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Posts posted by Brainchild

  1. The Good:

    • Line Management.  The staff clearly learned the right lessons from last year, which was doubly important considering the dangerously hot weather this last weekend.  Most of the time I could waltz right in through the front door, even with the bag check, and never get stuck waiting.  I was absolutely incredulous to learn that attendance was another 2k higher than last year because it absolutely did not feel like that, not even at the height of Saturday.
    • The choice to bring in some Spanish-language dub actors was an inspired choice and a welcome bit of variety as far as guests go
    • The downstairs food court is vastly improved from how it was in 2019 when it was last open: bigger, brighter, better ventilated, with a nice overview of the artist's alley to boot.  
    • The free pronoun ribbons were a nice touch.

    The Bad:

    • TOO.  MANY.  GUESTS.  That might sound like a bizarre complaint for an anime con, but it was absolutely true this year.  Otakon had nearly 70 different guests and were announcing new ones literally days before the con.  It was simply too many to keep track of, and I have to imagine there were a lot who went largely unnoticed because there was no time for Otakon to promote them before they threw a few more on the pile. This is a situation where quality (and focus) beats quantity.
    • The guest overload also meant that a lot of regular panelists didn't get any panels approved this year.  For me, the fan panels are one of the strongest elements of Otakon as a whole.  The panels we got weren't necessarily bad but they could have been even stronger with more variety.
    • Speaking of that downstairs food court, a friend of mine got food poisoning from one of the poke bowls served there.  Thankfully it wasn't severe enough to require a hospital, but it made his Saturday night distinctly Not Fun.  I realize that's an issue with the con center itself versus Otakon proper, but I did want to let that be known.  I will note that I and others I knew ate other things there (such as smoothies or pizza) and were just fine.
    • For god's sake, will Otakon please get some megaphones or something for the poor staffers managing the dealer's room/artist's alley hallway?  They have to shout the same instructions over and over for hours at a time, and some of them had clearly blown their voices out doing so by the end of the day.  I felt really bad for them.

    The Ugly:

    • Otakon should have not gotten rid of their Covid vax/mask mandate.  I don't care if the government doesn't require them to do so anymore, it's simply not safe to gather 40k+ people in the same space and not do so, especially since the system they had set up for it last year worked very well.  I and many of my friends continued to mask up within the convention center, but we were definitely part of a minority of people who did.  Sadly, I already have one friend who tested positive for Covid.  It is NOT too late for Otakon to reverse this change for next year.
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  2. Quote
    • Differences in Sci-Fi between the East and West with Seiyuu Haruna Ikezawa: A good but not truly great panel about the very basics of Japanese literary SF in 2023. Ikezawa focused on introducing some recent anthologies and serials, which seems like a valid approach, although I haven't checked whether any of them are available in English. Still, I felt like this was a surface-level flyover of a subject about which Ikezawa was clearly quite erudite. Her American counterpart – a long time Otakon staffer whose name I forget but I've seen around since I first started coming – simply didn't have an equivalent knowledge of contemporary English language literary SF to really elevate the discussion, but did his best.

    Some of my roommates went to this panel and said something very similar, that the translator was clearly not familiar with sci-fi lit and terminology, even when the author was clearly name-dropping people like Octavia Butler and Ursula le Guin.

    I also want to note that based on my own observed experience and those from my roommates, sound issues seemed to be a common issue with panels this year, particularly with those early in the mornings.  I get that there are only so many sound techs to go around, but it was a mildly frustrating thing for the panelists and audience alike.

    That being said, I did get to a fair few fan panels.

    An Otaku's Guide to Donghua - this was not my first time seeing this (the panelist had performed it previously for this year's Anime Lockdown), but it was a solid overview of some of the Chinese animated works out there with a decent variety as far as genre and whatnot.

    History and Influence of Shojo Manga - As someone who's done a fair bit of research (and even a panel or two) on shojo manga history, a lot of this was familiar territory for me.  Still, it was a good, breezy overview of the genre covering the Meiji era all the way to the 2000s.  Also, it turns out that part of the reason some of this material felt familiar was that the panelist cited an Anime Feminist piece I had done on old shojo manga as one of her references, which was kind of flattering and novel in its own way.

    Telemundo! Anime in Latin America - This was a simple Q&A style panel, but the questions were decent and it's one of the few times where I didn't feel dread when attendees asked the panelist questions in their native language.  Mario Castaneda in particular was really charming and won over the whole room, even those who didn't grow up listening to him play Goku.

