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Otakon Panel Feedback 2019

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No one started a thread yet so I'll go ahead. I want to a lot of good ones!

Trigger's Live Drawing QnA was great! Live drawings should happen more often. The tech set up so each screen had a different artist was perfect. Way more interesting than a general QnA.

Love Live School Idol Panel by SuperSho was very informative. She knows a lot more about it since she can access materials we can't in the states and knows the Japanese side of the fandom first hand. It was like a "This year in Love Live" panel and would be good to have each year as the series continues.

Evan Minto's In Defense of CG Anime taught me a lot about it that gave me a deeper appreciation and understanding of CG in anime. Him and Nate AM's Animation in Anime was amazing as well, and taught a lot about techniques and unique techniques animators created in anime. I'd like to see their panels again next year. Great choice to have them as featured presenters.

Anime in Non Anime is always hilarious! There's always something new that makes me lose it laughing!

Passionate Idol Activities: The Aikatsu Panel was fun. They had a lot of passion about the subject! It mostly focused on OG Aikatsu and I was hoping for a full look at the Aikatsu series, but I KNOW that would take so long.

Genshiken and Beyond: The Works of Kio Shimoku introduced me to more from one of my favorite manga-ka. It was like a retrospective of their work, and a lot isn't known in the states, so it was news to a lot! It inspires me to do a similar panel for a favorite manga-ka of mine.

Kiki's Delivery Service 30th with Hirokatsu Kihara was great. What a charismatic guest with great stories about Ghibli! So much rare art and motivational talking about art! Keep inviting them!

I only got to see the Sunday AniBeat Concert Series, but this is an idea that should return. I see it as a way for young talented fans to perform, learn, and grow. I watched two young local idols perform and saw potential. Keep this experiment going for a few years.

Twenty Years Ago: Anime in 1999 was just a nostalgia trip for me since that's the year I became a fan. I gotta re-watch some of those shows. I love this concept. Please accept it next year, I look forward to 2000.

 

The Panels I gave were:

Weirdest Japanese Commercials

Pop 80's Japan

The Idols of Anime

 

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I always try to go to as many panels as possible. Also, :excl: warning :excl:, as a graphic designer I am very critical of the organization and look of presentations. Here's what I managed to go to this year: 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
FRIDAY
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Parade of 100 Demons: Yokai Festivals 
I think I showed up about 10 minutes late to this one (9am panels ftw), but it was super good. Panelists had a great presentation, did their research and had some laughs along the way. Loved there were actual video clips of the festivals. 

Abrakadabra! Magic Systems in Anime
This was alright - a little dry, but well explained. There were a few slides that had too much information on them. Don't make your audience sit in front of a wall of text. Break it up - include more images or video of some of the magical systems being explained. 

Dark Horse Manga
Always a great panel, I attend this one almost every year. Dark Horse publishes some amazing stuff, and I look forward to the overview of what they've published in the past, what they have currently, and their new stuff in the works. Presenter was great, super knowledgeable and interesting. 

J-Fashion for Guys 
I was pretty intrigued by this since it's a topic I don't know much about. I feel bad because the presenter came in late because he got lost, so he was a bit flustered starting the panel, and I think it through off his pacing. I left about halfway through and ran over to catch the latter half of: 

Product Placement in Anime 
This was great and super entertaining. Another great panel by the Nerdy Couple. Wish I had caught the whole panel. 

Yurei, Yokai, & School Girls
Another one I wasn't able to catch the beginning of, but wish I had! Was really interesting and covered alot of different examples. 

Evangelion: Enter the Multiverse! 
The presenter mentioned being a bit nervous, but did a great job - definitely very passionate about Eva. My Evangelion interest is a bit high right now, after watching the Netflix release, so it was great to see examples of other Eva stories and how different/weird they are. Loved the video game examples - didn't know that ANY of those existed. 

LGBT in AMV
Came in late to this one and watched some great AMVs. 

Awesomely BAD Japanese Music Videos
This was my first time going to this. Great weird/awful/hilarious videos. I was kind of missing any commentary by the presenters to setup or talk about any of the videos, but if the plan is to show as many vids as possible, I can see why they didn't talk. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
SATURDAY
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Women Who Write Shounen and Seinen Manga 
Love manga and love ladies who make Shounen and Seinen, so this was right up my alley. I missed a little bit of the beginning, but there were a ton of artists and series that were covered. I have a lot of new manga to look up and read! Shout-out that they mentioned my fave series Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida. :wub:

New Anime for Older Fans 
I think I've only been in this panel a couple other times - it's always great. Presenters know what they're doing - nice summaries of the shows, great clips, the two presenters work well together. I'm probably going to watch all the ones they recommended. I already watched two eps of Skull Faced Bookseller Honda San last night - soooooo good!

