left your lights on.
In all seriousness, here’s the real disclaimer: Please remember every part of my coverage, both good and bad, is based off personal experience, and things I witnessed firsthand at the convention. Anything in this article has a chance of happening, so please keep everything stated in mind if you are considering attending Ohayocon, or any convention. Everything’s a possibility.
I was a little overwhelmed at first, as this was only my second convention ever, and I hadn’t been to one this large before (the only other convention I had attended so far was the very small Midoricon). However, after a while, I felt really at home. Not because of the location I was in, but because I was near others share the same general fandom. The Geeky Fandom as I’ll call it. To start off my coverage of the specifics I experienced at Ohayocon 2013, I’ll start off with the good.
You may look online at pictures of cosplay and find really good ones, but it’s a completely different experience to see them in person. It’s a great feeling when one second Terra and Ventus from Kingdom Hearts walk by, and then you turn around and there’s a Starscream from Transformers. It’s an even greater experience when you’re standing in line and you see Chopper from One Piece talking to everyone’s favorite orange haired Soul Reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki. (sadly, I didn’t get a chance to get a picture of this). I saw cosplays from the normal anime and manga. I saw cosplays from video games, American cartoons and TV shows, and even very random cosplays (the group I was with had a guy in an Obama mask and a person being his bodyguard). I saw very, very FEW poor cosplays.
I only got into 4 panels the entire weekend because of the amount of people at the convention, however 3 out of the 4 panels I attended were good. The 4th one was so-so, but that can be attributed to the fact that it was the first panel the panelists had ever run. Even though I didn’t get into many panels, there was a wide variety of panels for con-goers to attend. Panels on everything from anime and manga, to Ohayocon’s theme (ZOMBIES!!) to panels explaining the “Do’s and Don’ts of a convention”.
I hadn’t been to a rave this size…ever. For those who don’t know, a rave is basically a dance where the DJ plays fast, upbeat music with visuals on screens and a light-show that’s in sync with the music. No real organized dancing at a rave, mostly it’s everyone dancing around like idiots (which is more fun than it sounds). On Friday night, I didn’t dance much. I sat along the wall and took some pictures and took in the aspects of the rave. On Saturday though, I raved. Yes, I raved (very tiring). The play list was amazing, and the songs segued into each other nice. I really liked the remix they played of “Gangnam Style”. The visuals for the rave were nice as well.
There’s all the good I found from the convention. Only those 3 things. Now, here’s the inevitable bad:
In this category, I’m grouping everyone who worked with the convention “staff” this includes, Security, Volunteers, Information, etc etc. In my personal experience, the staff was terrible. I was at the convention about a total of 10 minutes when I had my first experience with the staff. I had to meet my group at Registration (I had to go somewhere different for my Press Badge) and I didn’t know where to go exactly. I did the natural thing and asked the Info Booth (I would have looked at the map, but I‘ll get to that later as to why that was impossible). The worker at the booth copped an attitude with me because I asked a simple question. The entire weekend, I had more luck wandering around looking for where I wanted to go, or even asking the convention center security (not Ohayocon security, the actual security officers for the center) where different rooms were.
My next experience was while waiting in line for a panel. The panel was set to begin at 9 pm, and there were some people lined up about 8:20 pm. Now for a convention the size of Ohayocon, you realistically HAVE to line up that early to guarantee you get in to the panel.
My girlfriend and I got into line, and sat down with everyone else in line (there were maybe 2-3 people standing out of about 20 in line). I guess everyone had decided to sit down because the line wasn’t moving anywhere for a while and nobody wants to stand in the same spot for half an hour. About 5 minutes later a staff member (purple shirt) walked up and yelled at everyone in line that was sitting to stand up, and his yelling wasn’t to project his voice because it was loud; it was yelling as punishment as though he had told us multiple times to stand up.
A couple minutes after that, the SAME staff member walked by and yelled at everyone again saying we were lined up too early. He told us we could only line up 30 minutes before the panel was set to begin (a rule that was never on the Ohayocon website rule list, nor the ones in the program guide). He then said he was “just giving us a warning this time” and continued to let us stay in line.To put it into perspective as to why I have such an issue with this, the panel we were lining up for was right across the hall from the convention security office.