    Anime In the Philippines - This was done by the same panelist who did Otaku's Guide to Donghua, and I think this one was even better.  She had to cover a lot of ground - not just some of the shows that were popular or some of the Filipino co-pros that have been made, but also a lot of cultural stuff and overviews of some of the specific channels that aired anime there.  I do like that she noted not just where these shows were available in English but also where some of the Filipino-made dubs could be found online.

    Animation Cels at Work: The Life and Death of Cel Animation - Easily the best fan panel I watched this weekend.  The presenter had a very casual style, but he was clearly very engaged with the material and the panel itself was well-researched and structured, covering not just the history but the production of cels as well as some of the complications of collecting and caring for them.  The only issue was that his laptop battery briefly died towards the end, which left him with not enough time to look over some cels from his own collection with the audience.

    The Enduring Fandom of The Rose of Versailles - This one was just OK.  It was more of an overview of the franchise than anything else, and it didn't engage me as much as I would have wished.  I ended up bouncing halfway through to...

    AnimEigo - I get that all the Macross content at the con made this a perfect opportunity to remind people about their upcoming Macross II Kickstarter, but there was barely 10 minutes of material here.  Woodhead et al. could have at least shown off more footage of the new remaster - he played the OP before it started and it looked absolutely gorgeous.  This panel basically could have been an email, or at least a brief stream.

    Official AMVs - A nice curated selection of music videos featuring footage from anime or animated by notable anime creatives.  The highlight for many (including the panelist) was showing Chaga and Aska's On Your Mark, which was famously made by Studio Ghibli.  The only downside were a couple of groups sitting near me who were talking through most of the panel just loudly enough to be annoying.  I suspect they might have been drunk, considering this was a late-night Saturday panel

    Isekai Like It's 1999 - A no-frills overview of 80s/90s isekai titles, with a fairly even split between anime and manga titles.

    Orange Presents: Ways of Making Anime - This was way more low-key than I expected.  I was expecting something closer to what their Trigun panel was or what they've done at Otakon in the past, where they get more into the technical side of how they make their shows.  The self Q&A thing and the emphasis on the philosophy behind their work and studio was an interesting idea in theory but I must confess there were a few times where I started to doze off.

    Hot Springs Episode: An Introduction to Japanese Onsen - A solid overview of some of the culture, anime and tropes around Japanese bathing.  Could have done with more clips from some of the anime featured, although considering the subject matter I suspect they would have had to retool it to make it 18+ to pull that off.

  3. As I noted in the Good/Bad/Ugly thread, I didn't have the issue with the panel variety that others did as far as the all-age selections were concerned (the 18+ ones were a different story).  That being said:

    The Wild World of Gundam Merchandise - This was a fun way to ease into my busiest day for panel.  Just a nice, casual, curated selection of oddball merch.  The only thing I have that remotely resembles a complaint is that I would have like to have seen more merch from AU shows versus the UC ones.

    The Sound of Anime - More technical than expected (that's what you get when the panelist is a god-to-honest, union-dues-paying professional sound tech), but very interesting.  Loved the running gag about Baki.

    Art Nouveau & Japan - made for a fine compliment to last year's Japonisme panel, even if this one was not quite as formal in tone.  This might have been the panel I looked forward to most and I did not walk away disappointed.

    Miyazaki Before Ghibli  - Fascinating topic, but the panelist clearly did not do a timed test run of this before the con.  He had lots of info and clips to cover and thus had to rush his ending, which was a shame.

    Craziest Japanese Commercials - Much like the Gundam merch one, this was just a fun, curated showcase of weird-ass commercials.  I can never complain when offered the opportunity to enjoy the saga of the Long Long Man.  Also, now I have context for the Tarako references in the Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Video panels.

    Super Dimensional Crash Course - A Macross Series Overview - I'm admittedly biased, as I'm friends with both of the panelists, but considering that this was the first time either of them had done a panel anywhere I think they did a really good job.  I particularly liked the theme of the slides, complete with custom art to evoke the look of the Gunbuster science lessons.

    Rudolph to Rilakkuma: A Century of Japanese Stop-Motion - I'm really biased about this one, because it was mine!  I was a dink who forgot that there was no time-buffer between this and the previous one (and because my cell signal was so spotty in the panel rooms, my Guidebook reminder didn't go off on time), so I was a little late and there was a moment where I feared that my presentation froze up as my computer was still booting up.  Thankfully it all worked out, I managed to get it in under time, and I filled the freaking room!  

    Mecha Manga Worth Reading -  All of the series offered were solid selections (even if I was already familiar with everything that had been licensed in English).  In fairness, all 3 panelists are Otakon mecha panel regulars so I knew I was in safe hands.

