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The Problem with "Manga Fairs" in Spain


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iiGato



Joined: 30 Mar 2017
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:55 pm Reply with quote
The problem with spanish manga fairs isnt that we dont want to pay more but that they dont give us any reason why we should pay more.
I have been attending the Madrid ones for years and although it has changed in some positive aspects, many times it just became worse.
Stolen art and false merchandising makes up LITERALLY 90% of the manga fairs, in the comercial stands side (which take the most space in these manga fairs) theres ONLY ONE stand that sells original merch. And the artist alley, the most interesting thing in this whole stolen art and false merch mess, is treated like shit. Artists are given a lot of difficulties and the manga fairs dont provide the public with ANY info about their stands, cant even ask where x artist has their table because they dont have it noted anywhere. Programs and guess arent really interesting either, being the later usually people or bands who not many know about and seem to be there just so there is a guest. The most important guest we get are mainly cosplayers. Pretty sad when my internet friends can meet important jp voice actors and we cant even dream of it. We also have nowhere to sit, theres a rest space with nothing and you have to sit on the dirty floor. Not a funny thing for cosplayers.

I would gladly pay 40 or more euros if, like in anime cons around the world, the price and quality matched and i could get to meet my favourite young independ artists (which by the way, Spain has a lot of talent here) or great guests such as anime directors, mangakas or jp voice actors, but i refuse to pay more to organizations who are just interested in money and whose biggest hit at these manga fairs is false merch or stolen art made into merch stands.

To finish, here a nice story: once in Valencia they sold way more tickets than they should and there were queues up to 6 hours, and many people had to stay outside. Just so you know how it actually is here.
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Megiddo



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 7941
Location: IL
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:13 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
They're more a hideous conglomerate of merchandising and recycled programs under a superficial climate of cosplay.

That's basically what a convention is to a T. With more memes of course.

Also, all I could think was "woah, Rainbow is getting released in Spain the same time as Assassination Classroom?" And then I thought "Wait, did Funimation ever actually release Rainbow on home video?"

In terms of anime conventions that just want to get by under the facade of Japanese culture, I can't think of anything other than A-kon, my Dallas, TX convention that broke my convention virginity in the early 2000s as I watched Do As Infinity play on the tiniest stage imaginable (they were still absolutely amazing though). Ever year after the DaI concert was just more and more awful though. Music acts brought in were 'Japanese-inspired' bands instead of actual J-pop or J-rock groups and the guest list was just flooded with random book writers and webcomic artists that had absolutely nothing to do with anime. Still, it's Dallas, so there were ample FUNi and ADV voice actors to get more and more people to attend every year. I stopped attending it after its 20th anniversary where I can't imagine a less enthusiastic celebratory achievement than that con. I hear it has gotten better, and I imagine that's because the other TX conventions (I went to the first Anime Matsuri when it was like 3 rooms at a random hotel off I-45 and there were only a few hundred people, but I hear it's gigantic now, crazy) have forced them to step of their game.
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kasumicc



Joined: 05 Jul 2007
Posts: 22
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:35 pm Reply with quote
Funny how I'm living in a different continent altogether, yet this resonates so much with the situation here. People unwilling to pay for higher ticket prices, stands full of bootlegs, overcrowded rooms, and so on.

I don't think having smaller events in small cities is a bad thing. Not everybody can afford travelling to another city. But for those in larger cities...there's always two crowds: the very vocal one that will complain every time an attemt to raise ticket prices is made, and the smaller crowd that is actually willing to pay more in order to get a better product. But established conventions are afraid of scaring off the vocal crowd. And those who have taken the risk of bringing good guests and charging adequately for it, I'm not sure if they were able to break even.

There's just no way we can aspire to have something remotely close to Japan Expo by charging $15 a day (and, that's considered to be "very expensive"). So basically, in countries where your target audience has less disposable income, it's just impossible to get anywhere without support from companies and private investing.
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Cutiebunny



Joined: 18 Apr 2010
Posts: 1428
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:49 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
They're more a hideous conglomerate of merchandising and recycled programs under a superficial climate of cosplay.