In Defense of CG Anime
I definitely went into this with the mindset of "I don't like CG anime - it looks awful" and the presenter changed my mind! :lol: Showed so many good examples of CG done well, and honestly some that were so well done they almost look hand-drawn. Great presenter - super knowledgeable. Entertaining and informative panel. 

Hetomato and Other Peculiar Days: Unique & Interesting Festivals of Japan 
Another great panel on festivals. Super informative, great panelists. 

The Otakon Gameshow
This was probably the most disappointing panel/event I attended. First, there was no description in the Guidebook app, so I thought maybe the old game show was back which I LOVED, but they announced early on that it was not. BUMMED. They started off with a ball pit contest where people from the audience had to dig through it and find marked balls, but I couldn't even see them doing this because it was on the floor in the very front of the panel and idk, I left early because it didn't seem like it was going to get any better. Just seemed kind of jumbled together. 

Gameshow Impossibru: Retro Gaming Challenge
First time I've been to this panel, and it was hilarious. Loved all the gaming challenges - super fun. I'd go see this again. 

Figures to the Max! Blinded by BOObs
The only 18+ panel this year. Was very informative about how to buy figures in general and showcased 18+ figures. I was SO tired though that I left a little early. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
SUNDAY
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Didn't make any panels on Sunday because I was after some last minute gifts in the dealer's room. :(

But! I did make it to the Diana Garnet and Nano concert. Super good! 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
SERIOUSLY THOUGH
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If anyone needs a second eye on their panel presentation, or wants some help spiffing it up. Let me know. 

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28 minutes ago, mellow-osity said:

Awesomely BAD Japanese Music Videos

 

This was my first time going to this. Great weird/awful/hilarious videos. I was kind of missing any commentary by the presenters to setup or talk about any of the videos, but if the plan is to show as many vids as possible, I can see why they didn't talk.

Normally there ARE hosts sitting at that front table who do provide some commentary and setup (although sometimes they don't anyway; honestly some of these videos are funnier if you know nothing). But according to the AMV Theater folks, apparently the hosts couldn't make it to the con this year (or couldn't be there Friday night at least? Not sure) and were kind enough to send their videos so the panel could still take place without them.

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I only looked into two fan panels all Otakon, and four Industry panels.

THE ANIME TRANSFORMATION APPRECIATON STATION:  This was Champion JK's panel, and one of the first of the con.  It nearly filled the room, which impressed me.  As for content, it was berry much everything I hoped it would be, as he went thru some of the coolest of such sequences in all anime.

MOON PRISM POWER MAKE-UP!  A GUIDE TO TRANSGENDER REPRESENTATION IN ANIME AND OTHER MEDIA:  This was the other fan panel high on my radar, and was worth it.  I don't recall the presenters, but I liked how they gave a brief history at the beginning before highlighting several charas from anime & otherwise.  There were even a few that I didn't know about, and they did a decent job explaining how they were represented.  They admitted more could've been added to the presentation, but time constraints.

Now to the Industry panels, this faerie's main course.  The SENTAI FILMWORKS panel had a couple announces, and stayed true to its short & sweet format.  I love their sizzle reels.  Speaking of sizzle reels, the FUNIMATION, ANIPLEX, and DISCOTEK panels all had one each as well.  Sadly no new announces from Funi.  Aniplex had two, but the highlight for me was everyone doing the jingle every time it came up.  I love that in their panels.  Finally, the last of which was the best of which.  They blazed thru 12 announces, started with a bang, and got me really hyped for the Kemono Friends dub because of who's playing who.

So that's my short panel report for 2019.  Maybe I should try to fit in more fan panels next year, maybe even one of yours Viga.

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Not to be a downer but I guess I will ask again since I feel a nagging to do so:

My panel didn't make it in again and I'd like to have theories/ guesses as to why (I let fate decide if I went to Otakon or AX depending on which, if any, accepted my panel. AX did, but with all the hassle AX was as a con, I'd much rather jsut stick with Otakon or more local cons in the future.) Any advice for the future is appreciated. It could just be the con had lots of good panels already, even though I submitted my pitch pretty early (January 4th holy cow lol). Maybe Otakon doesn't want to touch the topic of mental health.
 

Panel Description: Koe no Katachi is a story of how depression and disabilities can greatly impact how we live out lives. As someone who deals with both depression and a hearing aid, I'll be discussing how these are portrayed in the movie, and how it compares to the realities of living with both. Followed by a Q&A.

