Anime fans gather for Ohayocon 2017

I’ve never been to Ohayocon and have heard extremely mixed reviews. Either the convention is completely amazing or absolutely horrible. I decided to go this year and see what it was like for myself. 

First and foremost, this convention (held at the Columbus Convention Center) had one of the kindest group of attendees I’ve ever seen. Everyone was courteous, friendly and sociable. The venue itself, though under construction, was beautiful and spacious. There was multiple rhythm games and lots of recognizable guests. 

There was also an accessibility department, which assisted attendees in going to panels and events even if they had a disability to work through. I’ve heard of these kinds of departments at comic cons, but never at anime conventions, so this was honestly a first for me. It was nice to see a convention trying to impact the lives of all of its attendees. 

However, that’s pretty much where my positive experiences end. I arrived at the convention only to find out we wouldn’t get badges — we got wristbands. This is great and all, and you could actually pay extra to get a clear one that didn’t impede your cosplay. However, there was no way to take your wristband off and put it back on for photo ops or anything. 

I talked to a few people over the weekend, and lots of fans were upset by this. Collecting convention badges is a huge thing, and I, along with many other con-goers, was upset that we didn’t have the opportunity to take home a small bit of memorabilia from the convention. 

I was also shocked at the prices. It cost $65 to buy a three-day pass. This is the same cost of Youmacon in Detroit, a con that fills up the Ren Cen and COBO Hall. This was nothing near as big nor as organized. 

The organization thing is huge. There were multiple instances in which we waited in long lines, only to find out that the panel we were trying to get into was at max capacity, and no one else could come in. Staffers weren’t notifying people in line, so people just stood around in lines for events they couldn’t even get into. 

Speaking of events, the printed schedule was a mess. As a panel host, I love going to conventions and attending panels that others host. The panels themselves were fantastically run. But I feel like the schedule not only lacked variety, but also lacked necessary structure. For example, there was only one K-Pop mercy table, only one K-Pop panel and a limited cap on attendance. Multiple times, we found ourselves waiting for a panel to happen that got cancelled or moved, all because the printed schedule was wrong. The only way you would know about schedule changes was if you had the app. 

Speaking of the app, it was near impossible to use. There was no phone signal in half the convention space, and, in many of those areas, the free Wi-Fi didn’t reach. It felt like a scam to make us pay almost $13 a day for Wi-Fi to access the schedule of events that were happening. 

There were some really fun events, though. Funimation Entertainment premiered their new dub “Luck and Logic,” and I was really excited about getting to see it. But there was hardly any advertising during the convention that such a big thing was happening, so not many people showed up. The front row was nice, but it was sad to see so many empty seats for such a cool event. I hope that kind of turnout doesn’t discourage Funimation from doing stuff like this again. 

One of the things that bothered me the most was the convention’s policy on art in the Artist Alley. They completely banned all fan art. Many people, like myself, make money by selling pieces of art inspired by popular shows, comics, what have you. By banning that, the convention was forcing artists to not only conform to what it believes counts as “real art,” but it was also preventing those artists from making as much money as they could. I saw an artist with a Voltron cross-stitch design on their table, and they were elated when I asked about their fandom-related mercy. They eagerly handed me their business card, and I had a feeling they had to keep doing that all day — directing people away from in-person sales to continue to sell fan products. 

As I said before, the panel rooms were very limited in size. But so, too, were the photoshoot rooms.  They were so small that the Pokémon shoot was shoulder-to-shoulder packed. The staff decided that, instead of moving the photoshoots into a different room or maybe asking some people wait in the hall, they would just order that all people cosplaying from “Team Skull” leave the area. It was super hurtful to watch all of these people, who were so excited about having a chance to meet new people and hang out in-costume, just kicked out because they chose to cosplay a Team Skull member. There were plenty of alternatives that the convention could have come up with instead of just throwing a group of people out for the way they were dressed. 

There was a convention that is rumored to have been created out of spite against this con called Samuraicon. It was in Columbus the same weekend as Ohayocon, and, honestly, I think I’ll give it a shot next year, instead. According to their Facebook page, it had some cool guests, some awesome arcade games and, best of all, was only about half the cost. I think, all-in-all, Ohayocon isn’t in the cards for me again next year. I think it needs another year to process its own growth and work through all the kinks it has.