Let me repeat that, IT WAS RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL FROM THE SECURITY OFFICE.
Security members regularly walked in and out of the room RIGHT PAST US and never said anything. Even the security members in the room who saw us and were watching us, never said a word. I find it very weird/funny that we’re apparently breaking rules, yet security itself doesn’t say a single word to us. Long story short we got yelled at for not standing, then got yelled at for where we were standing, and then got yelled at for a rule that nobody knew about.
I could go on and on, but I’ll continue with the rest.
It may seem weird I’m giving the map its own section, but I felt it was needed. To me, the map was impossible to read.
It was divided into 3 sections to show the main areas of the 3 floors of the convention area. However nothing like the elevators, escalators, stairs, etc were marked on most of the map. To me, that should have been marked everywhere there were those things.
Another (big) issue I had with the map is that parts of it were near impossible to read without a microscope. Other parts were just messy. Some of the font was way to small (smaller than 12pt font, which is the standard font size), and other parts it was just t00 pixelated to read. This was the same on both the paper map, and the PDF of it online. Of course anyone with the PDF on his/her computer could try to resize it, but then you wind up with a blurry mess. As I said in the staff section, I had more luck wandering around aimlessly or asking convention center security than I did following this map.
Just as the staff was bad, a lot of the attendees were as well. Pushing, shoving, being overly loud right in people’s ears are just a few things I had wrong with my fellow convention attendees. The biggest issue I had was how dirty they were.
Now I understand in all the excitement of the convention, you can easily forget etiquette, but when you’re at another person’s place (in this case the convention center) at least throw your trash away. The trash cans all over the food court of the convention center were jam packed full.
This is understandable you get thousands of people throwing stuff away and they’re going to fill up faster than convention center maintenance can empty them. However, instead of carrying their trash and finding another trash can, people would either leave their trash at their table and walk off, or throw it on the floor, sometimes near a trash can, but mostly where ever they wanted, leaving other con-goers to trample on it.
The situation in the restrooms (at least the men’s I can’t give an opinion on the women’s restrooms for obvious reasons) was no different. Several of the restrooms were destroyed.
Toilet paper and paper towels were thrown all over the place. Yes, convention center maintenance should be cleaning this up, but who’s to say that they simply couldn’t keep up with it, which as I said before, is understandable and expected.
One of the bathrooms was covered in gray body paint from a group of cosplayers. Attendees need to realize that not only is the trash issue disgusting, it’s dangerous and that anything considered vandalism can severely threaten Ohayocon’s chances at being allowed in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, or even other venues in the area.
The Dealer Room
The Dealer Room at Ohayocon 2013 was “meh” at best. Several vendors were all selling similar items at similar prices so variety left something to be desired, for me at least. I don’t have a lot bad to say about the dealer room except one very HUGE issue.
There was a vendor (I will not name them here as I do not know if the vendor regularly does this, or if it was just this specific worker trying to make a few extra bucks) that was attempting to squeeze more money from attendees. Everything on their table had a clearly marked price. $8 or $10 for example (the exact numbers are arbitrary). Whenever a buyer would go to their table and pick an item and go to buy it, the same worker would tell the buyer a different price than what was marked on the item, usually $4-$5 higher than the price was marked.
I watched this happen to multiple people. Luckily, every person who I saw go to this vendor caught the worker and argued the price on it, eventually getting it for the advertised price. I can’t say the same for anyone who went to them after I left, but I hope they didn’t fall for these tactics. As I said, I don’t know if the vendor normally does this, or if it was just that specific worker but acting like this not only brings down the reputation of that vendor, but it really brings down the entire reputation of the other vendors in the dealer room and makes buyers question whether or not they are “dirty merchants”.
Sadly, while I did have some fun at the convention, the convention itself was not fun for me or my group. Despite the good I found in the convention, the bad outweighed it. The chances of my group and I attending Ohayocon 2014 are very slim, and that’s putting it lightly.