Sorry about, that had been my original plan, though I tried to cram too much in, and mismanaged time somewhat. There was also some technical issues. As I came to find out, the laptop that I was using would not recognize USB devices (mouse, thumb drives) unless it had an active internet connection, and I think we were somewhat distracted by that intermittent audio feedback from the sound board. I heard it in other panels in that room, so I know it wasn't our equipment. So a few topics didn't make it in, and Q&A didn't make it in. One of the topics outlined was 1995's view of technology in 2015. I also had a short retrospective video of the franchise that I was unfortunately not able to finish prior to the weekend. I'm hoping I can finish and share it in the future.
Thanks for the feedback, I'm hoping to produce some more tightly refined panels in the future.
So long as it doesn't violate any decency laws, you can dress pretty much however you want, whether it's Master Chief, Doctor Who, Luke Skywalker, or Batman. You might be a little out of place dressed up as a witch or a vampire, though I'm sure most people would be cool with it. Ultimately, it'll vary from person to person.
Robotech, and the shows that comprise it have been around a good bit longer than Neon Genesis Evangelion.
And this may just be my own assessment, or a generalization, but on the whole, I really don't think Evangelion fans care about Robotech. Over on Eva Geeks, we've got 750,000+ posts, and only 55 of them mention Robotech. Comparatively, there are 3000+ mentioning Gundam, 1000+ mentioning Space Runaway Ideon and Macross, and, just for fun, 4000+ posts mentioning Otakon. You heard it here first, Otakon is more popular with Evangelion fans than Robotech.
To be perfectly honest, I didn't know Robotech was still a thing.
Something like that has not been discussed, as far as I am aware. We've been more concerned with receiving relevant submissions. While getting 13 Homestuck panels (yes I do believe we got that many one year) does make our jobs easier, because we can very easily just toss them all on the "No" pile, we want to have as many submissions aligned with our focus on Asian culture as possible. Once we've prodded people in that direction, we could start focusing on other areas.
It's really hard to say though, I was surprised by a couple of topics this year, some had more than usual, and then there was a case where there were three submissions on a topic that got increasingly more specific, like... Borderlands, Borderlands Cosplay, and Borderlands Cosplay Makeup. That's some serious dedication right there.
Although, I don't think we want to say "Hey, we get a lot of Hetalia panels, so think about doing something else", because we want a variety of takes on the topic, so that hopefully that one person, as has been done in the past, comes along with "History in Hetalia", using the popularity of the show as a teaching tool about the real history behind the show. We want options, so we can choose what we think is the best Hetalia panel, the best Kill la Kill panel, the best Gundam panel, etc. In this capacity, competition, I hope, is good.
I can't comment on what the layout will be like in DC, but the general idea is that DC will give us more space to work with. However, personally, I don't anticipate the selection process getting significantly less competitive.
As someone who has been involved with panels at Otakon at a variety of capacities since 2003, I can say that your frustration is understood, and, to some degree, shared by the staff. While you may find it difficult to throw your hat in the ring every year and get turned down, we share a similar difficulty in taking hundreds of submissions, and endeavoring to select a lineup that fits numerous criteria:
Relevance to our non-profit mission, relevance to our annual theme, educational but not boring, niche but not too niche, a mixture of fresh content and old favorites while not being repetitive, a mixture of veteran panelists and first time presenters, and so on are all things we try to keep in mind each year.
Being the one who took the raw information, and parsed out official Otakon events, workshops, spam, and duplicate entries, I can tell you that we received approximately 467 panel submissions this year. And, if I recall correctly, we typically approve something a bit above 100. If you consider that a few veteran panelists will host more than one panel, that means that the typical applicant has something like a 20% chance, though that certainly changes drastically depending on your topic and how well you present it. For example, if you submit a panel about Homestuck, My Little Pony, Borderlands, and so on, without finding a way to hook it into Asian popular culture, your odds are probably non-existent. However if in the case of this year's theme of Fairy Tales, you chose to do something about Japanese folklore, and you presented it well, you stood a very good chance of being selected.
I'd also like to say that we look at topics first, and applicants second. If we see a topic that interests us, we then go and look at who wants to do it, and provided no red flags go up, we'll put it through to the next round, of which we typically do a few to narrow down the hundreds of submissions. We do it this way (topic first) so as to give everyone a fair chance, including panelists who have never presented a panel at Otakon, and panelists who have never presented a panel at all. We do in fact have people present at Otakon each year who have never done a panel before. They may be the subject of a bit more scrutiny, but that's only because we want to make sure that they will be successful and provide a good experience for our members.
Speaking personally, as someone who has attended every Otakon since 2000, and has been a Baltimore city resident since 2007:
The rioting was out of the ordinary, though not surprising or unexpected. Similarly, this wave of shootings is also not surprising. This happens just about every year around when the weather gets hot. This is what life is like in Baltimore, or at least one facet of Baltimore. Life in some of these communities is very different from life in the community that I live, and neither of which are like how it is in the inner harbor. As I see it, there are several Baltimores, and the one you will be spending your Otakon is not the one where violence has been taking place.
For what it's worth, as a resident, I feel no less safe now than I did before the riot or this latest wave of shootings.
If you're looking to get multiple spots on the schedule for the same topic, you're not going to get it.
If it's the exact same topic, just re-presented on subsequent days, you're definitely not going to get it.
If it's the same topic divided up into separate parts (Fanfiction 101, Fanfiction 201, etc), you're extremely unlikely to get it, unless you have a terrific idea and a lot of credibility and clout to back it up.
The number of submissions we get vastly outweighs the room we have on the schedule. Something like 75-80% of submissions every year get turned down. Perfectly good topics get turned down for no other reason than because of redundancy. We strive to have diversity in our schedule so that there's a little something for everyone. It can't all be Hetalia panels.