 

 

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Oh man, I missed out on some neat stuff!  Events like this really make me wish I could clone myself.  I only got to attend three panels in their entirety, but one of them was a big 'un:

The Q&A session by voice-acting legend Kikuko Inoue.  I'd had my heart set on this panel, and she made it well worth the wait.  Pity I couldn't get her autograph, though.  I also had fun at Daryl Surat's Anime's Craziest Deaths panel (that's become a yearly tradition for me) and at the Anime Openings & Endings The Man Doesn't Want You To See panel; this veteran otaku enjoyed seeing the original openings for Zeta Gundam and Kodocha one last time.

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8 hours ago, WorldisYours said:

Normally there ARE hosts sitting at that front table who do provide some commentary and setup (although sometimes they don't anyway; honestly some of these videos are funnier if you know nothing). But according to the AMV Theater folks, apparently the hosts couldn't make it to the con this year (or couldn't be there Friday night at least? Not sure) and were kind enough to send their videos so the panel could still take place without them.

Oh yeah. As I follow one of the hosts on Twitter, I was aware ahead of time that they couldn't make it to the convention this year, with the AMV Theater staff handling things this year instead. Personally, they did a great job, as the lack of commentary allowed for more videos, with many of the classics being shown (and me joining along with the usual fun).

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Whew, there's a lot to talk about this Otakon. The pure amount of stuff I was interested in seeing made it the absolute busiest I've ever been at an Otakon to the point where I barely had any time just to walk around the con floor or hang out with friends. I'm not complaining though.

In chronological order:

Character Animation in Anime: Ayy, we're starting with one of Evan and mine! From a presenter's perspective, everything was in order as always. The panel itself…went alright. There are a lot of things I'd like to have done better or differently (starting with giving it literally any other name), and I think the just under 4 star rating in Guidebook reflects this fairly. Very briefly: it could've been more concise (we cut like 2/5ths of our content on the fly), it could've been better ordered (oh god why did we put A Silent Voice first?), the screencaps probably weren't always clearly readable from the audience, and it could've put things in better context. I'm a bit disappointed that some of my weakest work opened my first Otakon as a featured presenter (!!?), but I love the subject and really hope Evan and I get to try something like this again!

Sayuri Hara's journey to joining Laid Back Camp: First of all, I like that Japanese guests having actual descriptive panel titles and descriptions is becoming more common. Sayuri Hara was charming even on almost no sleep and had many excellent anecdotes. "Japanese guest whose handlers let them do what they want" is pretty much my favorite type of content.

Studio Orange with Watanabe and Yoshibe: I find Studio Orange's work fascinating and love to hear from Yoshihiro Watanabe whenever he makes the trip over. Yotube was just along for the ride on this one, though he did give a pretty good answer to my question about digital tools for 2D animation.

Live Drawing with Studio Trigger: Wakabayashi, Sushio, and Tattsun are all well known quantities by now, so I'm not going to bother giving Tattsun a hard time about a particular interpretation choice, but the Trigger crew are always a good time. Live drawing panels are great, Trigger is great, Imaishi is great (and surprisingly reserved!), and they all seemed to enjoy being there and talking with us. A shame they couldn't field more questions, but that was always going to be the case.

In Defense of CG Anime: I only got there a half hour late, and I already had plenty of time to talk with Evan, so I don't have much to say other than "it's a good panel and you should keep on approving his ideas, and not just because he's a friend."

The History of Japanese Animation as created by Masao Maruyama: I'm glad to have Maruyama back, and this was a perfectly fine panel, but…it was also basically just an Anime Openings Throughout the Decades style show. He didn't really comment on much of any of it. I'm sure he had good stories about each and every one of these titles he showed, but he just let it roll. This was a missed opportunity for a real legend of anime to share some history that might quite literally die with him one day. I really hope he goes ahead with his plans to publish a memoir.

Anime and Manga Studies 60 Years In – And Where to Next: I…have some opinions about the presenter, who I didn't recognize in the flesh until he said his twitter handle at the end, but this was a solid, informative panel. As someone considering going to grad school for academic film studies with an aim to participating in proper anime scholarship, this was all good information that I didn't necessarily know looking on from the outside.

Navigating the Japanese Entertainment Industry with Diana Garnet: I only came in on the last half, but again, almost any guest who is given even a little bit of freedom to just talk will almost never fail to be a good time.

Henshin Heroes 2.22: You Can [Not] Henshin: When I walked in, I knew ---- all about Kamen Rider. When I left, I knew slightly more than ---- all about Kamen Rider. s/o for being the first panel I've been to about a show for little kids to have an actual little kid on it. Adorable af.

From East to West: Anime and the West's Influences on Each Other: Another panel I only came in on for the back half of. Justin and Yuki can hold a room pretty well, as pretty much anyone who goes to their panels can attest to. This one was mostly Justin talking about title-related, which was mostly stuff I already knew about, but I'm also an old hand and not the intended audience.

