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It's time again!

I'm afraid I didn't go to many fan panels myself due to simply not being able to spend as much time at the convention as I'd have liked. I prioritized industry guests for what time I had, so that's what the majority of my feedback is for. I suppose it's useful for English-speaking guests if for some reason they ever wanted to read this board, for Otakon to see what 99th percentile engagement members like us thought about their guest selection, and to pick up on any issues they have it in their power to fix as hosts, but c'mon that's not actually what we're doing here, right? When it comes to guests, we're mostly here to chat, and only secondarily here to give useful feedback to whoms't've it may concern.

Anyway, in chronological order,

Studio Orange: I say this every year, but damn, Yoshihiro Watanabe has fascinating things to share every time he comes to Otakon and you should definitely keep inviting him. Great guy too.

Mahjong Club: Dave and Carl gave a splendid introduction to the culture around Mahjong and why, in their opinion, it totally rules. This is actually the first time I've seen them do a panel despite knowing Dave for a while. He has a good, low energy charisma, and together he and Carl have a charming style. I envy their ability to be so effortlessly educational and informative.

Art Nouveau and Japan: A decent panel about Japonisme. Maybe this is unsurprising coming from a sakuga nerd, but what compelled me the most was that they took the time to highlight specific formal elements of Edo-period art and how they translated into what ultimately became Art Nouveau. That may sounds like a low bar, but I feel you could easily find yourself caught up in Japonisme as purely social history, and lose track of the art itself. I could nitpick about their characterization of the political context of the Bakumatsu, Meiji, and Taishou eras, but that's ultimately not so important to their thesis.

Who are Kyoto Animation?: Ayy, this one's mine! I could give you a long, long debriefing, but despite not having a real ending, I'd say the panel went pretty well. I'm confident that this is some of my strongest material, and I got a good reaction from the audience. The trouble was mostly that I didn't have time to go through my VLC playlist even once, which led to some scuff and put me well behind pace in a way that I couldn't make up. I was also reading off a script as an expedient, which I've never done and don't like doing, but it didn't ultimately matter as much as I feared. It's ultimately my fault that I was so hideously crunched for time leading up to the con, but while it wasn't the best panel I've ever given like I hoped it might be, I'm still…decently happy?

Future of Anime and Virtual Realty: If I understand right, Watanabe suggested bringing these guys over, and if the question is whether you should listen to Watanabe the next time he suggests inviting his friends, the answer is "yes!" If the question is "how interesting were these guys as guests?" the answer is more ambiguous. VR is interesting, no doubt. It's a new frontier: we're still figuring out very basic things about how virtual interactions and experiences ought to work, and it's all bound by practical technological limits. Otaku culture already has an interesting and distinct relationship with it. Honestly though, most of these projects Gugenka has been pursuing seem…less than exciting, especially the metaverse and NFT stuff. I don't regret hearing Kiral's pitch, but I don't think he sold many people.

Yuki Hayashi vs Kaoru Wada: I liked the format, and they both had interesting things to say about themselves and their work. Wada has been here before iirc, but I'd never been to one of his panels.

Government Sponsored Anime: I was on this panel, but it was mostly Jae. We only found out we were doing the panel when we saw it on the schedule, and the guy who submitted it got scheduled against himself and couldn't even be there. I was already extremely busy with my KyoAni panel when we found out, so I couldn't really contribute to panel prep work in a meaningful way despite being the anime industry SME in our group. Not the greatest situation! I don't think the result was bad, but it…could've been tighter lol. I'll have to sit down with Jae and figure out how to organize it in a way which isn't dumb.

Motonobu Hori: Another great guest with a lot to say about the recently departed Osamu Kobayashi. I think the timing was excellent to have someone with Hori's experiences over to talk about them, although obviously he was here for Carole & Tuesday stuff. Tangentially though, is there any reason why press interview timeslots are so short? I'm not press, but I've heard how hard it is to do a good substantive interview in the allotted time from my friends who are.

Trigger Q&A: Nothing to really add since Yoshinari and Wakabayashi have been here before and done a Q&A/Live Drawing with the same setup, but it's always a good time.

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I thought this was a pretty weak year for fan panels, honestly. As theorized in the Good, Bad and Ugly thread this may have had something to do with the very unusual (and poor) way that the panel application deadline was handled this year.

