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Anime Expo 2003
ANN Panel

by Anthony "The Spatula" Lopez,
Site Representatives: Bamboo Dong, Mikhail Koulikov, Ryan Matthews, Justin Sevakis, Christopher Macdonald, George Phillips, Zac Bertschy, Rebecca Bundy, and Allen Divers

Additionally, several members of the ANN Forum were in the audience who identified themselves at the start: Anne Packrat, cyrax777, Legato 2057, GATSU, Ramen, and The Spatula.

To start things off, they gave away several DVDs that were leftovers from past reviews. Needless to say, they weren't exactly the best selection (Live Action "Angel of Darkness", random "Card Captor Sakura" volume, "Mahoromatic", etc.), but hey, what do you expect from free stuff?

Chris made the announcement that ANN would move from being a hobby to an actual job. Financially, the site would have to generate enough revenue to pay the bills, “And cover my Mortgage,” he explained. Not all of the content in the site is paid for, so they will be looking to move towards paying industry standard rates for the content in order to attract better writers for the site and reward the current writers. This means there will be more prominent advertising in other places like Newtype magazine. ANN was looking into having a list of new releases with links to the lowest prices at online retailers. Also, they would be looking into making some merchandise for the site, including items featuring their mascot Jadress. He mentioned another big announcement, but it is still a secret at this time.

Zac and Rebecca mentioned that the "Answerman" column would go to a 10 question format with longer answers to the questions. The most annoying portion of the process is correcting any mistakes in the answers. Chris mentioned that he does look over the column, but sometimes people still point out mistakes or omissions. He said minor details generally won't be added to the column after it's posted. Rebecca mentioned liking the long rambling intro of Bamboo's "Shelf Life" column and asked the audience if they wouldn't mind if she did the same thing. The audience thought it would be a good idea.

Bamboo Dong said that she plans to add more content to the "Shelf Life" column - more of a plot and synopsis for each of the titles and direct linking to entries in the ANN Encyclopedia. She complained a bit about having to watch so much porn for the column, to which the audience heartily laughed.

Mikhail Koulikov will look into giving more details about what kind of things to expect from conventions for people who are new to them and what sort of people to look out for who are in the anime industry.

Ryan Matthews said writing a review for the "Dub Track" is a bit tricky since he only watches the first 4-5 episodes and must make a judgment call from that. He usually comes up with the rating immediately and the rest of the column is his justification for the rating. Anne Packrat provides all of the clips that are available on the site, and it takes about 3 days to do a column.

Allen Divers said that in his "Tankoban Tower" he wanted to do for manga what Bamboo did for anime (the "Shelf Life" column). He also questioned the continuing relevance of his other column, I want it now, due to the fact that many titles are being licensed so quickly compared to when the column was first thought out.

Cookie said he does a lot of the editing for the columns and is an administrator on the ANN Forums. Although, he mentioned his biggest job is being the conscience of ANN, making sure that Chris doesn't step too far out of line by killing off bad ideas.

Next was the Q&A portion of the panel:

The first question was whether or not ANN would offer coupons like AnimeOnDVD. Chris said that they plan on doing this, but it has been pushed back several times since he has been more focused on site content, which is rather time consuming.

Next, a person asked how many times the site has been Slashdotted. Chris said that it happened only three times in the past, and most recently it was similarly linked to by AnimeSuki because of the articles on fansubs. They are more than able to handle the effects of slashdots and linking tos by other major websites, but most recetly a separate problem on the server compounded with the visitors from AnimeSuki to cause the server to slow down. Most of their references come from Google; AnimeNation was also mentioned as a top referrer.

Someone then asked Chris and George why they originally wanted to take over ANN. Chris said that he submitted an editorial to ANN called "Is it Manga?" in order to gain publicity for Anim8Info (his first site). Then, when ANN fell into disrepair in 2000 he took it over, originally in order to make it a subsection of Anim8info. Afterwards, ANN completely overshadowed his other site and became his focus (in terms of websites). George Phillips had been a fan of the site for a long time and merely wanted to try his hand at keeping it running.

Finally, the panel members were asked about their hobbies. After each panelist had responded, one mentioned that he was amazed the crowd was actually interested in listening to them talk about their hobbies for fifteen minutes.

To wrap things up, they gave away some 50-odd DVDs, which started out as an innocent trivia contest but quickly devolved into a violent free for all. Luckily, I was able to avoid being trampled beneath the sweltering mass of fanboys and fangirls.

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