Mary Franklin – Head of Events at Crunchyroll

A Firsthand Look at the Challenges of Organizing Crunchyroll Expo

After a turbulent few years, organizing the first live Crunchyroll Expo since 2019 was going to be a challenge. A challenge that Mary Franklin was ready to take on as Crunchyroll’s Head of Events. Taking the lessons learned from past events, Virtual Crunchyroll Expo, and feedback from the fans have resulted in Crunchyroll Expo 2022

During Crunchyroll Expo 2022, I was joined by Gig Patta of LRM for a chance to sit down with Mary Franklin. Among the topics looked at are the challenges of organizing Crunchyroll Expo 2022, from the best aspects to what could have been done better. 

Organizing a New Crunchyroll Expo

The first question I brought up was about the challenges of organizing the first live Crunchyroll Expo since 2019? Mary Franklin and her team have been planning this event for 2021. She knew it was not going to be like previous years and everything needed to be planned accordingly. This included ensuring everyone’s safety and being as flexible as possible. 

“We knew things will be different, we won’t be going back to the way things were back in 2019. We knew COVID will still be with us, we knew that there will be travel restrictions. So the thinking was that we should plan something that is safe (as safe as we can make it) and let’s have all the different kinds of programs we can have.”

Mary Franklin – Head of Events at Crunchyroll

Since this is a hybrid event, Patta and I both touched on the role of the virtual elements of the event. My question on this topic: what events have done the hybrid model right and would like to be used as a template for future Crunchyroll Expo events? The virtual elements of the event were inspired by other digital-only events that were done perfectly. Franklin points to Aniplex’s virtual event as an example of one done right (especially how it embodies elements of Japanese culture) and how she would like to incorporate more of that with the live show. 

The Best Part of Crunchyroll Expo

After spending so much time and effort, I was interested to know what aspects of Crunchyroll Expo was she most proud of? Franklin is most proud of the music festival and the manga library. The music festival brought in numerous performers and was among the highlights of the weekend. The manga library was planned to be simple and comfortable for the guests. 

All of this was made possible thanks to her team and the feedback they collected from the community. 

“I’m really proud of how the team members have listened to the fans and have been plugged into the Crunchyroll fans. We brought in new experiences like the music festival, which is a great addition to the show”.

Mary Franklin – Head of Events at Crunchyroll

As a follow-up, I was wondering what did she wish she could do differently? Franklin was hoping to have some Crunchyroll personalities wandering the expo floor and interviewing fans during a live stream (inspired by Marvel Studios Live). However, she does hope to make this possible at next year’s event. 

Plans for Crunchyroll Expo 2023

My final question was what does she hope to bring to next year’s Crunchyroll Expo?  Besides the live fan interview as mentioned, overall they will be looking at feedback from the fans. Franklin and the team will be talking to fans during the event and reaching out to them after to see how they can improve the experience for next year. 

This interview is part of our coverage of Crunchyroll Expo 2022. If you attended the event, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: Crunchyroll provided me with a pass for the weekend.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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