Uh-oh: Anime Expo could be harmed by sudden regulations


Why now?

I think we can all agree that youths need protection from creeps and other predators, but what's happening at this year's Anime Expo in the name of protecting the children seems to be a bit...undesirable.

Last week, the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), which happens to be the parent organization of Anime Expo, announced the launch of its new Youth Protection Program, a new set of policies and practices that apply to pretty much everyone involved with the SPJA (and by extension, Anime Expo), including exhibitors, guests, and performers.

Unfortunately, the good intentions behind the program are where the trouble starts.

In brief, while the Youth Protection Program contains common-sense measures and policies designed to reduce risk and provide safe spaces for younger attendees to AX, some requirements have incensed a number of major vendors and exhibitors, with some threatening to boycott the convention this year.

The crux of the argument revolves around the requirements for third-party criminal background checks to be conducted as a condition of participation at AX 2016. Criminal background checks can be expensive and time-consuming to carry out, and present a major logistical hurdle so close to the actual Expo taking place.  

Further concerns were raised by some attendees and performers over privacy, as the new policies require registration using real identities and home addresses. Critics have worried that performers with stalker problems risk exposing themselves to harassment and abuse by giving up data unnecessarily.

The SPJA board is set to meet this Tuesday and is expected to voice a decision then. ANN's Christopher Macdonald has a good rundown of the arguments against implementing the Youth Protection Program this year

For his part, our own Jeff Chuang, who's a veteran of the convention scene and frequent attendee to AX, had this to say about the program, particularly its background check requirement:

"The background checks have issues, and all those will take months to address. Guests and vendors often plan months out and not being able to attend AX as a result of having to pay for a background check can be construed as a case of AX screwing them over last-minute with a bizarre request.

For attendees, this means guests and industry will be pulling back on some programming at AX. It also impacts large and small industry entities differently. Bigger companies can boycott and it will be more painful since they are key to US-Japan industry relations and offer much to anime cons, also maybe for Californian law reasons they may not be able to comply.

Smaller guys usually run on much lower budgets and can't afford suddenly having to pay for 3-4-5 more background checks, and that jeopardizes their one big con of the year.

If we just chalk it up to how AX wanting to increase the cost of doing business, then we have to ask: Who's benefiting from all this? Is it even effective security theater when the 100k+ attendees cannot be screened even?

I think we would have a different discussion if [The program were announced] 6 months before showtime instead of 6 weeks."

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



Filed under... #Anime Expo #Cons #event #industry affairs #News #serious business #weird news



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