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A statement from Jason about the Manga Alliance
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Back in 2008 I was contacted by Dil at Dimensional Manga to see if I was interested in helping them with a project to unite and help promote all the key players in the UK anime scene under the name Japanime Network.

This was something that I felt was a great idea as the events we run had more and more fans into manga and anime attending - I wanted to provide more for them. I also had feedback from one or two of the bigger companies in the industry that said we did not have much at the events for the anime fan to do, and it needed improving before they would look at coming to our event.


In the past we had tried to get our event noticed in the manga and anime community, but without much luck. We had a great person called Emily helping us. We met at the London anime club and was she very helpful and enthusiastic, and said she would talk to people for us to help grow this side of our events. Soon after she started helping us she hit a brick wall. She contacted Sweatdrop to see if they would come to the event or be a part of it in some way, but was told they could not be a part of the event as they had an agreemnt with another major manga event and could not help us and they had a deal with them. Emily did not give up, she then wanted to get shops, traders and gaming people interested in the event and manga publications involved as well. However every time she was told no, as another large anime event would not allow them. In the end Emily was confronted by the organisers of this other big anime event and was “warned off “ in her words. She then said she would only be able to help with running the cosplay and not help with getting some of the bigger players in the UK Anime scene on board. She said she had to just give up but gave me some numbers to call and email addresses of key people in the UK.

I did contact them but every time I was put off or told they would get back to us but never did. We even met up with some of the bigger companies and offered free space to them to get them involved, all to no avial. So we just kept to running the cosplay competitions, which worked well but did not get any bigger and did not add much to growing the show the way we wanted to. After a year we told Emily we could not keep paying her to run the cosplay competiton as we were losing Manga dealers and the cosplay was infact shrinking instead of growing. As such, we did not have the budget to keep her on, which was a real shame as Emily was a really nice person and we enjoyed hanging out with her at our parties.

In the end we found out that we not even allowed to pay for adverts in a major UK anime magazine as there had been a monopoly created by one of the big anime events to stop any competition to their event being allowed to advertise to the fans. This was very harmful to us and the fans as we had fans of anime and manga already coming to our event but we did not offer that much for them. We felt if we put more on for them, give a bigger budget to this aspect of the show and take out more ads to let them know what we had planned it would start to really get going and we could really start to put on a good show for anime fans.

So when we were contacted by Dil at Dimensional Manga it soon became apparant that he had strong ideas on how to help us look after the anime fans at our shows and could help us find people in the UK anime scene to help run some of the new ideas we wanted to try out. We had one of our crew run the cosplay for us and it was going quite well, but it needed someone to spend more time behind it and really give it a big push. Talking to Dil I thought he could maybe put us in contact with those people. We also wanted to add a Gaming Zone, as we from time to time had gaming companies come to the events as well as wanting an Artists Alley for professionals and fans to take part in. Dil offered to help us with all of this, which I felt was really cool as most of the people I had talked to up till then did not want to help us or were not allowed to help us . This offer seemed like a great chance to get all this going and add some really fun new aspects to the event.

Dil's idea was to unite all of the fandom, traders, events, websites and forums so that everyone worked together and helped each other out which I felt was great and happy to get behind .

Soon Dil arranged a meeting for all the subsequent people to get to know each other and maybe start to put his Japanime network together. It was at this point that we was informed that the people behind one of the large anime events had just registered the same name “Japanime Network” even though they knew Dil was using this name and Dil had even had the name published in a magazing to prove this. In the end It was talked over and a new name was created “Manga Alliance.”

That’s all I understood it to be; a place where we could all get to know each other and I felt this could only be a good thing.

Anyway, from that first meeting it was clear that people had different agendas. I wanted to get help with the new zones we wanted to run at the next few shows and also I wanted some help in getting the London Film and Comic Con up to speed in order to look after the needs of the anime fans that attended it. I also wanted get the word out that we were doing this as well.

At no time was I asked to agree to anything, or sign up to agree to rules or anything like that. I would not have done so even if i was asked as I do not think this is needed, and as everyone's ideas of how something should be done is different, it would not work. I felt the Manga Alliance would be a good thing to be a part of though, so I agreed to add the logo, which Dil had designed, to my web sites and thought nothing more of it .