Studio Trigger Panel: They talked a bit about Promare. Did they talk in as much detail as I'd have liked? Nope. Was it still worthwhile? Yep. I'd have liked a chance to ask them questions about it though. I guess they figured they'd just never be able to field even an eighth of the resulting line.

Beyond the Great Hakurei Barrier: Touhou Project and Its Impact on Doujin Culture: I love Touhou and being around Touhou fans (I mean, obviously, I even mentioned it in my guidebook description), but this is the first Touhou-related panel I've actually been to. The two people running it (whose real names I forget) did an excellent good job of capturing what the scene is all about and never descended into memes and in-jokes. I'm not sure why I came, but I'm glad I did. Let them run it again next year if they come.

Animation 101: The 12 Principles of Bouncing a Ball: This was pretty much Richard Williams' The Animator's Survival Kit in panel form, but very well presented. If I had to suggest something, I think the host could've tied it in a bit better with how they actually animate in Japan. The 12 principles are pretty universal, but the way they find expression in Japanese animation can sometimes be markedly different from the old Disney and WB canon, which is what the 12 principles as articulated in the panel are geared towards. I ought to buy some Japanese books on animation and translate excerpts one day.

Animation in Anime: Ayy another one of ours! This one I'm actually quite proud of – and again, the guidebook score seems to reflect this. It helps that this is the second time we've run this together, but I was a bit uncertain how my bit about Yoshiji Kigami and KyoAni would go over (or even if I wouldn't start crying on stage). The answers, to my relief, are "splendidly" and "almost, but no."

Live Animation with Naoki Yoshibe: web系きぼん!This time Yoshibe got a chance to answer more questions while showing off his excellent effects animation skills. Definitely my kind of content, and judging from the audience, their kind of content too.

Anime Goes to Hollywood: This is pretty much just Evan talking about primarily American adaptations of anime and manga, and again I don't have much to say about it other than to confirm that it's good lol.

––

I might be forgetting some stuff, but that's already a lot.

 

6 hours ago, ShiroNyako said:

Not to be a downer but I guess I will ask again since I feel a nagging to do so:

My panel didn't make it in again and I'd like to have theories/ guesses as to why (I let fate decide if I went to Otakon or AX depending on which, if any, accepted my panel. AX did, but with all the hassle AX was as a con, I'd much rather jsut stick with Otakon or more local cons in the future.) Any advice for the future is appreciated. It could just be the con had lots of good panels already, even though I submitted my pitch pretty early (January 4th holy cow lol). Maybe Otakon doesn't want to touch the topic of mental health.
 

Panel Description: Koe no Katachi is a story of how depression and disabilities can greatly impact how we live out lives. As someone who deals with both depression and a hearing aid, I'll be discussing how these are portrayed in the movie, and how it compares to the realities of living with both. Followed by a Q&A.

Otakon rejects safe panels from proven panelists routinely, so I wouldn't necessarily blame it on either your subject matter or your pitch. I haven't found that submitting early or late has any bearing on success rate either. Sometimes it just seems like plain luck. I'd submit it again next year and hope for the best.

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I don't remember previous panels being this bad but felt the need to voice my concerns:

Parade of 100 Demons: Yokai Festivals [F]  - The lady speaking was fantastic and the images and descriptions were really informative. The obnoxious guy on the left of the table was loud, boorish and felt the need to add pithy commentary every few seconds which contributed nothing to the panel and event got into a semantics debate on how to pronounce Krampus.

Yokai Stories with Hirokatsu Kihara [G]  - Thoroughly disappointing. I get that the speaker wanted to scare us but the jump scares were wildly inappropriate. Screaming and shrieking into the mic was not fun. Had a friend who was nursing while it happened, terrified the child who freaked out.

Japanese Cuisine: More than Just Sushi and Ramen [F]  - Also really disappointing. The lady speaking was fantastic albeit nervous and due to lack of childcare the parents opted to have their kid sit at the table talking into the mic. It was 15 minutes before the kid had a meltdown. The husband clearly wasn't contributing to the conversation except to tell people the sushi they have is not real sushi (this was an ongoing joke between my friends for the rest of the weekend); why not have him take the kid elsewhere where she can run around and be a kid? I don't blame her at all but lousy logistics on the parents behalf was REALLY off-putting.

Genshiken and Beyond: The Works of Kio Shimoku [F]  - Fantastic panel. Very informative and got me interested in Kio Shimoku's later work.

The Real Ninja [F]  - Informative but bland. The Powerpoint text was really small. Quizzed the audience often which led to a lot of dead air. Also, the questions were ambiguous, leading to even more ambiguous answers, which aren't helpful.

