Otakuzine Magazine head Dennis Uy tells all on the Issues and Controversies that Surrounded the Summer Event.
Long queues, chaotic scenes, frustrated event goers, and a blistering 35-degree summer heat. These were the ingredients for what could be Otakuzine Anime Magazine‘s biggest and most controversial Ozine Fest ever.
But for Otakuzine’s Dennis Uy, they said that this year’s edition was a “learning experience” for them.
“Every event naman, nagkaka-encounter ka ng kahit anong problem, kumbaga, laging may bago… sabi ko nga, charge [it] to experience” Mr. Uy said in an interview with Anime Pilipinas a few hours after the event ended.
Unannounced Ticket Hike, Security Problems
The event’s weekend started Friday with a really surprising announcement: The admission tickets for the event cost around PhP150, a departure from it’s previous announcements on its social media channels that the event tickets would cost at PhP120.
But Mr. Uy said that it was his fault for the confusion, then went on to explain that the ticketing for the event actually had three tiers of pricing for the pre-sold tickets, which commenced sales one month before.
“Supposed to be tatlo yung price nun, for the first week namin, yung first release namin ng tickets, ng presold was (PhP) 100 papuntang one week before the event, mag-wa-120 then on the event itself is 150, Ako na ang mali doon kasi hindi ko na-instruct na gawin yung banner na 150″ Mr. Uy said.
Mr. Uy also addressed the problematic crowd control and the long lines that plagued the three-day convention. He stressed that the SMX Management was the one who was handling the security concerns beyond their event venue.
“Yung sa crowd control… basically kasi SM ang nagha-handle noong sa ibaba, so siguro, first time naming mag gawa ng isang event dito, We’re expecting at least security nila marunong sa mga ganoon, kaya siguro hindi rin namin inexpect na aabot sa ganitong point na kahit yung security rin nila, wala ring magawa so parang nangyari, pasa-pasa, pasa-pasa ” Mr. Uy stated.
But he says that he is not blaming anyone for the problems. saying that they cannot put the blame on themselves or on the venue management and stressed that they are both responsible for what had happened.
“All in all, pareho lang naman may mali, walang tama, siguro, charge to experience na lang sa amin yun” Mr. Uy added.
On the question on why they had to delay the opening of the event for an hour, Mr. Uy said that they have done that to accommodate the exhibitors and sponsors’ set up time , further saying that they don’t want to open with all the sponsors and exhibitors who are not yet ready.
With regards to their international guests, Mr. Uy said that although they want to cut the line going into the meet and greet but since there were many people who still want to take pictures with the guests, and upon seeking the permission of their guests, who were already tired, they still went on with their meet and greet until the end of the main event.
“Ang dami talagang humabol, actually kaya nga kami nag-pre-sold ng maaga is because gusto naming I-cut-short (the Meet and Greet) na limited lang, kaso madaming gustong humabol… kaya binigyan namin ng chance pero tinanong muna namin sa mga guest namin, okay lang naman sa kanila.” He stressed.
“We will get Halls 1-4”
With the unplanned opening of Hall 4 for the past two days of the event, Anime Pilipinas asked if there will be a possibility that the next Ozine Fest will be held on Function Rooms 4 and 5, which has a combined floor area of 4,250 square meters, Mr. Uy said that they will pursue Function Rooms 1 to 4 next year, which has a combined floor area of 4,750 square meters, further revealing that their original plan was to hold the event at Function Rooms 1 to 4, but got Function Room 5 as a result of a booking proble, with the SMX Management.
“Ang nangyari sa amin, na-book sa amin yung 1,2,3 (Note: Function Room 1-3’s combined floor area is 2,850 square meters) then yung 1,2,3, nakiusap sa akin ang SMX... may isang convention kasi… na kung pwede lumipat ako sa 5 dahil halos same lang naman din yung size. So sabi ko sige, wala namang problema, mas malaki rin naman yung 5, kaya lumipat kami ng 5.” Mr. Uy said.
He further said that the event staff did a wonderful job in the handling the event even at this chaotic instance where the event attendees were having problems raised to them.