Welcome to SakuraCon or Anime Expo. Both cons are just nothing but companies peddling their wares, with premium spots going to large companies who are willing to bring in guests. Some of the agreements I've seen that cons have made with companies like Aniplex, Funimation, Good Smile and even private parties would make most attendees blush. There is a lot that goes on behind closed doors that the majority of attendees are not privy to seeing. I imagine that this goes on in France too, especially as Japan Expo USA's branch funneled all artwork drawn at the con to their investors in France. No one in the US was given the option of buying them, even though there were several in attendance that were willing to drop $15K+ for the Sadamoto sketch in 2014.

I agree with the portion of the article regarding Spain's underdeveloped manga and anime market. That, combined with the fact that unemployment among younger people is still appallingly high, is what is limiting growth in Spain. Compared to France, the Spanish market is no where as developed. Seeing how the US is so slow to pick up some titles whereas the French market has had them for years, I would love to see more picked up in Spanish so that I could import them to the US to read.

What might help the Spanish market is to start looking for funding from its wealthier attendees, especially those that are collectors and are looking for something special in return. Offer them something they'd like in return for a solid chunk of change, such as a meal with a guest or some artwork from them. This will give them an incentive to spend in Spain. Well heeled collectors don't care that your Spanish con might be cheaper to attend than that of France or Germany because what they want isn't being offered locally. To them, your event, while cheaper, is a waste of their money and time because it doesn't offer what they want. If you want to expand and are limited because of the general finances of most of your attendees, this might be a good route to go.
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Paiprince



Joined: 21 Dec 2013
Posts: 593
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:20 pm Reply with quote
From the look of things, it's clearly a case of getting what you pay for. Demand cheap prices, expect cheap offerings. Sorry to say, but if you want to increase the quality of your conventions, you're going to have to increase the fare prices. The cool stuff of the con like actual Japanese guests, authentic merchandises and what have you...all these costs a pretty penny. If the Spanish otakus don't want to deal with that, then they they shouldn't be complaining about the scarcity and dubiousness of their events. Although I'm sure that not everyone there is happy about that and wishes their cons to be more like those in Japan, France and the US.

This isn't just limited in Spain. Countries that aren't exactly in the black with significant otaku populations suffer the same issues in their conventions. The Philippines comes to mind. Despite having closer access to Japanese talent, they can never seem to muster the same pull as it does with its neighbors Singapore and Indonesia.
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Lemonchest



Joined: 18 Mar 2015
Posts: 1770
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:36 am Reply with quote
Not saying it is, but this article reads a lot like an advertorial. Identify a problem, name the one company doing something about it (by coincidence the only one that's interviewed), encourage the reader to do the right thing.

Quote:
They're more a hideous conglomerate of merchandising and recycled programs under a superficial climate of cosplay.


So they are promoting pop-culture.
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kgw



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 608
Location: Spain, EU
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:00 am Reply with quote
As a Spaniard who attended conventions since they were born, I can say a lot of things, but I'll just say that:

People who attended this conventions have grown up, and the fad passed. Now we got more comic-book/manga shops all around the country, plus publishing houses that roll out almost every hit in Japan (Assessination Classroom? MHA? 7 Deadly Sins? Black Clover? Name it, you got it). Ditto for anime (we got even Crunchy Roll and Selecta Vision for streaming, among other minor ones)

We didn't have anything better in the "good old days", but shops ripping us with pirated CDs or DVD (SM Music and Bendi models, anyone?) or books (with scandal from authors who get asked to sign a pirate copy). Not even high cultural round tables about Japanese literature influence in Bastard!! but guys saying "Hey, do you know that in Japan they eat rice instead of bread?" (I was even in some of them...)
Let's not talk about karaoke contest with guys who thought that "Sankoku no ten si no joni" sounded Japanese, or cheap cosplays.

So now that we're older, it's not that fun? Of course! We're not teenagers anymore eager to find cosplayers or buy manga. I've attended a couple of time (sometimes I got an invitation) spend one, or maybe two hours and finally say "funny, but it's not really for me".