    Government-Sponsored Anime - Again, a very interesting and information-dense topic that sadly had to rush its ending.

  4. The Good: 

    Having good sensible Covid policies and sticking to them.  Far too many cons of Otakon's size (and larger) went back on their policies or were not good about enforcing them, much to the peril of their attendees.  Otakon managed to learn well from those cons who did stick to their guns policy-wise and mask compliance was even better than last year (and last year was pretty good).  Best of all, based on what I've seen from my own friend group, the policy was a success - not a single positive test thus far!

    - Having badge pick-up at the partner hotels.  I wasn't able to make use of it myself because I was a panelist, but I still think that's a good way to help ease Thursday lines and hope it sticks around for next year.

    - More seating in the dealers hall.  They learned their lesson from last year and provided more places to sit, eat, and safely spread out without needing to lean upon the walls (and thus forcing staff to chase them away from the walls).  

    The Bad:

    - Unlike a lot of people, I didn't have a problem with the selection of all-ages panels.  What I did have a problem with was the lack of variety in 18+ programming.  I realize that's always going to be a more limited pool to pick from in general, but did we really need so many versions of the same old 'ha ha let's laugh at the random hentai/ecchi clips' format?

    - I'm still not a fan of the program they use for submitting panels.  Not only does it not seem to play well with whatever they use on the con's website to display the schedule (as we saw early on when the wrong portions of text were used for descriptions), it still can unpredictably bug out and alter applications.  I know anecdotally of one person whose applications disappeared entirely, who never received any notifications on panel app status and had to publicly reach out the panel staff for a response.  In my case, it un-ticked the portion that notated that one of my panels was 18+, leading it to get put on a schedule as an all-ages one.  I had to reach out to panel staff about that, which led to it getting removed and waitlisted (which was frustrating, because of the 2 of mine that were accepted, that was the one I wanted to perform the most).

    - Would it kill them to use the AMV theater instead of the video rooms for some of the video premieres?  I'm mostly thinking of the Macross 7 and Gunbuster dub screenings, which were in one of the smaller video rooms.  I had to skip out on the latter because I saw that line and knew I wouldn't have a chance at getting in.

    - Why did it take them so long to get the Guidebook schedule up?  I get that it takes some time to finalize things, but not having it ready until literally a few days before the con was ridiculous.

    The Ugly:

    - Yeah...the Saturday lines.  We've all pretty much covered it at this point.  I will say that to the credit of the staff, they reacted quicker than I would have expected.  I first heard about the entrance line problems on social media around 1PM, when I had left the center to hang out with friends.  By the time I returned at 3PM, the situation had been cleared up there and at the dealers hall.  I'm glad I missed out on the crush for the latter - one of my roommates got caught in it and it got real dodgy for a bit.  Thankfully no one got hurt.  I also agree that at this point, making some signage about the metal detector screening procedure to put in both the convention center and Marriott lines would be a sensible move.

    - I do feel like that the best way to avoid that problem in the future is to not sell day-passes.  Yes, they may not get those record-breaking numbers (and profits), but it would allow them to better estimate and control the crowds they do get and to allow the con to keep growing at a more sustainable rate.

    - I don't know why Otakon will not fix their autograph line situation.  They need to adopt a ticket system, where a set number of tickets are available for a given 15 minute interval.  It would mean that you wouldn't have to show up early just to guarantee a spot in line, nor that you could end up walking away empty-handed because the line didn't move or because a certain voice actor's enormous line wouldn't end up taking up all the space for those waiting for autographs other guests as it did on Saturday.  

  5. My favorite was easily the Japonisme panel.  I knew some of the basics from previous art history lessons, but I never really knew how many of the trends in 19th century art were in part reactions to Japanese art (be it in imitation of it or a reaction against it), and he didn't shy away from some of the more uncomfortable truths in that history.  The presenter works for a museum and that experience really served him well, as his presentation was well-researched and well-presented.

    Art of the Eyecatch was fun.  Not necessarily a lot of concrete information in that one, but still a good showcase of trends and how such a simple little part of anime has changed over the years.

    I loved Companies That Knew Nothing About ANIME FAN WANTS, but that was almost a given because George Horvath is always a good, consistent panelist.  I had seen the previous version of this at Anime Lockdown, but the additions he made to this version made it even better and more complete.

    I was ready to be skeptical of Best Anime Movies You've Never Seen, but the panelist put together a pretty good selection of titles that struck a reasonable balance between old standards, cult classics, and more modern selections.  Also, he had physical handouts with the full list on them, which was a nice touch.

