Last year was a great year to be an H!P fan in the west. Hangry & Angry took H!P’s first steps on to mainland North American soil in Seattle. A few short months later the flagship group Morning Musume landed in Los Angeles.  Then Hangry & Angry appeared in Europe. Yes, it was a glorious time where H!P fans from all over the world joined together. Many who have been online friends, finally meeting for the first time. Relationships were formed, bonds were made and everyone celebrated for the common good.

Barely a year has passed and the Western based fans of H!P (and J-Pop in general) are still talking about those momentous occasions where the impossible happened and they finally came to us. I was fortunate enough to be part of the Seattle and Los Angeles experiences and cherish every moment (both good and bad) I had. Now our hopes are high that maybe we’ll be lucky enough to be blessed by another series of H!P appearances in the west.  Many speculating on who they would like to see come over. Since last year I have been checking both the Sakura-con and Anime Expo sites to see who they have lined up for musical acts.

Sakura-con is building a solid line up with acts like Dazzle Vision and High and Mighty Color already booked.  (I’m hoping for another H&A appearance) But what about Anime Expo? Can they pull off another coup and get another big name Japanese act to show? Well, based on this news and some rather disturbing insider information I wouldn’t be holding my breath. Somehow reading all of that explains a lot about some of my experiences at the con last year.

But wow were my eyes opened to the ineptness of the upper management. Let’s go through a few points here.

Refusal to honor contracts with Japanese industry

a) In addition to lying about supposed contacts in Japanese industry, Lattanzio had initially refused to sign a contract previously agreed upon that allowed Morning Musume (last year’s AX pop idol group) to releaes a DVD of their concert at AX in which 50% of the profits would go towards AX. After Morning Musume directly sent one of their people over, the contract was finally signed, but in the process, according to third party testimony by Chase, Lattanzio’s attitudes toward the Morning Musume representative was extremely impolite. (claiming that he showed up in jeans and t-shirt) As a result, that person has refused to work with Lattanzio and subsquently the Anime Expo convention in the near future.

b) Due to the offense by Lattanzio to Japanese representatives as well as the current conflict between the staff and Lattanzio, No Japanese industry is willing to work with Anime Expo as of right now. This is one of the reasons that there have been no industry or musical guests announced for AX 2010 at this time.

– Yes Michael Lattanzio was very rude to Morning Musume. Along with being rude he showed up to the meeting in flip flops, a t-shirt, and jeans. Though the rumors are wrong when they say he started cussing at them. They also got very pissed when he said he wanted money from the royalties from the show that they played at last AX.

Okay…. Well obviously someone had his head up his ass. Maybe you can get away with treating a no name, upstart group getting their big break at an Anime Convention like shit; but this was Morning Musume and in essence UFA/Sony Music Japan being disrespected here. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short time with dealing with major labels it’s to treat them with respect. You’re dealing with a business and your attitude should reflect that.

The other labels must have heard about this experience and are wary of any requests coming from AX.  If I were running a label I would just hang up the phone on them. If they don’t have respect for one labels artists and staff what would make me think that they would treat mine any better? And that ‘s really a shame because now the fans who replied to AX’s requests for guests of honor are just going to get shafted as a result of this.

Chase Wang was the Publicity Director for Anime Expo since 2003, having many high level contacts. According to Chase Wang, during a meeting with people from Orange Range (proposed musical guest from Japan for AX 2010) Lattanzio refused to honor previously agreed contract, stating that he will only provide 2 plane tickets for a 5 person band.

Yes Orange Range was coming to AX this year, however Michael Lattanzio pissed off Sony to an extent to where they did not want to participate anymore. This was due to his rudeness and pushing them to pay for 3 out of the 5 tickets to fly here. Basically it turned into Sony and Orange Range saying “we didn’t ask to come, you asked us to come” not a direct quote. But thats the basics with that. And you can see there attempt to hide it in the AX forums by Brian R

This is just plain petty and just not right. You invite a five member band to play at your convention and you’re only willing to pay for 2 members to fly over? Does that make any sense at all?  Good on Sony and Orange Range for backing out of the deal. Seriously, WTF?

From the looks of it the management of AX really dug themselves into a hole that they probably won’t get out of. Sad really, because last year was my first AX and despite all the little quirks (and one really big one) that irked me I had fun and was looking forward to doing it all over again. Now I fear that won’t happen since there’s nothing to really entice me to make another trip to L.A. in July.

So those of you who were begging for more H!P or any of your other favorite J-Pop acts can probably stop now. The best you’ll probably ever get this year is Larry Platt.

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