Also, Japan Weekend's care for pirated material has been always... debatable. And for some time, their tickets were way higher than Barcelona Manga Salon (Manga Fair? what's that?)
Also 2, Madrid Manga Expo has more visitors than JWs, Just sayin'
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
Posts: 2046
Location: Austin, TX
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:53 am Reply with quote
kasumicc wrote:
But established conventions are afraid of scaring off the vocal crowd. And those who have taken the risk of bringing good guests and charging adequately for it, I'm not sure if they were able to break even.

Unfortunately, it is a vicious cycle that no one on the industry side (companies, press, major fan groups) is willing to do anything about. ANY time someone running a convention wants to do something notable (that needs outside help), you must answer one of two questions first:
-How much will you pay me/us?
-How many people are at your show?

NO ONE cares about "is this good for fans/fandom or even 'the market'?" the one question everyone wants answered is "what's in it for me"? So conventions aim to bring in more people, so that either they have more money to bribe others, or so they have larger numbers to convince outside parties that they "matter". But all the other cons are doing this too, so the bar for an event that "matters" keeps moving up. Most larger events have already exhausted whatever would be a "reliable" ANIME fan base, so they branch into other areas to keep raising the population, because "other cons are bigger". And so cons get bigger and bigger, but also more and more diluted, and less and less focused and interested in the people they're supposed to be appealing to.

Its sad because 20 years ago I know anime con orgs that were derisive about certain practices in SciFi and Comic conventions that are now standard in the anime con scene.
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Tempest_Wing



Joined: 07 Nov 2014
Posts: 305
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:24 am Reply with quote
This article was written weirdly and could have benefited from a proofread and rewrite. I could barely get through the second paragraph.
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manug



Joined: 17 May 2016
Posts: 5
Location: Spain
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:12 am Reply with quote
Lemonchest wrote:
Not saying it is, but this article reads a lot like an advertorial. Identify a problem, name the one company doing something about it (by coincidence the only one that's interviewed), encourage the reader to do the right thing.


Hi, this is the article's author. There're two different people interviewed in the article - both are the major Spanish manga conventions' directors, which I think it makes a lot of sense to feature. In the case you mean Japan Weekend as the only company named, as I explain in the article, there are almost no other companies organizing manga fairs in Spain.

kgw wrote:
Also 2, Madrid Manga Expo has more visitors than JWs, Just sayin'


That's not true. Madrid Manga Expo (Expomanga, which now has been sold to an European company and has a new name) has been reducing its attendance in the last years - as well as misrepresenting its official attendance numbers, by the way.
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kgw



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 608
Location: Spain, EU
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:28 am Reply with quote
manug wrote:

That's not true. Madrid Manga Expo (Expomanga, which now has been sold to an European company and has a new name) has been reducing its attendance in the last years - as well as misrepresenting its official attendance numbers, by the way.

1. If you say "manga fairs" instead of "Salón del manga" I say "Manga Expo" instead of "Expomanga" because I want and it sounds cooler. Also, please, don't try to give me lessons about my own city events. Smile

2. Care to share some proof of what you said? Because I edit the Wikipedia articles with the official attendance numbers and I'd appreciate the data. So, my evidences say that JWs has a lower attendance than EXM. Or even EXC (Expocomic, which was focused towards American & European comics) : Cool
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manug



Joined: 17 May 2016
Posts: 5
Location: Spain
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:45 am Reply with quote
kgw wrote:
If you say "manga fairs" instead of "Salón del manga" I say "Manga Expo" instead of "Expomanga" because I want and it sounds cooler. Also, please, don't try to give me lessons about my own city events. Smile


As I'm sure you'll be able to understand despite your aggressive approach, this is an English readers site. It's pretty much reasonable to use an English structure rather than a Spanish one. About "your own city events", I don't really care if you're from Madrid or any other city, I don't understand what's your point about that.

kgw wrote:
Or even EXC (Expocomic, which was focused towards American & European comics)


Here's the evidence. You don't know what you're talking about. Expocomic's last edition had the lowest attendance rate. Of course, official numbers said there were 40.000 attendees, which is absurd. Official numbers are about media impact, subsides and getting money from sponsors. As soon as you understand that (and make some research), you'll be able to face Madrid's conventions reality.
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steelmirror