I will not single any particular panels out for this criticism because frankly I saw it over and over and over again this past weekend (including in some panels that I left so fast I didn't bother putting in my specific feedback below), but here goes: I always was taught that the proper way to use Powerpoint was to create slides that feature perhaps an image or two and then maybe a few lines of text that set the topic, i.e. sort of like an outline. I was also taught the absolute WRONG way to use Powerpoint in a presentation was to put a ton of text (often in small font) on a slide and then simply read the text off your slide verbatim to your audience. And yet, the latter approach seemed to be what Otakon panelist after panelist did this year. I don't know when everyone decided that the "put all your text on the slide, no matter how small the font ends up being, and then simply read the text back to the audience" method was the way to go, but there's a good reason why I was taught not to do that: it can be just incredibly boring for the audience, as you're basically inviting any fast readers up front to read ahead of you and then have to wait for you to catch up. And the people in the back probably just can't read the slide at all anyway. So yeah, please don't do this. Use your slides to set a topic and then just speak on that topic, even if you're reading from notes that the audience can't see.

tl;dr stop putting tons of text on a slide and reading that slide verbatim!

Here's some more specific feedback on the panels I attended.

The Yakuza Fact vs. Fiction: I liked the first half a lot, where I honestly learned a ton about the Yakuza that I never knew. The second half, where they rated various anime/game properties based on how accurate they were, was a little more boring to me.

Thirty Years Ago - Anime in 1992: Good little trip of nostalgia, one of those panels that was exactly as advertised. Don't think I've ever been to a bad Daryl Surat panel and I've been to many of them by now.

Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos: Funny as always. I never really know what to say for feedback to this- it always rules, the question is just how much. Actually, when we get to the 18+ version I do have a rare critique, but this one was great.

...Now What?: This was one of my favorite panels of the weekend. The topic (anime that end on a cliffhanger or otherwise unsatisfying ending where you can tell there's more to the story) strikes you as an obvious one once you hear it, and yet I can't really remember seeing another panel about it before. Maybe there was and I just missed it, I dunno. But these two did a great job talking about various examples, and I liked their little audience participation gimmick of essentially letting us pick which show to talk about next. Well done.

Your First Trip to Japan- From Square One to the Rising Sun: I admit that I attended this more out of a sense of competitive sense more than anything- I've hosted a Japan travel panel many times myself (having been to Japan three times, most recently in 2019) and probably would have submitted it to Otakon this year had we not missed the deadline. So I wanted to give that context first. Last year, the Japan travel panel I attended at Otakon was absolutely horrible, filled with baffling decisions and inaccurate and outdated information. This year, the panelists were different and I thought did a much better job- they made a real effort to keep their information up to date even though they had only been to the country once in 2017 (they had planned a 2020 trip but uh, the thing happened- bummer guys), and for the most part I thought they did a decent job. There were some minor errors that they should try to correct if they do this panel again (for example, at one point they claimed that all trains in Tokyo stop running at midnight, which is not true- trains running from Tokyo to outlying suburbs generally do stop running at midnight, and some subways stop running between midnight and 12:30, but local JR trains in Tokyo run as late as 1 am or even 1:15 depending on the line), but for the most part they gave good advice. I especially liked that they brought up credit card travel rewards and how that can help bring down the cost of a trip to Japan, something I planned to cover extensively in my own next travel panel. So good job there.

Manly Battleships Presents You're Wrong and Should Feel Bad: Love that I actually got to attend all of this panel this year (I only got to be there for about 15 minutes of it last year, as I had to bail quickly for Awesomely Bad's 18+ session). Even having been to this one a bunch of times before and knowing what to expect, it was still absolutely hilarious. I'm very sad that it's apparently the last year he's running the panel- I'm holding out hope he changes his mind.

Gundam 101: I've attended many, many introduction to Gundam type panels over the years, as I'm always curious how different groups decide to tackle a very tricky subject (just given how gigantic and vast the Gundam franchise is). This was a pretty mediocre version of that panel I thought- there wasn't really anything super wrong with it, but I just found the panelist's delivery kind of boring or something. They definitely didn't cover the material in a new or interesting way. But it was alright.

