Panels are the part of the convention most likely to stimulate your mind and maybe teach you something. Unlike your average anime convention all the panels at NYCC are done by professionals. The upside is the overall quality is higher as you have people who theoretically should be experts on what they are talking about. Some panels still end up being real stinkers for one reason or another but overall if you step into a room you can bet that you are going to be entertained.
The downside is everyone is shilling something on any panel you’re at. There are very few panels that are pure theory or uncut fandom. Even when they are they plugging something then are working on that they want you to buy. I don’t really have a problem with that. I mean I plug the blog whenever I do work on another site so I can’t fault anyone talking a bit about what puts food on their plate. I only saw one panel last year that was just an unapologetic commercial for an hour but that was an unfortunate exception to the rule.
I only mention that because some people have a real problem with the commercialism as opposed to the “purer” fan experience of a fan run convention. But if you have that attitude you are in the wrong place.
At most conventions I spend a majority of my time in panel rooms, and I still spend plenty of time in them at NYCC, but it feels more like a piece of the convention as opposed to most of the convention for me.
The thing I enjoy most at NYCC is that I can go from webcomics to video games to classic cartoons all in a weekend. The panels most reflect the eclectic quality of the convention. I do however lament the lack of anime content that wasn’t simply screenings or industry panels. As such most of my attention was elsewhere.