Joined: 22 Oct 2015
Posts: 315
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:21 pm Reply with quote
Thanks for this article, it's interesting to get a little glimpse into the life of fandom in a completely different place! I'm not much of a convention goer even in my own country (strangely I've been to more Japanese culture conventions in Mexico than the US, despite not speaking Spanish worth a darn) but it's still cool to get some exposure to how other people with similar interests are experiencing life as an otaku.
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
Posts: 2046
Location: Austin, TX
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:43 pm Reply with quote
manug wrote:
Hi, this is the article's author. There're two different people interviewed in the article - both are the major Spanish manga conventions' directors, which I think it makes a lot of sense to feature. In the case you mean Japan Weekend as the only company named, as I explain in the article, there are almost no other companies organizing manga fairs in Spain.

Hi,
I don't think the article reads like an advertorial, but I agree that it could've used more editing. You open with the "problem" as such:
Quote:
The problem with ‘manga fair’ lies in its own definition. It's not so much about the guests or the program anymore, but about keeping the name of ‘manga fair’ a term inherent to low-quality conventions that were lucky enough to arise in a time when the otaku community didn't have spaces to meet other people with their same interests.

But then you spend pretty much the entirety of the article harping on "ticket prices". You even interviewed convention directors but don't go into the REALLY important question(s). Whether the con is charging $1 or $1,000 dollars isn't the "point" if we follow along with your opening premise and why people have chimed in about how some fans would pay more for better quality. The point of the problem you cite is how the convention budget is APPLIED.

To give a random example, I could say I want to hold an anime convention in Madison Square Garden in NY, and that might cost me $5million (made up number I have zero idea what it'd cost). So then I tell you I need to charge 10,000 people $500 each just to meet my facility cost. The question shouldn't be "Why are you charging $500?" (which I gave an answer to) but "Why the **** are you trying to use MSG as a convention site?!?"

Based on what you put forth, Spanish cons are going low price to inflate numbers, but even at that price, if you get big numbers you can do a lot if you BUDGET correctly. It's pointless to say "raise prices by $5 and they can do what we want" if you feel people are running scams. Raising the prices doesn't mean better quality, it means they're just scamming away MORE of your money.
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Lemonchest



Joined: 18 Mar 2015
Posts: 1770
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:26 pm Reply with quote
manug wrote:
Lemonchest wrote:
Not saying it is, but this article reads a lot like an advertorial. Identify a problem, name the one company doing something about it (by coincidence the only one that's interviewed), encourage the reader to do the right thing.


Hi, this is the article's author. There're two different people interviewed in the article - both are the major Spanish manga conventions' directors, which I think it makes a lot of sense to feature. In the case you mean Japan Weekend as the only company named, as I explain in the article, there are almost no other companies organizing manga fairs in Spain.


My mistake (& a big one). Still, I'm not sure what your article is getting at beyond "support Japan Weekend. Pay more."

You compare Manga Fair's prices to other major conventions, asking why they can charge more while ignoring that, among other things, the costs of running & attending a weekend convention in Barcelona & Madrid are lower (London & Paris are two of the most expensive cities in the world). You wouldn't expect the site owners to charge rent based on rates in another city/country, so why expect a convention to price its tickets that way?

Depressed ticket prices caused by an oversupply of conventions is how its supposed to work. As you say yourself, there's only two or so cities that can hope to actually sustain a convention on footfall alone, if that. If there is something distorting the market which allows loss making conventions to continue operating, simply raising prices isn't going to fix it; it'll just encourage even more chancers to jump in while potentially hurting those operators (like the two interviewees) which have managed to operate successful conventions in a challenging market.

Indeed, the sentiment of your article seems not far off haranguing Spanish convention goers for not being sophisticated/serious enough to realise they should be paying more - which admittedly is a sentiment that seems to crop up a lot in this fandom. It's ultimately on the operators to make their convention something attendees would pay more for, not attendees to pay more in the hope they get a better convention.
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