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Posts posted by Joran

  1. If you don't mind sharing some "inside baseball" type of knowledge, how did you swing the Rakugo performer? He was a unique and definitely worthwhile add to the schedule.

    We work with the Smithsonian on the Cherry Blossom Festival (NCBF) each year. We worked through those NCBF connections to reach out to the Japanese Information and Cultural Center -- whose events you'll frequently see promoted on the BBS, and soon on our main website -- and they are tied to the Embassy of Japan.

    We basically said "we'd like to partner with you to do more cultural programming at Otakon, and help you promote your offerings". We have the visibility and audience; they have the cultural connections and international prestige. It made sense, but to them we were an unknown quantity. So we've been talking for a while.

    They suggested that this rakugo performer would be a good first attempt. I believe we also had Tom Vick from the Freer Gallery discuss some of the Smithsonian's Asian art offerings.

    So we contacted the performer and worked things out to bring him, and that's basically how it happened. As a result, we had a great, unique piece of programming which proved a huge draw -- and in turn proved Otakon to the folks at the Embassy and the JICC, which will hopefully lead to more offerings in the future.

  2. The Rakugo Performance was really, really, good, but it was about 15 minutes short from being absolutely great. The format of the performance was a series of short clips about the history and culture of Rakugo in Japan intermixed with a series of short bursts of the performer demonstrating Rakugo. The short clips were amusing and informative, but seemed a little more directed at people younger than me; the style of the clips reminded me of school assemblies we had in middle school.

    The performer's English was outstanding and seeing him mixing a Japanese performance style with English was astonishing and very fun; the format works very well. The clips and the short bursts of live performance did a great job of setting up the framework of how Rakugo works, so that the audience started understanding the conventions and were ready for a full-fledged story. All we got was a short amusing story about a poor rickshaw passenger, but sadly, I was left wanting more. I felt that we spent a good amount of time learning how to appreciate and understand a Rakugo performance but didn't get the opportunity to use it at that performance. Perhaps, I'll make the trek out to New York to see him perform again.

    I got to the line around 30-40 minutes before the scheduled start of the show. The staff person on duty was extraordinarily helpful in guiding me to the right line (two lines had formed because the first line had gotten way too long). The performance started something like 15-20 minutes late, but ended about 15-20 minutes early.

  3. I liked the errata sheet/schedule a lot. I carry around my Otakon bag everywhere I go and it was a good size for me to find quickly and consult. I ended up not using the pocket guide that much because I could basically figure out what everything was based on the title of the panel or video.

    I'm unsure if the schedule had the opening/closing hours for the Dealer's Room and Artist's Alley, but if they weren't there, it would be nice for them to be there :mellow:

  4. I can't speak to cutting in line, but the crowd that gathered for this panel was gigantic. We arrived 45 minutes before the panel start time and the lines were already subdivided into three groups, sitting in the taped up blocks. We got in an hour and 15 minutes later and there were only 4-5 rows left in the back by the time we got seated.

    I do have to give props to the staff. The lines were very well controlled and very orderly, despite the large amount of people.

  5. The mock trial was the most anticipated thing on the schedule this year for my group and unfortunately it didn't meet our expectations. Based on the description in the pocket guide, we expected a fully-scripted mock trial with video clips shown on the projection screen. What we got was a glorified 20 questions, with no use of the screen or even sound effects.

    I completely understand that some of the members were sick and I sympathize. Would it have been possible to pick a person out of the crowd, hand them the script and have them read off of it or utilize some of the pre-recorded video?

    Edit: Well, now I feel like a jerk :P I didn't realize 3 out of the 4 members went to the hospital.

  6. Unfortunately, I didn't stay until the end; we left right about when you started taking ancedotes from the audience. We had to go and line up for the Rakugo :P.

    I found the topic interesting; anime/manga's explosion of interest in the U.S. was phenomenal and I was particularly surprised at the large number of big titles that came out 10 years ago. I liked the hosts enthusiasm and humor and they worked off of each other very well. Also, I liked the information presented in the panel itself; I didn't know for instance that DBZ was shown before it was shown on Toonami.

    This is personal preference, but I would have preferred some more structure (I'm a history major). Maybe something as simple as a timeline showing significant events. I had some trouble keeping track of when everything occurred (like when did Toonami/Adult Swim start) and perhaps some hard numbers would have been nice.

    Overall, I found it interesting and it sparked some fun discussion with my friends over what really sparked the massive increase in anime/manga in the U.S.

  7. A few live Chinese cinemas off of the top of my head:

    Action Movies:

    1) A Chow Yun-Fat/John Woo movie (ie. The Killer)

    2) Tony Jaa (ie. The Protector)


    1) Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, any of Hero/Crouching Tiger/House of Flying Daggers)

    2) 2046

    3) Infernal Affairs

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