Docta D's Wrestling Showcase featuring Mike World Order- I'm trying to be tough but fair with some of these, because as a panelist myself I know firsthand it can be demoralizing to read someone else tear into your hard work, but there's just no easy way to say this: the 35 minutes I spent at this panel were some of the most baffling time I've ever spent at any anime con panel, anywhere. This was just a complete miss on every level. Again, I've hosted panels on Japanese pro wrestling before, to rooms full of people who seemed to greatly enjoy themselves. This panel drew a much smaller crowd to begin with (part of that was being 11:30 pm on Saturday of course) and by the time I left, there were probably about five people left in the entire room. I almost don't know where to start. Okay, so- the description in Guidebook obviously says they're going to cover Japanese wrestling, which you would expect for a panel at Otakon, but when I walked in they were watching the main event of WWE SummerSlam on the big screen. Granted, this was before the actual run time of 11:30 pm, so before the panel's actual start time- I figured it was just something they were doing to kill time but would stop as soon as the panel officially began. This was not the case- 11:30 rolled around and they just kept watching a WWE main event. Utterly baffling. So that ate up something like 10 minutes of the panel time. Once the main event of this show (which again, has absolutely nothing to do with Japanese wrestling or anything related to Otakon at all) finally ended, the actual panel began with almost no content at first. The main host, Docta D, talked mainly about himself and his history covering independent wrestling in the DC area, which also has nothing to do with Japanese pro wrestling. He then just started asking the crowd what wrestling they liked, which again resulted in everyone talking about US wrestling.

Finally, for the first time he let his co-host talk, and to his credit the Mike World Order guy absolutely knew his stuff about Japanese wrestling- he made this clear in the approximately two minutes he was allowed to speak, which were the only two minutes the panel actually had anything to do with its description. It was very clear that he should have been the one hosting this panel, not been sitting there mostly silent. Once we got all of two minutes of Japanese wrestling discussion, the host took back over and cut to his cousin, who was coming to us over Zoom from China. It turns out his cousin is an independent wrestler in China- which to be fair, still has nothing to do with Japanese wrestling but at least is closer to the Otakon goal of Asian pop culture than watching a WWE match together or talking mostly about American wrestling. The problems though are: 1) the Chinese wrestling scene is in its infancy and not particularly interesting to talk about & 2) his cousin was just kind of a boring interview, rambling on and on about his own personal history and all the jobs he applied for before he made it out to China. It seriously felt like we were getting his entire life story, and I'm sorry to say that it just wasn't interesting at all. During this we also got about a 7-minute clip of his cousin wrestling in China, and the wrestling quality here was about at the level of a lower level American independent promotion (which isn't any slight on his cousin really, who admitted during the interview that he's still very new at wrestling himself). There was nothing really wrong with showing the match clip, but in the context of the fact that they had still not shown any wrestling from Japan (which, again, is what the description said this panel was going to be about- there was no mention of Chinese wrestling in the panel description at all), it just added to the feeling of the panel being a bait-and-switch. I missed the last 25 minutes of the panel, so perhaps at that point the panelists finally showed something related to Japanese wrestling or talked more about it. But as I said earlier, nearly the entire room had emptied out by the time I left, so I wasn't the only person who got tired of waiting around for the panelists to get back to the actual topic they were supposedly there to cover. Overall, this panel would have been more accurately titled "Docta D Watches The End of the SummerSlam Main Event & Talks to His Cousin in China", and I would have known to not bother showing up. Just one of the most confusing, weird, and unenjoyable panels I've ever attended.

Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos (18+): Again, it's Awesomely Bad so it's always got a baseline level of good, but I didn't think year 2 of the 18+ session was nearly as good as year 1 for a pretty simple reason- I thought he did way too many "weird for the sake of weird" videos this year. Those obviously have their place in the panel, but when you've got what felt like 4 or 5 different videos that can be reasonably described as "a bunch of random stuff and flashing lights on the screen" they do get repetitive after a while.

A Sarcastic History of Game Consoles: I was so happy I made myself wake up at 8 am on Sunday to go to this, haha. This panel was pretty hilarious. The panelist had a very funny and casual delivery, the gag prizes he gave out were really funny too, and overall this was just a lot of fun. I hope he comes back next year.

That's about it for this year, not including panels that were so bad or boring I left in 10 minutes or less. And there were several.....

Edited by WorldisYours
forgot a certain word would be edited, haha
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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.

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Didn't make it to a ton of panels this year because reasons, but here's my feedback for some:

Manly Battleships: Gameshow Impossibru at the AMV theater was a hoot and fun from start to finish.

