Interesting topic. I’ve been every year since 2010 and for me, it’s worth going to because I can walk or take VTA there. If I lived further away and had to travel and stay at a hotel, then it wouldn’t be worth it anymore for me.
The main reason it’s still worth it for me is MusicFest. It’s been consistently good. I like seeing bands from Japan that are virtually impossible to see elsewhere in the US. I don’t mind that the opener last year was North American because Home Made Kazoku was a HUGE deal and I just figure they put their entire budget into getting HMK. Even in 2012 when they didn’t get any major acts, they still pulled it together for a well-run MusicFest and Chiba-san was fun to watch. However, I wouldn’t be able to make plans to travel for J-Music if I don’t know it’s happening until like two weeks before the show.
The lackluster lineup of guests last year was a little disappointing for me; however, I would MUCH prefer that the con pool their resources first into organization rather than top-name guests. I can definitely enjoy a well-run con with 24 hour anime and movie screens, a great exhibition hall, and few guest panels available; however I cannot enjoy a con where I can’t get in due to the line being too long or where I have no idea where everything is going on.
The main problem IMO, and this is something that seems to span across multiple departments, is that people pulling the strings are too lazy/stubborn to do what’s best for Fanime. Yes, not announcing the guests until a month before the show is a major issue. There have been people saying the ink is dry and has been for months, so it’s mind-boggling why they wait this long. This is NOT the norm for most anime conventions (Take for instance Sac-Anime, who has pretty much their entire lineup announced six months in advance) and some people need months to prepare their guest-related cosplay or even make plans to go.
They get major props in 2014 for fixing line-con. However -- there was virtually NO mention before the show of what their plans were to make sure it didn’t happen. There was only like one hidden thread on this message board which mentioned it. A number of would-be attendees I talked to would have been willing to give them another chance in 2014 to see if they fixed it, but didn’t because Fanime gave us no reason to believe that it would be fixed. They should have posted on Facebook and Twitter their plans on improving the line and expected times to get badges, rather than announcing “expect to wait a really long time in line Thursday and Friday” which came across as petulant and turned people off. A much better approach would have been to say something like “We apologize for last year’s delay. We are instituting a new registration system that will process ___ badges in ___ seconds, at ___x faster than last year. While we cannot promise that there will be no line, we assure you that we are working to make sure that what happened in 2013 does not happen again and thank you for your understanding.” They may want to consider adding a PR department.
The defense of Fanime’s warts being attributed to “by fans, for fans” in this topic & others was seriously painful for me to read. First, a number of the other cons (i.e. AX, Otakon, Comic-Con) name-dropped as not by fans are actually non-profits, whereas Fanime’s a for-profit corporation. (For the record, I have no problem with any con being organized as for-profit or not...but don’t claim to not be what you are.) Second, being by fans for fans is NO excuse for terrible organization. Third, just because corporations may be involved doesn’t mean that they people behind the corporations aren’t fans too.
All that being said...I do like attending Fanime. I’m proud to have something like this in my backyard. If it seems harsh it’s because I want them to improve in areas where they can easily do so -- they are doing many things right, and I do NOT want to see another Bay Area con fall apart or leave (i.e. WonderCon).