Kumihimo Braiding Workshop - The presenter did a fantastic job! We entered the room, and she was just super organized and ready to go. There were little kits already placed at each seat with all the necessary supplies and an instruction sheet. As she was going through the instructions, she had slow-motion videos for each step playing on repeat on the screen, so it was really easy to follow along. If anyone had trouble, she had assistants also going through the room to help out. The project she chose was also really simple, so it was perfect for a beginner's workshop and fit just within the hour block the workshop was assigned. And we get a cool trinket to take home with us!
Amigurumi Basics: Pusheen - In total contrast to the Kumihimo Workshop, this was kind of a hot mess. There weren't enough supplies for everyone in the room. The instructions to make a Pusheen are anything but "basic," and the steps were also poorly-explained. Some of my friends have experience with amigurumi and crocheting, and even they were confused =/
Japanese Cuisine: More than Just Ramen - Informative panel. Presenters compiled a neat powerpoint presentation, but it wasn't anything ground-breaking. Everything they showed were things that most people are already acquainted with if they're watching anime. I think the presentation could be improved if they went into more obscure foods or picked out some of the regional differences between some of the foods. For a panel that wants to go into "more than just ___" it still felt like a generic Japanese food presentation.
Breaking Hero Stereotypes in Ghibli Films - I was actually really disappointed by this one. The panel was more or less a summary of some of Hayao Miyazaki's better-known films, and the way they were summarized really didn't make it sound like Ghibli had broken any stereotypes at all. They boiled the storylines down to "finding yourself, connecting with others" and those aren't new for a hero's journey. Whether it was just forgetting due to nerves or poor preparation, the presenters didn't seem very knowledgeable on their subject matter (i.e. forgetting Chihiro's name, not knowing the name of the castle in the sky). There's potential in this panel, since Studio Ghibli has definitely broken hero stereotypes in the protagonists (and antagonists) they've chosen. Next time, figure out what stereotypes you're going to talk about and draw up some concrete examples that defy those stereotypes (and also, actually know the names of crucial points. Write them down somewhere, for the brainfreeze emergency). Also, Studio Ghibli is more than just Hayao Miyazaki. I think Grave of the Fireflie's Seita deserves a shoutout in this category, at the very least.
+2 Comedy - 18+ panels are pretty much never my thing, but their Tentacles panel is always fun to go to just for their comedic value and the silly games they play. They mentioned that they'd like the chance to do an actual comedy panel. It'd be cool if Otakon could give them that shot next year.
Iyashikei Anime and the Joy of Doing Nothing - This was a nice, relaxing panel to go to first thing in the morning, right out of bed. Made me want to go back to sleep almost. But that's a good thing! The panel was fun and soothing, just like its subject matter, and the panelists covered lots of examples of Iyashikei while also delving into what makes an Iyashikei anime what it is. Definitely learned something new and am glad to know that there is a difference between iyashikei and slice of life. Unfortunately, my to-watch list is now much longer than it started.
New Anime for Older Fans - I go to this every year, just to save myself the trouble of wading through all the new possibilities each season. Got some good out of it, but wasn't that interested in most of the suggested titles.
All About Japanese Sweets - This was fun! They covered a lot of sweets, but didn't just do an endless list. They had a lot of fun with it, covered the history of some sweets, showed examples of regional varieties and special flavors, and went more in-depth than I've seen most food panels do. Now, I just have an urge to go to that specialty KitKat store T_T
Taiko Drum - (This was Sunday, fyi.) This panel/performance was a lot of fun. You can see the passion and joy that each of them has for their art, and they clearly have a lot of fun performing together. They set themselves up around the room, so the room was literally booming with sound, and it was really cool to see their choreography up close. Between songs, they took questions from the audience and went into the history behind taiko drumming and their own history. It was a lot of fun and super energizing. Would love to see them back again next year!
I think that's about it? I went to a few other ones too, and a few other ones were canceled, but these were the ones I really found myself thinking about after leaving the room.
P.S. Anyone know what happened to the Biology of MHA panel? It's still listed in my guidebook app, but everywhere else, it was replaced with a Higurashi panel?? Is my app bugged?