January 19, 2024

News for Ohayocon 2024:

Ohayocon in Turmoil: Boycott Looms Over Ohio's Anime Convention

From Anime News Network

Ohayocon in Turmoil: Boycott Looms Over Ohio's Anime Convention

Ohayocon finds itself embroiled in controversy. This long-running event, a favorite for anime enthusiasts, is now facing a boycott and allegations of mismanagement.

At the heart of the issue lies the formation of Cultural Exchange Society Inc. (CESI) in late 2022 by Ohayocon owner Melissa Phelps. This move aimed to secure non-profit status for the convention. However, doubts arose shortly after with the emergence of Conventions of Ohio Volunteer Event Network (COVEN), a collective formed by former Ohayocon volunteers. COVEN voiced concerns about volunteer representation, financial transparency, and particularly, Phelps' potential salary.

Things further escalated when the convention's logo (a red cross) was discovered to violate the Geneva Conventions. A blue version may have potentially violated Blue Cross Blue Shield's trademark and a sakura blossom version may have been too similar to the logo for Sakura of America. What may have been an inconsequential logo change at other conventions ended up becoming a flashpoint for deeper anxieties, igniting a dispute over the logo design and fueling questions about CESI's leadership.

On October 2nd, the convention director and the director of marketing were abruptly removed from their positions. This sudden dismissal, perceived by many as a "mass firing" or even "union-busting," sent shockwaves through the community. CESI countered these accusations, claiming that volunteers, due to their status, cannot form unions.

The result was a fractured community. Over 90 individuals, including former leadership and volunteers, have declared a boycott of Ohayocon 2024. The convention's official Discord server has transformed into a platform for criticism and heated discussions.

Despite the turmoil, Ohayocon 2024 is scheduled to go ahead as planned from January 19-21. However, the shadow of controversy looms large, leaving many to wonder about the future of this iconic Ohio event. The situation remains complex, with accusations and evidence swirling from both sides.

Anime News Network has a very detailed write-up of the entire fiasco which is recommended reading for anyone who wants to know more and anyone planning to attend the convention this weekend.