Out of the people I met through Dil, one was Mike Towers, a big anime fan that ran a website and forum; Anime League “AL” He offered to help with letting people know about our plans, and more if we wanted to, which we did so I took up his offer to help.

Over the next few weeks Mike and I talked some more. I let him know about the first voice guest I had booked, which we had down for just signing, and he offered to help with talks and getting them to do more with a good friend of mine Bill. They both worked from that point on to build up a second stage zone catering for anime and manga fans in a big way.

In the end I only worked with Mike as he was very helpful, he came though each time we needed something and also helped me understand what we needed to do to improve what we offered to the fans at our events. All very helpful points as you can never stop learning how to improve an event.

Also at this time we had a new person running the cosplay comptition, Turkfox a really great worker. At first she thought we were going to run the cosplay competion the same way as we did every year, but soon she found out what we really wanted to do. Mike talked to me about turning it into a much bigger part of the show by having a cosplay zone, and with his idea and turkfoxes dedication it was all underway - this years cosplay zone was amazing and very well attended. From the feedback it seems the fans really loved being a part of it, so together we worked as a great team and I felt all was going very well .

Looking at the Cosplay Zone over that weekend I realised that without Turkfox and Mike as well as the fans, this would not have happened and I wanted to work more with them and grow what we had just started.

At this time I also was getting more and more feedback from fans and dealers about issues people were having with the Manga Alliance, some of which came from some good people I have known for over 6 years. Upon looking into some of this, it started to get very heavy and also very hard to clearly understand what was the real issues people were having. Over the last few days I have worked out what has been going on and also why people have felt this way and I must say I was oblivious to any of this until the last few days. Now I have learnt what I know, I do not feel that I want to be apart of the Anime Aliance anymore. I can understand why people feel so strongly about this. I do feel that when this Aliance was started it was with good intentions, as when I met the people involed they all seemed good and fair people. But over a short time I do feel that at least one of the people involved has lost his way and it's not been for the good of the UK anime scene. Their drive was more for commercial reasions than for the fans , which is fine if you are running a company but as an organisation to unite fans and people that love anime and manga I do not think you can mix the two. Either it's a group to help everyone into anime or it's a commercial business. Not both.

So I want to take this moment to say that the events we run, and ourselves, are no longer a part of the Manga Alliance, as we do not feel it's now what it started out to be and no longer serves the industry or the fans in the way I was led to believe it would..

I would also like to point out that at no time have we said people had to join the Manga Alliance to attend as a trader at any of the events we are involved with, I hope this clears up this issue.

As to the people I have met though the Manga Alliance, there are some really nice people that I am going to still work with. I also feel some good people have been caught up in something thay did not realise was going the wrong way and turning too commercial. One of these people is Mike Towers who is a good man and a real fan. But I believe he has been used as a scape goat for every thing that’s not good with the Manga Alliance. This is unfair and undeserved. Just because his name went on the letters does not make him the person laying down the rules. If he is guilty of anything then it is of being very naive and trusting.

I wanted to put out this statement as I do feel I should stand up and say something as I have been a part of this Alliance and am now walking from it. I also felt it was right to state what I know and be up-front to the people I have been talking to over the last few days. I would also like to thank all the real fans and pillars of the anime community that have talked to me about this and have really helped me to understand what was going on the UK scene in a constructive way, so thank you .

There are so many enthusiastic fans out there keeping manga alive that there is no real need for an Alliance, and I know that some of the people I have taked to are going to help my team to bring some amazing elements to London Film and Comic Con and the other events we are involved with over the next few years. These same people are going to help us with the issues we have been having in getting the word out and the brick walls that are being put in our way. We will remember the people that are helping us and we will not let you down.

We look forward to maybe seeing some of you at future events where you can start to see us for what we are - good people trying to grow a fun event for all the fans that attend it .

Thank you for reading this.

Yours

Jason Joiner
Showmasters ltd

Anyone with any feed back or points to make please do contact me at jason.joiner@btinternet.com

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