The Imperial Family: A Closer Look [F]  - Probably the worst public speaker I saw this weekend which is a shame since the subject matter was really helpful. He couldn't go more than 4-5 words without saying um and ah or uh, which I get. Public speaking isn't for everyone, I get that, but don't speak in a normal speaking tone and then put crazy amounts of emphasis on uh, almost to the point of shouting. For instance, he was talking about the royal family and said, "So he married, UM, and had 5 concubines, UH, and like, had 7 kids."

New Anime for Older Fans [F]  - Disappointing only because they put emphasis on a small handful of anime then using a larger sample to introduce. This was bad because if there was anime mentioned that you weren't interested in, you had to wait 5+ minutes for them to move on. I ended up leaving early because there were several anime mentioned that I didn't care much for. The ones I missed may have been awesome but I gave up halfway.

**

The administrative logistics of Otakon has always been pretty bad and this year was no different (and in some ways was worse). We were turned away from stairs for seemingly no good reason. After trying to find the AMV room, a friend and I wound up on an elevator to the correct floor only to be turned away. The guy turning us away said this space was for VIP's. That's fine. But why not shut down the elevator or, I don't know, have proper signage? I saw door keepers holding loud conversations IN the panel rooms which is super distracting. Actually a lot of people thought having conversations in the back of the room was appropriate (spoiler alert: it isn't).

Suggestions for the Otakon Staff:

  • Proper signage. Do a walk through of the space and get a sense of where good signage would be helpful.
  • The black lanyards I got from picking up my badge were really sharp. Did anyone else think this?
  • Tell the door keepers to not talk. I get that their job is boring but it's very distracting for people who are trying to listen to the panelists.
  • Teasing the AMV Finalists with an AMV entry that you aren't going to show is worthless. Either show it or don't include a title card and don't mention it at all.
  • Do not have building staff or Otakon staff stand in the way of traffic, especially the escalators.
  • Open both doors to allow proper traffic flow.
    • Let people leave before allowing people in.
  • Please bring back Typing of the Dead to the game room.

Suggestions for the Panelists:

  • Practice your lecture prior to Otakon.
    • Be wary of too many filler words like Uh, Um, Ah, Like, You know.
      • Definitely do NOT put emphasis on these words.
      • If you find yourself tripping over your words, take a few seconds to think about your sentence before speaking.
  • Don't have your kid sit at the panelist table, it's unfair to your kid and it's unfair to the audience.
  • If you use Powerpoint make sure your text is legible.
  • Broad sweeping statements is ignorant.
    • Saying the sushi the audience is eating is not real sushi is pretty idiotic.
    • Don't quiz the audience. Assume they know nothing of the subject matter.
      • Asking questions about the subject matter to the audience leads to a lot of dead air.
  • If you don't contribute to the panel, do NOT sit at the panelist table.
    • Colorful commentary does not count as a contribution.
    • Arguing with the audience does not count as a contribution.
    • Conversations about Tinder does not count as a contribution.

Final thoughts: I know I come across as complaining about Otakon but I do really love my time there. Especially while in DC, it's such an convenient convention to go and there's many things to love. I really wish Otakon would learn from previous cons but this seems to never happen. My best friend and I were comparing this to Awesomecon which seems to run a lot better. I know the scale is different but there are no hiccups (that I experienced) with Awesomecon that I experience every year with Otakon. My best friend kept asking, "Is it me or is Otakon getting worse every year?" This is not something we should ask ourselves every year.

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On 7/29/2019 at 1:12 PM, mellow-osity said:

 

Product Placement in Anime 
This was great and super entertaining. Another great panel by the Nerdy Couple. Wish I had caught the whole panel. 

 

Thank you so much for the positive feedback! I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Everyone seemed to have a good time. We’ve got some fun ideas lined up for next year if Otakon has us back!

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22 hours ago, TnAdct1 said:

Oh yeah. As I follow one of the hosts on Twitter, I was aware ahead of time that they couldn't make it to the convention this year, with the AMV Theater staff handling things this year instead. Personally, they did a great job, as the lack of commentary allowed for more videos, with many of the classics being shown (and me joining along with the usual fun).

I really appreciate that they sent the videos anyway and I'm fine with the lack of commentary, but since they knew they weren't going to be there, I wish they'd edited in basic title cards or subtitles with the song name and/or artist, or something like that. Some videos had their own title cards, of course, but for the rest of them I have absolutely zero idea how to find them again to inflict them on other people, which I would've liked to be able to do. I guess, since it sounds like a lot of the videos were repeats from previous years, they just expected everyone would already know, but it's a bit frustrating for people new to the panel. It was otherwise a lot of fun, though!

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.