True History of 4kids: Had the opposite problem of some other panels - panel finished extra early (like around 30 mins early) mainly due to the panelist just talking extra fast and seemingly a shortage of material.

Afterlife in Anime: Was expecting more of a discussion of isekai but it was more about Buddhism and its views on the afterlife. An interesting subject on its own, but not what a lot of us were expecting to hear about.

 

Edited by windseeker
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I saw 6 or 7 panels, but these stuck out:


I most enjoyed the “Hong Kong in Anime and Manga”. It was well organized and felt thorough, and I liked the w presenter’s low key humor.

Japanese commercials was a lot of fun, in a straightforward way.

I felt the Art Nouveau panel was dry, and I wasn’t totally persuaded by all the connections the presenters proposed.

I was only at the con for a day and half, there were loads of panels I’d have liked to go to.

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I went to a lot of panels. It was the high point of my Otakon and what I wanted to experience the most. I would have gone to more if I could have. 

 

Evangelion-You Can (Not) Reference: Well done. Great work breaking down the angel's names and their origins. Panel was packed.

Eva Monkey presents: The Future of Evangelion: I was hoping to hear a new anime centering on Shinji going to school was coming!

What are Virtual Idols? : Gave me a glimpse of a world I didn't know existed.

Tik Tok Creators- 1 to 1 Million I might have been the only person who didn't know who the presenters were. Good advice given.

The Battle Royal Legacy-Last Man Standing Gets the Prize- I wish this could have been longer; very good exploration of history and genre.

 

Getting into Virtual YouTubing : Also gave me a glimpse of a world I didn't know existed. I might start one my self!

Introduction to Cosplay : I feel bad that this was held so late at night.

Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos AFTER DARK : Why didn't they leave the lights off? And could someone please tell me what the name of the video is where the man and women were fighting and his fists flew off his arms? 

 

The Otakon 1994 AMV Contest : So great. The AMV set to Sting's Fields of Gold was a masterpiece. Looking foreword to 1995 next year!

 

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4 hours ago, Michael said:

Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos AFTER DARK : Why didn't they leave the lights off? And could someone please tell me what the name of the video is where the man and women were fighting and his fists flew off his arms? 

The song is called “White Surf Style 5” by late 90s/early 00s Japanese indie rock band Supercar. Highly recommend checking out more of their discography if you enjoyed that song- they combined rock music and elements of electronic music in a really interesting and unique way.

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Long post, as I tend to go to panels almost exclusively at Otakon anymore. I think I've got all the ones I hit. (I lost the paper I was using for my schedule and notes, and I've been really busy at work lately.)


