When I started up Otakulife.net, I was hoping to actively post on here while working on the EX shows (AX Live, AniView, etc…). Turns out that I was busier than I thought and rarely posted. With today’s turn of events, that has changed altogether.
Let me first start off by talking about my friend, Thomas Abdoyan. He was a great friend who has worked in Anime Expo’s video rooms for many years. He’s the kind of guy who was always willing to lend a helping hand, who would drive over 100 miles just to hang with friends, and would always be smiling. I found out this morning that he was in a car crash and passed away at the age of 28. You were taken from us far too soon, my friend. Rest well. You will be missed…
For awhile now, I have been observing actions taken by the CEO of the SPJA (Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, who put on Anime Expo every year) and more recently, the newly-instated Division Director of EX. Several of these actions consist of decisions that I personally do not agree with. Some of these actions include:
- The CEO’s conduct and commentary in front of representatives of several organizations during a trip to Japan from March 20th, 2012 through April 2nd, 2012.
- The CEO’s apparent lack of communication and interest in suggestions, comments, and concerns by the Anime Expo / SPJA staff on several issues, which have caused delays across the board in preparation for Anime Expo 2012.
- The SPJA Board of Directors’ lack of response to the CEO’s actions and to complaints filed by Anime Expo / SPJA staff against the CEO. This has been personally viewed as either ignorance of the problem at hand, or an unwillingness to address the issue before the 2012 convention.
- The removal of Michael Underwood as Director of EX.
- The instatement of Ann Marie Cano as Director of EX.
- The instatement of Greg Hignight as Director of Interactive Events.
- The new EX Director’s arbitrary and unilateral reinstatement of two staffers who were previously terminated with cause from EX without any consultation with the then Deputy Director (myself).
I won’t get into any more specifics here (mainly because I don’t want to deal with the SPJA’s lawyers), but there’s a LOT of questionable dealings behind the scenes at the SPJA. Before you start boycotting AX, let me say a few things:
1) EVERY. SINGLE. CON. has drama. Some are just more public about it than others.
2) This is not a bash against Anime Expo. I love AX. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have spent the past 7 years sacrificing time, money, jobs, and relationships trying to better this event. My specific issues are with the people whose actions, apparent ideals, and inaction have plunged this organization further into this downward spiral to the point where if it recovers, it will be a miracle.
When Bryan Yang and I first started AX Live, it was meant to showcase the SPJA’s dedication to the Anime/Manga industry and to its fans. 2 years on, however, I no longer see those ideals as the guiding force of the organization. Knowing all of this, there was no possible way for me in good conscience to represent the SPJA or AX in any of EX’s productions.
Last Friday, after thinking long and hard, I decided that I would have to leave the SPJA in order to protect my health and my sanity. I informed the current Director of EX of my intent to leave the organization. I promised that while I was still there, I would do all that I can to make the transition of my tasks to others as smooth as possible. The Director said she understood and I began working out the details of the transition, including the short statement I would give during my last broadcast.
While I may not believe in the current leadership or their goals for the SPJA or AX anymore, I STILL believe in AX Live and the service and benefit to the community as a whole that it was created to represent.
This morning, I was asked to come to the SPJA offices. I was informed by the CEO, Marc Perez, that I was being let go effective immediately. According to him, I had become a liability. The CEO, who has been my friend for many years and even lived together for a spell, no longer trusted me. Did he really think that I would air the SPJA’s dirty laundry on-air? (the show would run for hours if I intended to do such a thing) I shouldn’t feel too bad about this though; it seems he really doesn’t trust anybody lately, including other senior SPJA staff.
I will miss AX Live terribly, but I guess it’s for the best.
So that brings us to now. While this has hurt tremendously, it has allowed for me to re-focus my sights on my own endeavors. I have begun working on a new project, one that you will be able to thoroughly enjoy and interact with. I will post more info once certain aspects have been finalized. I will also be posting a LOT more on this site, so please keep coming back for more insights into all things Otaku.
If there’s one thing to be said about all this, it’s that although organizations may come and go, the fandom will ALWAYS survive.
Otakulife.net “Fandom at its Finest”