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Regarding the Women in Anime panel

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Hey staff! I had an overall good time, but there was one thing that kinda-- ah, I can't mince words-- that REALLY bothered me. I almost brought it up at the Feedback session but I figured it'd be better to articulate myself here as it's kinda long and my brain keeps jumping around to different points as to why I'm upset at this. 'cause there are LAYERS.

So, on Saturday, there was supposed to be a Women in Anime panel. Typically Otakon holds these panels almost every year. Description indicated this- that it would have all the English dub actress guests on the panel to talk about representations of women in anime and what it's like to be a woman in anime voiceover. Now, I find such discussion between actresses interesting (and important!). 4 different actresses were in the Guidebook description of the panel- and still were as of me checking last night after it was over. The panel starts and I notice Erika and Kari are sort of... hanging off to the side while Ellyn just goes on, Elizabeth nowhere in sight. At first I thought "oh, maybe she's holding a moderating role, that's cool, Elizabeth must just be late". But it soon became really obvious that this was her panel and the two of them were escorted away. 

Thankfully, I realized "oh, right, Ellyn Stern always holds one of these solo "Women in Anime" panels at cons she goes to- which I'm sure MANY congoers in the audience were not aware of. And, don't get me wrong, said panel was interesting when I first saw one a few years back, at Katsucon I think. But when you're told you're going to be seeing more or less a discussion between actresses and end up more with a lesson/lecture-style panel headed by a single panelist, it's a bit of a whiplash, and probably explains why people started leaving. It's also disappointing as I believe it was the only panel Kari was slated for this weekend besides the Samurai Champloo anniversary panel- so having such a big guest technically get snubbed of half their panels seems more than a bit disrespectful.

I figured I should tell y'all this you know why the panel is averaging like a 1.5 star rating on the Guidebook app, last I checked. I don't think it was objection to the panel's content- as it was important and good, and discussion about the portrayal of women in media is something that should absolutely happen- but rather, the fact that, well, it was falsely advertised. It should not be an indicator that congoers aren't interested in feminist content - just that, there's no mincing words, panel scheduling REALLY screwed this one up.  I gave it a three star rating in the hopes it'd bump up the average to indicate an interest in the contents while also communicating my displeasure at 1) not getting to see all the actresses discuss the subject together and 2) Kari and Erika basically getting snubbed. Were it not averaging so low, though, I'd have absolutely given it a 1. I'm sure others were upset because they were there to specifically see one or more of the other actresses only to have them, well, not be there or be outright escorted out, with no real explanation.

Admittedly, I ended up leaving about 25 minutes in as, again, I had seen this panel Ellyn has given before, and it really wasn't significantly updated. I thought I'd go check out some other stuff at the con, you know? Thus, if the other actresses came in later, I missed them. But I'm guessing from how Kari and Erika were escorted out of the room as opposed to sitting in the back, well... they didn't. If I'm wrong, do correct me.

And, again, to repeat- the description wasn't even updated to reflect the change, even after the panel was over. I will say that, upon going to the individual guests' pages and realizing that they have individual schedules, I decided to check out the actresses listed in the description. None of the other listed actresses besides Ellyn had the panel listed themselves. So while I'll give small kudos to that, that doesn't really change the fact the description is exactly as it was, which is what most people are gonna see- indicating it was not Ellyn's panel she gives at cons, but rather, the seemingly annual panel discussion between the voice actresses.

I've seen Otakon go through scheduling snafus a number of times but I feel like this is one of the absolute worst given the sight of two guests of honor just awkwardly made to stand to the side and barely being acknowledged, and in the process making another guest of honor look rude to those unaware of her history with solo panels like this when it was most likely (and I sincerely hope it was this) a case of unacceptable levels of wires being crossed. At least with other cases like the Dragonball panel last year it was a case of the panel being cancelled or something. But this is unacceptable, at least in my opinion, on an entirely new level.

Edited by Tachibana
fixing typo
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  • 3 weeks later...

As you said, wires got crossed. Sometimes it isn't clear until just a hair too late that that's happened.  With 200+ events on the schedule, it's almost inevitable.

Privately, I'm going to suggest that Ellyn use a less generic name for her panel to avoid similar mishaps, much like Richard does with his outtakes panel.

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