Dubs vs Subs -The presenter was good, and the presentation about how Japanese and Western theater influenced their  acting styles. (Like Japanese Noh encourages broad, exaggerated performance and Western acting tends toward a smaller, closer style because the camera focuses in on the actor.)
However, it seems to me that a fundamental point was missed. Per the description: "How did this fight come to be in the first place? And why?" The presenter missed an (IMO)  fundamental point about the whole issue - In the early days of anime distribution (circa 1990), a lot of the early dubs just plain sucked, and this kept a lot of people firmly in the subtitle camp until the dubbing improved.
Japanese commercials to make you laugh, cry, and think - I've been to this type of panel before, but I never saw the 'Long, Long Man' series before, which were hilarious. Fun stuff.
Yakuza: Fact vs Fiction - As noted above, 1st half good, 2nd half not so much.
Anime in 1992 - Always a good panel to remind me of those older shows. A lot of landmark anime came out that year, and I remember watching a lot of them when they did. Man, I'm old.
Awesomely Bad JMVs - Another panel I've attended previously, and I still love them.
Anime Food -This panel was about foods that are commonly shown in anime (e.g. onigiri). The presenter talked about them, then brought up videos on how to make them and her experience trying to make the foods. A lot of audience interaction and a lot of laughs.
Now What? - I've heard of some reasons certain series stopped being made, but some of these were real doozies.
Craziest Japanese commercials - There was a certain amount of overlap with the other panel, but still entertaining. Oddly this one was in the AMV theater while the other one was in a panel room.
J Music Room - I only sat through part of this panel, more to hear examples of the music and maybe listen to more of it later . Not sure if JPop is my thing, but the music was decent enough.
The tea is greener in Japan - I was at a panel of their in Baltimore, so I wanted to update my knowledge about the subject. I feel that panels like this are like cooking shows - I may not ever use the information, but I do enjoy watching it.
A history of phantom thieves - The presenters did their research, as their history included characters I always thought of as kind of obscure (e.g. Fantomas). The only thing I would ding them on was that one presenter tended to rely heavily on the expression 'Like, you know.' when going off script.
A century of Japanese stop motion - This was a really pleasant surprise, as I learned things that I never knew. (e.g. A Japanese studio was involved with the Rankin Bass holiday animations made decades ago.) I enjoyed this one a lot.
Sword lesbians in anime - Presented by the same people as the phantom thieves panel, and my comment above still applies. They again did their homework, with a history of an all women's theatre and its influence on creators and anime (e.g. Sailors Neptune and Uranus visually exemplify the archetypes of the 'female lead' and 'male lead' of that theatre respectively.), and how the trope has split into different subtypes over the years. Entertaining and informative.
Anime cinema crash course: the return - I was at this panel before. It's still more of a clip show, but it's an entertaining clip show.
Fan parodies - I bailed on this after about 20-30 minutes. Only one video really made me laugh (the Pokemon / Jojo mixup)- maybe it's because I'm older.
Sarcastic history of video game consoles - I laughed a lot, but the presenter had the (IMO) annoying habit of saying 'You're late, but I'll mark you as attending.' every time someone walked in on the panel.
1994 video contest - Amusingly (at least to me), the presenter from the previous panel came in late to this one, so I whispered to him 'You're late, but I'll mark you as attending.' I didn't remember most of these videos from waaaay back in the day, but the Fields of Gold / Every Little Thing are 2 of my favorites. IIRC another couple of my favs are in the 1995 contest - Nadia to Captain Nemo by Sarah Brightman, and Devilman to Self Control by Laura Branigan.
N.B. There was a panel about drawing and music that I came in a little late on, but I can't remember the name of it. I liked the music, but drawing is not my forte. If anyone went to it, how did you get the drawing materials? Just curious.

Edited by Revan
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On 8/8/2022 at 7:15 PM, Revan said:

A history of phantom thieves - The presenters did their research, as their history included characters I always thought of as kind of obscure (e.g. Fantomas). The only thing I would ding them on was that one presenter tended to rely heavily on the expression 'Like, you know.' when going off script.

 

On 8/8/2022 at 7:15 PM, Revan said:

Sword lesbians in anime - Presented by the same people as the phantom thieves panel, and my comment above still applies. They again did their homework, with a history of an all women's theatre and its influence on creators and anime (e.g. Sailors Neptune and Uranus visually exemplify the archetypes of the 'female lead' and 'male lead' of that theatre respectively.), and how the trope has split into different subtypes over the years. Entertaining and informative.

I'm glad you enjoyed our panels! I'm a huge nerd, so I find it very flattering to be told that they're informative and the research we put into them is apparent to the audience.

Thanks for the heads up that one of us was using too many filler words - we will have to keep an eye out for that when rehearsing panels in the future.

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I didn't really do much this year in regards to panels, but I did want to touch on a few:

The Design Your Own Magical Girl workshop I thought was a fabulous idea, a chance to unwind for a moment and draw something, then share it if one inclines.
The Idol Costume Design panel, while lacking in a PowerPoint presentation, was actually quite informative for both cosplayers & non-cosplayers.
The Powerful Rangers & Masked Riders panel was not bad, though the presenter had a few inaccuracies in his presentation.
Write Your Own Anime, while not the fantastic Choose Your Own Panel from 2021, was still hilarious to watch them try to put together an anime.  Many good hijinks.
A Brief History of Vocal Synthesizers was another panel I was pleasantly surprised about.  I didn't see all of it because I wanted to make the HIDIVE panel, but there was a good amount of eyeopening information they put into that, really nice.

Okay, that was more than a few.

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  • 3 months later...
On 8/3/2022 at 1:33 AM, WorldisYours said:

 

Manly Battleships Presents You're Wrong and Should Feel Bad: Love that I actually got to attend all of this panel this year (I only got to be there for about 15 minutes of it last year, as I had to bail quickly for Awesomely Bad's 18+ session). Even having been to this one a bunch of times before and knowing what to expect, it was still absolutely hilarious. I'm very sad that it's apparently the last year he's running the panel- I'm holding out hope he changes his mind.

 


It seems my performance was too convincing. 😛 Glad you liked it.

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