“Sobrang happy rin ako sa staff ko kasi kahit anong mangyari, kahit na harap harap sa mga parents sa mga taong nagrereklamo, wala naman akong nakitang member ng staff ko na nakipagsagutan…. sa kanila, so wala, Wala akong masabi sa kanila, They did a good job, even the stage team, marshals... kahit security dito, SMX staff, sobrang, wala, wala talaga akong masabi ” Mr. Uy added.
A New Start for Otakuzine
With Ozine Fest 2014, Otakuzine Anime Magazine has relaunched with its new volume and its trademark three cover-edition. Mr. Uy has confirmed that this is the first issue since becoming independent from their previous publisher, PSICOM Publishing Inc.
“Wala na kami sa publisher namin, parang solo printing kami ngayon” He said, further adding that the reactions on the latest issue were positive.
The initial print run of the new volume is at 10,000 copies for Ozine Fest alone, which will be increased to 20,000 right after the event. He also said that right now, some bookstores have approached them regarding the distribution of the new issue but they had to delay it saying that they are prioritizing the release during the event.
“May mga naka-pending na mga bookstores na kukmukuha sa amin, hindi pa lang namin binabato kasi gusto pa namin i-release sa Ozine Fest” Mr. Uy said, further adding that they may increase the print run on the second issue depending on the uptake.
He also says that Ozine will now have a Monthly issue release, starting with a possible May or June release of their next issue, unlike with their previous publisher which releases their issues on a delayed basis, sometimes up to a quarter.
When asked how do they feel when they are “re-starting” their Magazine after some years with their previous publishers, Mr. Uy said that it was like learning how to ride a bicycle.
“Kami rin ang nagbuild ng una, kami ang unang nagset ng grounds ng event namin, ng magazine namin, di naman problema sa amin yun, parang natututo kang mag-bike, parang normally, pag bata kaya mo na, pag matanda ka na, pag hindi ka sumakay, makakasakay ka pa rin” he intoned.
“We don’t do this for the profit”
Although they hold events every quarter (with their next event, Otaku Expo Reload, expected to be held in August), they believe that they are doing these events not for the financial gain, but for the Filipino anime fan who supports them.
“Kung nandidito kayo for the past three days, makikita nyo naman na maraming tao pero malaki yung cost nito, so hindi namin pwedeng sabihin na pinagkakakitaan namin ang events…. Dahil nasanay kami na nagsimula kami, sobrang naenjoy naming gumawa ng events eh, parang kumita kami or hindi, go, kaya hindi kami nagiistop… for the fans” Mr. Uy said.
With regards to the Ozine Rewards program, which was announced during Otaku Expo in January. He says that the program is nearing its implementation, further stressing that they do not want to suffer the fate of the old HEROtv membership card drive that was launched at the same time with the channel.
“May tinatatapos lang kami…. ayaw lang naming maglabas ng hilaw. Ang gagawin kasi namin ngayon is an open membership pero hindi lahat makakakuha ng card” He revealed, adding that members will receive a temporary card, where one will chalk up a required number of points for them to be able to upgrade to the regular card.
“Gusto kasi namin yung kukuha or yung gagamit ng card, yung anime fan na frequent visitor ng events namin” Mr. Uy said.
He also said that they are planning to release the Ozine Mobile Application for Smartphones in conjunction with the launch of the Ozine Rewards program but dismissed the possibility of releasing an E-magazine version of Otakuzine, citing piracy concerns.
When asked for a final word with everyone who went to the event, The Ozine honcho had this to say.
“So far naman, nagpasalamat kami sa mga pumunta, sa support, yung effort nila…. yung alam mo yun, two hours, naka-tayo sila sa araw….naka-cosplay pa, sobrang kudos sa kanila… Although feel ko yung iba nadisappoint [kasi] sa tagal ng wait, nakapasok na nga sila, nag-antay pa sila sa escalator, pero honestly, beyond that, security na rin kasi ng mall yun eh… Kung kami lang gusto namin dire-diretso ang pasok eh, like what we did sa Megamall. Sa mga hindi nakapunta... may next time pa naman.”
And with their critics, here’s what he has to say. ” Sa mga bashers, wala, wala naman akong gustong sabihin sa kanila.”