Oni-Con Hawaii: The discussion continues

May 10th, 2014
By

Imagine, if you will, EVERYTHING you see on this table, PLUS a good stack of Final Fantasy 14 posters and Tak Sakaguchi autographed photos, raffled off one at a time. That was 90% of closing ceremonies, folks.I'm amazed by and pleased with how much discussion my last post on the vague future of Oni-Con Hawaii generated, particularly on Facebook. It's not often that I get feedback on what I've written other than Facebook "likes" and that little widget below the post headline that shows how many times it's been shared, so it's nice knowing that there are people out there who are still checking out this humble corner of the Star-Advertiser online network.

I can't help but think that it also inspired this official statement, posted to the OCH Facebook page around 10:30 p.m. Friday:

We’re glad to see, from recent Facebook and media posts, that you’re so anxious to see what Oni Con Hawaii II has in store for y’all and that you’re eagerly awaiting the date and venue to be announced. And, while we are honored that so many of you have expectations of us that one would usually expect of a 10+ year convention, please remember that this is still only our second year. Nonetheless, we will always strive to bring you the best convention with “A” List guests, more vendors and artists, and entertaining events. Our goal is to keep growing and improving, each year. We're learning how things work in Hawaii and hope you’ll be there with us, for the journey.

We did suffer some unexpected changes, early on and that set us back a bit, so we are having make up some ground, but we should have some very interesting announcements, soon. We know you all deserve better, so although we could cut corners and get some things out faster, we’d rather take the time and do things right. We owe you that. Among the changes we’re excited about is a brand new website with a much better registration system. It’s still under construction, so please follow us for updates on Facebook and Twitter. The activity will be picking up, fairly soon.

We truly appreciate your patience and hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait!

A few thoughts:

  • Okay, so let's keep our expectations in check. It's a valid point: OCH in year two shouldn't be compared with present-day Kawaii Kon, with the latter having recently held its 10th annual show. But consider this: Kawaii Kon in year two was much further along than OCH is now, given the same six-month time frame. The first Kawaii Kon was held on April 22-24, 2005. I reported specifics on the second Kawaii Kon in Cel Shaded six months later, including the venue (the Ala Moana Hotel, and more of it!) and some guests (Robert and Emily DeJesus! Vic Mignogna! Stan Sakai! Jennifer Sekiguchi! David Williams!). And that event was held on April 14-16, 2006.
  • Last week's statement noted that the venue and date would be narrowed down "by the end of next week." This week's statement went back to using the term "soon."
  • I still have yet to be contacted directly by whoever has been posting these statements. I don't think I'm that hard to get a hold of; anyone can comment on these posts, and you don't even have to be a Star-Advertiser subscriber to do so. (Believe me, I have to clean the spam filter regularly to purge dozens of bot comments offering cheap designer-label apparel and health "supplements.") I'm on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram, too. Swing by sometime. Let's chat. I won't bite.

The statement's already generated its fair share of comments, but I think the one that nailed some of the sentiment out there was posted by user Ming Chi, who ... well, here's the post:

If we want to be more involved, with some of the initial planning, volunteer recruitment and training, and helping Onicon move forward, what exactly would we need to do? I attended as an Artist Alley vendor last year and thought, over all, it was a good experience for my crew and I. However, there did seem to be some miscommunication initially (e.g. I was e-mailed information that became outdated and was updated on Facebook, which I did not know existed at the time), and the conference staff seemed very confused at points with little or no answers as to the overall leadership of the con.

Amanda Maguire brings up a good point, who was running the convention? Folks from Hawaii or folks from Texas? What happened to some of the Hawaii leadership last year? Some of the volunteers seemed very miffed by the whole experience and thought Onicon was not coming back.

Likewise, at least one local gaming/comic store was really put off by their experience at Onicon last year. Instead of staying all three days, they packed up Saturday night and called it quits. Damaging the relationship with a local store probably did not do well for Onicon's reputation here in Hawaii.

It was unfortunate that Hexx-Con disbanded. There were issues there that were not handled in time, and it was starting to bud as a promising con. I do know folks are planning Hawaii Con around the same time, but unfortunately, it's held on the Big Island (Hawaii, not Oahu), and seems to be geared more for mainland/continental attendees as opposed to locals. It is quite cost prohibitive, especially for the younger folks here locally.

I'm commenting here because I do believe that folks in Hawaii would love to have another anime/sci-fi/nerdy/geeky con run tandem of Kawaii Kon annually. Where as Hexx-Con once existed, and Hawaii Con is probably too cost prohibitive for folks on Oahu, Onicon had a good fit when it was hosted last year (although Halloween might not have been the best weekend for it). I want something better, as with many others that are posting. We are concerned based on what we experienced and heard. And we would like to improve on that.

And thus, I am wondering in what ways can we help, and have possible input into Onicon here in Hawaii.

I'm interested in seeing if any of this generates another official response. Let's keep the conversation going, folks.

7 Responses to “Oni-Con Hawaii: The discussion continues”

  1. William Doc Grant:

    Agreed! Looking forward to the new venue and vendor rates! Let's hope they put the past behind and have a bright future with a con with a little something for everyone.


  2. AniMatsuri:

    Good luck with that. As I've said many times now, Kawaii Kon has the benefit of organizers who used to live in Hawai'i who also had lots of experience running cons on the mainland. No other con before or since KK can claim that kind of background which seems to be needed to run a successful con in this weird place some call paradise. That's why in my opinion it was able to double in size the first few years and stay so well organized to this day.

    I seem to get the impression that the OniCon name is mostly bought by a lot of the same people that ran HEXX-CON.


  3. William Doc Grant:

    Not sure who's at the helm now with Kell Komatsubara retiring from the con. Looks like the Texas parent may be taking a bigger hand, and that con has hit 10 years, so I'm hopeful for positive changes and better marketing and events management. The lack of info and communication is unfortunately up to the old HEXXP standard... lets hope this changes as well.


  4. Anonymous Coward:

    That Texas based parent convention isn't renowned for its ability in keeping people updated. If they take a more active role it'll probably result in updates coming in just as sporadic as they did last year.

    I really am curious though to see who now runs the convention... It just seems shady that they wont come out about who (if anyone?) is at the helm.


  5. Jackie:

    As someone who lives on the Big Island, I'm glad we're finally getting our own con. I went to Kawaii Kon and besides being expensive (air, hotel, con costs), there wasn't much to do really at the con itself. HawaiiCon seems like it's going to have awesome stuff, and the organizers are Hawaii residents. We always have to go to Oahu for events like this. Maybe it's time for Oahu to come over here.


  6. Jason S. Yadao:

    @Jackie: Yes! I was just talking to someone from HawaiiCon on Twitter about this. Like I told him, I think living on the most populous island, we've been conditioned to having big events in our "back yard" and freak when they're elsewhere. I'd LOVE to see you guys get more events out your way -- I know there's at least one other regular reader of this blog on that island, so it would be great for him, too.


  7. GBH:

    Thank you everyone for the feedback. We did set a 3 day weekend pass at $75 when you stay at the host hotel. We totally understand this can price some people out, but it is the best we can do in this first year. As we head into the first year of HawaiiCon, we will continue to learn and adapt to make this con better and better.

    We started HawaiiCon with the same dream as you: to build an awesome SciFi and Fantasy convention in Hawaii.

    With your help, we can make that happen.


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