Here we are, the day before Anime Expo 2012, and I still can't shake the feeling it's going to be a rough year.
Start with the big deal, the elephant in the room: The X Games are being held the same weekend, and hotel space is scarce. Thin on the ground. There's a lot more commuting this year, and that takes away from the whole ecosystem. People cosplay less, they spend less time on site, and ultimately it diminishes the entire event. Of course, we do get to enjoy the company of a bunch of hooligans. (I'm not even being sarcastic, actually -- I wear my hooligan badge with pride, even if I am a grownup nowadays.) The nearest precedent I can think of is the year DragonCon went against a big football game. A disaster, by all accounts.
But there are some practical effects that we know already. First, no Nokia Theater. That's going to the X Games. Concerts are going to be in South Hall instead. That's a problem. I'm not saying it's impossible to hold a concert in a convention hall, but it's accoustically terrible and bad for visibiility. This problem only gets worse when you have 4000 people in a room. (Are they really planning to do this? It sounds nightmarish.) I'm not even sure if I'd rather have had Kajiura play in Club Nokia -- on the one hand, it's a smaller space (2300 officially.) On the other, the /practical/ limit for a concert in a convention hall might be a good deal less.
Another problem -- no one's fault, this happens every seven years -- is that the 4th of the July holiday is on a Wednesday this year. For me, personally, this means that I don't get any days off for AX. Another reason people are going to be commuting. It's not their fault, but it's another headwind.
And then there's the whole situation with the staff. I don't follow the AX politics much -- in fact, I do my best to forget any names I hear -- but the mood seems a little more toxic than usual. I asked around, and got a bunch of responses, ranging from 'bring the world revolution' to 'business as usual.' So I don't know what to believe there. But the turnover's been. . . high. It's been high for years, and that scares me. It's no way to run a con, and it's even less of a way to run the U.S. industry con. This is as professional a gathering as we have. It'd be nice if we could act like it.
But we always wonder what's going on with AX, and they haven't collapsed yet. As I've said before, these things have more inertia than you believe, even if you try to correct for it by taking this rule into account. We're going to be there, and we'll do our best to have fun, and if anything happens we'll be very interested to see it.