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11 hours ago, RFS said:

Teasing the AMV Finalists with an AMV entry that you aren't going to show is worthless. Either show it or don't include a title card and don't mention it at all.

If you are talking about the Best Non-Finalist winner at the AMV Contest results, Vic gave a legit reason for this: as great as the video is, this isn't one that can't be shown in general hours due to the gory violence (which was the only reason it didn't make the finals in the first place).

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ANIBeat Idol Festival Concert [F+] – The women who organized and performed in this concert were amazingly talented. Each had their own unique idol persona and strengths while the song choices contained a nice variety – so there truly was something for everyone here. I was also incredibly impressed by the craftsmanship and musical skill that went into each performance. Developing a persona (complete with interests, cheers, and color of choice), assembling a costume, learning the songs (often in Japanese!) and dance routines, and having the nerve to put it all together on stage is no small feat! And one of the idols managed to do it all while wearing a leg brace (obviously not by choice)! However, having the event somewhere that allows for a more concert-like feel would be appreciated. While sitting on the floor and at tables was more comfortable, the ability to stand and move around would take this already high-energy event to the next level and make it feel more like a true live. Also, having a well promoted list of all of the participating idols would be helpful because I loved some of the performances and definitely wanted to check out the groups’ other work/public social media but had no clue what to search for. Overall, a great concept and execution on a first year event and I hope to see the ANIBeat Idol Stage and its lovely idols back next year!

ANIBeat Idol Festival Meet and Greet [F+] – Admittedly, I did not stay for the full duration of this event, but it seemed (at least at first) to be lacking in structure. Some of the idols definitely came prepared to interact with cheki, etc. but having a designated line, table, etc. for each performer would have both expedited and encouraged the process. On a positive note, I love the concept of having a “meet and greet” after the live and definitely would have stayed longer if the process for interacting with each idol had been laid out. I hope that this comes back bigger and better next year!

Funimation Peep Show [18+] – The Funimation Peep Show is the first panel my friends and I add to our convention schedule each year. The clips are always hilarious, the Twitter feed is unreal, and Cookie is a clever hostess who always knows how to pump up the crowd! Every time I leave this panel with several new shows to add to my watch list (and usually wind up buying one or two of them from the Funimation Shop when I get home). Cookie also does an amazing job of balancing the Peep Show and making sure there’s a clip for everyone – no matter what gender or kink you’re into. In general, I can’t say enough great things about Funimation’s industry presence at conventions. It always seems like they truly care about providing attendees with an engaging experience and the Funimation Peep Show is the prime example of that. This is the best-constructed industry panel out there and the competition isn’t remotely close.

μnite presents: Wotagei 101 [F] – While the time slot for this workshop seemed a bit odd (starting at 12:30 AM?!) my idol loving friend and I came ready to learn all about wotagei and shout “HAI” way too many times. We were not disappointed! In fact, we got more than we ever expected out of this workshop and had an absurd amount of fun along the way. The structure of instruction first, followed by follow-the-leader style clips, ending with a fully DJ’d all-out wotagei free-for-all was genius and allowed for a great combination of support for newbies and chances for veterans to show off. The energy was on par with many small con dance parties and I hope that μnite and their friends get invited back to host a similar event next year.

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I've finally gotten around to (mostly) deciphering my hastily scibbled notes on the panels I attended.  I don't think I've ever considered a panel bad, as the presenters put their time and effort in to provide me entertainment. I do, however, try to list things that I feel affected the panel and try to provide (hopefully) useful suggestions that I feel might help future iterations of these panels. (Those who can't, critique.) Since this is subjective, take them with a grain of salt the size of Gibraltar. (My phone doesn't do apps, so I couldn't go through Guidebook.)


Part 1 - Friday


The Birth, Death, and Rebirth of the OAV - Covered the origins of the OAV/OVA in the early 80s, their subsequent rise in volume and popularity, eventual fall in the late 90s / early 00s, and 'rebirth' in the form of ONA (Original Net Animation) in recent years. The panel was informative but I feel the presenter was trying too hard to be funny, constantly cracking jokes during the clips shown. Also, he repeated himself several times and didn't time the presentation properly - he had to rush the last parts of the panel due to a lack of time. The panel could use some polish to smooth the presentation and fit the time allotted.

Saint Seiya's Masami Kurumada - I believe I saw some of this panel last year, as I remember seeing several slides from this one. The panel itself was well researched and flowed well, but could have been in a smaller room. (It was in Panel Room 1, but there were maybe 40 - 50 people in there at the most.) Not a knock on the panel, just that the space could have been utilized better.

The Rising Sun: The History of Imperial Japan - I only caught the last 15 minutes or so of this, but what I did catch was informative.