    There was a lot more manga-centric programming in general than I've seen in previous years.  Recommendations, artist spotlights, quiz shows, and most of them were pretty well done.  It's a nice change of pace, and I hope it sticks.

    Speaking of trends in panels, I know Otakon has always been a pretty pro-mecha panel place, but maybe they don't need half a dozen different Gundam panels?  Even as a fan of the franchise, it feels a bit like overkill.

    Overall, I was fairly happy with the programming.  I only saw one that I would call a dud, and that was mostly because it was just too beginner-level for my personal taste.  

    (note: I was one of the panelists for Manga Like It's 1999 and The Wonderful World of Yas.  Both went well despite slightly inconvenient timeslots, and my only wish would have been for a bigger audience for the last one.  Oh well.)

  6. On 7/30/2019 at 8:02 PM, xenoglossy said:

    I'd also like to give a shout-out to the other of the whole two panels I attended, Shoujo Manga's Lost Generation. It was a fascinating topic (that I had known nothing about) and very well-presented--the panelist was a great speaker and organized her information well.

    As the presenter of Shojo Manga's Lost Generation: thank you!  I put a lot of love and research into that panel, and I'm glad it came through.

    Overall I enjoyed most of the panels I attended and in most cases any complaints I had were minor ones.

    BIRTH, DEATH & REBIRTH OF THE OVA: I do agree that it wasn't as paced as well as it should be, although the presenter noted that this was his first time running the panel.  Being a little more selective about clips and/or using shorter ones in the future would fix that easily.  I just figured his repeating himself was due either to nerves or a speech impediment like a stutter, so I wasn't about to ding him too hard for that.

    SENTAI FILMWORKS: What a waste of time.  Less than half an hour, even with breaks for giveaway games, and nothing to announce other than a few dubs.  Last year wasn't all that different and maybe only moderately longer, but it had more energy and the announcements (particularly that for the Land of the Lustrous dub) more notable.  Apparently Funimation's was no better, and if either of them aren't going to make an effort, then I have to ask why they even bother to do panels at Otakon.  At least we always have Discotek.

    FUDO-HA! HISTORY OF YOSHOKO CUISINE:  I really wanted to like this one, but the presentation was a little scatterbrained and the presenters lacked energy.  I'm sympathetic to having to wrangle a kid while presenting, but I do agree that she needed to be away from the table as she was a major distraction.  

    DENPA MANGA LICENSING: This wasn't your traditional manga publisher panel, but instead more of a focus on how a manga gets licensed from research down to contracts.  Probably more technical than a lot of folks would be looking for, but I found it fascinating.  Lots of good audience questions too.

    STUDIO ORANGE: This was one of my highlights, which is a surprise considering how late these guests were added to the schedule.  A bit generalized, but it was interesting to learn about the staff behind Orange and how they make their particular brand of CG animation.

    LIVE DRAWING WITH TRIGGER: An absolute delight, although I wish they had considered line placement a little more.  I was on the far right side, and while I could see Imaishi's drawing just fine, I couldn't see the panelists themselves at all because of all the people and had an equally hard time keeping up with Koyama's drawing. I'm sure those on the left side had a similar, if opposite problem. Had they rearranged the chairs a little to create a center aisle for a line, that would have been better for the audience as a whole.

    POP 80S JAPAN: Ended up at this one by accident, as I wasn't aware the Women of Gundam panel was cancelled until I got in the room.  Still, Viga brought a lot of energy to it and made what could have been a very broad, nebulous concept fun and interesting.

    ANIME OPS & EDS THE MAN DOESN'T WANT YOU TO SEE: George always puts on a good panel.  This was the only one of his I was able to see this year (which is a shame, as I was really looking forward to the history of shonen manga one he did in particular), but it was as diverse, humorous, and well researched as I've come to expect from him.

    INSIDE THE CREATION OF MUSHISHI, FLOWERS OF EVIL & THE REFLECTION WITH HIROSHI NAGAHAMA:  Another highlight.  Nagahama is just a very entertaining speaker who has worked on a lot of interesting shows and OVAs.  As a manga fan, I appreciate how much his own love for the works he's adapted shines through in his stories.  This makes up for having to miss all of his panels at Sakuracon this year.

    THE CHRONICLES OF BRIGHT NOA: As someone who is a fan of Bright, I really appreciate this look into a character who doesn't get a lot of appreciation both in-series and by Gundam fans at large.  If I had any critiques, it would be that the presenter could stand to use more clips and images in the presentation and make it feel less like an outline.  I hope he does it again after the Hathaway's Flash movies come out.

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