Whose Line is it Anime? - As the line goes, 'Dying is easy, comedy is hard.' It was an interesting idea (audience members improv comedy to clips of various anime), but the execution was lacking due to the nature of improvisation. It might have worked better if the presenters had been involved with the comedy instead of just being judges. (And even then, it was ultimately the audience that decided the winners.)

Planes, Trains, and Battleships" A Look at the Leijiverse - Looked into how the various creations of Leiji Matsumoto connect with each other. A fun panel, though I did ask why they mention 'planes' in the title without talking about "The Cockpit". (It turns out they have 2 versions of the panel - a 45 minute version that doesn't include it, and a 60 minute that does. They didn't expect a 60 minute slot.)

Richard Epcar's Famous Outtake Panel - I came in expecting a clip show, and that's what it was, but I was laughing the entire time. Worth the wait to get in to the show.

Awesomely BAD JMVs - Half the videos had me wondering W...T... actual...F.!?!?, but this was another entertaining, if nonsensical one.

Region Locked! Your Guide to Localization - This is another panel I believe I saw last year, covering similar material but this time with harsher language (18+ panel). Still fun watching how they were 'improved' by localization.
 

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Part 2 - Saturday (and Sunday)

Missing the Ma[rk]doka: 'Dark' Magical Girls Post-2011 - This panel explored how magical girl shows have always had a 'dark' side, and how more recent shows tend towards violence & body horror and away from sacrifice and the chance of redemption. A good panel, but short (35 minutes long).

New Anime for Older Fans - I went to this directly from the above panel, as it fills up quickly - there were a lot of repeat attendees, myself included. I probably won't get the chance to see their picks, but I'm always curious to see what's recommended. Didn't catch all of it, as I had to get to the next panel.

What the Heck is Japan Trying to Sell?! - A collection of weird Japanese commercials, including a series of Nicolas Cage pachinko commercials, a creepy Ronald McDonald, and, of course, Pepsiman! (I knew this one would fill up, so I bailed on the 'New anime' panel early.) Again, I knew this would be a clip show but it was still hilarious.

Here's That Rainy Day: A History of Japanese Jazz - I was surprised at how popular this one was - the room was packed. I was also surprised at how popular jazz is in Japan, and the presenter went through the history of Japan's jazz scene pre- and post-war, and played music of several prominent figures. There was some rush at the end, as the presenter went too long on some tracks and had to skimp at the end. (I'm pretty sure that he, like me, had his eyes closed and was just enjoying the sound.)

Fact & Fiction: The Real Events that Have Inspired Our Favorite Anime - I thought it would be about how some things in real life directly inspired certain shows (e.g. Grave of the Fireflies), but it was more on how certain groups were the source for some shows (e.g. Arthurian legend in the Fate franchise). Not what I expected, but still a good panel.

Liberty or Death: Code Geass and the American Revolution - The presenters gave a broad-strokes background of World and American history and how the timeline was different in the world of Code Geass. They also compared different characters in the anime to historical figures and how they were similar and how they differed. It was entertaining, but one of the presenters would 'um' a lot while speaking - perhaps another run through of the material would have reduced this. (I will admit this is a pet peeve of mine - the excessive use of 'um', 'like', and 'y'know' while talking. Drives me up a wall.)

Lupin III: Fifty Years of Anime - Went into the history of Lupin III and how it has lasted for half a century. The presenters were doing the panel as their characters (Lupin and Jigen), occasionally breaking into the presentation with in-character commentary. I was not a particular fan of this, as it broke the flow. I only caught about 1/2 of this one to get to the next panel.

Censorship in Anime: That's Your Cousin?! - Companion piece to Region Locked, they covered anime that's been altered by both the US and Japan. Included such things as strategically placed hair, water that hides body parts, and lighting that hides everything. Another funny panel, highly recommended.

Godzilla: Just a Giant Lizard? - Went into the history of the atomic bombing of Japan, its affect on the collective psyche of the nation, and how Gozilla became an allegory for the a-bomb. Then they went into how Godzilla changed in the movies and how the latest Japanese iteration (Shin Godzilla) was a metaphor for the Fukushima disaster. Worth getting up early on Sunday to see this one.

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On 7/30/2019 at 11:39 AM, RFS said:

 

The administrative logistics of Otakon has always been pretty bad and this year was no different (and in some ways was worse). We were turned away from stairs for seemingly no good reason. After trying to find the AMV room, a friend and I wound up on an elevator to the correct floor only to be turned away. The guy turning us away said this space was for VIP's. That's fine. But why not shut down the elevator or, I don't know, have proper signage? I saw door keepers holding loud conversations IN the panel rooms which is super distracting. Actually a lot of people thought having conversations in the back of the room was appropriate (spoiler alert: it isn't).

Suggestions for the Otakon Staff:

  • Proper signage. Do a walk through of the space and get a sense of where good signage would be helpful.
  • The black lanyards I got from picking up my badge were really sharp. Did anyone else think this?
  • Tell the door keepers to not talk. I get that their job is boring but it's very distracting for people who are trying to listen to the panelists.
  • Teasing the AMV Finalists with an AMV entry that you aren't going to show is worthless. Either show it or don't include a title card and don't mention it at all.
  • Do not have building staff or Otakon staff stand in the way of traffic, especially the escalators.
  • Open both doors to allow proper traffic flow.
    • Let people leave before allowing people in.
  • Please bring back Typing of the Dead to the game room

 

Many of the issues you raise are, unfortunately, pretty intractable. Communicating to 800 of our staff is a big enough challenge , but there are limits in communicating to dozens of building security through proper channels. Frankly, they’ve been massively better here than in Baltimore, but not all of them get the message.  

We keep adding more signs in key locations, and there are quite a few of them now, as well as roving info desks and several static ones.  Between them, guidebook app, the program book, and the built in signage, there is only so much we can do to help you navigate.

 It also isn’t really possible to shut down elevators or limit their access, but for other closures we would need to have more specifics about where you were denied access, or where staff (ours or the convention center red coats) blocked escalators or entry points.  Chances are there were reasons, but maybe they weren’t communicated well. Or maybe you just didn’t hear.  As for the door control, in most cases the doors are limited specifically to ensure we track entry and exit and avoid overcrowding.  Specific issues would help a lot, because there are a few hundred panels over the course of the con.

I am perplexed by the issue you reported with AMV theater.  Are you maybe referring to the third floor area where concerts are held, which did have limited access during key periods?  Do you have a room number? Was it a back hallway or something?  There were very few areas that were limited to “VIP” or to guests.

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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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On 7/30/2019 at 11:39 AM, RFS said:

The Imperial Family: A Closer Look [F]  - Probably the worst public speaker I saw this weekend which is a shame since the subject matter was really helpful. He couldn't go more than 4-5 words without saying um and ah or uh, which I get. Public speaking isn't for everyone, I get that, but don't speak in a normal speaking tone and then put crazy amounts of emphasis on uh, almost to the point of shouting. For instance, he was talking about the royal family and said, "So he married, UM, and had 5 concubines, UH, and like, had 7 kids."

I think I know who you're talking about. Pretty sure he did a Kancolle panel at Katsucon last year and drove my wife up the wall with the uhms. I think he may have also co-hosted the beer in Japan panel this year. 

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We didn't go to many panels this year, but I enjoyed the ones we did go to! We actually had to do quite a bit of weighing two equally-awesome sounding panels and picking one. The Friday morning Japanese sweets panel was great way to start the con; the panelists had a great rapport and were a hoot to listen to! I finally made it to Anime's Craziest Deaths and it was just as gloriously bonkers as I'd heard. It was sooo late in the day, though, and we were wiped the next day from staying up so late to see it. We managed to catch a bit of Awesomely Bad JMVs, and I hope this is brought back again next year so we can see the whole thing! We ended up going to Region Locked completely by accident, but it was pretty entertaining! We ended with the Persona 5 and Justice panel, which was super informative, although I wish they had a moderator to shut down some of the "color commentary" that kept getting shouted out from the audience. (Still annoyed we missed the Discotek panel, since it always seems to be scheduled during our lunchtime...)

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I did not get to see the New Anime for Old Fans panel. I showed up 20 minutes before the panel and kept waiting for the previous panel to let out. Apparently, the people were in the room for that panel, and there was no space for anyone. A bunch of us were waiting outside to get in, and I gave up eventually. Hold it in a much bigger room next time.

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We ended with the Persona 5 and Justice panel, which was super informative, although I wish they had a moderator to shut down some of the "color commentary" that kept getting shouted out from the audience. 

Hi! I was one of the panelists for this one. Glad you mostly enjoyed it - we were also super annoyed by the audience member(s) interjecting during the panel, but didn't really know how to deal with it at the time. This was actually our first panel ever so if we run it again we should hopefully be better at stopping that kind of thing. 

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21 hours ago, CarolineAndJustine said:

Hi! I was one of the panelists for this one. Glad you mostly enjoyed it - we were also super annoyed by the audience member(s) interjecting during the panel, but didn't really know how to deal with it at the time. This was actually our first panel ever so if we run it again we should hopefully be better at stopping that kind of thing. 

That was your first panel? I'm really impressed! I really enjoyed your explanation of how the themes of crime and justice in Persona related to the criminal justice system in Japan as a whole; I learned a lot. I hope you guys come back!

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